She's obsessed with Halloween. Apparently she comes by it naturally, as her parents and family are ALSO obsessed with the spooky holiday. She set to decorating the room, and it couldn't be more perfect because she's built a unit around a particularly creepy, spooky novel: The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle.
What started as a novel study about plot and characters has morphed into this incredible unit about flashbacks, poetry, how characters are changed by their surroundings... It's going to give us all some time for some introspection (How have we been changed by our surroundings? How can I change that outcome if I don't like where I'm headed?) and also a chance to talk about some hard hitting things - like addiction, for one.
Honestly, I've wanted to use this novel in class for a long time, but I couldn't figure out how. It took one talented student teacher and some spooky Halloween thoughts to get us there. I'm excited for this unit!
I'm also excited for the positive changes we are making around the junior high. The most important one? Working on Executive Functioning Skills.
Maybe, like me, you've looked at your junior high kid and asked, "Why can't you remember to finish your homework? And why are you starting this giant project THE NIGHT BEFORE IT IS DUE???"
This is because your kid - and mine - is lacking in the basic executive functioning skills that we as adults take for granted: making a list, prioritizing time, organizing details and schedules, remembering the next step in the series... All of these skills are things that we've either learned or developed on our own over time, but our little bundles of hormones haven't had that chance yet. So it's time to do what we do best: TEACH THEM.
Here's the plan:
1. We are starting daily assignment books to help the students organize their homework tasks. Your student should come home with their assignment book each night with an itemized list of the homework they have to complete. You don't have to sign it (unless you want to!), but they should get in the habit of bringing it home nightly. Maybe you can ask about it at dinner or in the car on the way to ball practice!
2. We are starting weekly "mini-lessons" during intervention where students will be taught important skills - like writing down assignments, organizing folders, preparing long-term study plans, etc. (Students in band or chorus may be missing out on these, since they are not in traditional intervention groups.)
3. We are encouraging students to check their Q grades weekly. As the second prong to this, we'll be encouraging them to email their teachers requests for assistance or missing work....in POLITE, COURTEOUS ways with the email written INSIDE the body of the email instead of all in the subject line. (I know, we like to dream big!)
So, while the season is getting spooky, don't be too afraid if your junior high kid suddenly appears to be a lot more productive, prepared, or generally put together. It's not because he has been invaded by the body-snatchers. She hasn't turned into a zombie. The kids are just (hopefully?) growing some executive functioning skills...which means it'll be a matter of time before they are making their own orthodontist appointments, right??