There are many things I could have become besides a teacher. My four years at UNC Chapel Hill included many starts down various paths including international business, psychology, dental school with an Air Force career, then business school, and finally ending at Peabody Hall in the school of education. As I share with my students, I get to do all of these “careers” as a teacher. I get to learn something new every day. Everyone is on their own path and traveling at their own pace. Sometimes I get to see a moment unfold right before my eyes and more often I hear about that moment years down the road. I am constantly reflecting, asking curious questions, and holding expectations high hoping the leap or extra effort students take brings them confidence and a belief that they are capable of more than they ever realized. Read one 6th grader’s thoughts about how she’s grown as a lifelong learner this year.
During this year of 6th grade Language Arts, I had so much fun learning how to do many new things through our Language Arts class. I definitely felt like I was being challenged in Language Arts, yet the class was still manageable. I feel like I have improved so much from the beginning of the year to now, but I still have so much that I can work on in the future. Here are some of the things I did this year.
I feel like I have gotten a chance to read so much more than I have in previous years because we got to start each class by reading silently. I really enjoyed having that time where I could just focus on what I was reading. I also enjoyed the fact that we got to choose what books we wanted to read because it made reading so much more fun for me when I had the option to read the kind of books that I liked. However, I do need to work on challenging myself in the books that I choose to read and work on expanding the genres of the books I read. I have read 41 books this year and I read an average of 10 books each quarter. Right now, I am currently reading the book Everlasting by Angie Frazier, and I think this book is really different than some of the books I have recently read. I like the sense of adventure it has, which is different from the past books I have read, and there are many plot twists and cliffhangers which keep me interested in the book. In class, we just finished reading the Westing Game, which was a very detailed and complex mystery that was fascinating to read about as the story unfolded. Now in class, we have started reading a book called Call it Courage, and although we just started, I like how the book takes place in a very interesting setting, which is an island in Polynesia. Throughout this year, I have really built and developed a love for reading.
Another thing that I have improved in this year is my vocabulary since we worked used Membean to learn new words. Since we have done a lot of Membean this year as homework and taken many Membean Quizzes, I feel like I have not only expanded my vocabulary but have learned how to incorporate the new words I am learning into my writing. I am still on level two with Membean, and have learned 201 out of the 299 words this year, and although I think I am doing Membean at a relatively slow pace, I really wanted to focus on my accuracy and truly learning the new words. I really like some of the words I have learned, such as implicit or memorandum because I think it is really interesting when I learn the meanings of words that I have heard before in my everyday life.
This year, something new that I have never done before is writing a blog. I think it is such a fun thing to get to write our own blog posts that can be put on the internet for everyone to view. Writing a blog post is one of the things that has really improved my writing because we get to write about things that we care about. Writing on a blog also gives me an opportunity to show some of my personality in my writing. By the third quarter, I had written thirteen blog posts, and currently, at the end of the year, I have written sixteen blog posts. Another fun thing about having blogs is that we can comment on our classmates’ blogs and receive feedback on our own blog posts. One of my favorite blog posts that I have written this year is the one about our Hero Books. I really enjoyed writing about our Hero Books, because I was writing about something that meant a lot to me. There was also so much detail that I was able to include about the process of making our Hero Books. I think our blog posts have really helped me grow and improve as a writer. Here is the link to my blog. http://23mayahd.edublogs.org
One of the other areas where I really grew in Language Arts is grammar. Before I came into 6th grade, I had really struggled with grammar. However, throughout this year, by using iXL, I feel like I was able to improve so much. I have completed all 68 total sections in the 6th grade level of iXL, and am working on the 7th-grade level now. I have answered 5,900 questions in iXL, and I have really spent a lot of extra time trying to improve my grammar. One of the things that I learned doing iXL that was most helpful was learning about commas. Using commas have always been difficult for me because I did not know how to use them or where to put them. After completing the comma section in iXL, I will now be able to use my knowledge about commas in all of my future writing. I have not only learned a lot about grammar but have come to actually enjoy doing iXL and getting to learn all the rules of grammar.
I also had practice setting goals for myself this year by using a calendar in Evernote to keep track of my daily goal. What we did every month was set a monthly goal that we would complete every day. This was definitely a new experience for me because I never really had committed to a written goal like this. I also thought it was cool to have a visual of our progress on a calendar to be able to see how consistently we are completing our goals. One of the goals I am proud that I accomplished was practicing piano for an hour every day. I am proud of this because, at the end of the month, I could really see how much progress I was able to make through the month. I learned from this experience that I can do almost anything if I have the persistence to be able to commit to doing whatever I want to do.
Another thing that is similar to setting goals for ourselves is writing a Life List. At the beginning of the year, we wrote a list of things that we wanted to accomplish in our lifetime or a Life List. Later in the year, we looked at our Life Lists again to see whether we had finished any of our goals for our life. For me, I accomplished only one thing on my Life List which was to read ten classic books. I think this is because a lot of my goals on my Life List were much more long term, and many of them I will not be able to accomplish until later on in my life. However, another one of my goals was to travel to Europe, and I will be able to accomplish that goal this summer because my family is traveling to England. Our Life Lists have really helped give me perspective about what I want to do with my life, and what I can do now to reach my long term goals for my life.
Some of my favorite and most memorable things that we have done this year include our Hero Book Project and reading the Westing Game. One of my favorite things about doing our Hero Book Project was working with the artist Peg Gignoux and learning about so many different art techniques. I really enjoyed getting our books displayed in Frank Gallery, and getting to share the stories of our heroes with other people. I also learned a lot about my hero, who was my dad and became closer to him. By writing about my Hero, I got to be creative in making my book, and I got to write about someone I care about. The Westing Game was one of my favorite novels that we have read in class this year. I really enjoyed the whole plot of the story, and reading and taking notes as the mystery unfolded. The book was very complex, and at times it was difficult to try to pay attention to every detail, but all the details made the book so much more interesting because I could look back upon the book and realize that a lot of the details in the book came together to form the answer to the mystery. It was also fun to draw all the characters in the book in order to get a better visualization of what every character looked like. In Language Arts this year, we really have done so many fun things that I learned so much from doing.
I also faced some challenges in Language Arts this year, and one of the most difficult things we did this year was the Westing Game. Since the book required taking such detailed notes and paying so much attention to every possible clue in the book, I really had to take the time to read everything very carefully. However, despite these challenges I have gained more confidence in myself and my writing abilities through this year. One of the specific things that I feel more confident about is writing nonfiction essays about factual things. Before this year, I do not think I had that much practice writing nonfiction, but throughout this year, I really got the chance to practice writing about what is happening in my life, and about other people. I know that in my future, I will have to write more nonfiction, and the confidence I have gained through writing this year will benefit me in the future.
Despite learning so much this year, there are some things that I would have liked to do differently. Next year, I hope that in class, we will get the chance to watch more movies in class because I really enjoyed watching videos and movies that were related to what we were learning. For me, watching those things was a really helpful way for me to learn. Next year, I do hope to spend slightly less time reading silently in class, because for me, it is easier to concentrate on reading when I am reading at home alone. I also feel like it would have been better for me if I could have the chance to use that time silently reading to be able to get more work done. However, I still think that I do enjoy getting the time to read in class, and I also like the freedom to choose what books I read. This freedom has also helped me enjoy reading more, and also helps me read faster.
I also learned from this year about how it is best for me to learn, and I think one of the things I have improved on this year is with attention. I have really learned about different things that help me focus, such as taking stretch breaks periodically while working. I know that for me, it can be hard to continually focus for long periods of time. I also learned that it is harder for me to accomplish things when I do not want to do them as much, however, I can still finish them. One of the more effective learning strategies for me is to be able to visually see examples of what I am going to do, since I believe I am more of a visual learner, and it is harder for me to do things based on just oral instructions. I can also help improve my performance in class work and homework if I try to tune out other distractions, and although that is hard for me, I know it is something that I do need to work on.
Overall, throughout my 6th grade year in Language Arts, I feel like I have really been able to grow and improve as a person. I have not only developed many new skills but have had fun doing it. I did many things this year that I never thought I would be able to do and have had so much fun learning how to do new things through all the projects and activities we did this year. This year has been especially impactful on my life, because I have truly developed a love for learning, and that is something I will have for the rest of my life.