Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Choosing to Read & Other Great Tips for English Teachers

No newsflash here -- Reading continues to be a challenge for many of our adolescent students. One way to increase student engagement is to allow students to have some choices about what they read for school. We have many texts in our bookrooms that we just don’t have time to teach. Why not try a literature circles approach now and then, offering four or five different texts from the book room and letting students choose which they want to read and discuss? 

It’s also important to offer students texts that are diverse in terms of challenge, time period, ethnicity, gender, and interest. Check out the text list and instructional guides to see what titles are available at each grade level; now is a good time to ask your RT if there is money to purchase a new title or two. Finally, consider recommending a new text for approval in your school district or even joining the Evaluation and Selection committees (if offered where you teach). Chances are that your school district is always looking for new titles and new members.  Bringing new books into your class is a great way to keep things fresh for you, your colleagues, and—most importantly—your students.

The Choice is Yours: Literature Circles
When was the last time you read a book because it was assigned to you?  We like having the power to choose what we read, but students rarely get this opportunity in school. Here are a few reasons to consider trying literature circles with your classes:  
  • Students can explore the themes of the unit through a wider range of texts.
  • Rotating through roles allows students to practice different skills.
  • Generating their own questions for class (rather than coming in with answers) can be less intimidating to students.
  • You don't have to be an expert on every title on your list–let your students teach you something new.
  • Curious about newly approved texts?  Purchase in smaller quantities and let the students try them out.  
  • Imagine: not having to read 100 essays about the same book!
Some fun and creative websites worth checking out:
Hamlet and The Raven:
Wave Poetry: Erasures --

As final and semester exams approach, many of us wonder how we can best set our students up for success on these assessments. Don’t wait until exam review day to get your students thinking about preparing for the semester final. My colleagues and I have some recommendations and quick tips for you below:

How do I help my students study for their English exam?

  • Review all the genres that will appear on the exam. For example, do a close reading of a new poem to practice engaging with unfamiliar texts.
  • Review performance data from the formatives to focus instruction.
  • Have students do some quick journal writing, using their own evidence  to develop arguments on open-ended topics.
  • Let students review course terms in groups; identify the most difficult terms and review as a class.

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