Lots of changes - need advice re. curriculum

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Linguist92021, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jun 9, 2016

    Our small school is merging with a slightly larger charter school this upcoming year (both still in alt. ed, similar student population). We're basically just moving over there for 1 year, a lot of things will change, a lot are up in the air, but I'm already starting to think about what I'll be teaching.

    Up until now I was teaching English 2 and 3 in the same class for 4 class periods. This resulted me teaching the same thing for 4 classes which was great. Now I will be teaching English 1, 2 and 3 so obviously I will be prepping for 3 subjects :(
    My students will be spread out in those classes, so I def. want to avoid books we have already done in the past 2 years. The current teacher gave me a list of books they have read, so I need to avoid those.

    I actually can teach some of the things I did 4 years ago, because none of those students are around now, but those will be just certain short stories or units, not novels.

    Can you guys give me a list of what is generally taught in English 1, 2 and 3?
    I have already read the following books with them so I can't do those:
    Night, Dawn, Crime and Punishment, I know why the Caged Bird sings, Living up the street (this is more like 8th grade level so I wouldn't teach it anyways), these are what I remember right now.
    These are the books they have done at the other school:
    Touching Spirit bear, (I was going to do this), Ender's Game, Things they carried, To kill a mockingbird, Anthem, After Life, Mythology, Shakespeare: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer's night, Sonnets, Of Mice and Men.

    Our school population stays around for a few years, and someone who is in my English 3 might be in there again the following year because we don't offer English 4. So I can never teach the same things for about 3-4 years. This was going to be the first year when I could recycle my lessons, but now this happened :(
    I do have the Holt textbooks for English 2 and 3, and I can use them, but I'm not crazy about them.

    Any advice I can get, I appreciate it.
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jun 9, 2016

    Do you know which class at the other school did which books? If they were used for English 1 or 2, couldn't you still do them since it will be different students?

    With having to prep 3 courses, and all the juggling you have to do, I would look over the textbooks and pick which units you hate the least and spread them out throughout the year so you aren't constantly worried about the 3 new preps. For instance, if you know December will be busy, pull one of the text units for English 3 and design your own stuff for 1 and 2.
     
  4. FourSquare

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    Could you do "Monster" or is that like....hitting too close to home? :( The kids enjoyed that one and there's a lot of opportunity for including non-fiction.
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Yes, like I said the other teacher gave me a list of books they did. But the problem is that it's not like a traditional school, someone could have been in an English 1 class in the spring semester and will still be there next fall. We get students who get accepted back to their regular school, get kicked out at any time, get locked up or released at any time. It's a constant come and go. If a kid or two has read a book we're doing, it's no big deal, but there's no point in doing something that the majority of them had already done.

    When we do writing, I'll most li9kely have everyone doing the same but grade it according to grade level.

    Originally I wanted to read the book I am Malala, even ordered one so I can read it. I want to ask my P if I could possibly do that with all the classes, but have different requirements, for example more vocab with higher grades, and focus on different activities, all according to their standards.

    The saddest thing is that we're not even sure if our P stays with us, she might leave. She's the best P you can imagine in general, but she's the best for this position with this student population. I can't imagine anyone filling her shoes and do a good job.
    Hopefully whatever she agrees to, if we have a new P, will be ok with it.
     
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jun 9, 2016

    This seems like a good strategy to me, but I teach elementary, FWIW.

    Im sorry so much is changing for you, since you usually sound so happy with your current job! My school is going through a lot of changes as well, and I feel more than a little trepidation. But, I keep telling myself "embrace the change" - I'll probably be leaving after next year anyway.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I'm staying positive and it's easier for me than for others. In fact they even said it that out of everyone, I don't need to worry. Others may be moved around, (although they promised that no one is losing their job), but I will def. be at the new school since their English teacher is leaving and they need a credentialed English teacher. A lot of teachers have VPSS, which is a certification to teach a subject in alt. ed, and of course it's accepted, but not as good as an actual credential. For example some teachers have a mult. subject credential and VPSS in some other subject area, or PE credential and several VPSS in other subjects.

    Lots of things will change, and I just feel that if our P stays, I'm not worried about anything, but if she leaves... oh boy :(
    I know it's gonna be ok, maybe a bit rough or bumpy at first but we'll make it through. It's just hard to get out of your comfort zone.
    I am happy though because I still will have my students and many more. I'm still so much, SO much more happier than if I had to go work at a "regular" school. Love these trouble maker kids.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2016

    Make sure you add A Raisin in the Sun and The Crucible to your lists of things to read!
     
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  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Yes, I've been looking up novels per grade level. Of course it's a little confusing, I see the same novel listed for grade 9, 10, or 11 depending on where I'm looking.
     
  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    My 9th graders go NUTS over "Most Dangerous Game" (short story by Richard Connell). The students then either write a new ending to the story in narrative form OR write their own narratives.

    Following that unit about survival at all costs, I currently teach a unit with an anchor text of Elie Wiesel's Nobel Prize speech, parts of Night, excerpts from Diary of a Young Girl, as well as the poems "Internment" and "Mothers Sing a Lullaby". The general theme is the discussion of whether remembering terrible things leads to despair or to hope. In the end, the students choose a side and write an argumentative essay using textual evidence from the readings.
     
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  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jun 18, 2016

    I gave it some more taught. I spend so much time in my head trying to plan things that we will do. My school is so different from "regular" schools, we don't teach the same things over again the next year, to new students, we have the same kids in our classroom for 2-3 years, so we need to come up with new things.
    This was the year that was supposed to be easy for me. This will be my 4th year, and I could have started reteaching the things I have spent so much time prepping 3 years ago. I create all my plans, even if I do find or buy plans, I always have to change it to fit my students.
    So right now I'm just basically whining and venting. I don't want the stress of prepping for English 1,2, and 3 and not knowing how everything will work, possibly new principal, new environment, new (longer) school hours, still no prep time, etc.

    So yesterday I had a talk with a teacher at my school who has been teaching there for 17 years. He was teaching life science, physical science, us history, world history and civics. Also assigned students independent work fr government and economy. How did he do all this without a prep? The kids worked out of the book, answering questions, he hardly ever provided direct instruction, would show a movie to supplement, but that was it. Don't get me wrong, he's a good teacher, but how could he prep for so many subjects?

    So I told him I don't want to teach like that. What I really want to do is to read the book I Am Malala, with all my classes (English 1,2 and 3) and just make the lessons different based on standards. With Common core it's not even divided by grade, it's grade 9-10 and 11-12. So essentially I would make 2 sets of pans (more and higher level vocabulary, concepts, etc)
    Why couldn't I do that? Of course I would be doing other smaller scale things with the kids and I could make it different for all the classes, but I don't want to do that all year long.
    He said: You can do whatever you want. Teach your classes however you want they're not going to question you on it. I like that. I'm really leaning towards that.
    Is there anything morally wrong doing this?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  12. otterpop

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    I think that's perfect. I agree with this other teacher. Do what you want and don't stress!

    My school has a similar attitude... As long as we're teaching what we need to teach, they leave us alone. No need to complicate or question that!
     
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  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    So I thought I check in here with an update. We've had a little over 2 weeks so far.

    I made a little mistake by actually asking my P about curriculum. I can't just do whatever I want, I came from a socialist country where we almost fear authority lol. So I felt better by opening up my big mouth and asking about my concerns. We came to a very good agreement, I guess, after letting it sink in, I can work with it. I have 2 English 1 classes, and 3 English 2/3 (these students are in the same class. She said she's not ok with me reading the same book with all my classes, English 1 and 2/3 has t read different things, but other things can be the same. Writing assignments can be the same thing, but different grading criteria, or different topic. I suggested that, she agreed.
    I asked about the book Malala, then she said it has to be approved :( So I couldn't plan on starting with that, and she wanted me to read something else with English 1, so I was bummed out about that. It did get approved later on, but by that time I've made other plans.
    So right now we have been doing all sorts of different English activities, some worksheets (high level), current events, vocabulary, direct teaching, collaborative work (with centers, like in elementary, worked out great), independent work, just to give them a taste of how it will be. I have all procedure down, they all know what to do and how to do it.
    We're going to write an autobiography, and interestingly all high school levels of Common core are the same thing, word by word for narratives, so I'm not changing anything :)
    I will read Lord of the Flies with English 2/3 (had to order more books, waiting on that), and Living up the street by Gary Soto. I know it's 8th grade, but I taught it already, so I won't be planning all day / all night.

    I plan on reading Catcher in the Rye later and maybe read short stories from the sophomore textbook for the freshmen (I don't normally use textbooks).
    The book Malala... I'm going to try to convince my P somehow to read it with everyone. It won't be for the content really, I will use that to learn about topics such as women's rights and children's rights (globally), education, current events, etc.

    I'm always tired, I go home and take naps and hardly make it to the gym :( I don't know why, though, I get my planning done in no time, grading is fast, so I think I'm just lazy lol. But I'm always gone on the weekends, having a good time (hunting or camping), so it's ok.
     
  14. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Sep 5, 2016

    You are far from lazy - I trust that you don't really believe that! Keep in mind that this transition is eating at your energy. Even though you are an advanced teacher, you are in a transition. continue being kind to yourself. Although my school is more like a traditional hs I too have repeat students and need to have a zillion preps. I have learned to tell the one or two students who slip through to repeat a unit not to worry - they have an easy A if they do the work to the best of their ability and they can help tutor others who might need it. (although sometimes I realize how much they need this second visit of a novel or unit.)
     
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  15. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    We teach Lord of the Flies at 10th, so I think it's absolutely appropriate for your 2/3. When I had sophs we had a Headmaster's Inquiry at the end with the surviving students, Piggy's auntie, the sailors who picked them up at the end, etc. The kids in the class picked their roles out of a hat. The girl who played Jack really got into it, including painting her face! I may have those files somewhere; let me know if you want them.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    That would be awesome if you could send them to me. I can pm you my email address. What did you do with the remaining students who didn't get a role? At this school I have 12-18 students in my classes.
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Thank you!
    A couple of students said they've already read it, but it was only a couple. I said: "great!! you'll have some amazing insights during this novel!"
     
  18. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Linguist92021, I think that this is an excellent way to handle this circumstance. What I have said in the past was something like, "This is great to know; you can be the experts of this book as we read it." I would also point out that if you revisit any story or book that you read when you were younger, you will thus have new insights on it.

    There would be times when a few students would falsely claim that they already read the book and refused to participate in class at all. I had different versions of end-of-book tests prepared, which included details that could not be obtained by reading Cliff's Notes or by watching the movie alone. These tests had a few essay questions. I said that if they could answer all of the questions correctly in the classroom and without using any outside sources, then they can read a different book and complete projects based on it rather than reading the book that the class is reading. When these students saw the end-of-book test questions, they admitted that they could not answer the questions correctly because they did not indeed read the book.

    Some teachers may feel that this approach is being too accommodating to students, but I was teaching in a situation that was similar to yours only with large classes and no support from the administration. I found that making reasonable accommodations was actually helpful for both teachers and students under those conditions.
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Fortunately I really don't think any of my students would go to these lengths. If they don't participate or complete assignments, they simply get an F / 0, and as blunt as I am, I would say :it's pretty dumb to fail a class because you already read the book.
    Although I always have reading comprehension questions in discussions and some in tests 9to make sure they do pay attention), a lot of my questions are higher level "what do you think...", why did the character do ... say... etc", predict what will happen, provide an alternate ending to the chapter, etc, so even if they've read the book the questions wouldn't be easy or boring.
     
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  20. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    You can ask a lot of WHY questions so the students have to dig into the characters as well as the circumstances. I have a bunch of new books in my school library I've never met, including Malala, so I need to do a bunch of reading!
     
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  21. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Go ahead and PM me. I'll look on my school computer tomorrow afternoon, and if I can find them, I'll email them. I had at least 20 students in the class, so everybody got some kind of role. We had the Headmaster, an Assistant Headmaster, a Child Psychologist, some parents, etc.
     
  22. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Sep 6, 2016

    I was thinking that "House on Mango Street" and "Freedom Writers' Diary" might be excellent selections. Both of these books can be read in their entirety or in excerpts.
     

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