Now that the 2017-2018 school year has come to a close, I am spending some time reflecting on my practice as an educator. While there were some lows of the school year and things I will try to change up and improve upon, there were also many highs to celebrate as well. Here are some of my highlights from the past school year.
My seniors had so much fun working together to complete a growth mindset escape room. This activity forces my seniors to cooperate, have patience, and utilize their problem-solving skills.
At the beginning of the year, my sophomores worked together to analyze a short story and create a cooperative theme poster. Students worked in small groups to analyze and explain how certain literary elements and devices worked together to help form the theme of the story. Students then presented their posters to the class. I always like to start presentations as informally and casually as possible at the beginning of the year to help students build their confidence in a new classroom setting.
My sophomores explored rhetorical analysis with hands-on activities that utilized sticky notes. We spent our time closely reading and rereading texts together. This practice showed my students the value of reading something more than once. I hope they carry this lesson with them throughout their educational journey.
To help dive into our college and career preparedness unit, my seniors held mock job interviews in class. For some of them, this was their first ever experience in an interview-type setting. At the end of the year, some told me just how valuable this day was, and some even told me that it helped them land a part-time job. Now knowing what I do about this activity, I plan to extend it and make it more beneficial for my seniors next year.
Don’t let the artsy project fool you. This rhetorical analysis PAPA Square assignment was filled with so much rigor that I gave my sophomores a week to work on it. During our rhetorical analysis and research unit, my sophomores selected topics that they valued and rhetorically analyzed text that they found. Their work truly amazed me.
Multiple Readings with Meaning
Also wanting to teach my seniors the value in reading an article numerous times, I challenged my seniors with reading a text multiple times -each through a new and specific lens. They recorded their findings on sticky notes each step of the way, and they were taken aback by how much their perspective changed as each lens changed.
Introduction for 1984
To begin our novel study for 1984, I had my seniors complete a mini nonfiction unit on government surveillance as an anticipatory activity to reading the novel. We analyzed the pros and cons of government surveillance and applied it to our own lives.
As I read Lord of the Flies with my sophomores, I emphasized the importance of textual details and citations by assigning a collaborative map-making activity. This activity was a tremendous help for my EL students and struggling readers who were getting lost in the novel. The visual aspect of this activity also gave my students further context for understanding.
The Stranger Mock Trial
Quite possibly one of the most memorable and engaging activities of the entire year was when my seniors put Meursault on trial after reading The Stranger. For my first time doing a trial in class, there are definitely some improvements I plan on making for next year, but it was so rewarding to see my students embrace the assignment, take on their roles, and get into character. The trial got pretty intense, and, once again, my students amazed me.