Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Goal Tracking

As per Karl's request, now is a good time to examine the progress (or lack thereof) I've made with the goals I set at the end of first semester.
Goal #1: Emphasize that the course revolves around students, not around the teacher or the literature.
Progress: This has always been my teaching philosophy, but I've been more cognizant of it this semester. I model my reading assigments after my Oxford classes, which are entirely reader-centered. As my students read The Great Gatsby, for example, they annotate the text guided by their own curiosity and interest rather than by mass-produced worksheets. We are fishbowling discussions.

Goal #2: Keep class new; maintain a class routine that's comfortable but not predictable.
Progress: This is difficult but necessary at this time of year. Lauren and I are venturing into new territory in our English 10 classes; we're allowing our students to form book groups and analyze a text of literary merit that has been turned into a decent movie. Although the goals of this project are the same as they would be for our more traditional text, A Separate Peace, students will set their own schedules and work in book groups. They will still read for symobls, themes, characterization, setting, etc., but hopefully they will be more invested in their analyses because the books were of their choosing. It's difficult to be designing a unit from scratch in the last six weeks of the semester, but it's far better than forcing my students to analyze a novel that they hate/can't relate to/refuse to read. It's nice to see them get excited about reading.
Goal #3: Prepare students to be innovative and adaptable so that they can partake in the competitive global economy. The world is flat, baby.
Still no clue. Suggestions are welcome.

Live it, love it, blog it.


Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Sounds like you are doing a great job with goals #1 and #2. I agree that forcing them to read (or pretend to read) A Separate Peace is, in the end, not worth it. Much better that they have some buy in and are excited about what they are doing (even if there are some baseball books/movies!). Can you write a little bit more about why (how) it is "difficult to be designing a unit from scratch in the last six weeks of the semester?" What would make that easier?

As far as Goal #3, I think we can talk more about that, but is there any way you can get them involved with classes around the world as part of their book groups? What if part of their book group was in Oxford, or Winnipeg, or Mexico City, or Beijing? What if you were part of an online book group that spanned several continents as a model for your students? I think this addresses the global, adaptable, and technological pieces of this "flat" goal.

As far as innovative, how will they be presenting the result of their groups' work? And then how will the rest of the class demonstrate that they have learned from the other groups? I know there's some potential there for being innovative (for both your students and you).

1:55 PM  
Blogger nmleighton said...

Have you ever used Socratic circles? I don't know a lot about them, but I saw how one teacher uses them in a demonstration for the Maine Writing Project. Once I do some more research, I plan to use Socratic circles to replace my reading (lit) groups. Check it out if you haven't already.

I'm glad I came across your blog. I was looking for digital storytelling resources and was directed to your site...

6:00 PM  

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