A Novel Challenge

A Novel Challenge (Challenge Template)

byline: Christy Clay, English Teacher

Building life long readers is my number on professional challenge this year. Donalyn Miller’s renowned book, The Book Whisperer, released a great awakening within my reader’s soul this summer. The jolt was so consuming that I have reevaluated my entire classroom approach to reading. I honestly believe that the more a person reads, the more they will comprehend and build vocabulary. This in turn will lead students to mimic what they have read into their writings. Following through on this concept would effectively meet my Language Arts classroom objectives of reading comprehension, vocabulary expansion, and effective writing.

Anyone who claims the title of master reader knows that it begins by encountering inspirational books, genuine peer recommendations, and a community of readers who corporately express their reading enthusiasm. “A trail of worksheets from a teacher to their students does not build a connection with readers; only books do (Miller, 2009).” Based on these conjectures, I have challenged my students to read forty chapter books across various genres this school year. Their reward for accomplishing this ostentatious goal is not having to take my English semester tests which are all inclusive and ten percent of their final grade. There have been a few grumbles, but most have taken up this challenge with conviction and determination. I have stressed to the students that it is not the final number which should motivate you, but instead it should be the journey of discovery which will occur as a result of reading various genres.

I would like to extend this challenge to the Keya Paha community with a slight twist. Read one author/book for each letter of the alphabet within this school year. This is a great way to locate different authors which you might not otherwise read, and it will spark a conversation with your children who are encountering a similar challenge in their English classrooms. You can start with any letter of the alphabet, use first or last names to distinguish selections, or use key book title words. However you want to challenge yourself! Be creative!

Anyone can join in at anytime. For accountability purposes, create a post on my blog or print my template with your alphabetical list when you are ready to begin. Then update that post as you journey through the alphabet! You can see mine as an example online at https://christyclay.wordpress.com/ or by seeing me in the English classroom at the high school. Add books as you go, upon completion, or make a list based on what you want to read and check them off as you go.

Keep me your reading loop through online posts, emails, or by dropping into my English classroom at the high school. Good luck to all!

A Novel Challenge CSC (My Challenge List/Example)

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A Teacher for Each Student

Every student deserves a great teacher. Do you believe in soul mates? Do you believe that everyone deserves something special made just for him or her? I certainly believe in this optimism. As a student, I did not agree with every teacher I was taught by. I certainly had more than a few that I could have lived without. What made me want to become a teacher was not the multitude of educators that disappointed and at times harassed me. It was the select handful that reached me on an individual level and asked me to be bigger than myself. 

As an educator today, I realize that I am not meant to be the “favorite” teacher of every student I meet. I realize that more than enough of my students will look at me and scoff at my high standards and strict disciplined ways. I also realize that as I reach out to each student in my own way, I will have those that respond positively to my teachings and manner. They may never say it, and I don’t think I have to hear it, but in my heart of hearts, I know it to be true.

As a teacher, I do not get to choose what a student will remember about me. Nor do students get to choose what I will remember about them. That is why I am constantly reevaluating my motives in and outside the classroom, so that my most flattering view is remembered the most. Plus there is truth in the old adage of faking it until you make it. Making a difference in one life really does make each day more than worth it.

Welcome to a New School Year KPHS Students!

What can you expect from Mrs. Clay’s Language Arts classroom? New and improved activities, novels, writing assignments, and presentations.

Welcome back to school for all returning and new students. I am anticipating wonderfully creative times in and outside the classroom this year. There are two expectations for all students at KPCS: that they demonstrate respect and responsibility at all times. Each class period of mine will discuss what this is going to look like in our classroom. The one thing you need to know about Mrs. Clay’s Language Arts classes is as long as you don’t do something to interfere with anyone’s learning—meaning you, your classmates, the students in other classrooms, or me—you’re fine.

What if a student does something to interfere with learning? I will do whatever I can to make sure students are learning. Depending on the situation, this could mean a short meeting between just a student and me, a phone call home, meetings with our counselor, superintendent, your parents/guardians… or anything else that will help get students back on track.

What if students do well? Rewards! Praise, praise and more praise; positive notes home; homework passes; eligibility for special Theatre events and trips, to name a few.

Tardiness is not accepted behavior from our students, and it is being monitored by the State of Nebraska. In Mrs. Clay’s Language Arts classroom being tardy is constituted as:

A. Being physically late for a class without a pass

B. Not coming prepared to class (Includes having: paper, pencil, texts, and other specifically required materials)

Each class session has a Preparedness Grade of 20 points = 100 points at the end of each week.

A failing grade is the student’s responsibility to remedy with my assistance. Some assignments will offer extra credit. If a student scores below a 70% on an exam, they have the chance to retest within 7 class days. The highest grade a student can earn is a 75%. I only offer ONE retest for each major assessment, and a student can only take it after he or she has shown me that he or she has worked to learn what is needed.

Students are responsible for making up work they miss when they are absent for any reason. Any work not turned in will result in an automatic zero. I will not hunt students down to rectify this situation; it is their sole responsibility. Students need to check Mrs. Clay’s Monthly Class Calendar first, and then check with me about other assignments that might have been missed.

I am here to help students. I do not do things for you that you can do for yourself. BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU!

No credit will be given for work not completed or not made up in the allotted time. It is the student’s responsibility to get assignments missed due to absences. Late assignments result in 10 points off the earned score for each day they are late. An assignment is late if it is not turned in when requested. By the end of the period, is not acceptable for full credit when it is due at the beginning of class. Remember that something valuable is covered everyday in class and students need to be on top of finding out what that was. I do not GIVE grades; you EARN grades.

Cheating is defined as copying homework, outlines, reports, being observed looking at another’s test/quiz, or talking during a test/quiz. Doing such will result in a zero for all willingly involved parties, disciplinary action may also occur.

Extra Credit is available with most assignments by doing additional questions/projects from stories or writing articles for the Springview Herald.

Materials needed for all of Mrs. Clay’s Language Arts classes are:

Current Textbook

Current Study Guide

Personal Reading Book & Response Journal

Writing Utensil

Writing Notebook

Whiteout or Eraser (scribbling is not acceptable)

USB Drive

Sticky Notes

Highlighters

Folder

*Certain items are checked daily for your preparedness grade which equal 100 points at the end of each week.

Language Arts is hard. What if a student needs help? One thing you will learn about me very quickly is that I will do anything I can to help you succeed inside and outside of this class. I am here early before school, available during my lunch, and am here late after school. I offer many chances to get extra credit for helping your grades. If things outside of this classroom are affecting student performance, I want to help work through those problems as well. In the end, there are no excuses for failure—each student can pass Language Arts, each student can DO Language Arts, and maybe by the end of the year some students might even LIKE Language Arts!

As the guardian, you are the expert on your child. There are many ways you can support your child’s academic progress at home:

Ask your child what they learned in school every day.

Encourage your child to ask questions in class and come in for extra help when they need it.  I am available before school (7:15am), during lunch, after school (till 5:15pm) and even weekends.

Visit our classroom or participate in class as a guest speaker.

Make sure you receive your child’s progress reports. Failing lists are mailed out weekly throughout the semester from the Guidance department.

Please contact me with any concerns or questions you have at any time. You do not have to wait until parent/teacher conferences to get in touch with me; I am always willing to talk to you. I look forward to frequent communication with you as we work together to ensure your child’s success.

 

Sincerely,

Mrs. Christy Clay

cclay@esu17.org