Students will be able to use persuasive writing techniques in a letter of complaint.
Today was a pretty good lesson, if I do say so myself. We reviewed writing techniques for persuasion that we learned yesterday, then wrote a letter to a restaurant owner complaining about finding a mouse in our burger. They could be as creative as they wanted to with the scenario. Two of my favorites (names – and spelling – changed to protect the innocent):
Yesterday I got a salad to go. While going down the freeway I stabbed my fork into something lumpy…I lifted up my fork and it was stabbed into a mouse. I swerved and jumped the barrier and got T-boned, luckily by a Prius while I was in a Yukon. However, my vehicle was damaged, and I was still hungry. I demand full payment for the damage done to my vehicle, and free food for a month to your restaurant. I expect to hear from you shortly.
My best friend and I visited your restaurant on Tuesday, December 4, 2012. My best friend recently got out of prison for burning down a restaurant for bad food service, and I wanted to celebrate with her at my favorite restaurant. We were enjoying our time at your establishment, until our food came. We both ordered chicken enchiladas, and when she cut one, there was a small, gray, icky-tailed, dead mouse! I am terrified of mice, so in fear, I ran out. My best friend came running after me, and we left. I am writing this letter to inform you of what happened. I demand that you fire all of your employees and hire all new staff. I expect to hear from you soon, or you will be hearing from our lawyers.
Mary-Kate and Ashley
|The only halfway decent google image for “mouse in sandwich”|
Despite my lesson being not too bad, I don’t feel like it was a good day. I kicked a kid out of my classroom for the first time all year; he was playing with his phone all day yesterday after I told him not to, and when I took away the class’s text break, he felt no remorse. Usually kids go, “Sorry guys…” but he just shrugged and was like, “So what?” When he came in today I told him I would hold on to his phone for the period, or I wouldn’t have him in class. He picked the latter and stormed out. I feel surprisingly guilty for not having done this sooner, and I seriously doubt his attitude will have changed between class today and class tomorrow.
A different kid earned a zero for not playing by the rules of my lesson. A few kids wanted to vary the prompt – put the mouse in a milkshake, or complain about some other product. If they explained it to me first, I was fine as long as they could still include the persuasive techniques. However, one young man told me he was going to change it but, “I’d just have to wait to read it.” I told him I’d rather he stick to the prompt if he wasn’t going to tell me his plans. He ended up writing a complain letter to Hooters in the town next door, complaining that their girls looked like crackheads, and that he came to their establishment for “the food, a few cold ones, and THE VIEW.” I informed him it was incredibly inappropriate and that I wouldn’t accept it. He’d have to rewrite it as homework or it was a zero. His response was, “Well, other people changed it and you didn’t yell at them!” I told him that since he didn’t tell me what he was doing, I couldn’t tell him no, so it was not my fault, and then I walked away.
These two frustrated mini-scenes rather ruined my day. I’m trying to put together some cool final project with our class set of ipads, but trying to work around the final exam schedule and technology. The fact that I am doing it so last minute (my fault) has left me feeling like I would rather just show movies from here till Christmas break. Students retested this week for the freshman English tests and there was a poem on there – I pretty much skipped our poetry unit in favor of working on the writing portion. How many of them failed because I didn’t cover that? Many of my students are failing this close to the end of the semester – how can I get their grades up? I didn’t even enter a bunch of grades from the last period; I didn’t have time to grade them. At least half of what I grade I never return to them to give them feedback – by the time I get it graded it’s too late for them to get any benefit. Am I totally failing them?
My mentor teacher showed me a variation of this graph at lunch to try to encourage me:
|Phases of First-Year Teaching|
She assured me that I hit the phase of disillusionment MUCH later than the graph – closer to about last week, and she predicts that I will probably start rebounding earlier as well. What I am feeling is completely natural – total overwhelming, despairing exhaustion that leaves me questioning my career path and – on the really bad days – my general ability to accomplish anything. I am wont to throw my own pity-parties (ask my poor husband), and on the days I feel like I failed my students, I also tend to notice how dusty my house is, how bad my car brakes sound, and feel extreme guilt over feeding my husband hamburger helper. I must remember that I am at the bottom of the bell curve, it’s only up from here; there are a mere 10.5 school days until 1st semester is done and my precious two weeks of Christmas break begin; and the fact that I DO care so much about my kids demonstrates my investment in their success and my willingness and determination to not give up and keep trying….at least until tomorrow. Personal mental pep talks are hard.