Sunday, September 19, 2010

Conflict Squares

So last week I taught my 7th graders the 4 different types of conflict in a story.

Pop quiz, can you name them?









Time's up!

Okay, take out a pen, please, to correct your answers. The four types of conflict are: Character vs. Character, Character vs. Nature, Character vs. Society and Character vs. Self.

How did you do?

So I decided to have my kiddos draw pictures to illustrate the 4 different types of conflict in a story we read, "The Wise Old Woman." (It's Japanese folklore...according to Prentice Hall Textbook Publishers, it is just as popular in Japan as "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is here in America. The overall message is: Don't let all the elderly go up to the mountain to wither out and die, instead keep them a part of society because they are very wise! No seriously.)

In reflecting on my past week, one where I have been struggling just to keep my head above water (okay, okay, blog critics, I promise to start following the unwritten code of English teachers and stop using cliches...but can I have just that one?) I thought about the 4 different conflicts I have been facing. And, for no other reasonable purpose than for this blog, I created my own "Conflict Squares" based on my life.

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My biggest conflict is one that could not quite be illustrated, and that is, constantly staying one step ahead of my students. I have survived most of my life on the great procrastination theory...that, if I wait long enough, inspiration and motivation will strike me simply because I have no other choice. Unfortunately, middle schoolers are like intuitive little bloodhounds, sniffing for teacher weaknesses. They can sense exactly when a teacher doesn't know what she's doing. Their noses were definitely turned up into the air last week when I wavered while correcting some vocabulary homework as a class. The truth was, I hadn't even begun to think about how I was going to score the homework (Was each answer worth 1 or 2 points? What if they got half the answer right, but not the other half? etc.). Anyway, lesson learned, plan ahead for every, and I mean, every minor detail. I've had to train myself on how to begin to expect the unexpected...a nearly impossible task.

On a related note, they amped up the class sizes at my school (the waiting list is still 500+ to get in) and as a result I don't have full class copies of novels to teach. I didn't realize this (ahem...that's that whole procrastination theory) until last week. My plan was to start To Kill a Mockingbird with my 8th graders this week but I am 12 copies short. So, I've had to stretch out my creative tallons and dig into some uncharted territory...duh, duh, duh, the textbook. I'm hoping I can stretch out a Short Story unit for about 3 weeks (yikes) until the books come in. Any suggestions?

I'll also take suggestions for teaching Fahrenheit 451 and The Outsiders!

And any sympathy from others who survived their first year teaching would be great. How, tell me how, did you do it? To use short story terms, did your conflicts ever come to a climax? And was there ever any falling action and resolution? :-)


Jean Song said...

i LOVE the illustrations! :)

littleredbird said...

Maddie, it's Jaci. I don't have anything for Fahrenheit or Outsiders, but I do have a bunch of Mockingbird stuff if you're interested. I could "share" with you via googledocs if you're interested.

And there are ALWAYS more short stores to teach! Strech that stuff out woman!

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