The Next Page Entry 30: Journal-sharing

The Next Page Entry 30: Journal-sharing

crowd with hands raised
Okay, a slight exaggeration… Photo by Alex Bracken on Unsplash

Added a new twist to journal time. We go around the room and ask for a favorite sentence they wrote during that session. Kids can pass on the opportunity, but most are anxious to share. Unfortunately, after one annoying incident, I had to add—and require them to copy down—the following guideline:

If I include a living, breathing person in my selected sentence, it must be in a positive way. If it might be embarrassing to that person, I will not read it to the class.

The Next Page Entry 29: Thanks, Mrs. Nix

The Next Page Entry 29: Thanks, Mrs. Nix

thank you sign in multicolored lettersThanks, Mrs. Nix, for spurring me to continue to give kids choices in what they want to read.

Seems that the more you insist on the value of what some offshore publisher recommends for my kids, well, that just doesn’t wash with me.

But, to appease leadership, for ten minutes a day, we’ll open the book about tarantulas and the scientists who study them. We’ll break down a page of text for any possible value—vocabulary, favorite phrases, valuable information— and then move on to our other language arts resources, such as, ‘ourselves as writers, ‘ourselves as readers’ and the materials we value. We’ve had some very interesting discussions centered around ‘What I’m reading’ and ‘What I’m writing’.

The Next Page Entry 22: Cooling Off Room 36

The Next Page Entry 22: Cooling Off Room 36

Mr. Taylor: Ms. Page, what’s with the fridge tucked away in the corner?

Ms. Page: Is it that obvious? 

Mr. Taylor: I’d say draping a rainbow-colored towel over the thing doesn’t exactly hide it.

Ms. Page: Yeah, I guess I should go for funeral-gray, shouldn’t I?

Mr. Taylor: So, a fridge?

Ms. Page: Here’s the deal. Last week, Max came in after lunch recess with a nasty bump on his elbow. He was in pain and you could almost hear the fluid and white blood cells rushing to the bump.

Mr. Taylor: Well, as long as you’re not exaggerating…

Ms. Page: Okay, okay. But it was swelling up and I sent him to the office with Jeremy and, like I said, he was in pain. And 15 minutes later, he came back with the typical sandwich bag of ice. And I figured, we’re so far away from the office, why don’t I just keep my own ice blocks ready for something like this? So I wheeled one in over the weekend.

Mr. Taylor: Whoa, whoa, I’m still stuck on your sending Jeremy with Max. Wasn’t Max already in enough pain?

Ms. Page: Just an experiment. I’m thinking Jeremy just needs a few responsibilities to distract him from his bullying.

Mr. Taylor: Orrrr, you’re opening up another opportunity for him to torment a kid.

Ms. Page: Just give me time. Besides, I thought you were interested in the fridge.

Mr. Taylor: Okay, back to the fridge. Can I keep some stuff in it?

Ms. Page: Of course, but it’ll cost you.

Mr. Taylor: No way! 

Ms. Page: Just kidding, but I did send the district $50 to pay for Frieda’s estimated electricity costs.

Mr. Taylor: Frieda? You named your fridge?

Ms. Page: What can I say? I’m already attached to it. Besides, I have a whole ‘states of matter’ science unit planned where the fridge will be really helpful.

Mr. Taylor: So you sent the cash straight to the district office. Aren’t you going over the boss’s head a little bit?

Ms. Page: You know how that goes…better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? And I’m not sure it will reflect well on her if I ask the district office for my money back because my administrator wants the fridge removed.

Mr. Taylor: You’re just evil. 

Ms. Page: I prefer the word ‘resourceful’, thank you. And, if you’re interested, there might be some juice bars available after school on Friday.

Mr. Taylor: Okay, now you’re not even playing fair.


For the first 20 entries to this writing project, click here.

The Next Page Entry 21: 10-Minute Field Trips

The Next Page Entry 21: 10-Minute Field Trips

boy with cameraSo, here I sit at the end of a Monday.

New policy: Do something entirely new each Monday so I have something to look forward to on what used to be my least favorite day of the work week. Today, we took a 10-minute field trip.

Mrs. Nix is gone through Wednesday so I’m taking liberties with the schedule. It’s entirely possible she has a staff member [or three] keeping an eye out for scofflaws like me. Or am I just being paranoid?

No matter.

So, 10-minute field trips. Striking a blow for actual science experiences, as opposed to the current approach of ‘Hey, if what you’re reading for language arts mentions spiders or planets or the ocean, that counts as science!’.

We fanned out with our journals, rulers, and cameras and aimed to complete three mini-tasks:

  1. Find a ‘plant population’ within an area of three square feet.
  2. List five different colors in nature.
  3. Sketch one of the plants.

Goal: Build up their observational skills. Get them to sketch.

And so…I should have confined their ventures a bit. A fair amount of craziness. Decibel level higher than I’d expected, but we were out on the frontier, so not too worried. Got my exercise for the day. Haven’t seen the photos yet. Mr. Taylor and his kids took a break to watch us. A decent first step toward our trip to the park.


For the first 20 entries to this writing project, click here.