Saturday, October 30, 2010

Using Technology in the Classroom

I decided to add to my original introductory lesson for The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963, by creating my very own video using Windows Movie Maker. I put together clips from the 1960s race riots and social injustice, hoping to construct an idea of the time period with my students. You can view my video at this link: Watsons Introduction.

Luckily, my classroom is equipped with a working projector and computer, so I can integrate technology into my lessons. I try not to let the technology run my lessons; rather, I use technology to enhance my lessons.

For example, when I completed a mini nonfiction unit with my students, I used the computer in my room as a means of projecting nonfiction articles onto the screen, so my students could follow along as we dissected characteristics of nonfiction texts. I will continue to integrate technology into my classroom during my next unit as well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Planning Meaningful Assessments

At this point in the semester, I am eight weeks into my student teaching experience--with a mere seven weeks remaining. Thus far we have read stories by O. Henry and Poe, and we have practiced "Talking to the Text," which reinforces reading strategies the students learned in sixth grade. I cannot help but wonder:
  • Have I made an impact in my students' lives?
  • Will they remember what I've taught them?
  • Will they take information from my class and apply it elsewhere?
One of the best ways to help students retain information is by providing them with meaningful assessments--assessments in which they can create, analyze, and synthesize. Meaningful assessments give students a purpose for completing an assignment. Rather than simply completing the task for a grade, students make the task purposeful.

In my attempts at helping students discover a purpose f
or each unit, I have developed assessments that move beyond basic recall questions. For example, at the end of the O. Henry short story unit the students created their own short stories using similar plot structure. The following units that I will
be completing with the students revolve around the following texts: The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 and To Kill a Mockingbird.

At the end of the Watson Unit, I was thinking of having the students create a journal for one of the characters, in which they describe the various settings, conflicts, and characters of the text, building upon the elements of fiction that we p
reviously discussed during our short story units.

As for the TKAM Unit, I am still unsure as to how I want to assess the students, yet make it meaningful at the same time. Any suggestions?

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Learning Stations

I have found that the most successful activity I have implemented during student teaching thus far have been my Edgar Allan Poe Learning Stations. The following is how I structured my lessons:

1. In their journals, students created a KWL chart about Poe, filling in the "K" column (what they know). Then, as a class, we shared answers and filled in the "W" column (what they want to know). I have a computer and projector in my room so I was able to project this chart onto the board while we added to it.

2. Then, we read a short biography about Poe and filled in parts of the "L" column (what they learned about Poe).

3. Separating the students into six groups, I then presented an overview of each station to the students:
- "The Black Cat" station = theme
- "The Fall of the House of Usher" station = setting
- "The Raven" station = tone and mood
- "The Tell-Tale Heart" station = talking to the text (using reading strategies)
- "The Cask of Amontillado" station = characterization
- "The Pit and the Pendulum" station = plot development

The students would rotate every 25 minutes, and I think they really enjoyed moving around from station to station. This is only my second time experimenting with Learning Stations in the classroom, but the students seem to be responding to it well.

Stay tuned for more to come from the secondary ed English classroom!