A Sketchy New Year: An Experiment for Spring Semester

A Sketchy New Year

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Every time I have a long enough break to reflect on my teaching, I suddenly want to revamp EVERYTHING.  I want to try EVERYTHING. First, I go to Pinterest and pin hundreds of ideas.  Next, I start at least 10 massive projects to transform my classroom.  It’s pathetic!  Sometimes I start so many projects at once, when I go back to one, I completely forget my original intentions.  Well, not this year.  You will be proud of me to know that I am only planning two transformations.  Today, I want to share my thoughts on classroom note taking.

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I Got Student Feedback!!! Now What?

I Got Student Feedback!!! Now What?

It’s the first weekend of winter break (wooohoo!) and I’m sipping chai, nibbling on fresh baked chocolatey-chipped cookies, listening to a Vintage and Rare playlist on Spotify, and playing with kitties. Life is good.  The human part of me is loving this moment, but she is interrupted by the teacher part of me who is gently whispering, “You should not waste this time.  You need to be working.”

Fine!  But I don’t want to do anything too serious.  Then I remember the student survey I created at the end of the final.  I should really look at that and see how my kiddos feel about the writing process.  As an SDC English teacher, my teacher life often exists in a huge vacuum.  I create my own finals, formative and benchmark assessments.  I create my own pie charts and bar graphs to show administration student progress.  And now, I must figure out what to do with student feedback.  In preparation for writing this blog post, I realized there are three simple steps for using student feedback.

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Reflection on Close Reading Projects for Hamlet

April Peebler as Hamlet, Ambre Lee as Polonius, photo by Deborah Gascon

The readiness is all-Hamlet.

While I’ve always loved that line, I’ve never had a chance to use it in my own writing (until now).  During the summer of 2015, I was extremely fortunate to participate in the Folger Summer Academy -an intense study of Hamlet.  At that time, I taught 9th/10th–but all of the teaching strategies transfer nicely to Romeo and Juliet and Othello.  Due to fate or providence, this year my teaching schedule changed to 11th/12th–which was obviously a mandate to share Hamlet with my new classes.

We did many of the activities I learned at the Folger Institute: two or three students act out a scene, while other students direct the actors, students formed groups and prepared a scene for the class.  We did a “To be or not to be” face off where the lines were divided into two characters and 1/2 the class read one character, and 1/2 the class read the other character.

While the Folger philosophy is one that is a practice of students facing the language head-on and experiencing the plays directly, as an SDC teacher, I feel I need to apply further techniques to ensure close readings and understanding of the text.  I will share four activities I did with different classes. Continue reading Reflection on Close Reading Projects for Hamlet

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Google Forms: A Dream Tool For Case Carriers

Believe it or not, I once had an administrator say that SDC teachers should focus 80% of their energy on being a case manager and 20% of their time on being a content teacher.  If you’ve ever stood in front of a high school English class and said, “Today you’ll be rewriting scenes from Hamlet in a different dialect,” then you are fully aware of the enthusiasm, preparation, and humor that you need to bring each day.  In all honesty, the statement did make me realize a new goal: As a case carrier, I should spend 20% of my energy on my caseload kiddos.

jaymantri.com
jaymantri.com

Finding the balance between creating amazing content and experiences for my students, providing meaningful, timely feedback AND managing IEPs with due diligence is an SDC teacher’s constant tug-of-war with the next-to-impossible.  However, over the last four years, I’ve used Google Forms to help me gain some traction in the field of IEP feedback from other teachers.  It’s always been a struggle to get the specific feedback I need for my students from general education teachers.  I’m always amazed at the amount of work Gen Ed teachers have on their plates; how do they do it?  By creating a Google form for IEP feedback, the Gen Ed teacher can answer your specific questions via a drop-down menu and both of your lives will be easier! Continue reading Google Forms: A Dream Tool For Case Carriers

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How To Embrace Your Teacher Identity

Have you ever had a 12th grade student rush into your classroom and hide in a dusty corner, far away from the door, until the bell rang? When this happened six years ago, my first thoughts were that Carl (alias) was being bullied; but this was wrong.  Most of his classes were in a co-taught setting, and English was his only class where all students were receiving special education services.  Carl was embarrassed. I said all of the teacher-y things to boost his self esteem, but at the end of his senior year, the situation had not changed.

While drinking chai and nibbling on cupcakes, I realized, just like Carl, I’ve been hiding in the corner throughout my teaching career; and I’m finally ready to come out into the sun.  In speaking with other Special Education teachers, the identity issue is not isolated or new.  This Morning Cupcakesknowledge alone, makes me feel somewhat better.  At the same time, there is a three-step, simple cure for the Special Education Identity Crisis.

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Defining, embracing, and sharing SDC culture for high school teachers.