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8th Grade...Is this too young for them? HELP!!!!

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jvar87 jvar87 is offline
 
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8th Grade...Is this too young for them? HELP!!!!
Old 08-07-2009, 01:35 PM
 
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Ok so, I will be a first year teacher in 8th grade this year...an ELA class, though the focus is mainly on writing because they have a different reading class. When it comes to classroom setup, I want the classroom to be very comfortable, but I have been warned of course not to let them get "too comfortable." I wanted to purchase a large area rug for the class library area (yay or nay?) so that when they finish their work they can go to that area and read and relax a bit. I then started thinking...

Could I do read alouds once in a while (where the students would respond in writing to the reading) and maybe even have them sit on the rug to listen to the reading? I know this is done primarily in elementary school, but I'm wondering if 8th grade is too old? Specifically for the rug idea...would they like this? I thought they might since they are used to sitting and being at desks allll day (70 minute periods on average) and it might be nice for them to be able to sit comfortably a bit and move around. What are thoughts on this? Anyone have suggestions for rug use or advice?


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sit on carpet?
Old 08-07-2009, 01:45 PM
 
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I'd say wait and see your students' culture. It might work but it might not - I've had a 8th grade class that would think it was cool to sit on the carpet and more classes that wouldn't. For the most part, no. I think it's too close in each other's personal spaces. (To be honest and I'm not being funny, the smells of some of them revile others and I think the carpet would bring them too close.) For drama we will sometimes sit on the floor in a circle but then we're moving so it's OK. Perhaps instead of a carpet - how about a couch or a couple of big pillows/bench? I've seen that used successfully.
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Size?
Old 08-07-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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Since you're a first year teacher in 8th grade I'm going to assume your experience with the SIZE of your average eighth grader may be limited to interacting with them one on one or in small groups. I've taught 3/4th and mostly 6/7/8. When I had the little ones (even 6th) I always had a rug area and we used it daily. But reality is that by the time they get to 7/8 they have (or are) grown ALOT! Unless you have a really big room your typical area rug is not going to hold very many kids. Think long arms and legs and making them sit indian style is particularly uncomfortable (especially the boys). They will want to either stretch out their legs or lay down. Nice for one or two or maybe three but any more and sooner or later somebody is going to get kicked.

And then there is the sleeping factor. Kids of this age given the opportunity to lay down will fall asleep. Whether from growth spurts, too much sports, too many late nights, or just because...they love to fall asleep. While you will probably want them to have nap time somedays do you really want to have your administrator or a parent walk in just as one of your darlings falls asleep???

IMO you'd be wiser to spend your money on two or three special chairs and rotate the privilege of extra seating.

Believe me, I love teaching this age group and I wouldn't go back to the little ones BUT they are different - not little kids and not yet big kids. Have a good year!
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:14 PM
 
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The size thing is a good point. I did my student teaching in 7th grade and the size does vary widely. I should maybe explain this more thoroughly. The school I'm working at is grouped by ability, and the lower level groups have smaller amounts of students, sometimes as small as 12. I was thinking about this more for the lower level groups...are the opinions still the same? I know with the 7th grade some of the lower level students appreciated activities and things that would be done in earlier grades.
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This would certainly work
Old 08-07-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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with my 8th graders. My students like the opportunity to sit anywhere they want when they're doing their independent reading. So, once I establish that SSR is absolutely silent reading time (maybe Octoberish), I let them sit wherever they want. My classroom is carpeted, so I don't have a special spot for them, but they sit on the floor, and they sit on chairs with their legs up on another chair. They're comfortable, and they read.

I've also done read alouds (though not often) where they sit on the floor and I sit on a chair and read a picture book to them. My students love it. So, I guess it all depends on your group. The main thing is, I love the way you are trying to make them love the environment around reading time - that's going to go a long way to helping them enjoy reading. Good on you!

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Old 08-08-2009, 12:50 AM
 
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Yes to read alouds!!
When in doubt about sitting on the rug or if something is "too young" I always ask the kids, this year they loved sitting on the carpet, other years I had classes prefer to stay at desks, some of the kids prefer chairs, but bring them closer so they can hear - Ask them.
I might be inclined to say, "read aloud, those that would like may sit on the carpet up here, by me or bring your chair closer"
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Old 08-08-2009, 02:17 AM
 
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I did my 1styear last year ... I taught 9th grade English I. This year I'm teaching 10th English II and 1 class of Pre-Ap (advanced Eng II).

We did lots of reading aloud last year - esp them reading aloud. It's the only way to get them quiet and moving on. Sometimes if they were just way too loud - I would take over the reading - bc they seemed to really be quiet then. I did have a couple of students go to the floor and sit or lay down while we were reading aloud. So, I want to make a small area w/ rug and coupld of pillows to sit on/layon while we are reading - no more than 2 in the area (maybe names drawn by week, or I'll go up/down the class roster to see who gets to sit there).

As far as seating your entire class on the rug - I would take into consideration the size of your class. And also realize that 8th graders are going to be just as touchy feely as elementary students. So you may want to watch out for that too.
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Gathering Around
Old 08-08-2009, 07:25 AM
 
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One year I had my 8th graders listen to the radio program of War of the Worlds. They had already read the book and after the radio program they watched one of the movie versions (latest one had not been made yet). Their task was to compare the setting, voice, characters, etc. which if you do all of the different media is a great lesson.

I had to laugh however when we started on the radio program. The kids all scrambled to pull their chairs up near the CD player and stared at it intently all the time they were listening - just like people did when radio was the 'modern media'.

This group also listened to FDR's Pearl Harbor speech. The only copy I had on hand at the time was on a 33 1/3 record album and I found an old record player that worked. It blew the kids away - most had never actually seen (let alone played with) a record player and record album. They were fascinated with how it worked compared to a CD, MP3 file, etc. One of those great teaching moments all teachers love! Principal dropped into the room while we were all sitting on the floor playing with the record player and she went to her office and brought back a record album of a group of nuns singing. Kids were stunned to find out she was one of the singers. Using "multi-media" is always educational on so many levels.
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