Tuesday, July 26, 2011

100th post, and what news!

I've officially been fired by DCPS. I've been RIF'ed, IMPACTed, "excessed," and I am officially one of the 200+ fired this 2010-2011 school year. Well, at the very least, I have a job.

Speaking of which, here's the newest list of jobs: English I (9th grade) + Textual Analysis (read: Reading Workshop), and 10th grade Honor's English.

My biggest fear, I'm not very good at analyzing long novels. In fact, I realize that I never did a lot of long-novel analyses, and, in fact, all my college work in that realm was a lot of content, and not much skill. I mean, that's most of what college is, developing the skill of in-depth analysis instead of basic skills analysis.

I wonder, teachers: what's your biggest fear in teaching something new?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

short stories

Anyone know any good short stories that are good for 9th graders, but also are easily digestible for students that are struggling readers?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

creating curriculum

The easiest thing in the world is to take a curriculum that's done for you and ride it. I think that's how I felt the first year I started teaching. I never created. Last year, I tried, but felt pressure so hot and pressed against my face that I just did what I could with what was given to me, and did what I thought was best: teach it, but teach it slower. Now, I have a whole new challenge up against me: choice.

My students are supposed to read Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Romeo & Juliet, a poetry unit, and an expository (non-fiction) unit. There are clear goals for each of the units, products laid out, and everything seems rather organized. It's the curriculum my lovely 9th grade partner-in-crime, er teaching, has sent me. She said to me, "Do it as you see fit." Thus, my problem: choice.

The thing I see, or rather, that I don't see, is a cohesion that unifies each, um, unit: a theme. Expeditionary Learning's taught me that a curriculum should be the investigation of a question, and one of my favorite things to look at is the question of power. I just don't know the question just yet. What I learned from this inquiry-based professional development thing that I did over the past two weeks, is that children (adolescents) have an innate curiosity about them (this is the supposed belief...I can dig it), and that they, themselves, can ask those kinds of questions. I just have to be mindful of what that question leads to.

A thought, though, and I think this might be it: What is power? What does it mean to have power? Usually, my thought process goes to things like superheroes, dictators, self-empowerment, and words. One of the goals that seems to be pervasive in this curriculum outline is the subject of power: censorship; propaganda; totalitarianism; the power of an author's choices and how that affects tone, theme, plot, and characters; the power of words and grammar in a student's writing; the tragic power of fate vs. the conflict of self-determination and fate (R&J). The list goes on.

Does this work? I'm going to have to think a little more about this, and figure out how to wrap these around, and also how to coax questions about power out of my new 9th graders.