Today’s post comes from a recent email (used with permission) from a fellow English teacher. For privacy, I changed her name.
First, thank you, as always, for your thoughtful, realistic approach to education. I am deeply grateful! Next, a few questions for you. It sounds like you are free to create and use your own curriculum. Is that the case? Are you and the other English teachers expected to cover the same content? To have the same number/type of assessments?
Also, my department chair insists on following up every single chunk of reading with what he calls “focus” questions, the bulk of which involve reading comprehension questions, all of which are approached in the exact same way – context, lead-in, quote, sometimes analysis. Thus, let’s say for The Catcher in the Rye, he expects kids to answer 10-15 focus questions after every chapter. Am I right in despising this approach to curriculum and thinking he is out of touch with how to approach curriculum in a meaningful way? I know I’m asking you to weigh in on something here that has no remedy; I’m just wondering if I’m the one who’s out of touch!
Each spring, I launch a project-based learning experience that encourages students to pursue a project of personal interest. Folks have lots of different ways of managing this (search Genius Hour, 20 Percent Project, or Kevin Brookhouser to learn more), and here are the rules for my version: 1. The project must be something the student […]
In my first few years of teaching, I didn’t want to use my sick days. If I woke with a fever, I foolishly believed it was more trouble to pull the day’s sub materials together than to just drive to school and face the day. In the spring of my first year, a ruptured ear drum didn’t even keep me from school. It wasn’t until an allergic reaction to the antibiotic launched an angry, blotchy rash all over my body – and, like an idiot, I still came to work – that the principal’s secretary took one look at me, shook her head, and sent me home. Continue reading
Friend of the blog (and real-life homie) Annette just shared a link to this surprisingly challenging quiz from the folks at Mental Floss where we must determine whether a line comes from our favorite Dark Romantic era writer or a modern “emo” band. Continue reading
Years ago, a friend told me that starting a blog is like adopting a baby dinosaur. Sure, everyone wants a baby dinosaur. I mean, think of the cuteness. The trouble, of course, is that a baby dinosaur grows bigger (and bigger!) and the not-as-cute critter still needs to be fed and the poop still needs […]
Today’s Q&A post comes from an email this week (used with permission) from Sherrie, an English teacher who is thinking about adding Quarter Trios to her spring semester classes. Quarter Trios is a game-based classroom management tool I use to build community and increase student enthusiasm for our work together. You can learn more about the strategy here.
I really want to implement the Quarter Trios, but I have so many questions that I don’t even know where to begin. Here are my most basic questions:
1. What if someone refuses to participate? If I randomly chose the group members and they end up with someone not interested in competing, that can give a bad taste at the very beginning.
2. Unfortunately, we have a lot of cheaters or “just-get-byers” who will take advantage – like, “Oh, we found that grammar mistake, too.”
3. Do they get a handout of the options they have to earn points? Or are they just announced randomly throughout the semester?
4. It does sound like a paperwork nightmare as far as points are concerned. Can all groups turn in, say, a grammar mistake for a point? Or just announce if it is a “first group to post something” gets the point? Continue reading