At the end of last term, all of the Seishin students took surveys to ask their opinions about their lessons and their teachers. My junior high school second graders took this survey last term, and I gave my first graders and third graders this survey at the beginning of this term. Most of my students were mostly satisfied with NELP but I was sorely disheartened that a couple students were very unhappy with some aspects of NELP.
Recently, my junior high school second graders in particular have complained about the length of some of our readings. My second graders are VERY hard-working students, so when they complained, I listened.
I really care about my students, and if what I'm giving them isn't right for them: well, that's very important to me. In addition to the length and difficulty of some works, I have also been a little worried about some readings in the curriculum because I felt that some readings were too 'negative' and I feel that, particularly because Seishin is a Catholic missionary school, our readings should be more positive and uplifting. Certainly we can have 'serious' topics, but they shouldn't ALL be serious or dark.
So I sat down with each of my classes and we talked about what readings they liked and what readings they didn't like. Their answers were surprising. There were things I thought they would have liked that they didn't like, and there were things that I felt they surely must hate that they loved.
As a result of these discussions, the NELP program is going to be much better next year.
One other change this year is that we're going to start regular debates and conversations in junior high. Each section, the NELP students will have two debates and two conversations. The topics for these were suggested by students. I think we'll have a lot of fun.
This term, the first graders are starting with "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Their first debate proposition will be "Young people should get work experience and not just go to school." Their first conversation topic will be "Why do we have P.E.?" This term, the first graders will be making their "Introduction to First Grade" video for next year's NELP class.
The second graders were going to start with "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe. I had chosen this because it's in a lot of American high school literature books, but I have thrown it out of the curriculum as being not so terribly appropriate to the students' needs. After all: a guy gets sealed up in a wall! Instead, we're reading the speech "I Will Fight No More Forever" by Chief Joseph. Our first debate proposition will be "We should stop using disposable chopsticks." Our first conversation topic will be "What do you think of our teachers?" The second graders are still trying to finish their video project. They're not getting very far with it. In fact, it's probably going to be a video about them not getting their project done. The multiple takes of students telling each other to do it over and do it better are far more fun to watch than the actual video they're making!
The third graders started working on their debate. Their proposition is "Whaling should be banned." We have started on the constructive arguments and have begun preliminary work on the attacking arguments. The third graders are still finishing their public service announcements. We started filming the first one today, and it looks AWESOME!
Here are the first graders doing brainstorming for their first essay. They're doing essays about art!
Here is the first grade class.
Here are the first graders having a discussion about Ozymandias.
Here are the first graders in reading class.
Here are the first graders doing research for their first presentation.
Here are the first graders in their writing class.
Here are the second graders.
Here are the second graders having a discussion about "I Will Fight No More Forever". Their discussion was SUPER! The second graders are SO good. Usually I have to watch my classes very closely to see that every student speaks during discussion time, but my second graders ALL spoke within the first 90 seconds of the discussion. They're so super! Their presentations were awesome too! I was amazed. They're also the only class to turn in ALL of their homework so far this term (and it was ALL early). GOOD JOB, SECOND GRADERS!
Here is the third grade class!