I know the past couple of months work on my website has been fairly scarce, but I assure you there has been plenty going on behind the scenes. I am working toward the end of a second Master’s, this one in Educational and Instructional Leadership, and I’ve loaded myself down with three courses (and will do so again, to finish, in the Fall). Between the action research classes, working on revising curriculum for the next school year, and keeping up with a highly energetic four-year old (HIGHLY energetic, guys), the blog and website have taken a bit of a back burner. I’ll do a bit of an update on my research project later on, once I have something a little more substantial and finer tuned to offer, but I do want to talk a little bit about what I’ve been working on in terms of curriculum changes.
I’ve talked a lot about the passion projects I do with my sophomores (see some of my earlier posts and my Resources page for more information), and I’m attempting to fine tune some aspects of the process for this third launch. This will be the second time I’ve launched the project as a whole semester undertaking, and as I plan out curriculum for the semester, I’ve begun with the passion project–pacing out the components over the course of the semester. I’ve added a few things, as well as taken out some things that didn’t work, and I’ve tweaked the organization a bit. My plan, once I’ve got everything set, is to share with you all the proposed timeline we will follow this coming semester, and then share updates about the progress of projects and my teaching experiences (and resources!) along the way.
I’ve also been doing some some heavy work on my short story unit for my sophomores. We always focus on stories that explore the darker parts of humanity and moral dilemmas, or stories that make us reflect on the state of society and where we are headed–these types of stories seem more engaging and alluring, and often bring about the best conversations. In the past, I’ve used the following:
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“The Wife’s Story” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman
“The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin
“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
“The Open Window” by Saki
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
“The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs
“What, of this Goldfish, Would You Wish?” by Etgar Keret
“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe
I’m pretty sure that’s the whole list. If you have any short stories, especially ones that tend toward science fiction and/or technology (like Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains”) PLEASE drop them in a comment box!
With my short story unit, I focus on close reading. This past year, I tried to streamline it, and follow a specific ritual throughout the unit, changing out the lenses. I would also have students prep responses to discussion questions to participate in a seminar on the story. I love the method of close reading, and I’ve found it to be incredibly effective in getting students to not only draw meaning from a text, but to turn conversation back on the world they live in; however, I felt that what I was doing was missing something, or wasn’t quite right. So, I assigned myself an extra little project for the summer (because why not, right?), and decided to do a little reading on close reading strategies. I came across a text in my searching called Falling in Love with Close Reading by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts, and I am incredibly excited to revise my unit and incorporate some of the strategies and lessons they share. I will write up a review about this text tomorrow with more specific details on what is included and post it on my Reviews page for those interested in learning more.
Finally, I’ve been reading a few novels for my dual-credit courses. We did 1984 last semester (I needed a break from Beowulf and John Gardner’s Grendel, though I do love novel), and the work my students did with this novel was so in-depth and the conversations we had were so raw, I wanted to experiment with a thematic course. So, we will be doing a trio of texts: 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and The Handmaid’s Tale, focusing on Language and Power throughout.
I have to admit, I’m a little nervous that I’m being a bit ambitious with all of these changes, especially with taking on three courses (one of which is a 300 hour internship–please don’t ask how I will pull this off, because I have’t the slightest), but I’ve never done anything the easy way. I will certainly keep you all updated on how this all works out, and I will likely cry over my keyboard several times before it’s all over. BUT, come December, it will be completely over. I will have my second Master’s completed, and will pretend for a while that I’m “done” being a student.
I jokingly said the other day that July feels like the Sunday-equivalent of Summer for teachers, but it’s definitely true for me. I feel like the new school year is just around the corner and I have so much I want to get done in preparation for it (and I could legit use another Saturday).
So, fellow teachers, faithful followers (if you exist yet), what have you filled your Summer weeks with so far? What are your plans for the new year?