|Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers|
host the Slice of Life every Tuesday.
As I have worked to wrap up this school year with my students, I noticed that I did not feel as close with my students as I have in the past. This bothered me. A lot. Then, I started thinking about what was different and I figured it out. This is the first year that I have had 8th grade students who have only had me for 8th grade. All of the other exiting 8th grade classes have been classes in which students were part of my class in a former year. I taught 1st grade for the first five years that I was at my school and then moved up to 4th and 5th grades. Some of my students in former years were in my class three or four times throughout their time at Morgandale. No wonder I felt like this years group was not as close to me. Maybe this is what it should feel like...it has been so long since I had a class only for one year that I don't know. I just know that this year feels really weird.
Later this morning when I am watching all these young men and women hug each other and say farewell to our school, I know I will cry, just as I have cried every year that I have worked with 8th graders. Some of these students have been at our school since K4 and now they will move on to high school. It is a big change for them and many of them shed a few tears also. All I can hope is that we have done the best job we can in preparing them for the future and giving them wings to fly.
Some highlights from this school year with these 8th graders:
- We jumped in with both feet and did NaNoWriMo last November. It was an awesome experience and most of my students told me it was their favorite writing activity this year.
- All students read at least 10 books. This is not as many as I would have hoped they would have read, but I am proud of the fact that every one of my students, even the ones who scoffed and laughed when I introduced the 40 book challenge, has read multiple books and found books to love this year.
- One of my students became a voracious reader...she didn't really read until December and then, BAM! She took off. Here total at the end of the year was 82 books. And she didn't count the long ones as two like I said they could. She burned her way through series after series and now has a serious reading addiction. I told her she had to stop to do chores though so she doesn't get yelled at on weekends.
- Multiple students are writing books and stories constantly. Many of them had not been doing this before this year. I can't necessarily take credit for this one, but I think the extra encouragement has been helpful for them.
- Many students made double or triple the gains that are expected in a year in math. Although I am not always convinced by the standardized tests, I am excited that students were able to see that their hard work paid off and they felt success in understanding concepts that were difficult for them before.
- Writing false apology poems and pi poems with students was so much fun. It reminded me of the importance of introducing all types of writing and giving students the chance to be creative.