High School English Teachers discussion

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start of year activities

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message 1: by Andrewopie (new)

Andrewopie | 1 comments I am entering my fourth year as an English teacher. This year I have ninth graders. One of my biggest struggles each year has been lessons and activities for the first couple of weeks of the year. I've been told by seasoned teachers not to jump into content and curriculum for about three weeks, which I agree with. I struggle, however, coming up with fresh ideas for these first days of school. I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.


message 2: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Something I've done during the first week or two of school is to give book talks about a variety of fiction and non-fiction written for a variety of reading levels. I create colorful PowerPoints that include the book cover, the title and author, and a brief summary of the novel. I then give the students a "Wish List" handout (to be kept in their binders for the rest of the year) that provides a place for them to write the title, author, and genre of any book that piques their interest. After we've done a couple of these, I take them to the library and, using their wish lists, they select novels for their independent reading assignments. This has been very successful for me as many students aren't exposed to the variety of books out there and it gets them more engaged in making their own choices. Plus, it's easier to get them reading independently before we become too entrenched in our classroom readings. Also, it's a great way to teach about genre. I often create PowerPoints that present books from one genre and talk through the hallmarks of that genre as I talk about the books.


message 3: by Claudia (new)

Claudia (cswisher) | 5 comments I LIKE to get into content right away. I think it sets the tone for the year: work will be done here...it'll be fun and appropriate; but it will be academic work. The year I taught English 4, I borrowed an activity from another teacher. We read "Lady of Shallot" and studied three of the paintings depicting scenes from the poem. Kids had to write a literary analysis essay, comparing the poem and the pictures, analyzing the effects of each...and that was turned in within the first week of school. Yes, it was hard to catch up the kids who were transferred in after the first couple of days, but I put the students on notice right away they'd be reading and writing and discussing. This activity also bonded us as we talked about the paintings, finding the details that enriched our essays.

I worry when we wait for our rolls to settle down that we've wasted valuable teaching time, and let the kids think they'll be coasting for the rest of the year.

I now teach an elective, Reading for Pleasure, and kids wrote me a letter of introduction and did a book scavenger hunt the first day...then we read for about 10 minutes.


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