One of my new favorite ways to keep discussion fresh and interesting is to throw in a 4 corner discussion. For me, it is one of those techniques that I saw a hundred times at professional development trainings, but didn't actually implement until last school year. This technique is my go-to fun, but academic plan for minimum day schedules or other days when students tend to be distracted. It is so simple to set up and implement. Do you use this discussion strategy? We'd love to hear about any experience or spins from your classrooms!
Summer reading can be a struggle for students who can sometimes lack time, motivation, and skills to complete the task. Not to mention, with all of the internet shortcuts and summaries at the tips of their fingers it is an equally daunting task for teachers to assess whether or not the reading has actually been completed. Although this struggle is formidable, personally, I do not think it's time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As English teachers, we work everyday to hopefully make small strides toward creating a love of reading among our students. One way that we accomplish this goal is through a three prong assessment structure:
I'm in the midst of teaching Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, which I absolutely love for the end of the American Lit school year since it so eloquently ties together early and modern America. We have been doing Streetcar Named Desire for the last few years, but made the switch back to The Crucible this year, so it was time to revamp my curriculum and dust off the cobwebs on my brain! I've been using the Common Core Aligned Unit from Simply Novel, which has been saving my life (especially since I am almost 8 months pregnant)! It is chock full of meaningful activities, assessments, and resources for teaching the play. Today I want to share a supplemental, cross-curricular activity that I tried this year. Where it works, the English department at my school likes to collaborate with the social science department to enrich both of our curricula and help students make connections. The most obvious links in my class are between American literature and US History, but this activity links the Arthur Miller play with psychology, a popular social science elective at my school.
If you follow this blog at all, you know that I LOVE using technology in the classroom, but today I want to share some of my favorite low tech teaching strategies. I am a terrible artist, but I find a lot of benefit in drawing as we read. Students remember my silly drawings and they get a sense of the big picture of the literature. I require note taking in my class and my students usually love taking these notes and invariably, they are so much better than mine.
It is the time of year again when we meet in departments to plan out summer reading programs. For me, the words "summer reading" can be a delight and a drain. I work at a school that requires summer reading for college prep and honors English classes at every grade level, which can present some challenges. Even with the struggles, I think that summer reading is a battle worth fighting. If you are interested in some of the scientific benefits of summer reading, click around this site for a bit. Here are my thoughts on putting together a summer reading program that will enhance the curriculum without burning out teachers or students.
A co-worker recently re-posted this article criticizing changes that my alma mater UCLA made in 2011 to the English department required courses. Gone are the days of required single author courses in Milton, Chaucer, and Shakespeare, which have been replaced with thematic courses and syllabi full of a combination of the traditional canon and new voices. Of course, I poked around and saw other articles like this one, in support of the changes and found this clear explanation of the changes from the Daily Bruin. This all got me thinking about the books that our high schools require. I currently teach American lit and British lit to juniors and seniors in high school and so my required reading relies heavily on our anthology with the supplement of a couple of novels. Even though I LOVE my curriculum, I think it is important to think about how we select required reading. Below I've listed some of the major considerations out there with a brief opinion of my own. I'd love to hear your two cents! How much control do you have over your required reading? Are you happy with your current list?
Today, I am excited to bring you a tip for using google presentations to create classroom engagement and collaboration. This idea is a combination of a project that a colleague of mine has done for years, the inspiration of Catlin Tucker's vocabulary instruction (she is really amazing), plus of course, my deep seated love of socratic seminar, novel study, and google drive (full tutorial here)! This project puts ownership in the hands of students and frees up a lot of my time for meaningful writing feedback instead of a ton of prep for teaching a novel. Check out the Youtube video below for the specifics of my project:
Today’s strategy spotlight is on literature circles. I’ve used this technique in my 9th grade English classes to differentiate lessons in order to meet the needs of students struggling to keep up and those needing an extra challenge. There are many ways to implement literature circles to accommodate for a range of reading levels, class size issues, English learners, and other common classroom needs. I’m going to share the way it works in my classroom based on my needs, but I’d love for you to leave a question or comment at the end of this post to continue the conversation as it relates to classrooms across the board!
As English teachers, we are always looking for different strategies to engage our students in the core literature that we’re teaching. Today's strategy spotlight is on the Socratic seminar. I’ve used Socratic seminar with low and high level classes with tremendous success and it is always one of the high points on my annual student evaluation forms. It’s a great tool to have in your toolbox along with the other amazing resources and assessments from Simply Novel. Be sure to check back all summer for more strategies and freebies all year long!