More Adventures from the Classroom

Friday, March 13, 2009
Some days I just want to bang my head against the door in my classroom while teaching my grade 10 English class. There are days where I seriously wonder if anything stops and stays in their brain long enough for it to be absorbed. And then there are days like the past couple that I just sit there and wonder 'what did you do with my students ... and can you make sure that they don't return?'

In my English class I am supposed to do a full length novel study (eventually). Before getting into it though, I figured might as well test the waters with a short story that we will analyze and answer questions like we would with a novel. Well, after many days of reading I finally decided upon Farley Mowat's "Walk Well My Brother" from The Snow Walker (a book full of Inuit / Northern themed short stories). I wasn't too sure how my class would react to the story. It is a very well written and easy to understand story (bonus) but .. some of the views from the main characters POV on the Inuit (or 'Huskies' as he calls them throughout the story) I was a little wary on. But, I figured I would deal with it when they brought it up.

So, Tuesday, I introduced the story to the students and read the first couple pages to them (as I find that although my students know how to read, they don't quite pick up on the nuances of the language) and then we worked through the questions together. At times I had to pull answers out of them and direct them to a page or paragraph that held the answer ... but we made out ok. At the end of the class one of my students looked at me and asked "Isn't this a movie?"

Wednesday we continued on, and they were much better at finding answers in the text and recalling information (yeah!) but we were still having a little bit of an issue with putting the answer in our own words.

Thursday ... well.. I lost my voice. Yeah for colds. So I figured, we've read about 1/2 the story, maybe this is time to start the movie that was made based off of Walk Well My Brother - The Snow Walker. It was pretty rewarding watching my students react to the movie. "That was in the story!", "They didn't mention that in the story", "Who are those guys.. they aren't in the story". Thus began the conversation about movie adaptations and that some times when stories are made into movies, the movie has to add filler to fill in the gaps in the story that become apparent in a movie.

Today, we continued on reading the story (and as an added bonus, we actually watched the part of the movie that matches the text yesterday). One of my students even surprised me as he had taken his story duo-tang home, read the next section (the one that we were working on in class) and did the questions as homework - with out me asking or assigning it! [there is hope!]. And of course, today we worked more on putting the answers in their own words ... which was a long drawn out process .. but we made it through. And to my amazement, once we were done our questions my students asked if we could continue watching the movie to see 'where we were in the story'. And of course, they began pointing out things that weren't in the story ... I then had to remind them that we weren't done reading the story yet either .. but to keep these things in the back of their minds as we finish the story.

And of course, I can't forget my little kids. My grade 1 and 2 classes were fantastic to me these past couple of days (Weds - Fri) as I was not only battling a cold, but also suffering from laryngitis and had no voice. Wednesday I squeaked and squawked my way through a little "Counting to 100" mini-book with my grade 1 class (thankfully there was only 5 of them present) .. but we had fun. Thursday I had no voice, but my grade 2 class was golden for me (maybe they were taking pity on me?) and we finished watching The Cat In The Hat - you could have heard a pin drop in that classroom. And if course today, my grade 1's were supper-beings again, as we finished off Madagascar.

Sometimes my students just amaze me.