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?
We've all had those class periods that seem to drag on with a flat discussion because half the class didn't really read the last night's homework. With all of the shortcuts out there on the internet and sometimes a general apathy that hits teenagers, how do we get them to actually read? Here are some of my ideas and I'd love to hear yours in the comment section below:
If you follow this blog regularly, you'll know that I write a lot about how to incorporate technology into the high school classroom. This week, I am excited to be sharing 2 school apps that my students found themselves and use regularly. I love both of these apps because they solve real problems that students face, they work simply, and most importantly students see their value! I teach primarily 11th and 12th grade English this year, but I can see how these apps work for most secondary grades.
As we continue to grow in our common core competencies and take on new informational texts, we need tools to help students read closely and analyze texts that may be outside of their fiction plot structure comfort zone (and ours!). At a conference many years ago, I picked up a valuable strategy called the arch method, which I believe can do just that. I learned it from Valerie Stevenson who is a high school English teacher from San Diego, accomplished conference speaker, and incredible fount of knowledge. Originally, I used it as a way to help AP students answer prose analysis prompts, but with the common core emphasis on informational texts at all levels, I want to show you how it is an appropriate and valuable tool for all of our classes.
Both formative and summative assessments play important roles in the learning outcomes of our students. In any given unit of study, as teachers we check our Common Core standards, map out our benchmarks and embark on the journey. However, if you are like me and you've been doing this for a while, sometimes our favorite assessments deserve a second look to make sure that they are lining up with the Common Core. If you are in the market for Common Core aligned resources, check out this article to be sure you are getting what you pay for!
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!
The concept of inference is one of the most difficult to teach, however even as low as grade 4, the concept must be addressed in some form or another, usually by reading a fictional text and making an assumption or guess based on the evidence or facts from the text combined with their own prior knowledge.