Teaching Seniors

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ms.irene, May 27, 2015.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    May 27, 2015

    I guess this is a spin-off from the Final Assignments thread...I am going to be teaching three sections of Senior English next year, and I am both excited and nervous! I haven't taught a senior class since I was a student teacher almost 10 years ago (!!!). I would love to hear your experiences, tips and suggestions for teaching seniors.

    At our school, upperclassmen are in Small Learning Communities based around a career pathway. I am going to be in the Media/Marketing SLC which apparently is known to attract an interesting mix of "computer nerds" and "less academically motivated" kids, according to the other teachers I will be working with. Apparently this group is not renowned for being on top of their work, at least in comparison to the groups that are focused on medical careers, liberal arts, etc.

    I know what texts I will most likely be teaching: Hamlet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Brave New World, maybe The Stranger, and Fast Food Nation. I will also be teaching an interdisciplinary unit with the Econ/Government teacher around a non-fiction text, Starbucked, that I haven't read yet but the other teacher says is great. Other than these texts, we don't have any set "curriculum" to use or follow.

    Finally, we also have a huge senior project which involves a service project, website/blog, formal presentation, and potentially a research paper. I know this will eat up a lot of instructional time as well as my planning time (and sanity).

    Now that I've typed it all out, it really looks like I will have my hands full! I'd still love to hear from anyone with experience teaching seniors!
     
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  3. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    May 27, 2015

    I have almost all of our junior and seniors.
    So, by the time my students are seniors, we've spent a year together already.
    I LOVE SENIORS!

    It looks like you have a large chunk of your curriculum carved out. That is good.

    I teach a college credit English Class (students get English Comp I credit and Gen. Lit credit). Those are motivated students, so we get a lot of great stuff accomplished.

    I teach 1 section of non-college bound seniors. That is a tougher group, but still fun. This next year I will be co-teaching this course with a colleague. We have totally overhauled the curriculum and have tried to find as many real-world skills and activities as possible.
     
  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    May 27, 2015

    That's fun that you get to have your students back-to-back...or at least, I bet it's fun for most of them :)

    The group I will have is a mix of college-bound and career/technical-bound, with a lot of kids in the ROP program (auto tech, culinary, agriculture, etc). I also just realized that our cluster is "re-branding" itself as a STEAM program, which is interesting. I'm looking forward to collaborating on curriculum more since this year I have been kind of flying solo with my one section of English 10.
     
  5. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    May 27, 2015

    Seniors are my class of choice too! I have college prep classes, which include a lot of low achievers as well as some pretty sharp kids. I teach Hamlet...a couple of things that have worked for me: I show the Kenneth Branagh version, and we watch a scene, then read it. That way students have a general sense of how the scene moves and the characters' attitudes. I also printed out the major soliloquies, had students glue them in the middle of a big sheet of paper, and had them work in small groups to annotate them using colored markers. I gave them some guiding questions and circulated while they worked. My students seemed to like this approach and put in a lot of effort, and it was great to hear them actually discussing Shakespeare!
     
  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    May 28, 2015

    I teach seniors as well. Some years are better than others. My first year was awful because they were so entitled. Now I have kids I taught as sophomores, and it's been pretty fun. I end the year with a senior footprint project where they have to do a video about everything they learned in high school. We also do a six word memoir. It's a great way to wrap up the year. We also do senior memory books. They write different chapters throughout the year about their k-12 education, family, passions, bucket list, etc...
     
  7. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    May 28, 2015

    I have been lucky enough to teach some senior classes. I will echo the previous reply that mentioned doing some sort of sentimental activity in the end. Most students will be more engaged and will enjoy creating a final product.

    It can get annoying to deal with senioritis as the year winds down, but seniors are overall a much more pleasant group to work with than younger grades. The only discipline I have had to deal with in senior classes have related to attendance issues and occasional "Chatty Cathys".
     
  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    May 28, 2015

    I hope to be so lucky, but I know I still need to go in with a plan for classroom management. But, I don't feel like you can use the same strategies on 18-year-olds as you can with 14-year-olds...what does your classroom management look like in senior classes?
     
  9. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    May 29, 2015

    Seniors really want to be treated like adults, and rightfully so, to some degree. I allow a bit more freedom (i.e. selecting groups for kitchen labs, the seating chart). I let them know right off the bat that I will treat them like adults unless they give me a reason to do the opposite. If there is an issue where students do not respond to redirection, I might break out a seating chart or not permit certain groups to work together.

    If a student is misbehaving like a 14 year old, they will receive the same consequences. They may have to serve a detention with me and clean the kitchen after school. When students repeatedly skip classes, I write up a referral and allow the office to do the job (this has only happened once this year).
     

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