May 20, 2016

Reflections On Your Year In Teaching: What To Keep, Change & Improve Upon

Before summer vacation begins and you turn your teacher brain off, take time to reflect on what worked this year and what didn't. Middle school and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed successes, challenges, favorite texts, and invaluable resources. Read on to see what other teachers are planning to keep, change, and never do again.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about reflecting on teaching this year in the secondary ELA classroom. Middle and high school English Language Arts teachers discussed what they'll keep, change or improve upon next year as well as challenges, favorite texts, and invaluable resources. The highlights are below.
*Roundtable book discussions, which require students to take more ownership of their reading and discussion. Roundtables are like Socratic seminars, but are more structured. Students prepare a handout before discussion & reflect afterward.
*Creating writing graphic organizers to support all levels of students
*Giving students time to read during class time, holding book talks and helping them select books to read
*Using my ticket raffle system for behavior
*Using Notice & Note signposts for reading comprehension
*Using Article of the Week to improve student writing
*Shift to standards based grading, where all assessments are skills based and lots of formative practice with feedback but no "grade"
*Using blended playlists, a list of activities that students work though at their own pace, for writing workshops and book clubs
*Choice boards and projects as a form of alternative assessments
*Flashlight Friday, reading under student made forts by flashlight every Friday
*Offering students even more choices in their reading and writing

What to change or improve upon:
*Find ways to make writing instruction meaningful, such as “chunking” parts of an essay
*Making marking more efficient
*Working with teachers to create writing checklists for students since teachers are frustrated with writing errors, but little time is spent teaching students how to correct these errors
*Balancing quality reading, writing, and grammar instruction
*Find more ways to individualize grammar instruction
*Be more intentional about helping teachers set goals, action plans, and follow through with them
*Increasing digital lessons
*Avoid getting buried and overwhelmed
*Find more ways for students to share what they're reading & make recommendations
*Implement peer editing groups and have students focus more on writing portfolios
*Working more collaboratively with peers 

Challenges & overcoming them:
*Learning how to use Google classroom
*Tough student behavior
*Helping new hired teachers build relationships with students late in the year
*Fears of the unknownL new textbooks, standards, curriculum, personnel, content
*Keeping up with all the paperwork, documentation, and data collection/analysis
*Balance between how much reading and writing we do in class

Favorite texts:
*TED talks, not traditional “texts,” but are great to connect with class readings
*Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (7th grade)
*The picture book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
*Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale (7th grade)
*The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
*Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories by Megan Kelley Hall
* Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
*Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck paired with the author's letter to the actress playing Curley's wife
*Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury paired with The Scream painting
*I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust by Livia Bitton-Jackson
*A play version of The Hobbit
*Night by Elie Wiesel paired with Holocaust picture books, art, and music
*Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
*I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
*A Newsela article about Apple and the FBI
*Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (8th grade)
*Ray Bradbury short stories (8th grade)

Invaluable resources:
*Twitter chats like #DitchBook, #TLAP, #LearnLAP, #2ndaryELA
*Teacher bloggers
*2ndaryELA Facebook group
*Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst
*Technology like FormativeEDpuzzle, Plickers, and Socrative
*Reading Nonfiction by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst
*Penny Kittle's ideas about independent reading
*Regular trips to Barnes & Noble
*Robert Marzano books
*Igniting a Passion by Steven Layne

Hope you'll join us next Tuesday May 24th at 8pm EST (our final chat of the school year!) to talk about recharging for next year. We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group (even if you aren't on Twitter). 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction. 

If you missed this most recent chat, scroll down and read the whole thing below.

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