Building Connections Before Thanksgiving

Demonstration Speeches

Throughout the week, I have had the opportunity to get to know my students in unique ways. As ELA teachers, we connect with our students through writing and reading, but this week my 7th graders completed their Demonstration Speeches and a Screen Free Day. Both opportunities opened the door to form connections with my students.

Demonstration speeches always spark fear in the eyes of my students initially, and this year was no exception. Throughout the week prior to their speeches, we spent time analyzing example speeches with the rubric. Of course, I include a few well done, mediocre, and unfortunate examples, so the class loosens up a bit and we have the opportunity to laugh a bit, too.

As their teacher, I share my fear with them, also. I am fearful of public speaking like so many others. My students do not believe it at first, as I speak with them daily, while teaching, but I remind them that we are comfortable with each other. In front of a group of parents or teachers, my hands sweat, my face reddens, and worries of the necessity of a reapplication of deodorant enter my brain.

Once presentations began, as always I was fascinated or at least intrigued as I do not know as much about my students as I may think. I had a variety of topics and talents shared, such as wrapping presents, creating crafts, science experiments, snowboard tutorials, basketball, volleyball, and football tutorials, cleaning a carburetor, playing clarinets, flutes, otamatone, card tricks worthy of AGT, origami, and hair tutorials. Although my students were nervous, they prepped and did absolutely wonderful. This moment of being in the same shoes of nerves brought our class closer as some delivered their presentation with ease and some could not wait for their time in the spotlight to end.

Adorable Santa paint brush made by one of my students.

Screen Free Day

A day of no technology in a one to one Google Chromebook school was set. Deep breath…I accept the challenge. Now let me preface this with a few things. My classroom has a SMART Board, document camera, projector, speakers, desktop computer, and my Chromebook BUT no whiteboards or chalkboards.

I pondered activities to get students thinking and communicating. I opted for diagramming sentences introduction and practice. I know-WOW, ancient task, but students were looking at sentences in different ways. Some who find activities easy in ELA had to think a bit differently and some picked it up quickly. Teams were communicating and some took on leadership roles who may not typically. I loved watching them figure out where each part of the sentence goes and how to identify them. Their team dynamics were new and engaged.

Second block period, I shared Kwame Alexander’s book How to Read a Book, which is a reminder of the magical journey we enter when we open the cover of a book and “pop the words out”. I used the content to remind my students of the intrigue, beauty, humor, etc. we pull from those pages full of magic waiting for us!

7th graders then commenced eating snacks and reading throughout the room in comfy spots. They were relaxed, I was relaxed, and the room quieted. Nearing the end of the hour, we chatted with each other, laughed with each other, and connected with each other. I have to say that I enjoyed our Screen Free Day. BUT I also love what technology offers us as educators in bringing intrigue and motivation to the classroom.

Overall, I learned more about students hobbies, activities, and passions all within a week. As our trimester comes to an end, I look forward to a new trimester of planning, prepping, and teaching young people who I know a bit better now! And now to power down my technology and get home to my family. Happy Weekend to all of you!

Published by Jennifer Hottinger

7th grade ELA teacher and a lover of books!

One thought on “Building Connections Before Thanksgiving

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