Whenever possible, I begin my lessons with silent, independent reading. During this time, I actively monitor their reading progress by checking their out-of-class reading logs and engaging in reading conferences that cover a variety of topics.
To find ways to enact this section, please see my strategy folder.
Middle school teachers are forced to acknowledge the social/emotional aspect of education. I always tell parents who are concerned that our school spends "too much time on the fluffy stuff," that in essence, no child in my room really knows who they are and has a firm grasp on their identity. As an educator, I must allow kids to figure out how to make important choices and discover themselves. This lesson helps this process.
I facilitate a group discussion centered around the use of the r-word. First I ask kids if they're familiar with the term. Many are familiar. Then I ask for the to show their hands if they've ever heard it said before. All hands go up. Have they heard the r-word used at Haven? All hands go up. Have they ever heard one of their friends use the r-word. About 3/4 admit to this. Then comes the hardest question, would anyone be brave enough to admit to ever using the r-word themselves? A couple of timid hands go up.
What's really important about this lesson is making sure that all kids understand why the r-word is bad. Many come into this lesson unaware that it is so derogatory, or could hurt the feelings of so many. Then I play this video.
As a class, we explore this website, which focuses on the impact of the r-word, and pushes people to pledge to end it's use.
Eventually, we all agree to take the pledge to stop using the r-word in a negative way.
After our discussion, we're ready to dive into reading an article:
Kids read this article, told from the point of view of a mother with a child who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Kids start reading the article today in small groups designed by grouping students with similar reading levels. I have kids stop and discuss periodically, in small groups.
What is the central idea of what you have read so far?
What are the main takeaways from the article?
How has the point of view affected the article?