Saturday, August 29, 2009

The First Week Done, the Rest Undertaken Without Stun

The first week is always one fraught with "newness" and a sense of transition. Part of this reflects the developmental state of the students, and part of it is inevitable. I was impressed with how quickly students took to what had to be done, undertaking what lay in front of them with "the fierce urgency of now." It is this sense of urgency and intensity which will become cornerstones of where we are and where we need to be.
For both groups, their first significant milestone in their time in this classroom will start to unfold. The Seventh Graders began their introduction to the world of trace fossils. This included studying the likes of Derek Jeter and the glory of the New York Yankees, analyzing basketballs in class, or studying American Girl dolls that were taken for means of extortion and adolescent humor. They also understood that a previous student had a talent for art... and rendering a likeness of me with a receding hairline. The idea of history as being one not found in textbooks, but rather as a collection of evidence that reflects human behavior became the basis for the exploration of trace fossils throughout the classroom. We will start the process this week of both internalizing the external and externalizing the internal with the composition of the Trace Fossil Writing Task which will be officially assigned mid week. Students will be given a thorough task description, as well as projected benchmarked timeline for completion. I highly encourage all of them to work ahead, and work well, seeking advice and counsel from both parents/ guardians as well as their teacher.
The Eighth Graders this past week began a similar exploration of self. Whereas the seventh graders explored the notion of self and meaning, the eighth graders examined the idea of learning and self. Carl Jung, psychological experiences forming the basis of learning, and the axis without origin became elements introduced this week. We will be continuing this with how students learn, how they learn, and how meaning in our education is constructed based on both objective reality as well as personal metacognition. This will lay the foundation for our units of study all year, beginning with the Constitution this Friday. As we progress through an intense regimen of what to know, it becomes critical that students begin the process of examining how they come to know what they need to know. Both elements create for both stronger students, and emerging scholars, the end goal to which both they and I have committed ourselves... or for which we might simply be committed!
In terms of overall news, I strongly encourage all students to submit their signed pages of their Daily Planners to their Advisory Teachers as soon as possible. 8th grade students will begin the process of engaging in the online learning environment of Moodle very soon. The technology page must be submitted in order to begin this process, one that will both enhance student thinking as well as their grade. Additionally, students should be aware that the signed Social Studies Syllabus extra credit can also be gained from obtaining a signature on the weekly Team 7/8.3 overview. I will continue to publish my syllabi on my blog, and students can print it out and obtain signatures for that, but a signature on the weekly Team Overview will serve as sufficient for extra credit for Social Studies. They will be due on Friday of each week, or when I specify. Finally, we look forward to seeing you at Curriculum Night on Thursday, September 17 starting at 6:45 in your emerging scholar's Advisory Teacher's classroom. It is an excellent opportunity to experience what your child does at Julian and sign up for conferences. Perhaps, it might not be that exciting, but a "splendid time is guaranteed for all."
As always, if I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home number.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

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