Last week, in honor of this blog's 2nd birthday/anniversary, I opened up a little Q&A. It wasn't quite as well received as I'd hoped, but I did get a few good questions... Today is my attempt at answering the first one. Enjoy!
Well, as a general response, I like teaching literature (as opposed to writing and grammar - which is sad, because so much of standardized testing etc. leans heavily in that direction). Specifically, I think my favorite unit to teach is Romeo & Juliet in ninth grade. I've never been a huge Shakespeare fan (terrible, I know), but I love that for most students this is their first exposure to his writing and I get the opportunity to make it seem less intimidating and more fun for them! Some of the activities we do with R&J are: a masquerade ball to read/perform Act 1, Scene 5 where Romeo & Juliet meet, a modern paraphrase assignment of the balcony scene, a "perfect match" interview between students and their parents (usually for extra credit), and competition wedding-vow writing. I also provide a summary before each act written in today's language and do lots of journaling to help students connect with the work even though it feels so old and outdated. Usually, my students agree that this is one of their favorite units all year!
YES, I'm happy to share lesson plans... I really think swapping creative ideas (that work!) is what teaching is all about. Email me if you are interested in this one, or something else. :)
I wish I had more freedom in the literature I teach. While my school is very supportive, I have to work with what we have class-sets of, so I often miss out on popular "modern" young adult fiction etc. I really feel like my main goal as an English teacher is to make students readers.. So, I'd love to be able to work with books like The Hunger Games etc., that are already really popular with teenagers, in addition to classic literature --- I really think you have to have an appreciation for reading itself before you can fully enjoy most of the classics.
Revolutionary ideas.... I believe learning should be fun, students should feel respected, assignments should be meaningful, and teachers should LOVE what they are doing. I don't know if any of those are revolutionary, but they pretty much sum up my philosophy of teaching.
For other reflections on teaching, ideas, etc. look here. :)
Thanks Crys for reminding me what I love about my job today (besides summer vacation)!