I absolutely love teaching. Nothing is better than watching a child grow into his or her voice as a writer and be excited about what he or she is researching and writing about. Over the years I have develped a system that works for me and my students. We begin with the basics and build from there. Critical thinking, thinking for themselves, and arguing effectively are primary goals. I also teach students how to get to the facts and to make decisions based on facts instead of emotions or what everyone else thinks. This leads to college level thinking and essays in preperation for college classes of all kinds.
Following is a basic breakdown of how I go about teaching English. Curriculum changes slightly from year to year based on the students in the class that year. Sometimes we speed up and accomplish much more and sometimes we slow down to be sure we master the concepts, but this is basically how it goes.
This is the foundation year. Students learn to use better word choices, how to use descriptive writing effectively, and the basic five-paragraph essay in the first semester.
In the second semester, students begin more critical thinking and analysis skills. They will analyze a movie and learn how to effectively research a topic and write a research essay using correct in-text citations and a works cited page. Students also learn how to use the Internet and technology safely and effectively as well as the correct format for PowerPoints and other types of presentations.
From here on out students are placed where they need to be academically as opposed to what grade they are in.
7th and 8th Grades:
Seventh and eighth grades are broken down into two classes: A and B. The B level class is for students who need reinforcement or reteaching of some concepts from sixth grade and/or do not catch on as quickly and need more instruction and practice to master needed skills. This class moves more slowly. If a student has made good progress by the end of the first semester, he or she may be moved to the A class for the second semester. Mrs. Yoder and I keep a close eye on students' progress throughout the year.
The A level class moves much more quickly with students honing their expanded essays and learning more advanced formats. They learn persuasive writing and how to develop a solid argument using evidence to back it up. Compare and contrast essays are also introduced in this class. The expectations grow as the year progresses. Again, content will be determined by the level of the students and how quickly they catch on.
Students are placed in classes based on academic ability and the class curricula are detemined by the students. This means we could have freshmen in a 300 or 400 level class with seniors. All classes focus on critical thinking and discussion about current events in the news and politics. Students are taught how to have an uncomfortable discussion about a topic when they do not agree with the other person without losing their temper and how to effectively get their point across. They are also taught that it is okay to agree to disagree. Students look at moral dilemmas and how to see what is best for everyone. We also look at what is or may be coming in the future such as healthcare and universal basic income. They also learn how to write essays for applications for college as well as college essays. The focus is critical thinking, debate/argument, using evidence, asking essential questions, and writing for different audiences.
The only failure is having not tried. Students need to know that it is good to try whatever it is their heart desires. If they fail at it, it doesn't mean they are a failure. My goal is to prepare students for their future, not a future set for them by someone else. I want students to be successful at life and as a productive citizen, whatever that may mean for them.