Friday, December 23, 2011

The Teacher's File Cabinet--It's not what you think it is!

  Many people think that a teacher's life becomes super easy after a few years, because he or she can go to the file cabinet, take out an old lesson plan, and ,"voila",  have a lesson for that day.  No matter how long one has taught, lesson planning involves more than pulling a worksheet or test out of a file.
Source:  Hub Solution Designs
   Familiarity with course material, understanding the timing aspects of a lesson, and just plain confidence do ease a teacher's task.
 Let me show you, however, how a lesson on "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Poe might be very different for me this year:
(This scenario is fictitious, but I think it is realistic.)

  • Last year I had 4 English 11 classes of 27 students each.  This year, because of an increase in enrollment, I have 5 classes of 27 students each. I want all students to have an individual copy so they can annotate as they read.  (This is an important skill when helping students read literature closely.)
  •  I need to make 27 more copies of the short story.  Oops....the copy machine is not working......oops, the second copy machine needs toner....oops......the next one works, but the copier jams after 3 or 4 copies, but I finally get my extra copies.
  •  Ok, now I have a copy for each student!
  • I must reread the story.  Even though I know the story well, I need to  read it again to make sure I haven't forgotten anything or thought of something different about the story. I haven't read the story since last year. I need to look at any notes I have and may add some.
  • This year I have an ESL student (English as a Second Language)  from Somalia who is a very hard worker, but has great difficulty reading independently.  I need to look at her schedule to see when she can go to the Writing Lab for extra help.  I may also email the ESL teacher.
  • I also have 2 students on IEP's who require different accomodations.  One needs extra time on assignments and one needs to have the story read orally (I'll get the info to her intervention specialist),
  • Now is the time to figure out the timing of  reading the story. 
  • I will read the first few pages with the students to set up the setting and atmosphere Poe uses.  They'll  need help with words like tarn, miasma, fissure. How should I handle vocabulary needs with my classes?
  • Students will read independently until Madeline appears, about  5 paragraphs. 
  • Review:  narrator, Roderick, symptoms of his illness, and Madeline's appearance.
  • During all of this, students annotate their copy, following guidelines I have given them.
  • Because the story can't be read in one period, I  must decide what to assign for homework--or should we finish in class tomorrow?
  • We have shortened periods tomorrow for an assembly, which will also affect my planning.
  • After discussing the events in the story, I will introduce possible themes. 
  • Students will be assigned to use quotes from the story to support each possible theme.
  • I will have students work in pairs on this assignment----this is the first time these classes have done this, so I have to plan for how the pairing will work.
  • Students also need to take notes on how Poe uses the setting and atmosphere, the plot, the characters, and the hidden workings of the human mind. Later, they will need this information to write an essay on Poe's style.
   The lesson I described doesn't contain lots of innovative, cutting-edge ideas! I haven't even mentioned  goals and learning targets when studying Poe.  My purpose here is to show the process involved in working with a lesson which I have done many, many times.  Also, each class is different, so I may need to do some things differently because of the nature of the class and students.

As everyone in education knows, we teach students, not content.  However, the content, the materials, and the process matter.  The success of my students depends on my work before class even begins!

One aspect of teaching I have loved is planning and searching for new ideas.  If anyone mentions that teachers simply rehash old work, please remind him that we are not robots and our students are not robots. Teachers don't simply turn on a start button each day, going through some mechanical movements.

Source:  123RF, royalty free photos

 Change is constant in education, even for the very familiar! 

If you want to read "The Fall of the House of Usher", here is a link for you!

No comments:

Post a Comment