English Teacher Needing Help with Novels!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by PAAmy, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. PAAmy

    PAAmy Rookie

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    Feb 26, 2011

    Hi all!
    I'm starting a new job tomorrow and learned my classes are all reading different stuff - Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby, Hamlet and Peace like a River(which I haven't even read yet). Any suggestions for guided reading or quizzes? Am starting to panic!
     
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  3. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Feb 26, 2011

    Hi and welcome to A to Z! Do you know what point the classes are in all of the novels? If not I might not do anything with the novels on the first day. I came into classes three weeks ago and spent the first half of class doing normal "beginning of the year" stuff like giving them a new syllabus, going over my grading policies, getting to know their names, etc. then I introduced a new unit. I would plan like it's the first day in September and then figure out where they all are in the novels to plan for the following day. I know this may not be everyone's favorite idea, but it might be worth it to get pre-made unit guides for those novels from somewhere like Prestwick House because it will be a complete guide for you to follow since you don't have much time to plan right now.
     
  4. Mark94544

    Mark94544 Companion

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    Feb 27, 2011

    > "...Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby, Hamlet and Peace like a River .... guided reading or quizzes? ... " <

    I assume that you're stepping in as either a long-term sub (for a teacher who's not returning to the classroom) or as a full-time teacher (not as a short-term sub with clearly-defined lesson plans).

    If there are some reasonable lesson plans prepared, it might make sense to continue "on track" for a few days while you assess the situation (but you'd almost certainly need to add some "assessment activities," starting with your review of any written materials already in the classroom [recent student work, quizzes, assignments, started projects, and perhaps recent notes by substitute teachers], and then a class discussion in which you seek contributions from many different students in each class).

    The problem with the "continue on track" strategy is that you might simply end up wasting several days, if you don't know what's happened in the classroom in the past few weeks -- especially if students haven't actually read to the point where you're starting, or haven't understood the material. Depending on "what happened in the classroom" in recent weeks, it's possible that the students started the novels after winter break in January, but haven't been engaged with these works for the past several weeks.

    The alternative, as suggested, is to start off with some relatively "generic" activities -- the kind you'd use in the first few days of a school year, or during a transition between units, or before or after a break. This could eliminate the need to create four separate sets of lesson plans for these first few days (imagine spending 10-20 hours planning those four separate sets of lesson plans, only to discover that the classes are six chapters behind [or ahead of] where you'd expected to start).

    You could also use different strategies for different classes. For example, you might try to "continue on track" with the existing schedule for classes reading novels that you're comfortable teaching, but doing "something else" for a few days in any classes reading a novel you're less familiar with.

    You also need to look seriously at the time you have remaining, and evaluate what material you still must cover, and then make some "triage" decisions (for example, you might decide that you'll need to move back several chapters or even "start over at Chapter 1," which might not leave enough time to cover the remaining curriculum for the year -- or you might decide that it's best to just "drop" a current novel [using a day or two to show the movie] and start fresh with something new). I certainly wouldn't be surprised if your "Gatsby" students are very unhappy -- when I was subbing, it was detested by most students. But you'd also need to look carefully at any partially-completed student work related to the novels, especially major projects which some students might have already invested lots of time on.

    You should obviously seek out help from any available resources, including other teachers who are currently teaching [or recently taught] the same materials (at your school, or at another school in your district), who might be willing to share resources (think about what you might offer in exchange).

    You can find links to many lesson-plan resources for specific novels at http://www.LessonIndex.com/ -- including links for commercially-published unit plans AND links to many free lesson-plan resources.

     
  5. PAAmy

    PAAmy Rookie

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    Mar 1, 2011

    THANK you for your help! It's an alternative-type school so really no structure (so far it's been awful!) but I need all the help I can get from veteran teachers. It's until June unless I want to stay so we'll see!
     
  6. DRBenjamin

    DRBenjamin Rookie

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    Mar 2, 2011

    I recommend doing the guided reading roles of discussion leader, artist, etc. (I can send you the roles) Also, having one of the kids make up a quiz for their group for that day. Put them in their groups, the student gives the quiz s/he made up, and then grading it. Also, reading journals are a good way of tracking that their reading, while it's also general enough. I woudn't quiz them to death if you're in an alternative school. I would focus on discussion and engagement. Students love to discuss. Or, you could do a "popcorn" theme discussion where you put a bunch of generic themes into a hat, draw one out, and you all discuss how each book connects to those themes. Synetics activities work, too. Where you have a student come up with an abstract noun, then another student comes up with a concrete noun, and you provide the character or idea from the novel. Such as, "How is Atticus (TKAM) like a ruler?" It creates very interesting discussion, critical thinking, and it can engage all of the different text readers. Just some ideas. Feel free to PM for some of the guided reading roles.
     

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