Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Course Guide

Curious about course descriptions at RAHS? Click here. It's always kind of interesting to read the blurb about the class you're about to teach.

English 10: English 10 is a two-trimester course required of all sophomores which seeks to build on the skills and knowledge learned in ninth grade English. The course places a heavy emphasis on the development of expository writing. Units on media center research, grammar, vocabulary development, the novel, drama and poetry are included. In both trimesters speech activities and book reports are required.

My comments: Book reports?!?!? Book reports?!?!?! How old are they again? I'll have them do all sorts of great activities with the novels they are reading... I figure we'll do some speech stuff when we study the plays (Inherit the Wind and Julius Caesar), but nothing formal.

Journalism: This one-trimester course is intended for students who want to submit articles for consideration by the school newspaper as well as those who wish to develop layout and journalistic writing skills.

My comments: Well, I hope to meet with the newspaper advisor on Friday (I was supposed to last Monday, but I had something flu-like, so I was unable to go observe), but my emphasis won't be on submitting (though it will be a requirement). Instead, I'm going to have them put together their own newsmagazine in groups of three. Layout is the last unit, though definitely not a huge part of the process--the emphasis, instead, will be on in-depth/hard news stories.

Speaking of Journalism... Today at work I filled empty time by making a special calendar (like my cooperating teacher showed me--she has been using them since she started and they work well for her). It's a five-day, four-week calendar (mine starts March 14th) so we can sketch in the goals for each days. For example, Day 1 in English 10B: Expectations and Reader-Response Theory activity (yeah, I revamped it--was going to do the Audience activity, but I might save that for later--perhaps Day 2). I essentially was able to do a rough outline of the first week of Journalism, which surprised me since I have done less planning for that one... the first day we will do Expectations and I want them to put together an "I Wonder" list. (When we were younger, we seemed to always be more curious about the world around us... we wondered why the sky was blue and why ants built hills in that particular way... we wondered about the first "people" and how they lived... we wondered about other countries and the animals that inhabit them... we seem to have lost that along the way, so I am going to use an "I Wonder" list as a kind of way to figure out what the kids are interested in, and also help them open up their minds a little to all the possibilities.) I want them to make an "I Wonder" list about Journalism--they obviously signed up for the class for some reason, even if it was just to fill space. They must be curious about the process in some way or another, I hope. I'll use those lists to revamp my schedule a little and get them thinking about their own goals for the class. On the second day, we'll begin the brief unit on reviews--we will read a few sample reviews and discuss the things they seem to have in common (I might assign them to bring in an example they find in a newspaper, magazine, or online) and the language they use; we will, as a class (with varying opinions, of course), review a clip from a film; if there is any time at the end, I will have them break into small groups (probably their permanent group of 3) and review another clip or two. This might help them get a sense of themselves as a group. On the third day, I will give them their review assignment (they will have to review a CD, a book, and a film over the coming weeks--they will have a list to choose from if they want an A, otherwise, they can choose what they want and get a B--the list will include movies and books that have journalistic content and the CDs will be non-pop/rock ones--I will try to make sure they're available at the local library, too) and start a discussion on ethics. The fourth and fifth day will be spent on All the President's Men; they will be assigned a dialectical (two column note) journal as well as a review on the film. That concludes our first week of class--then it is off to spring break! Of course, I wrote everything in pencil because anything can change. I learned this mighty quickly at Crosswinds. (I only have one class of 10B and one of Journalism; if I had more than two sections, I would also quickly realize how to keep the classes on pace with each other--that was hard with Crosswinds, even though there were only two. My morning group was always behind the later morning group, which is silly since we only worked for a week! I think the later group also had the advantage of my revamping things to make them work better.)

Anyway, I hope to plot out at least the units (TKAM on March this that and the other and then ItW on this day and that day and such so I can estimate how long for each and where I can fit in additional short stories and essays) this week. I have five major units for 10B and seven units for Journalism (though the review unit is basically done that first week).

By the way, did you all see the cover of Time magazine this week? I started laughing as soon as I saw it--I have this feeling that with all the difficulties and hardships that come with teaching, dealing with parents is going to be at the very top of my list!

26 days and counting... I feel like I am in a decent place. Things are beginning to make more sense, in the larger picture, and I'm collecting more and more ideas for the different units. I hope to vary as much as possible--I hope this will keep them somewhat interested (or at least awake).

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