Wednesday, October 08, 2003

After School Starts...

Today was the first day of our after school program. One of the things I find slightly odd about teaching in the city is that instead of this club or that team, everything is just called "afterschool," as in, "Do we have afterschool today?" or "What class are you teaching in afterschool?"

We have afterschool on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 2:30-4:30. A snack is provided (for the kids, at least...). We identified students who are at risk of failing either the math or reading exams this spring and made extra-help in the specific subject area mandatory for them. Kids who are there for enrichment get to choose from Chess, NFTE (an entrepreneurship program), Yoga, Literary Magazine, HS Admissions Prep, Photography, and Drama.

I am teaching the HS Admissions Prep on Wednesdays, and Literary Magazine on Thursdays. The HS Admissions Prep (which desperately needs a better name... any ideas?) is targeted at 7th graders who anticipate taking the Specialized High School's Admissions Test next year, to get into schools like Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, or Stuyvesant. It's a tough test, and the material is ahead of their current classes. We'll have to learn some basic geometry and algebra, along with higher-level vocabulary, more complex sentence structure, and test-taking strategies. I bought a couple of test-prep guides at Barnes & Noble, and will go over the different types of questions before next Wednesday. Then I have to find engaging ways to present the material!

Then, on Thursdays, I am leading Literary Magazine. I'm going to do lots of fun activities around creative writing, such as using a "word jar" to choose a few words that they must include in a poem; writing from nature, music, or art; or playing around with different rhyme schemes. Eventually, they will solicit submissions from other students and put the best work together in a magazine. I'm really psyched about this program, since I did a lot of work on the literary magazines back when I was in middle and high school.

Unfortunately, Pasta Challenge is gone this year. That was an engineering after school program that I did last year, with the kids building bridges and towers and such out of pasta, with challenges to hold a certain number of pennies. We all loved Pasta Challenge, but it was exhausting and I'm ready for a change! Also, I think it's important for the kids to see many sides of their teachers; they know about my techie side, but do they know that I'm also a creative writer?

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