It’s here!

It’s here! The last day of school is finally here! Yesterday was hot, really hot, and today and tomorrow is going to be even hotter. If you don’t believe me, check the Weather Channel widget on the right side of the web page! Of course, if you are reading this after Tuesday 6/7 or Wednesday 6/8 it won’t tell you the story. Hot air, not me, has gripped the area and we are under heat advisories. After the kids leave today, I am going to take it slow and easy. There is no rush.

I finished writing my letter to my outgoing students and it is below.

June 7, 2011

Dear outgoing Guitar Sharks,

It has been fun being one of the Language Arts teachers on Team 7-0, home of the fabulous Guitar Sharks. I am excited about summer vacation because it means I can read, write, and re-think. I have a few goals for the seventy days of summer vacation. This year, I started reading Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series. I started with Stormbreaker as a read aloud and I am currently at the end of book six, Ark Angel, I want to finish the series. Also, I have teacher books to read and process with titles such as Fair Isn’t Always Equal and Bringing Words to Life. Nevertheless, I have long list of kid books to read and I am looking forward to reading them. At the end of June, I will be heading to summer camp with William and his Boy Scout troop. He, too, is moving on to 8th grade and plans to swim the mile – I am planning to swim with him this year. After camp, we’ll drive through the UP and over the Mackinac Bridge where we’ll spend July at the cottage in Michigan and come home at the end of the month. Before I know it, it will be August and it will be time to get ready for school to resume.

The 2010-11 school year went quickly. It always goes quickly when you are busy and we were busy in class this year. I am proud of the work we did on our writing and many students really grew as writers this year. The most growth came on persuasive writing, which came on the heels of reading The Giver. I enjoyed reading The Giver with you and I took away a new perspective. I had fun with the Mr. Men and Little Miss paragraphs, the personal narrative, and the health book. They were all good projects. Eighth grade Language Arts will be different next year. They write the same types of writing as seventh graders and sixth graders do, but it is different, more challenging and one step closer to high school where the stakes are higher. The reading is tied closely to the social studies curriculum and you will be studying US History from the colonies until present day. I really like the textbook and have admired the projects and activities you will get to do and I know you will have fun learning about how America grew to be the country it is today.

As much as I learned this year, I learned I have more to learn and places where I need to improve. I am terrible at grading work and getting it back to you, quickly. This summer, as I read Fair Isn’t Always Equal, I am going to look seriously at some of my grading and assessment practices. I need to figure a way to let students know how they are doing, quickly, rather than relying on Pinnacle. Also, I enjoyed opening the wall between Ms. Walker’s and my class during our folklore unit and allowing students to mix and work collaboratively. Ms. Walker and I have already discussed trying to do more together next year. I did a better job with read alouds this year and I enjoyed Schooled, Stormbreaker, and Takeoffs and Landings. I am looking forward to reading aloud again next year and sharing my love of reading. On the personal reading area, I don’t think I did enough to encourage more kids to be avid readers and I know I need to improve in the area of SHARK (Scullen Has Awesome Reading Kids) read.

And, that is why enjoy teaching seventh grade, every year I get to look back and ahead – all at the same time. I am looking forward to next year, but most importantly, I am looking forward to summer vacation. I have big plans and fun things to do, but I before long, I’ll be thinking of how to make connections, write more effectively, and share a new favorite read. I am looking forward to my new classes and new kids next year; I am also looking forward to seeing the YOU as leaders in the school.  It is gonna be great year, just sit back, enjoy it, and remember to work hard!

Yours in Sharkdom,

Mr. Watkins
Language Arts 2010-11

P.S. I enjoyed reading your letters to your eighth grade teacher and future seventh graders. I’ll be writing this summer and you are welcome to follow me this summer, I can be found at http://makingthedayscount.com. Make all 74 days of YOUR summer count and be worthwhile!
P.S.S. Send post cards about your summer vacation!  

Today will be a busy day. The kids will be excited and we’ll be signing yearbooks and thinking of the past. The kids will leave at 9:35 and go home for summer. Some will linger, not knowing what to do, and teachers will wave at the busses as they pull out of the parking lot and then slowly walk back in to the building to pack, move classrooms, and clean up our classrooms. The faculty will gather for one last time and celebrate a retirement and several folks who will be moving to new positions next year. We’ll talk about our summer plans, laugh, and look forward to the next time we gather, in August.

But, until then, it is summer vacation. Seventy days and I have big plans and a few small ones. Today is gonna be a great day and the forecast for tomorrow is a million and six times better, Making the Days Count, one day at a time!

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