HELP! I Don't Know What to Teach!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Engsis, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. Engsis

    Engsis Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 23, 2010

    In a couple weeks, I will begin teaching a course for an alternative remedial program, designed for high school students who credit-wise are only in ninth grade although most of them are old enough to be in twelfth grade. Many of these students have been in the prison system, have truancy issues, or have been in and out of school due to past pregnancies. These students are in the program because they read below 6th grade level.

    My job is to teach literacy to these students and raise their reading levels. I have no curriculum and have been told that I have complete freedom to create a curriculum myself. According to the coordinator, she will provide any course materials I want. Her only suggestion is that I think about using urban lit.

    I'm only used to teaching traditional high school English classes and have no idea where to begin. So, any suggestions for texts or potential unit ideas would be greatly appreciated. Please keep in mind that I will be teaching this course during the last quarter of the school year, so I really need something that will keep their attention and is probably project-based. Also, I will be working with less than 10 students per class, so really personalized lessons should work.

    My ideas so far: I would like to create a unit based around a few essential thematic questions. I'm thinking I'd like to also have the students create a running portfolio throughout the marking period based on those themes, which will be a major part of their final grade. Additionally, I want to make journaling central to our class (dialogue and reading journals). I'd like to use a mix of classic and alternative texts (modern urban lit, song lyrics, etc.). I also think vocabulary development should be a major part of the curriculum.
     
  2.  
  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Mar 23, 2010

    I have NO background here.

    But I would start wtih parenting magazines. The vocabulary tends to be fairly easy, and they would be learning some valuable information.
     
  4. Engsis

    Engsis Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 23, 2010

    Yeah, I forgot to mention I would like to incorporate some real world and functional texts as well. Maybe, I should wait to see what the interests of the students are, but I would like to have at least some direction so I can feel prepared.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Mar 23, 2010

    I wouldn't suggest waiting. While I see where you're going, I think it would LOOK to them as though you're unprepared.
     
  6. Grover

    Grover Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 23, 2010

    I would start with writing. Self-expression is the best motivator. Tell them you'll publish a poetry/short story anthology at the end of the year, and they'd better get to work.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,584
    Likes Received:
    1,700

    Mar 23, 2010

    Ooo, that's a great idea! Also, offer a poetry slam every other week. That'll get them feeling more comfortable reading aloud. Look up Jasmine Mans' reading at the 2008 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam for a mindblower.
     
  8. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    2,292
    Likes Received:
    122

    Mar 23, 2010

    How long will your classes be? Make sure you allow for a variety of different activities to maintain student interest - think about making three instructional moves in a 50 minute period.
     
  9. Engsis

    Engsis Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 24, 2010

    Well, as a rule, I generally make different instructional moves at least every 20 minutes, so that shouldn't be a problem. I'm not sure how long my classes will be although I do know I'll only be teaching 4-5 hours a day and prepping for 2-3 (one of my favorite things about the program). There's supposed to be an orientation and training next week where I think I'll find out more of those details. I'll also be shadowing. I'd just like to get started now with some ideas.

    Anyone have other suggestions? Especially about potential reading material? So far, I've got one suggestion of parenting magazines, which I'm sure will appeal to some students. However, I'll probably need a lot more material to work with.
     
  10. aramirez

    aramirez Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 24, 2010

    Suggestions:

    *I agree start with writing. Have students write about themselves. I am Poems, Biographies, Picture Biographies etc.

    * Look into the Bulford Series. This series is very high interest for urban students. The reading level is 7-9th grade. I would check with my administration first before ordering the books, the topics can be very sensitive. I have seen students who hate to read buy into this series.

    *I would approach everything I do in the class from a social justice point of view. Frame every unit in statistics and how you believe that they can beat the odds.
     
  11. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Messages:
    449
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 24, 2010

    I definitely recommend short stories and essays that are persuasive or controversial. I would avoid anything to lengthy or boring because they'll get discouraged and tune out. My remedial 9th grade class really gets into school type issues, or issues that involve policies for teens (ie. paying students for attendance, lengthening the school day, etc etc.) You can usually find these kinds of articles on online news sources (yahoo, etc.) and the reading levels are fairly simple.

    For writing, set very clear expectations. (ie a paragraph MUST be at least 4 sentences, so a 5 paragraph essay MUST be at least 20 sentences long.) Have them write about themselves, their families, their hobbies, etc.
     
  12. Engsis

    Engsis Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 25, 2010

    Aramirez,

    Thanks so much for the suggestion about the Bluford series. I did a google search on them, and they look like they would appeal to these students. Plus, they have a teacher's guide, and they're only $1 a piece at Townsend Press!

    I also found another site from the American Library Association for young adult reluctant readers with top ten picks of books every year. Some of these books really inspired some unit ideas for me because they dealt with the choices and at-risk behaviors of teens. I know it's a long-shot, but I'm wondering if anyone has read and/or taught any of these books and can make a recommendation:

    The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive by Marvelyn Brown; Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles; Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers; No Choirboy: Murder, Violence and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin; and Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz

    Sshintaku, I appreciate your suggestion to focus on shorter texts although I think challenging the students to read at least one or two long texts in addition to the short ones can be beneficial. I don't know...maybe you can share your experiences with trying different types of texts with me. I tend to have really high expectations for students, so I'm a little worried that I might be too idealistic for this group. The Bluford series books are all about 100 pages and the other books I found on the ALA site are all around 200. Is it too much to expect to read one or two books of these lengths with a remedial group?
     
  13. chessimprov

    chessimprov Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 30, 2010

    I would highly recommend making things constantly hands-on and having challenging stuff as a back-up for those who do finish the tasks early. Very likely, they won't do things challenging up-front. Based on interviews and talks with other colleagues, even one I ran into on the street who worked in a similar setting to yours, I was told that hands-on is key. It's not about the amount you cover initially, it's grabbing their interest. The other stuff can try to come by later on, but constantly getting their attention seems to be the #1 perogative, especially for this group of students, since there is no curriculum or standards that must be met in a certain amount of time, even though desired.


    One random thought is for one of the passages the students will read, have them form an argument supporting an issue. Let's students choose the issue they like more- hopefully you will get about half on one side and half on another side of the issue, and then they can debate each other. Give each person a minute or two to speak maybe. Just a relatively unorganized thought/idea.

    If you can infuse an extra curricular like chess or sports, this could also help. Maybe it could be used as an incentive if your school supports that, or if you can apply these things that kids like to your curriculum, this could help a lot too.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Andrew Jesse Rivera
Total: 242 (members: 3, guests: 202, robots: 37)
test