I had a good day at school today. And that is important and exciting, because today was a B Cycle day, which usually means my rowdier kids, no prep period, and a general haggard feeling by the time 2:15 rolls around.
Today, however, was different. In first period, we FINALLY started reading The Hunger Games, which my 7th graders are completely excited about. It was so refreshing to see my students completely engaged in our reading. The difference is palpable. As I read aloud, the students actually stop me to ask comprehension and vocabulary questions (during the short stories from the textbook, they're never interested enough to care whether or not they 100% understand). When I pause to ask questions during The Hunger Games, multiple people are ready to supply the (correct) answer. But there are also others who say, "Come on, we've answered it now...let's keep reading!"
In second period, my 8th graders were surprisingly (refreshingly) focused as well. To give you an idea of the difference from past days, let me explain a ranking system we use. We do a grammar or review activity, and afterwards, the class rates themselves on how efficiently they use time, how orderly the are, how on-task, how seriously they take their job, and how accurate their responses are. I keep the classes honest by establishing my right to veto any score I disagree with. Usually, my 8th graders end up giving themselves about 30/50. Today, they gave themselves 41/50, and I agreed. Talk about improvement!
By lunch time, I was singing "Zippa-dee Doo Da" under my breath and practically skipping to the teacher's lounge. I could get used to this!
(The last period of the day was 7th graders again, and it also went pretty well. I had a little more trouble with talking at the beginning, but once we started reading, they too were completely focused). The day that started on a great note also ended on a positive note.