Friday, August 25, 2017

My Nerdy Goal for This School Year

Each year I try to bring a bit more of myself into my classroom. Since finally embracing what I had been pushing away for so much of my life, I want to use it to my advantage as a teacher. It enhances my enjoyment in life and allows me to connect with students.

This year I chose to focus on my reading units in my classroom. My decision was inspired by a change in the subjects that I teach. I am first and foremost a Literacy teacher. My position, though, only covers 4 hours and not the required 5 hours (a total of 7 with 1 prep hour and 1 "team time" hour). So I always end up teaching one additional subject. My very first year I taught Science, but that was a rough year. My second year I picked up a 7th grade Literacy along with my 6th grade Literacy. Then I taught Social Studies and, in my sixth year, I am back with Science. Luckily our district just picked up a new program, so I am fully immersing myself in learning it and understanding it. We have all the resources and went through training and I am feeling really psyched. The only drawback is that my room is primarily a Literacy room, but that's my own issue to work through.

And yet... maybe it wasn't going to be an issue. I've always been drawn to Science Fiction. It is something that I absolutely love to read. Now, don't get me wrong, I do enjoy Fantasy, but I have found I am way more enamored with Science Fiction. In previous years I have catered to young adult realistic fiction, but with the flooded market and the rehashing of the same old things with new skins, I have a tendency to draw away from the market. Sadly, I found it very difficult to find Science Fiction directed at young readers that didn't just use the skin of Science Fiction as a vehicle for a different genre.

That got me thinking. . . how do we really define Science Fiction. I was shocked with what I learned. . .
Oh my goodness... no... absolutely not! Talk about pigeonholing an incredibly powerful genre of writing! Which got me to thinking. . . what if I gathered together a variety of different Science Fiction novels. . . I mean. . . all sorts of different types and let the reading groups pick what they wanted, but THEN they'd have to define what Science Fiction is. As a class we would do our own investigation into what makes Science Fiction Science Fiction! Let's say, too, that I'm straying away from the Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Science Fiction, because the kids have either read it or they have lost interest (primarily due to the movies being out).

The other benefit of this is for the girls. STEM is really being pushed in schools right now, because that's where the jobs of the future are. I am a woman teaching Science in Middle School, which leaves me with the position of fostering a love of Science and inquiry in my students. This is especially important for the female students, because research has indicated a sharp decline in an interest in Science once girls are in middle school. Having a daughter of my own, I want to help her understand all areas of life that are open to her, including all the amazing opportunities the field of Science can offer her. I especially love that The Girl Scouts of America offer STEM badges to really encourage girls to at least expose themselves to the field. I really hope I can reach some of our future Scientists with this unit and with my Science class!

So great! I have my unit. I am ready to go... oh wait... I don't have any books! I have some books, but... not enough for a group or enough for two classes! Even if I have copies borrowed from other school libraries I cannot find enough for my classes! I am going to need to seek funding.

Let the tears flow like Niagra Falls. I made a campaign on GoFundMe, because I really need these books. I also wanted to raise the money so I could purchase the books myself. See... when you're given money for your classroom, it's more a donation to the school and not to you, the teacher. That means all my books are checked into the school system and belong to the school. So let's say I leave the school for another position or, for whatever reason, I am just no longer at that school... I lose all of the books I used to create this unit. The unit materials would not follow me and I'd have to find all new materials! It seems minor, but I hate the thought of losing an investment like this.

I'll level with you... I am a very broke teacher. My household lives paycheck to paycheck just above the poverty line. I sink hundreds of dollars into my classroom and my students every year. Pencils, post-its, glue sticks, extra paper, project supplies, books, etc. I also teach a Tabletop Game Unit as a culminating unit with costs me a great deal out of pocket, but the burden is worth it for the experience of the students.  

Now, I hate begging for money. I always feel there are people out there more in need than I am, but right now... well... I care a great deal and am trying my best. I even asked authors whose books I have on my list to help me get the word out. Donate or don't, but please at least help me spread the word! It is honestly a worthy cause! Many of the messages in Science Fiction actually focus on society! Think about how that could impact our world!

So here I am... a week and some change for the doors to my classroom open to all the beautiful young minds eager to learn and I have nothing... $25 from my mom... what a nerdy thing to admit, but there it is. 

As my heart breaks... I make a plea to help me... please help me... to make this happen... spread the world, offer a wee donation... offer up copies of the books... anything helps...

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