Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Observations V & Journalism: Week One Plans

For whatever reason, I have been having a hard time getting this post up! I wrote it (spent a good while rambling) and it published blank. So let's hope this one turns out OK; I'll have to copy it in case I have to try pasting it.

My fifth day of observations went well, as usual. Amy had her 10A's do some reviewing for the Of Mice and Men test, which was today. They did a kind of poll where they went around the room, asking each other two questions about the book. They asked things like, "If you could meet any character, who would it be?" and "What would you rename the book" and one girl even asked "If Lennie / George was a piece of food, what would it be?" It seemed like a fun activity; it got them up and moving around and they got to ask opinions of the rest of the class. Her 10B's watched Act 1 of Julius Caesar and began to read aloud Act 2. She had them sign up on the board for the parts, and they responded really well. Depending on how many lines and how often, students would be able to opt out of an amount of questions on the final test, which was the incentive.

I mostly observed in the ELL classroom during 4th hour. She had a group of Level 3's (they go from Level 1 to 4) in the front of the room (where there are rows of desks) and some students from Mexico who had just come mid-trimester last tri (so November, I believe). The kids are really great; I just wanted to sit and talk with them about their first countries (country of origin?). Some from Mexico, Cambodia, Africa, Chile, Poland, Cuba, Palestine, etc.

I also spent some time with the librarian (Greg--Martinson?). He is going to help me in getting the students' newsmagazines up on the web. He had me get an account at Jotspot, which is currently in beta testing, so it's free.

I was able to make plans for the first week of the Journalism class. I thought I'd put those down here, with some clarification details given after each day's listing.

Day 1
1. Expectations
2. I Wonder List
3. Two Truths & A Lie
The I Wonder List is like the one I was talking about for Julius Caesar. They'll have this chance to make some decisions about how the class is going. I'm sure I'll give them more opportunities for feedback and change, but this is the biggest chance because I am most willing to revamp my planning earlier on. I also want them to think about their own goals for learning in the class.
The Two Truths and a Lie is a pretty fun ice breaker activity. I'm personally not a huge fan of ice breakers, but I recognize them as important. It's also important for me to create a safe environment for my students, and I want them to know each other as well as they can. So instead of having them memorizing each other's names in a row or having them interview each other, I thought we could do something with a bit more creativity. (I'll probably do this with my 10B's also.) With this group, I will allow questions. So I have a week to think of two really great truths and one fitting lie. They have to guess which is the lie. (I found out my friend Annie was a rodeo rider with this activity when I first met her.)

Day 2:
1. Journal: Decisions
2. Small Group Discussion: Tabloid
3. Large Group Discussion: School Newspaper Ethics Rules
4. News Group Meet: Discuss Group Rules
5. HW: Rewrite Tabloid
The decisions journal will have them considering various ethical situations, such as having a photographer who only uses pictures of their friends to illustrate situations. This is the warm up to a big Ethics discussion that will go throughout my Review (this is really just one-day) and Editorial units (which will be about two weeks or less, total--we need to get to the hard news stuff).
We'll do some work with less reliable news sources, like tabloids (which means I have to buy tabloids--ick). They'll get into small groups (preferably not their newsgroups, so everyone can get to know others--they'll have more small group work with their newsgroups at the end of the semester, probably) and talk about the different ways we can tell these tabloids are unreliable. We'll talk about the importance of things like citing sources, etc.
Then we'll go over either the school's or another newspaper's rules for ethics. The students will have to get together to talk about what they want to have as their own rules of ethics. (They'll also meet later to discuss the rules of work as well--how they will keep each other accountable.)
And as homework, they're going to rewrite a fairy / folk / mythology tale as a tabloid. Should be interesting!

Day 3
1. Journal: Review of song or clip from movie
2. Small Group: Discuss revies
3. Large Group: Share Findings
4. Mock Press Conference
5. HW: article on press conference
I'll bring in a handful of good reviews for them to look over in small groups; maybe they can bring in some as well. I want them to look at the language used and the way it is set up, etc. We'll talk about those details and stuff.
The mock press conference is what I'm excited about the most. Amy said a lot of these students are pretty outgoing and one even told her to tell me that he was willing to do role playing and such. So we're going to have a role play--one will play the assistant principal, one the science teacher, one a gossipy student. There was a fire in the science lab and they give a statement, then the students are to be the press corps to ask questions. I won't tell them what kind, and we won't go over it until the article is written. (I also won't count off points if they miss the things we're going to look at.) I just want them to try to figure out what's significant first.

Day 4:
1. Dialogue Journals
2. Shattered Glass

Day 5:
1. Shattered Glass
2. Discussion / Journal share
The students will pair up with someone (not in their newsgroup). They will have to write their initial observations in the notebook and then their partners will respond to those reactions in the margins and such.

There it is--my first week planned out. I'm not sure if I have too much or too little per day. There are 68 minutes for each class period, so there is a bit of wiggle room. I actually like the idea of 68 minute periods, though you still only get one prep hour. Of course, there aren't other duties (like hall duties, study hall, etc.) at RAHS, so there's a benefit. I really hated the idea of "Take off your hat" coming out of my mouth on such a regular basis. (Who cares?!)

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