Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another try at soliciting feedback...

I am going to give you guys another try at giving me some feedback on an assignment. Hopefully, this time I won't have to send email reminders, outlook calendar updates, and nagging people in class or in the hallways to complete this assignment (oh, wait that's just Karl that does that).

My seniors are teaching each other Brave New World. They began teaching their classmates after much discussion about how to teach and what good teaching looks like methods of instruction, methods of assessment; basically it was reviewing what they thought was effective form their years of education and what they thoughts was not. For the most part I have been really happy with this challenge they have undertaken. Where I am struggling is what to hold them accountable for. I have a rubric that I use to grade their group, but I feel like I am missing something on it. I want to get some fedback from you before I ask the kids what they think. The parts I am considering adding are one about classroom management (could I realistically get the kids to keep each other in-line?) and making sure they meet at least three of the five areas of the language arts curriculum in terms of reading, writing, speaking, listening and viewing.

Here's the rubric:

Pre-teaching conference:
Meeting time scheduled and attended
Lesson plans ready _____ /20

Followed lesson plan

Participation/ Interaction required

Writing/Reading/Reacting assignment


Anticipatory set- Beginning activity to pull class together

Culminating activity- pull class together at end

Flexibility of lesson

Focused on ideas of assigned chapters, but not limited by chapters

All teachers participated

Enhanced understanding of concepts beyond basic concepts _____/ 90

Group/ self evaluation:
All members worked well together in planning and teaching
Goal of lesson fulfilled _____/ 20

TOTAL _____/ 130

Any feedback would be appreciated otherwise I will have to sick Karl the Invincible on you!


I am worried about giving out the student survey. Anybody else? What if the kids don't see the change? Or more importantly, what if they don't care? I know my freshmen Honors class as well as my seniors has been working well with me on feedback about trying new things, but I am unsure of whether or not my regular ninth grade will know what we are asking. Just something I am thinking about. I hope I can bring them to the computer lab so I can go through it with them without leading them. This is something I am also going to do with their survey from the grading pilot program.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Sing a song of six pence...

I am trying to come up with a some songs that parallel themes in two novels that I am currently teaching; I need some help though trying to find the best songs. If you have a few minutes and can think of some songs, please let me know:

Brave New World:
The Use of Technology to Control Society- Video Killed the Radio Star, I Want My MTV
The Consumer Society (success of society is equated with economic growth) We Didn't Start the Fire
The Incompatibility of Happiness and Truth- (happiness at the expense of truth) Just Another Day in Paradise-Phil Collins
The Dangers of an All-Powerful State-(govt controls people) American Idiot, something by Rage Against the Machine?

Farewell to Manzanar:
The Destruction of Family Life under Internment-
The Everyday Nature of Prejudice-Black or White- Michael Jackson
The Difficulty of Understanding One's Identity- Politik-Coldplay, Who are you?- The Who, Turning Japanese-The Vapors, Survivor- Destiny's Child

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Editing Part 2

I am having my regular freshmen redo their position papers wokring each day on a specific task, practicing editing, and then applying it to their own papers. I am astounded how little they have retained about writing from past year's English classes. It is one of the few moments in my teaching career where I am really struggling with covering all the curriculum or spending more time working on the writing process. I think I will do additional little writing assignments when we do Romeo and Juliet to help them retain what we have been working on.

I am beginning to feel that I need to change how I teach writing to my students. Up to this point, the way I have taught writing has always seemed to work, but this year it seems they are having more difficulty. Is it just this class or is it the teaching? ( The struggle every teacher faces!) Either way, I guess I am grateful for the chance to spend more time getting them to improve their writing and just hope that it sticks!


Progress toward my goal..I have found that I am doing a much better job after creating goals, to actually focus on achieveing them. Amazing, isn't it? I tend to be someone who sets golas in my mind but does not put them down on paper. Once they are written though, it makes me follow through and complete them. So far, I am doing a good job. My seniors actually decided with a little guidance how they wanted to complete their last novel. They decided rather than fishbowl they actually wanted to teach one another. This brought a whole new set of problems (umm, challenges) to deal with since we had to talk about what it means to teach. Group one already went and did a fantastic job. They had a multitude of acitvities during the class period and not one activity went on too long; we wrote, discussed, visualized and presented our findings. It really was impressive to see the thought and effort put into their lesson plan. I have also been trying to encourage my freshman both regular and honors to have more say in due dates and assessing their work. This is more difficult with my regular class because they aren't accustomed to having a say and now I am allowing them to help determine their grades. The biggest struggle with this is to get them to actually read and interpret the rubric I give them for a project. My sophomores did well with determining their grades so I am hoping I can encourage my freshman to do the same. We will get there eventually; I just need a little patience!