My New Job

I love, love, love my new job.  I promised updates here on the blog and I have been terrible about keeping everyone informed.  Here’s a quick summary of my year so far:

I teach freshman and seniors.  My senior class is a new curriculum focused on 21st century literacies.  I teach two modules (one marking period each)- The Environment and The Human Condition.  We just finished reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet and my students created Twitter accounts for a particular character and tweeted the major events of the play through their eyes.  The projects were AWESOME!  I am having so much fun that it shouldn’t even be allowed.  We have also been reading Janne Teller’s Nothing as a class and it fits with our human condition theme perfectly.  The students enjoy being read to and the book really shocks them over and over.  They have been referring to it during our Socratic Seminars and in written responses.

It does take a while to get a read aloud done, because I only see my seniors 3 times per week, for 70 minutes each time.  It’s easy to fit the read aloud in most days, but the continuity isn’t always there.  I haven’t started doing the read aloud with my freshmen classes yet because I team teach and I haven’t figured out a way to fit it in yet.  (Yes, it kills me that we don’t have a read aloud, and I do notice the difference in the sense of community-reading, but I will get to it!)

My freshman classes are great, too.  I team teach, as I said, teaching in-sync with the history teacher.  We have two rooms that share a dividing wall, which has not been closed all year.  My curriculum follows the history curriculum, which is World Cultures/World History.  For example, I just taught excerpts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales while my students studied the Middle Ages in history.  I am still finding my footing re: the team teaching, but I love it so far.

Technology-wise, my new school is unreal.  We are a math, science, and technology-focused so all of the students expect us to use a lot of technology.  I use Edmodo to post homework and host backchannel chats while we view movies/hold Socratic Seminars.  It’s fantastic.

I also had all of my students sign up for Goodreads.  So far, my students are just posting books for their 40-Book Challenge and friending each other, but I plan to host book discussions and much more soon.  I will also have the students posting reviews of books they read.  A few have already done so on their own!  Right now I am enjoying watching my students post their books and commenting on them.  I see my students 3-4 times per week and the Goodreads group is a great way to  continue talking about books outside of class.

My new job is absolutely amazing.  I am constantly being challenged, I love my students, my colleagues are brilliant, and love being able to use technology all the time.  :)

Back in the Swing of Things

This week marked the beginning of the new school year for me.  I am teaching in a new school, two new grade levels, with a new schedule.  The block scheduling for my freshman is still leaving me a little unsure of where I am, but my seniors are great so far!

I co-teach my freshman, alongside the history teacher, so I am still finding my way as far as class time, routines, etc.  But my seniors are all mine.  I work alongside another English teacher, teaching the same works and using the same projects, but the class itself is mine to plan.  Today I really got into “the groove”.  We are reading William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, one of my favorites.  But today I also started our first read aloud.  Unlike in the past, when I focused on the mock Newbery, I am working to align my read-aloud with our unit theme.  As we are studying the human condition, and reading books like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, I selected our first read-aloud carefully. We are reading Janne Teller’s Nothing. (see my review)  The book itself is stunning and I think it has Printz Award written all over it.  Even more importantly, it fits our unit perfectly while also exposing my students to literature from a modern European perspective.  We read the first 20 pages in class today and the comments were very positive.  I can’t want to continue!

I also did my first booktalks with my seniors.  I pulled all of my Lord of the Flies read-alikes and booktalked a few.  My students are all very smart (it’s a magnet-like high school), but they are not necessarily well-versed in current YA (although they are huge nonfiction and fantasy fans, with a few graphic novel lovers thrown in the mix).  During our first class meeting we introduced ourselves and named books that were important to us.  The books named included Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stitches: A Memoir, and The City of Ember (The First Book of Ember).

So what did I booktalk? The Hunger Games!  None of my students had read it and only two had heard of it.  I now have a waiting list for it. :)  One student took it home this weekend and was getting a firm reminder from her classmates to finish it this weekend.  I also booktalked Gone, which piqued their interest, too.  It’s awesome getting back into my normal routine!

Finally, I had each of my seniors sign up for Edmodo and Goodreads.  I just started using Edmodo and I think I love it so far!  I already know I love Goodreads.  I plan to use Goodreads for my seniors’ letter-essays, along with class book discussions.  Has anyone else used Goodreads in the classroom?  I would love to hear about your experiences!

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