Week 10


MON: Parent-Teacher Conferences; Pop Quiz;

The week began with parent-teacher conferences which took up the entire morning on Monday. I feel very fortunate that all of my conferences went very smoothly.

Because of the conferences, all the class periods were effectively halved. The 7th graders had just enough time for a pop quiz and for me to hand out and explain a homework assignment in which they interview their parents about their feelings about arranged marriages.

I gave the 8th graders new seating assignments and we had a brief discussion of The Secret Life of Bees revolving around — what else? — the essential questions.


My school is hosting a juried art show all week long and the upper school art teacher who is organizing it has invited all the middle school English classes to come take a look. Therefore, all week long I’ve devoted half of my hour-block classes to visit the art show. I didn’t have anything terribly creative or relevant planned for these classes as they perused for half an hour, but it was a welcome respite for all to just get out of the classroom and see something different.

I only had my 7th graders today. Thinking of the juried art show, I gave them an assignment where they were sketch out their own qalis, rugs that represented who they were and where they came from. A little busy-worky, but the kids seemed to like doing something personal and artistic.


Today I decided to give all my classes a heads-up about my paternity leave absence and what they should expect for the first half of the next trimester. I told them that I expected them to take turns writing once a week on their blogs and to comment on their classmates’ blogs when it wasn’t their turn to write. I also gave them some blog homework to practice that routine.

For my 7th graders, I had one person on their table pick a quote from the night’s reading. The rest of their table had to discuss the importance/significance of that quote. We also reviewed for the vocabulary quiz that they were going to take tomorrow.

For my 8th graders, I formally introduced the memoirs project and discussed the in-class essay that was going to wrap up The Secret Life of Bees.


The 7th graders took their vocab quiz today. After their quiz, I gave them a quick tutorial on how to sign up for and subscribe to blogs using an RSS reader.

I did another memoir vignette exercise with my 8th graders today: the letter to your future self. I gave each student a piece of paper and an envelope. They were to write a letter to themselves that they would read and respond to at the end of the year. I assured them that I myself would not read their letters and that they could write whatever they wanted to themselves. I gave them these possible suggestions, though:

  • A set of goals and resolutions
  • A reflection on their time in middle school
  • Advice to follow for the year
  • A description of their current situation and state of mind at the beginning of the year

The 8th graders responded really positively and enthusiastically to this assignment. I followed it up with a homework assignment designed to begin our review of The Secret Life of Bees: I assigned pairs of students chapters to review. For their chapter they were to, on the wiki, copy the bee quote that prefaced the chapter and summarize the major plot points of that chapter.

FRI: Riddle Contest; Personal Symbols

We ended the week in 7th grade with a riddle-exchange with the other 7th grade classes. The day before I e-mailed my co-worker five of the best riddles from each class and got back, in return, five riddles from each of her classes. I presented her classes’ riddles to my classes, and we spent the class period trying to guess them.

In addition to their reading homework for the weekend, I asked my 7th graders to finish their qali drawings.

I collected signatures from my 8th grade classes regarding the memoirs project. We then reviewed the wiki, and I tried to show how the bee quotes reflected the major plot turns in each chapter. This turned into an involved discussion of the personal symbols used throughout the book: mothers, bees, and the Virgin Mary.


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