8th grade ?'s -- first year teacher

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by allaragallagher, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Jul 14, 2014

    I'm a first year teacher and I've been assigned 8th grade. My students will be the first set of 8th graders to make the transition from being at the elementary across the street to the high school where I will also be teaching 11th and 12th graders. I'm comfortable with juniors and seniors because I taught those grades exclusively as a student teacher for fifteen weeks after observing them for seven. 8th grade is another story... I was placed late and only got to observe the classroom for four weeks.

    I read an article recently about how middle school should be abolished because many teachers are not trained in how to prepare this age range properly for entering high school. I'm thinking (this being their first year in a new building and all) they will need extra guidance. Behavior, organization, and autonomy are some of the things I thought of focusing on.

    I don't really know what my question is. Where do I start? I'm going to ask for the contact info for the elementary teacher who taught them as seventh graders and ask to meet to look over her grade book and learn what I can from them. I'm familiar with CCSS, but not the daily running of an 8th grade classroom. I know the teacher I observed read aloud for 20 minutes and then also had them read silently for 20 minutes, but she had 80 minute class periods! I anticipate having to do a lot more monitoring and grading. Is that true?

    Many of the books I collected for my classroom library on not geared toward middle school students. What are a few suggestions? Resources? Point me in the right direction. :) Any help is much appreciated.
     
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  3. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jul 15, 2014

    Personally, I think there's a HUGE difference between 7th & 8th grade in terms of behavior and motivation. Kids literally "grow up" the summer between. It always annoys me when people say (and I've been guilty of it in the past), "Oh, the elementary teachers don't prepare them for MS... the MS didn't get them ready for HS... etc." the kids have usually been prepared and taught and warned. It's just their nature at that age - social rebellion, hormones, superman complex, whatever you want to call it.

    How long are your periods? Can you get a copy of the literature book ahead of time? One big thing we're working on is response to literature - incorporating more writing analysis with short stories.

    My class looks like this:
    - 10 minute warmup (copy homework, copy notes, review learning goal)
    - 20-40 minutes reading OR essay planning (for reading, they follow along with tape recording; we stop at points to clarify/predict/etc; for essays, they plan out a topic with circle maps, flow maps, then draft, edit, revise, final copy)
    - 40 minutes circle work (group rotate between grammar, Vocab, reading response, and discussion OR peer editing exercises)
    - 10 minutes for response journal or silent reading

    Popular reads - anything by Rick Riordan. They love book series. Ghost/mysteries stories are hot (Dan Poblocki is popular). Go on Amazon and search popular YA novels.
     
  4. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jul 15, 2014

    I start every class with 15-20 minutes of silent reading. It's the single best activity to increase their comprehension, writing, grammar, everything. There's no better way to start the day, IMO.

    Then we jump into the lesson, which looks different depending on the day. My eighth graders study Greek and Latin roots, which they like because they say that it helps them understand a bunch of words that they never knew before.

    We read "The Wednesday Wars" by Gary Schmidt and "The Other Wes Moore" by Wes Moore as a class. I'm also looking in to doing "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson.
     
  5. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2014

    Thank you for the website, shopping, and book suggestions. I will know more Thursday when I go pick up my curriculum.
     
  6. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 19, 2014

    My class library is built mostly as a result of Goodwill junkets. Kids this age have a wide variety of interests and often very diverse reading levels. Therefore my shelves include Captain Underpants, a few picture books, easy to read chapter books, series such as Twilight, Insurgent, Matched, and Hunger Games. I have tons of classics both in original format and in the adapted format used in Illustrated Classics.

    I've found that boys this age gravitate towards non-fiction and sports stories, so I've boosted the number of books in this category including Civil War related stories since that is a popular topic for boys here in central VA. Newbery Medal and Honors books are great, and I have well over 100 of these. Since these books are generally coming-of-age stories with characters who are in their early teens, the kids really enjoy them. I have a unit I do on the Newbery books every year.

    Authors such as Margurite Henry, Avi, Gary Paulson, and Louis Sacher are popular as well.

    My shelves have sections of Holocaust books, poetry of all kinds, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, some picture books, and many DK books on topics from exploring the universe to exploring the human brain.

    I hope this helps. Good luck this year. Eighth graders are great. They are great at challenging authority, have great insight, and are a great inspiration. I call them young adults with training wheels. They want to be treated as mature young people, but they still love stickers and stamps! :)
     
  7. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Jul 21, 2014

    Turns out I won't be teaching 8th grade this year, but thank you for all the help.
     

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