Skip to main content

Moments that Matter

Of course, I love teaching The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and showing my students why Twain is a genius.  Of course, I love reading a spectacular student essay that we worked on for weeks.  Of course, I love listening to students have thoughtful, insightful discussions about things that matter.  Yet, what I love about teaching are the connections I make with students.  The moments that fill my heart with joy both when they are happening and sometimes years later.

Wednesday my students were working on creating a playlist for The Pearl.  They had to come up with a song that represented each chapter and write an explanation to support their choice.  It was the perfect assignment for the end of the year.  The kids could socialize and listen to music while working on the assignment.  The room was filled with happy chatter.  As I walked around checking in with and talking with students, I noticed one of my students sitting alone.  She was working on her project, but something seemed a little off.  I walked over to her, put my hand on her back and cheerfully asked her if she was okay. Honestly, what I was expecting was "I'm fine. I'm just really tired today."  That's not what I got.  "My dog died today," she whispered. That's when I looked at her face and realized it was stained with tears. 
My heart instantly sank.  I quickly sat down in the chair next to her, and she began to talk.  Her family had had the dog since before she was born.  She pulled out her phone and showed me several pictures of him.  Then she told me about some other tragedies that her family and friends had recently endured.  I listened.  All I could think was, "This poor little girl lost her beloved dog today, and she's in my class trying her best to get this project done."  

After class, I thought about what a reminder this little incident was for me as a teacher. We need to take the time to connect with our students every day. We have no idea what kids are going through in their personal lives when they enter our classrooms.  Many times we are too busy teaching to stop and ask kids how they are doing.  Granted, sometimes it's none of our business, but sometimes kids want to talk.  Sometimes they need to talk. 



Popular posts from this blog

Bottle Flipping

Last week someone posted article on Facebook about the newest trend with middle schoolers-bottle flipping.  If you haven't heard of it, you probably don't teach middle school or have a child in middle school! Consider  yourself lucky! If you know about it, then you also know it's annoying as heck.  Kids (usually boys), toss a partially filled water bottle into the air so that it flips in midair.  The goal is to have the bottle land upright.  This year I have had to ask several students to put their water bottles away because they wanted to flip them.  I know,  I'm mean!  



After reading the Facebook article I thought, "Hey!  I bet I can incorporate this into a lesson somehow."  Using my Oreo lesson as a model, that's just what I did.  First, I found two different articles about bottle flipping.  I went through both looking for key vocabulary words.  I then typed out the sentences with the words and created an activity where students had to guess the definit…

Oreos in China and Read 180

A few years ago I read an article about what happened when Kraft introduced the Oreo to the Chinese in 1996.  It was not a success.  The Chinese thought the filling was too sweet-the cookie too bitter.  Kraft almost pulled the beloved cookie off the shelves. Instead, they began a quest to find out how to make the Oreo appeal to the Chinese. Enter the green tea Oreo, the mango Oreo, and an Oreo in the shape of a straw (not sure that still qualifies as an Oreo).  The revamped Oreos were a huge success! I found the article fascinating and decided to design a lesson around  it to share with my students.

First I showed them a news clip from CNN about the topic. Then, I taught them a few vocabulary words that appear in the article using Kate Kinsella's method.  Next, we read the article together and marked the text. I did a think aloud as I read aloud to them.  After that, students created a T-Chart listing the ten most important words in the text, as well as five main ideas from the tex…

Making Comments on Student Writing Meaningful

As any English teacher knows, we spend countless hours grading and commenting on student work.  What I realized after a few years of teaching was that many students did not read my comments at all; they just looked at their grade. Some didn't even look at the rubric!   However, many students valued my feedback and relished every comment.  I felt as though I was wasting my time on more than half of the essays.   As evident from the next essay the students wrote, the majority of the students did not heed the advice I gave in the previous essay.  I came up with a solution!  Using Google Forms, I created a detailed survey for my students to fill out about the comments they received on their writing.  I will include pictures of various questions and answers.  Better yet, I told them that all responses would be read and a graded  for the thoughtfulness.  I had a sub that day, so I created a link to the form in my daily blog post for my class!  SO easy!  Students were forced to go back t…