Things have been busy lately. You know how that goes, I'm sure. One of the things I do when I get stressed is start LOTS of things without finishing ANY of them.
For example, I open fifteen tabs on my computer and leave all of them open, desperately rifling through the files to try to figure out which one to do first. As my mind races, I find that I continually think of new items that must be completed; with each new thought, a new tab opens. On particularly anxious days, I switch back and forth between the computer and my desk, making notes and sorting through papers (there are ALWAYS lots of random papers on my desk on days like that) as I struggle to make sense of my life.
So it goes with my blog from time to time. I now have at least five drafts going on this page at once; most have been open for at least a couple of months--some of them have been open since before I went back to work post-maternity leave in September (was it really so long ago?). I've been desperately trying to post more frequently, but the whole month of December already slipped through my fingers, and now I'm at the end of January.
Anyway, I'm super excited about two things that we're doing at school right now, and both of them are ideas that you could implement right away if you felt so inclined.
The first idea is using YA literature for text pairings:
With our English 11 classes (and, to a lesser extent, with my AP Lit class as well in the form of lit circles), we're pairing "traditional" (think canonical, in anthologies, mostly by dead authors, largely DIFFICULT and somewhat antiquated) texts with passages from young adult novels. It's been great so far.
For example, we paired a close reading passage using the beginning of "The Fall of the House of Usher" with the beginning of a spooky novel by Rin Chupeco called The Girl from the Well. We paired a passage from The Life of Olaudah Equiano about being kidnapped and the slave ship journey over with a passage from Sharon Draper's Copper Sun about the slave auction.
It's been really successful, and it's been a great way to introduce students to more YA literature while also exposing them to the classics and more traditional texts.
The second idea is focusing on social issues as a way to create units:
We decided to make our units revolve around social issues. We came up with a list of social issues--15 of them--that we thought might interest students, and then we used Survey Monkey to let students quickly vote on their top issues. It surprised me to find that bullying was the winner by a landslide--well over 50% of the students voted for that issue. The other winners were hate crimes, human trafficking, and violence in schools. It was great to use the survey because I would've been reluctant to choose some of those issues on my own, but with student input, it invited me to have space to talk through issues that are relevant to the students' lives. We're creating mini-units focusing on each of the issues they selected. So far, we've worked through human trafficking and are currently studying hate crimes (including racial and religious crimes as well as crimes related to sexuality). I've been amazed by the maturity and passion students have shown as we have dealt with difficult texts and topics.
I'll write more about the framing of those units in the future, but I wanted to throw these ideas out there in case you're looking for some new things to try. I've needed a bit of revitalization with lessons myself, and these two ideas have done a lot to enhance the lessons I'm making.
The following post comes to you from Brittany Goza, a teacher in South Carolina. Here's a little bit about her:
Brittany Goza graduated from Columbia College in 2011 and teaches English I and English II in a dropout prevention program called C3 in the School District of Pickens County. Before teaching English, she taught ESOL K-12 in Spartanburg District 1; Brittany has presented literacy based content at two national conventions and partners with two other English teachers in maintaining an educational blog. Brittany also trains teachers on new district technology initiatives. She has always been passionate about learning and reading; young adult literature is her favorite genre. Brittany has a passion for traveling and learning new languages; she speaks Spanish and is taking a group of students to Spain in the spring of 2015! Check out her blog here.
Creating Alter Egos: Project by Brittany Goza
Mrs. Gilstrap recording a flipped lesson.
scale drawing of my alter ego
Reading Scholastic magazine to learn about 3D sculptures.
Mixing our flour/ salt dough.
Working to sculpt her 3D figure.
The picture below is the comic strip that was created after students wrote their dystopian short stories.
To create the comic strip, students completed the following steps:
1.Learn what an alter-ego was.
2. Choose a social issue that their alter-ego could solve.
3. Write a dystopian short stories and create a 3D sculptures of alter ego.
4. Peer edit the dystopian short stories.
5. Create a hand-drawn story board using 6+ panels to tell the dystopian short story in comic book fashion. ***Students were required to have at least 6 captions and 4 word bubbles in order to accurately paraphrase and summarize their short story.
Thanks so much to Brittany for sharing her ideas! It's awesome to collaborate with teachers all over the world, and especially in South Carolina where I went to school and began teaching. I'll be back with more book reviews and lesson plan ideas soon.
K. Ashley Dickson-Ellison is a former high school English teacher (who is now an instructional technology teacher) interested in exploring the integration of trending young adult literature into the English classroom experience. Ashley is also a member of the podcast Unabridged; check out the podcast site below.
Please note: All ideas and opinions are my own and do not represent my current or past employers.
© K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All thoughts and ideas are the author's and do not represent any employer.