Thursday, March 14, 2019

Wrapping Up a School Year with Nonfiction

It’s that time of year once again. My colleague, Mel, and I have sat down, looked at the
calendar, and roughly planned out the last two big units we will do - poetry and research.
Next week we will be on Spring Break. Once we get back, however, the march will begin -
ten weeks until school is over for another year.

It doesn’t seem possible.

And although the year seems to have gone too fast and crawled by at times in equal
measure, I’m excited to see what these kids do with these final units. I love the poetry
lessons we have in store, but I especially love the final project in the unit. We create poetry
books for kindergarteners in the district based on their interests, then head over to share the
books with our kindergarten buddies in early May. The seventh graders remember when
they were kindergarteners themselves and those “big kids” came to visit. It is pretty cool.

For the last month of school I will return to a unit that I’ve done for the past four years, a
short term research project. It started with my last class in fifth grade. We used a video for a
quick write one day and it was about plastic in the ocean. The kids were horrified and
begged to learn more. Three weeks later we had been immersed in research and decided
how to share our learning with others. It was an experience I will not forget.

In my years in middle school this unit has evolved and, knowing my class this year, I cannot
wait to see the directions they take it as they each learn about topics that are important to
them. I think I end up learning as much from the kids as they do from me, if not more. If this
type of unit sounds interesting to you, I’m teaching a course on it over at Choice Literacy in
April, just in time for you to do it yourself at the end of the year. It is truly one of the high
months of the year for me. Learn more about the course HERE.

As I sit here and type this post out, we have fifty-four days of school left. That seems to be
an eternity and non enough at the same time. I know this - I need spring break, but when we
come back I am going to treasure those days we have left together. Every class I’ve taught
over the last twenty-two years has taught me something. We are not done yet and I still
have a lot to learn.