Underestimating High School

A student just said what many freshmen realize, that he underestimated how much more difficult Ninth Grade is than Eighth Grade. "They" say the odd years are always the most difficult.

The students need to learn that they MUST study their assignments. I had one student say she doesn't have time to study for English, but that it doesn't matter if she doesn't learn this stuff because she's not getting a job in English. I told that if she doesn't pass, she's not getting a job anywhere.

Of course, I was being hyperbolic, but the truth is that students who don't learn to put forth the necessary effort to be successful will have a difficult time ahead of them.

The loss of school days this past week and a half will result in a serious need for students to buckle down for the next two weeks, because the end of the nine weeks will NOT be moved.

Check my calendar regularly to keep current with what we're doing.


Hurricane Rita and Its Aftermath

We'll be starting back to school on Thursday, September 29. I know that many students found themselves quite bored without school to keep their minds occupied. I'm hoping that they took my advice and read Animal Farm. It is such a short and easy book that even if you haven't read it yet, you could have it finished by Thursday.

They might change the date for the end of the First Nine Weeks. But if they don't, things will actually work out nicely. We'll come back with just enough time to finish the novel and not have to start anything else.

SS Test 3 and Voc Qz 2 have been rescheduled, but the rest of the Vocabulary schedule will stay the same. Check out the calendar for the up-to-date schedule.


Grades, Grades, Grades

We talked about averages today, and I sought input from the students explaining why their averages were what they were.

Most of the students with low grades said, "I don't study." Others said they freeze up on the tests.

One of the things I recommended was for them to come to tutorials, so we could go over their tests item by item to see what happened.

For the average student though, if he or she is not doing well, it's because he/ she isn't doing enough studying.

Some students are weak in English, some are weak in math, some are weak in sports. Identifying our strengths and weaknesses allows us to focus the extra energy necessary to overcome that weakness.

The more the students know about themselves, the better able they will be to achieve success.

The more I know about them, the better able I will be to help them.

I told them it was like visiting the doctor. The more information the doctor can get, the more likely he'll be to find a cure.


"What if I don't finish?"

When students don't finish an in-class assignment, I must first ask myself if I had unrealistic expectations. After fifteen years of teaching, I'm pretty good at knowing what a student should be able to do.

Then comes the task of deciding why the student didn't finish:

Did he not study adequately?
Does he have difficulty reading?
Is there a comprehension problem?

Today, I gave the students twenty fill-in-the-blank sentences over Vocabulary Unit 2.

They knew Unit 2 was due today, so they should have been studying all week, but some students had trouble.

Consider the following examples:

If you want to stay out of trouble, you should steer clear of those __________ ne'er-do-wells.

I had to explain to some students what "ne'er-do-wells" were.

I don't normally use those flowers in arrangements because I think of them as thoroughly unremarkable, yet when you place them in the blue vase they suddenly become a ________ part of a pleasing display.

For this one, I had to explain what a flower arrangement was.

I also had to explain what a pep squad was, a union negotiator, patrons, steadfast, John Hancock, ambivalent,.... and these weren't the Unit words.

So you see, it's not just that they need to study the vocabulary words, they need to have an adequate vocabulary to begin with. They aren't just learning the "official" vocabulary words, they're learning other new words.

I also teach them how to "read" the sentence: What part of speech goes in the blank? Is it a noun, verb, or adjective? Are we looking for a positive word (unflinching) or a negative word (dissolute)? We look for other context clues, such as synonyms and antonyms, and we look for signal words like and, but, however. And I ask them for a word of their own that might fill the blank and satisfy the meaning. By this time, if they haven't already come up with the word, they can find it fairly easily.



It has been awhile since I've written. School has gotten rather busy.

The beginning of the year is always a challenge, because I have to continuously remind the students of certain things:

putting the correct heading on the paper
using a pen instead of a pencil
guidelines for formal writing

Freshmen teachers have to shape and prepare these guys for the rest of high school.

I'm also trying to teach them some independence.

The vocabulary requires the most initiative, because they do the majority of their preparation for that on their own. Their other responsibility is to keep up with their reading. The kids know what stories are coming up and what needs to be read at home. The scenario should be that the kids read at home, and I touch on important bits and pieces during class. I may read large passages or small passages, but it should always be at least a second reading for them.

If the kids do not read at home, they will not be successful.

Since you're reading this, you know about the website and you know about the calendar. Use it to prepare yourself or to prepare your child for class. We'll all be glad you did.


First Test

Our first test is coming up on Thursday and covers four stories: The Sniper, The Most Dangerous Game, The Interlopers, and The Necklace. On Wednesday, I'll give them a study guide, but this is the only time I do this except for the Nine Weeks Test and the Semester Exam.

Since this is their first test, they may already be suffering from a bit of test anxiety and maybe this study guide will help alleviate that. For the next test, they'll know what to expect and won't need such an elaborate guide.

Not much else to say. I want to spend one more week on short stories and then I have to decide what comes next. We don't have enough copies of Animal Farm for every Freshmen to get one, so I can start something else with ALL of my students, or do half and half - half with Animal Farm and half with non-fiction or research.

We'll see.


Here's What I Mean

wussup yall? nun ova this way juss listenin ta music n chillin...soooo how was eryones daaaaaaay? mines was pretty good...i woke up in tha best mood fa some reason...but yeah didnt do much of nethin taday...skool...home..then to pick up sumthin fa [Mary's] mom...then back home n chilled...then me n [Mary] went n got our tooooes did at tha nail place round tha corner lol...gurl tiiiiime....but chyuh that was ma LoVeLy daaaay!! interesting i kno....but yuh im yall!