Saturday, September 6, 2008
We've completed 7 days of school. Of course, we've had 7 brilliantly sunny, warm, gorgeous days --- after a summer of rain, rain, and more rain. That's usually what happens. The first September of retirement (2014?) I plan to take a vacation sometime during the first or 2nd week of school because I can count on great weather!
I'm settling into my new classroom. There's more floor space than I expected, and the room is actually almost square shaped. I have one wall of solid windows, another wall of fake whiteboard (shower stall sheets) and 2 cinder block walls. There is no storage space of any kind, so I have a collection of scavenged bookshelves, tables, and crates, some filing cabinets, and lots of boxes under tables. The biggest challenge right now is the fact the windows are south-facing and there are no shades. It's so bright that I can't use any sort of projection device which totally changes how I teach. Plus, it's hot. I've been keeping track of the heat because we just spent almost $10 million to build an addition, renovate existing space, and upgrade ventilation systems. Only 2 of my windows open. On Thursday, at 6:15 am my classroom was 78°F -- and I'd purposely left my windows open overnight. By 8 am my classroom was 85°F and at noon it was 89°. And that reading comes from the wall thermostat on the hallway side of my room where the direct sun doesn't reach. The cheap thermometer I bought at the dollar store on Tuesday over by the window side of my room was 5-7° warmer at any given time. On the positive side, I made administration aware of the problem, and they're trying to resolve it. I just wish the architect had asked the teachers who inhabit the classrooms what they needed!
Monday is science lab experience #1 for me. It's an easy experiment, but it's the first time I've ever done a lab with kids. I don't need a lot of materials -- ice, hot water, thermometers. I got creative --- since I don't have a sink in my room, I brought in a large coffee urn to heat the water, and I will bring in a small cooler with ice. I have a bucket to fill from the sink in the hall. So all I have to do is set up the 5 lab stations for each class, instruct the kids on safety procedures, and then . . . have at it! Wish me luck!
I just finished looking over assessment data on my kids, and I realized I have to have 3 spelling groups this year. About half my kids can use the regular 6th grade spelling program, but I will have to either greatly modify the program for about 1/4 of them or find something else for them. The other 1/4 will need something quite advanced -- I'll probably have them use a vocabulary program I have. They are above grade level by 3-5 years, while the lower group is 3 years below grade level. I'm teaching 2 sections of reading/language arts this year so I'm dealing with just under 40 kids. I run a reading workshop in my classroom, so it's a little easier to differentiate the reading than it is the "formal" spelling. What's tricky for me this year is that I have only 50 minutes daily to teach reading, writing, and spelling.
Oh and finally --- a sight that probably won't be seen again soon -- a clean desk!