I have taught for 18 years, in middle school (Language Arts), high school (10th, 11th, and 12th grade English, plus debate and journalism), and college (freshman composition, writing for philosophy classes--UNC-Chapel Hill and University of Nebraska Omaha). Most of my experience is in high school. I currently teach 10th grade English to both advanced and regular classes.
In my literature lesson plans, I see my primary job as helping students to read more effectively and thoughtfully, and I treat each novel that we read as a tool for practicing and developing those skills. Because of that, many of my lesson plans are built by choosing key passages from the section of text that was assigned for the day, and giving kids activities to help them process and explore those key passages--drawing, lots of partner discussion, games, etc. While I hope my students do the assigned reading at home--and I give pop reading quizzes at the beginning of class on some days that readings are due so they have an incentive to do that--this strategy usually has the benefit of making it fairly easy to get my students to discuss. They have all read the most important passages in class for a purpose, so even those who don't read at home understand key ideas in the text. I consistently hear from my student end-of-year evaluations that one of my strengths as a teacher is helping kids really understand the book well. For teaching writing, the three most notable things that define my approach are how I give feedback, how I have students use my feedback, and how I break down instruction of individual skills. First, although I use rubrics when I have to, I find them to be pretty ineffective in communicating to students what they should work on in their writing. They have so much information, and students' first impulse is usually to assume that if they work on whatever was marked lowest on the rubric, they will improve their writing effectively. They lack an ability to prioritize comments on a rubric--sometimes, for example, with really good writers, the thing that they should work on to most improve their writing is already marked advanced--but it's still what they need to work on. I have a feedback system that helps address that, and a system of goal-setting and reflection activities to help them incorporate that feedback going forward, which is something that kids often need extra guidance to do--in too many cases, they don't just work on their weaknesses because we write comments on their papers. Finally, I have a lot of activities that are designed to break down the skills involved in writing so they can focus on some of the important skills one at a time.
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I attended Rice University for an undergraduate degree in English, then went to UNC-Chapel Hill for a master's degree in English, plus Ph.D. coursework in English. I got my teaching certification through NC State.
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