Sep 27, 2009

Planning Year

One of my goals this year is to really get into purposeful teaching... I know, I know. If it doesn't have a purpose why are you teaching it? But let's be honest. Anything can have a purpose if the teacher is creative enough. My mentor teacher spent three days watching "Finding Nemo" and turned it into a really great spring board for an essay topic. The students really connected with the topic she drew a parallel to and it was probably the most worked on writing assignment the entire year. I am not that good.
I posted on the English Companion Ning, looking for a planning buddy. I actually got way more replies that I thought I would. However, I have yet to really figure out the Ning technology. (You cannot believe how hard it was for me to type that... I am disgusted with myself. The fact is, I just don't have the time.) So, I'm posting what I've done so far here.
I have a lot of great ideas. Many, many great ideas and materials from others, but it just feels so disjointed to me. I'm looking for that flow... as sense that what I'm doing is really building something, learning in the students. That they leave the classroom knowing more about rhetoric, analysis, literature, etc. and not the best ways to get rid of dead bodies for future murder mystery novels that their teacher may write.
AP Language
The first week, I had the students do an assignment where they examine quotes from famous people and write a response for each quote. We discuss the quotes and talk about the classroom atmosphere. I also did a lecture with a power point on what Rhetoric is – none of the students enter the room knowing what it is. I went through

  • · Argument
  • · Rhetorical Analysis
  • · Synthesis Argument
  • · Diction
  • · Imagery
  • · Syntax
  • · Tone
  • · Denotation
  • · Connotation

Student also wrote an essay where they described a person who influenced them and made a significant impact on their life. This gave me an insight into their writing and it can be used in upcoming scholarship essays.

In the second week, I went over what annotation is and how to do it with a sample. Students practiced with a short piece. I also introduced the Rhetorical Square. For homework, students were to read “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie and fill out the square, including lines from the text that support their ideas. The following day, they wrote an essay about adversity building character and compare the information they came up with from the text with a quote from Horace.

The students also read the first chapter of Everyday Use and worked through one of the sample arguments.

Week Three, continued with learning basic rhetorical terms. We also went over thesis writing – what a thesis is (ie. not an 12 sentence paragraph, ), what it’s is and why it never contains the words “I am going write about”. Really nuts and bolts type of stuff. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but for students who have been taught to write for the WASL exclusively for the past 10 years there are few things they have to unlearn. Or at least stop doing for awhile until they can write without that particular crutch. We also got into what Syntax is with many examples of different types. We then spent a few days using the AP Style and Rhetorical Analysis Organizer on a narrative essay. The students worked in groups in filling out the organizer and creating a visual to present their findings to the class.

This coming week will be rinse and repeat with another narrative essay. I know they can’t analyze well enough for it to become boring, but I’m always afraid that will happen. Or that I’ll miss something.

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