Students will be able to correctly place apostrophes and identify the differences between expository and literary essays.
First day back from Thanksgiving was a long, boring nightmare. Notice how I put the comma between “long” and “boring” – we learned that yesterday, separating related adjectives. Yes, we are finally breaking into the finer points of grammar, because apparently studying them every year since fourth grade has not adequately imprinted them onto my students’ brains [notice the proper apostrophe placement – that was today’s lesson]. I’m digging through the Write Source workbook to find exercises to do as bell work. Unfortunately, bell work is relatively new to my students in English II; I’ve been very bad about wasting the first few minutes of class trying to get them settled, rather than training them to begin work immediately. They are obviously not happy about grammar, but their writing is so chock full of errors they need the practice. Unfortunately, what should be 5 minute worksheet turns into a 25 minute worksheet requiring me to explain the difference between its and it’s 18 times, and why certain names that end in -s don’t require the additional ‘s to be possessive. Thus, “Elvis’ report cards” displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame do not require an additional s. They have thi’s viciou’s habit of sticking an apostrophe on any word that end’s with an s…just to be safe, in case it MIGHT be possessive. Frustrating.
All in all though, today was much better than yesterday. Kids worked harder and more quietly, and seemed to somewhat internalize the goals of the lesson. Two neat things happened that made today stand out:
1) In the past few months I have observed that young, in-love high school couples require lots of hugs to get through the day, many of which occur right outside my classroom. One of my young ladies is dating a senior who comes every day to give her a hug. I know they see each other besides the passing period before her English class, and since their hug regularly blocks other students from entering my classroom, it seems extremely unnecessary. Today, I told him if he was going to keep coming to my class, he would have to start doing the work for it, and I shoved an apostrophe worksheet into his hands. An hour later he handed it back to me, complete. I don’t know what class he blew off to do my sophomore English work, but it amused me. I think I’ll continue to let them hug outside my door.
2) One of my rather difficult to work with athletes confessed to me that the reason he never asks questions, instead choosing to sit in silence not completing the work, is because much of what we learn he never understood and is afraid to ask. He stayed with me ten minutes into his lunch to work on the finerr points of ‘s and s’ possessives, trying to “get it” where he says he’s never understood it before. He’ll not lots of practice before he will feel comfortable using it, but I was thrilled at his willingness to stay and learn. He wants to be successful, it just seems like it’s much cooler to that when his friends aren’t watching. If only learning would come back into style, my kids’ motivation would go through the roof.
Tomorrow we’re making posters to colorfully display the differences between expository and literary essays (in preparation for next week’s freshman English retest). I’m contemplating doing some sort of stations activity…I’m wondering if I’m brave enough. Hmm…I think my class has been boring lately; I’ll take a chance.
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