This school year, I have been privileged with the task of leading a group of students who are achieving very well and are ready to be challenged and pushed farther in both Language Arts and Math. Naturally, I have been thrilled about this! And scared… both emotions at the same time.
Being a book lover, I had already been considering starting a book review blog, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it. But in addition to the Language Arts side of things, I would also be trying to challenge these students in Math as well; this meant I would need to learn many complicated games AND being able to teach and guide those games to students who would undoubtedly surpass my abilities in a very short time. Did I mention the part about being scared?
But everything came together piece by piece, and in September 2014, my journey with these students began with The Reading Eagles blog and Math Pentathlon games. I must confess that it was impossible to foresee some of the challenges that would come my way: keeping students motivated to do their best even though this “class” isn’t for a grade; overcoming a serious dislike of writing in a few of my boys (you know who you are); planning new blog post topics; teaching them deeper concepts in the very short amount of time we have; forcing them to journal and track their thoughts as they read; keeping track of what everyone has read and then keep the blog updated accordingly; creating realistic goals and incentives; learning those Math games!
In spite of the challenges (which I actually don’t mind because those challenges help me to improve), I cannot express in words the rewards I’ve “received” as a result of leading this group. The kinds of activities we do in this group are the very things that light me up. I LOVE helping kids find the right books; it gives me deep joy to see them grow in their thinking and problem solving abilities; reading their thoughts and reviews is pure pleasure; listening to them play new math games and use strategy makes me smile all over.
Next semester, I want to make sure the lessons I teach and the tasks I give continue to follow and deepen the standards they are learning in class. I also want to do a better job of keeping track of student goals and find the right way to encourage them to raise the bar and meet their goal. Mostly, I just want to continue this group forever because I adore these students. Eagle Up has been the best surprise of my year so far!