Smarty is really enjoying her English class this year. They do what she loves best - they read good books.
The year started with a teacher assigning children to read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Then they spent some time discussing the book and researching author's biographyfollowed by a debate. The debate question posed by the teacher was, "Is The Little Prince a memoir or an allegory of the WWII?" Granted, Smarty was somewhat disappointed with the ability of her classmates to offer interesting points of view, but... most of the kids in her English class are actually younger than her in grade level (6th and 7th grade), and they were less exposed to the higher order thinking processes required for such a discussion. According to Smarty, they are all learning that they cannot just sit and be quiet, and she is enjoying an atmosphere of exploration and tolerance that her English teacher fosters.
The Little Prince was an opening to a discussion on interwar children literature. Smarty had to do a research to pick three children books written between two World Wars and discuss their differences and similarities. Her picks were Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, and Dr. Doolitle. Then conversation moved to an "idealized childhood" presented in many post WWII children books and the students were asked to find a book that would NOT present children as equal or better than adults. This led to Smarty finally reading Lord of the Flies - something that she had on her Kindle for a while but could not get into.
So far the kids did not do things that were so prominent in Smarty's public school language classes - worksheets. Needless to say, Smarty does not miss them. In fact, she is really enjoying her interactive classes focused on good books - she commented once that she read more books for her English class in three weeks that she read for school an entire last year. It might be just a slight exaggeration. Here are some of the books that she read for school:
Smarty's teacher is warm and funny, but he is also a pretty strict grader. If Smarty has to actually (gasp!) work to get an A (currently hovering at around 96% in English grade), I cannot even imagine how it must be for kids who don't read this fast and who have problems expressing their thoughts on paper. But... it looks like with raised expectations everyone is improving, and I can only hope that this class does not lose its steam later in the year.
How are language classes working out for your kids this year?