Thursday, February 01, 2007

First four weeks

After four weeks and an entire unit I have learned a lot about teaching. There are many things that I would do differently, and yet many that I think I did well. For this unit on the Great Depression, I wanted to focus a lot on writing. Obviously writing is something that I find very valuable, and I wanted to share my experience with it in the classroom. I thought that it would be a shame to do something well and not use it to teach my students. So I created fictional characters set in the 30s, and gave each student one of the characters. As the unit progressed and their characters experienced some of the ups and downs of the time, I had them write journal entries to reflect their learning. Some of them did very well with this, and others not so well, but the point was that they were writing. For a unit assessment I had them use their characters to write a narrative essay about the Great Depression. While some of the essays are not well organized, I was pleased that nearly all of the students wrote. I had one student who hates writing, and doesn’t like school in general write two and a half pages. I was so pleased with him. Even if the essay was not excellent compared with others, for him it was the best he could write, and he will only benefit from having done it. Writing is proof that a person is thinking, and I know now that my students were thinking. So no matter the things that I have struggled with in these first few weeks, there is at least one success, and that is that my students wrote a story. If nothing else went right for the rest of the semester, this would be enough.

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