We were all awoken at 3:20 this morning by a 6.1 earthquake centered just a few miles from where we live. It was big one. Not THE big one, but a big one.
It’s been so long since the last substantial earthquake, Loma Prieta in 1989 was 6.8, that I was starting to think we just weren’t going to have anymore. Earthquakes, just another victim of climate change. Like rain.
We haven’t found any damage yet–it’s still to early to look for cracks in the walls–but all the stuff on our shelves was moved around and we’ll have to straighten all the pictures on the walls. We did hear lots of sirens at first, but those have stopped, too, so I’m guessing no serious damage or casualties this time around.
Dakota insisted on jumping into bed with us afterwards but that’s probably just because she saw we were awake. I was in high school living in Pleasanton when the Livermore earthquake of 1980 hit. That one was 5.8. For days afterwards, one of our Bassett hounds, George, would suddenly wake, stand up and look all about the room like something was about to happen. Drove my mother nuts.
In other news…..
The school year started well, at least the part of it that involves students. The part that involves administrators school and district has my teeth on edge.
Do to structural changes the administration has made in the make-up of my classes and to schedule changes, I’ve had to abandon student book clubs. They may have had run their course anyway, but after the mixed success I had last year and the changes in just about everything this year, they just had to go. I’ll miss them. Literature Circles rule!!!
In their place I instituted Reading Races, a kind of competitive reader’s workshop model. Reader’s Workshop, along with Writer’s Workshop was all the rage when I started teaching in 1989. Reader’s Workshop lets student choose their own reading. They read during class and then write a response in a journal afterwards. The teacher then writes a response to the student to establish a written dialogue about the student’s reading. I love reading logs almost as much as book clubs.
But, with over 90 students during the day, there’s no way I can respond to everyone’s reading journal every week like I have done with smaller groups. Since I still wanted to use reading logs, I’ve paired up all of my students with someone who wanted to read the same books they did. I have just over 100 titles to choose from. Instead of writing to me, they will write to each other.
To make sure everyone has read enough to write in their journals on Reading Race days, we have a 20 minute silent reading period before we write. I project a countdown clock to let us know when 20 minutes are up. Afterwards we calculate how many words we’ve read total and what our words per minute rate is. This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s really fun.
Really. Way more fun that it deserves to be. Plus, I give out Red Vines.
I haven’t read the first set of reading race logs yet, but it’s clear to me that we’re going to have to do a lot of work on asking good questions. I’m hoping to train the students to ask each other good questions so I can let them write in each other’s logs without having to read all 90 more than once a month.
I should say that I intended to do this on the sly. The regular program is much more “Common Core” and getting more “Common Core” all the time.
But an adinistrator came to visit my room while we were reading Friday. He’s always very impressed whenever a teacher has all the students quietly working so he was very impressed. He liked the calculating afterwards, too. If you can convince your administrators that you’re doing math in your English class, they’ll be very impressed. Cross-curricular stuff is very “Common Core.”
So, word got around and the other 7th grade teachers may be having Reading Races soon.
Reading for pleasure lives to fight the Common Core another day.
Now, I’m going back to bed. If the earth can keep still I may be able to get some more sleep.