I’m reminded of the diversity in students

My first year of teaching, I had a class that really should have been an “Enriched” English class, had my district not cut those out of existence two years prior.  The Enriched classes were intended for students who were bright and capable but not necessarily interested in the AP/Honors track.  They were, some argued (but not myself), the ideal class—smart students without the intense competition of AP.

Like any first year teacher, I did a lot of experimentation that first year.

One of the things I originally intended to do with them was to make flip books, manipulatives to help them review literary terms and devices.   And when I introduced the assignment, there was nothing less than an all-out mutiny among them.

They were genuinely insulted that I would give them such a “middle school” assignment, as they called it.

I was absolutely shocked.  First of all, that my students would have an opinion about what and how I taught them. But also that I had underestimated them.  That was my greatest lesson in student teaching and I try to remember it constantly.

And so, trying to be as responsive as possible in my first year, with my first group of highly motivated and capable students, I quickly scrapped the assignment and opted for Cornell Notes instead, as a more college-appropriate means to organize and review the literary terms we would cover for the year.

But this year, I have an entirely different set of students. And over the course of the past several years of teaching, I have garnered a reputation for best working with “those” students, the ELL learners.  I am, after all, co-coordinator of the bilingual program … just to give myself a little congratulatory pat on the back.

So this year, I resurrected the assignment and gave it to my juniors last week. I modeled folding the first book for them, first providing oral instructions, then showing them the folds I made.

THEY LOVED IT!

I gave them the task of making 4 different flip books, according to the following categories:

  • Sound Devices
  • Figurative Language
  • Characterization
  • Rhetorical Strategies

Each list had a different number of words, forcing them to work together and consider how to fold the sheets into the required number of sections.  Then the students copied the definitions into the books, for each term assigned.

As we read over the next few weeks, we’ll copy examples from the texts into the books.  The goal is that they will use these as we do our daily analysis practice and prepare for the State Standards Based Asessment that they take in their 10th and 11th grade yea and is required for graduation.

I really only write this post as a reminder to myself that as teachers (in any subject) we must continually modify, shift, resurrect, and redefine our teaching practices, according to student need.

Seems like common sense, right?

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