I cannot believe that the third quarter is about to draw to close in a week! If you're looking for new ways to pray and people to pray for, educators could use your intercession as we try to get everything done that needs to be done despite snow days, too much indoor recess, and not enough time in the day! I hate how rushed I feel but in the same token, my 7th and 8th grade scholars have completely finished their first entire Grammar workbook and my 6th graders have finished Rosemary Sutcliff's retelling of the The Iliad and are about to start her version of The Odyssey! They've worked so hard!
Despite the little voice in my head telling me we haven't accomplished enough, I refuse to let go of my afternoon institution of Free Read Fridays. They are as glorious as they sound and I am so pleased with how well my scholars do each Friday! The expectations are simple: bring something to read, grab a pillow, find a comfortable spot in the classroom where you aren't tempted to talk or fall asleep, and read the entire class period, I have to admit, I roll my eyes when people complain about this generation's attention span. These kids can focus is they want to... it's just finding something they want to focus on for 35+ minutes.
Free Read Friday is a sacred institution in my classroom for three reasons.
Firstly, our curriculum is beautiful but it does not have space for students to read what they like (even, sigh, Diary of a Wimpy Kid for the third time). Free Read Friday is free read. They can bring anything school-appropriate they want to read for the class period. Comics, magazines, anthologies, nonfiction, fiction... the list goes on and on. One integral piece of creating life-long readers is allowing them to read what they enjoy. They read what is assigned in class with vigor and strive to meet my expectations; they deserve time to read what they love.
Secondly, the concept of "schole" or restful learning is such a hard thing to incorporate. Ina nutshell, "schole" is the idea of good things, surrounded by good people, in a calm, comfortable setting. I don't have the luxury of always teaching from that beautiful place of rest but on Fridays, my young people get to rest with something they love. And hopefully, they know how to seek out the good in everything around them because of the critical reading that has been modeled for them throughout the year. God, as the divine inspiration for everything is present in everything God's children have written. Even that silly YA novel that you wouldn't recommend to anyone. Even that graphic novel you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot-pole. God is present and through intentional modeling, I hope my scholars are able to discern the good, the true, and the beautiful in everything they read.
Finally, I have been slowly, surely integrating more classical literature into their lives. Throughout third quarter, all my young people chose or had help from me to choose a time-tested, quality piece of literature. Frankenstein, Little Women, The Island of the Blue Dolphins, Hatchet, and a myriad of others are all available to challenge my scholars to read something of higher quality. But because they got to choose it, most of them have loved it! Several students have read Jack London's Call of the Wild and they love it! Just because a book is old doesn't mean it isn't good. I'm just so proud of what a little extrinsic motivation (a book review) and a quiet, restful space to read in can do for these young learners. I'm eager to read their book reviews this week!
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First year Catholic educator in the Classical curriculum style. I teach middle school English-Language Arts.