This year (Y3) my focus is on content and teaching strategies. Following the pattern of Frumteacher, I started with setting my goals. As I talked with TeamTeacher this morning, I outlined some of my major goals for this year (World History, mainly):
- Including literacy component to my World History. This means that we are going to try and read several books this year. She set a limit of 3. I would love to do four, so that I can include something from Black History. Right off, I know we will read Escape From Slavery by Francis Bok. We are looking at reading an account of the Holocaust—I picked The Hiding Place. I’m looking for a 3rd Book, I think I would like a fiction book that deals with Islam, possibly Islam and women. . . Any suggestions, all you readers out there?
- Increasing the writing skills of my students. If our district’s motto is to prepare our students for college, as I explained to Team Teacher, we MUST start working with their writing skills before the tenth grade. I want them to be able to write at least a 2 page essay by the end of the year. The problem is our 9th grade English teachers DO NOT focus on this. They do in the honors classes, but not in regular. So, our dilemma/debate/issue is that we have to teach them how to write this type of paper. As we discussed this, we honestly DO NOT know how to this. Again, I am coming to all of my faithful readers, writers & ENGLISH TEACHERS: Is there as website or resource we could use so that we give our children basic instruction on essay writing for our classes? These should be brief lessons. Like 5 or 10 minute lessons, which we could build on weekly AND by the end of the year they should be able to write their own essays.
- I am also looking for strategies/lesson ideas in which the kids get to use their hands more often. My games are always successful in reiterating what we have taught. The kids get to move, chat with each other and usually end up moving their hands. It is rowdy, but it works. I’d like to find more activities (independent or pairs) that cause the children to use their hands or bodies that would help them with retention and comprehension. I want to decrease the amount of time that I spend lecturing. I won’t eliminate it b/c in history it’s just necessary, especially with a mixture of reading levels and abilities in the classroom.
- Finally, I would focus on connecting the present with the past. I want my students to see the relevance of the major events we talk about. I would like them to see how it affects them now. Honestly, I really don’t think that I will get to this in Year 3. But it is a goal.
For African American history the goals are different.
- I will also include a literacy component. We are going to read Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Native Son by Richard Wright
- They, too, will do A LOT of writing. I won't teach it b/c the class is for 10-12 grade students.
Because its only a semester long class, I can't go beyond this in my planning. But we are definitely looking at race, ethnicity and identity. It will be a challenging year.