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Thread: Question for all board members/moderators

  1. #1
    Hard Boiled costello's Avatar
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    Question for all board members/moderators

    The 2008-2009 school year will be my very first year teaching Language Arts to 7th and 8th grade students. It's the first time I've ever been given complete control of not only what's going on in my classroom but of my school's 7th and 8th grade Language Arts curriculum. Needless to say I'm extremely excited.

    Here's where I'd love your help. I'm delving into research, reviewing and revising what I've already accomplished in the past, and I'm pouring over the textbooks and guides the school already has. But I would like to hear your voices. What worked in your English classrooms? What didn't work? As writers and artists, what do you think could/should be done in the classroom? The same goes for those of you who aren't readers and writers. The more information from the board the better.

    Don't worry Ben or Thudpucker. I'm not basing my entire curriculum around what I get from this message board. But it'd be nice to read all of your anecdotes, wish lists, etc. It will inspire me to keep creative with my lessons. I've already morphed Bendis's inspiring words. After every lesson I create I ask myself if it's something I would like to have been taught when I was in middle school. If the answer's yes, I keep it. If no, it gets tossed. It's kept me going strong so far.

    So please, help. Inspire me.

    Oh, I don't put out easy, so you'll have to work really hard if you expect me to even consider sex as part of the learning experience.

  2. #2
    Hard Boiled Amos Moses's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    I remember we had to read Romeo and Juliet for the 5th fucking time in 8th grade. Please do not subject your students to that.
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  3. #3
    Right Guy
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    Whatever you do, make sure you put in some non-fiction reading into your curriculum. That is much ignored area when it comes to English and LA classes. Also, more boys will get involved if it is a "real story".

  4. #4

    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    I'd suggest a mix of classic and modern literature.

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    Consiliere SgtPepper's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    Try to avoid controversial books the first year, because the school board may or may not use any trouble caused to take this away from you.

    Too bad, Catcher In The Rye would have been a good one to read.

    Try connecting the curriculum to current events or popular culture.

  6. #6
    Made JamesV's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    So I don't quite know if this is what you are looking for or not, but:

    I think too often middle school and high school english classes become too focused on the CANON and of promoting the great works of literature without making the students understand why they are valued so highly. I think the greatest thing you can do no matter what books is give the class the option to define what they think of them.

    Obviously, this could be difficult, but providing flexibility can go along way. I think a lot of kids lose interest in reading - especially older literature because it all becomes a regurgitation of "these are the books you must read".

    This is one of those reasons why I barely remember reading anything in middle school (some Shakespeare plays and that's about it) but I remember nearly everything I read in High school. I was lucky enough to have teachers who didn't care if I didn't think Angela's Ashes was a good book, as long as I could express why.

    And while obviously you can't use the same books, I think you can invoke some of those feelings in 7-8th graders.

    Empower them to learn to sort the canon for themselves. Not just abide by the reading list.

    Man.. That was a lengthy ass ramble.. Sorry.

  7. #7
    Hard Boiled costello's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    Quote Originally Posted by shiftyone View Post
    Whatever you do, make sure you put in some non-fiction reading into your curriculum. That is much ignored area when it comes to English and LA classes. Also, more boys will get involved if it is a "real story".
    This is a really good point. I really need to make sure non-fiction isn't necessarily informational text. Last year I taught students how to read textbooks, search for main ideas, etc., but it was either that or fiction.

    Thank you.

  8. #8
    Hard Boiled costello's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    I'm thinking I'll give students extra credit if their parents/guardians come in and give a 3-5 minute talk about a book they love.

  9. #9
    Hard Boiled costello's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    All of you have wonderful ideas. Thank you very, very much.

    I don't know about Shakespeare. I've taught some before, but like you said, they read the same stuff time and time again in high school.

  10. #10
    Consiliere SgtPepper's Avatar
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    Re: Question for all board members/moderators

    Quote Originally Posted by costello View Post
    All of you have wonderful ideas. Thank you very, very much.

    I don't know about Shakespeare. I've taught some before, but like you said, they read the same stuff time and time again in high school.
    You could teach Taming of the Shrew and discuss Kiss Me, Kate and 10 Things I Hate About You.

    Maybe for non-fiction it could be about a musical artist, say The Beatles.
    Granted there is some risque stuff in some of the biographies, but it might interest the kids, plus they get a little history.

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