I am not officially back to school yet, but I have been lurking around the halls and in my room over the past few days to get a feel for how I want to set it up this year. I wish we had smaller, more modular tables so that I could set up a square of tables for discussion plus some work stations, but I will work with what I have.
One aspect of my room that always vexes me is the bulletin board. I struggle with the tension of whether I should populate a bulletin board or leave it a blank slate for my new students. I went ahead and left up the boards from last year so that I could contemplate how they took shape as I was deciding on my approach this year. I want something thought-provoking for my students to look at and find inspiration in. I came across an idea on Twitter that I think I might give a try. Donalyn Miller wrote about Book Graffiti walls in The Book Whisperer and this got me thinking…Could I do something similar but frame it as an area where we celebrate writer’s craft through snippets of novels the students love? I want to include mentor texts brought in by students to discuss style and syntax and I think it would be cool to put them up graffiti style on a board they can look at all year.
On the curriculum front, I plan to try out #20 time with my students. I have read a great deal about the concept of giving students 20 minutes of unfettered time to pursue something they are passionate about throughout the year. I love this idea. I saw a link to this video on Youtube that showcases a number of ways students used their #20 time at York school. If my students can do 1/10th of what those students did, I will be excited! I struggle sometimes with maintaining the important aspects of an English classroom in the face of changing demands on my students as they graduate. I think with the 20 minute concept I would still have plenty of time for all the skills that need to be taught in a way that may be more relevant to their interests. I guess I will find out! Given that my class is already set up on a workshop model, incorporating this idea should be relatively easy- hopefully.
Back to the planning…..