Doubting myself -- check out my curriculum

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by allaragallagher, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2014

    First year English teacher here. I've been teaching about seven weeks. I tend to plan everything out until each vacation break and then -- on that vacation -- plan for the next one. I was talking about my newest plans to a family member and she started questioning whether I was too "reading heavy" and needed to have my students write more. I explained that even when we are reading a novel the students have multiple writing assignments, but it really made me start doubting myself. I can't shake the feeling that I haven't taught anything yet -- even though I keep reassuring myself I have. My mentor is not an English teacher and does not consult with me over my curriculum. I was handed three textbooks and told good luck. I designed my own curriculum. All I know is that the other English teacher is also teaching literature from the medieval era so we made it through Beowulf at about the same rate.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 18, 2014

    Does your state have standards and objectives? Are you following those?

    Are you a substitute?

    Are you not required to collaborate with the other English teacher? Wouldn't it be easier if you two were on the same page?
     
  4. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2014

    Has your state adopted Common Core? Are you teaching a tested subject? I would look into these things to help guide my instruction.
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I do reading on Mondays and Thursdays. We journal, take a quiz, and then do something related to the reading. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are writing mostly. We work on an essay or an article of the week response. Fridays are independent reading. We do book talks, read, and journal.

    My students write in some format nearly every single day.
     
  6. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2014

    These are exactly the 2 questions you must ask yourself.

    Nearly always, what you teach is usually decided by the district, state, or sometimes (rarely) at the school level. Find out whether you are teaching to state standards, Common Core standards, or district standards. Find out what they are.

    The good news is that many principals allow teachers to choose how they teach those standards. You might have complete freedom to what resources and methods you use to teach those standards. It sounds like that might be the case for you.

    Once you can see the standards you are suppose to teach, it will help organize you and guide you of your teaching plan. It will still allow you to be wildly creative, while doing what you were hired to do. I would find out what those standards are tomorrow.
     
  7. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Oct 19, 2014

    We teach to school standards (our enrollment is currently 124) but we're in the middle of switching from how they've been doing it since the school was founded to proficiency based. We just voted to adopt mass customized learning at a workshop about three weeks ago but the union is fighting it.

    I am not a substitute and am not required to collaborate with the other English teacher. I sat down with her before school started just to be sure I wasn't teaching materials in 9th that she teaches in 10th. I teach 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th.

    All my lesson plans are common core aligned since I'm fresh out of college and that's what I was taught to do. My principal has stated she ignores CCSS because she doesn't think it will be around long. When we adopted mass customized learning, we visited a website with a curriculum map. I can print that out and start aligning my materials to that but, again, the union is fighting the change.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 19, 2014

    You said to check out your curriculum to see if it's too 'reading heavy'. How can we see your curriculum? did I miss something? What do you do on average every week?
     
  9. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Oct 19, 2014

    Curriculum

    8th grade: I started with narrative writing. I taught the genre: biographies and autobiographies and then explained we would be writing our own autobiographical narrative. I broke the essay down according to the writing process so that I could teach that at the same time. We brainstormed using bubble maps, we learned how to add sensory details, we used peer critiquing to revise our rough drafts, etc. After the final paper was due, we quickly recapped the writing process by making anchor charts. I then had them turn their narrative essays into speeches. I taught summarizing skills and the use of transitions between each paragraph. I introduced dystopian literature and we started reading "The Giver" with a focus on symbolism after our two week break in September. Next (after Halloween) they will start a short career unit that leads to a research paper.

    9th grade: I started my 9th graders off with a short story unit. We read four short stories from their textbook (I would choose different more high interest ones next year) and answered analysis questions about each of them. When I decided I was losing them and they I didn't want to finish the unit with an exam, I changed direction and started focusing on the elements of the storytelling arc. Each class period we advanced our writing on a short story of our own. After break they came back and started reading 'Divergent" in pseudo Lit. circles. They have to summarize, answer a teacher question, create a discussion question of their own, find two vocabulary words, and finish a weekly creative role assignment. Next I will teach compare/contrast and have them watch the movie and write an essay. Their next unit will be grammar.

    11th Honors: I taught the distinction between an ancient Greek tragedy and a modern tragedy. We read Oedipus Rex in small groups and answered analysis questions. When we finished the play, we made Greek Tragedy masks and presented them. We then started Death of a Salesman. The students have struggled with it and we just finished reading it after I stopped making them answer questions after each section of group reading. Now the students are going to write an essay about whether Willy Loman is a tragic hero or merely a pathetic character. Afterward we will transition to learning about the science fiction genre (sub genre of post apocalyptic) and read The Road. They will write a research paper about how they think the world got covered in ash.

    12th Honors: I started with a lecture on the Anglo Saxon time period. We read Beowulf and answered analysis questions. We concentrated on learning about alliteration and kennings. I had the students write and perform boasts with those elements in mind. Then we watched The 13th Warrior and wrote compare/contrast essays. The students then made British Literature Timeline posters that included facts about the time period, literary influences, etc. We presented those in pairs and hung them around the room. I referred to the medieval one before starting my lecture on Dante's Inferno. We've read the first Canto (answering questions about metaphors, symbolism, and allegories) and are reading Canto 5 next week. They will create their own personal hell and write short descriptions of each level. I've decided to skip Canterbury Tales with this bunch because I feel as if I'm losing them and move on to teaching Macbeth which they've expressed interest in.
     
  10. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I think it sounds like you're getting a good mix in. Do you have them do short writings like journals or times writings? You should be able to work those in pretty easily. Some units will seem more reading heavy, at least in my experience. My Macbeth unit is more reading intensive than writing intensive. However, my two units before that both have formal writing assignments.

    I have a document with all my standards typed out (common core). As I meet a standard, I write in the box next to the standard the unit title and what we did. For example, I recently put "Canterbury Tales-updated tales" next to the narrative writing standard.
     
  11. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Oct 20, 2014

    I basically try to do the big four every day: read, write, listen and speak. If I can do a little of all four each day, then I believe I'm achieving a balance.
     
  12. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Oct 20, 2014

    My 8th graders write a half a page in respond to a Quickwrite every day. My 9th graders do grammar on Mondays, learn lit terms on Tuesday, vocabulary on Wednesday, quick writes on Thursday, and free SSR Fridays. My 11th and 12th are honors and we due timed Tuesdays which they have 20 minutes to 40 minutes to answer a prompt.
     
  13. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Oct 20, 2014

    Who is this person that said your curriculum wasn't good enough? Is she a teacher? Same subjects and grades? That would be my first question since (having taught English also) your curriculum looks pretty good but I would go with some suggestions posted.
     
  14. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Oct 21, 2014

    No, no ,no. Just a family member. Thanks for the suggestions.
     
  15. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Oct 21, 2014

    I think you're being too hard on yourself. Some people really need to cut back on their "help" when they don't really know what they're talking about. Good luck!
     
  16. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    Oct 23, 2014

    It's English class. It's supposed to have plenty of reading! I think you're doing just fine. Don't let others tell you how to do YOUR job. Go with confidence, and know that the students are learning life long skills.
     

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