Monday, March 27, 2017

Superstar year

In some ways, I feel like this fourth year at the cottage school has been a "superstar" year.  I've hit a nice groove and proven myself.  I haven't heard any parent complaints (which doesn't mean there haven't been any....just that I haven't heard of them).

I planned two field trips in the see Macbeth performed live with my high schoolers who read the play and to see Shakespeare's First Folio with my middle and high schoolers.  On Friday,  I had a local potter come in and give a demonstration as a tie-in for the middle graders' reading of A Single Shard.

I spoke with my high schoolers on Friday about how I appreciate and want their suggestions, which one student gave last week when I inadvertently gave them a spoiler on their reading of Jane Eyre.  Basically, he asked if I could revise the instructions on their assignments so that students can annotate better and avoid such spoilers.

I'm really glad he said something because I like it when students give me their feedback even when, or particularly when, it is constructively critical.

Ultimately, I want all of my students to both enjoy and learn a lot from my class, and if the class or my assignments are boring or repetitive, then they will get less out of it.  And as much as I like feeling less pressure because I'm in a nice groove and have proven myself, I worry that I could become complacent.

I think my desire to change things up to keep myself from getting bored will prevent that, but there is always that possibility.

Next year, I am very excited to teach The Wednesday Wars to my middle schoolersand I'm already planning how I will have students read one of five Shakespearean plays so that they can do some fun literature circle work with the text in the spring.  I haven't gotten excited about a middle school book like this in a long time.

One of the best things about teaching is finding those extra little things that I can encourage my students to read or watch or listen to that adds to their understanding of the literature.  Last night, I watched To Walk Invisible about the Bronte sisters on PBS, and it was really interesting.  I knew the basic story of the sisters, but it really made a difference to me to see it dramatically acted out.  It put a human face to the myth of the Brontes and helped me understand better what influenced their stories.

These are the books I'll be teaching, with the goal being three classes, although depending on enrollment I may have to merge my high school classes together.  I like being able to add new works while also doing some previous books I've taught.  Even if I've taught them before, I learn something new and see something different each time I teach them.

Middle-- Grades 6-8

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery  (never taught)
Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt  (never taught)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare  (never taught)
Nothing But the Truth by Avi
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

High School-- 9th-10th grade---focus on American Literature

A Separate Peace by John Knowles (never taught)
Long Days Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill  (never taught)
My Antonia by Willa Cather
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville

11th-12th grade--focus on European Literature

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen  (never taught)
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka  (had students in prior years do as Independent Study)
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Medea by Euripides

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