Students will be able to work in groups to analyze chapters 13 and 14 and character motives.
Last night one of my college friends posted an article on Facebook from The Chronicle of Higher Education. I read it, and recommend it highly. It is an editorial summarizing the shifts in education from encouraging creative thinking to measurable successes, where students no longer take “choose your own topic” to mean an outlet for their creativity but instead ask, “What topic should I pick to get an A?” It bemoans the fact that teachers are now holding students’ hands throughout their education, so that they don’t explore but instead absorb. Check it out here.
One of the science teachers and I often arrive at the same early hour in the morning and often find ourselves sprinting to the copy room to beat the other in making copies, since it usually jams. I beat her this morning in our race, but while waiting for my copies I told her about the article. I felt bad because I need to hold my students’ hands; so many of them are too low-skilled to put their creative thinking into action. They can’t choose their own topic to write a speech because many of them can’t write a complete sentence. I want my students to have deep philosophical discussions about current events, morality, or relative racism. However, my time must be spent coaching them on writing expository analysis essays that will enable them to pass the state tests and graduate. We have fun in class, but I feel like figuring out where to set the expectation bar is extremely difficult. After browsing the article herself, my science teacher buddy sent me this wonderful reply:
Don’t be too discouraged. Do what you can with your group. Go ahead and challenge them. Let them know they can be better, do more, excel. Set the bar above eye level so at least once in their life they will have lifted their heads to cleaner air. A nation does not move forward on the wheels of the average but on the jets of the ones who exceed the norm. Light some jets. America needs them desperately.
On the front of my “Class of 1928” ancient wooden desk, I stuck a vinyl wall cling from Hobby Lobby that has the texture of a chalkboard. I’ve been trying to put new inspiring quotes on it every week, and I think this afternoon I will write “A nation does not move forward on the wheels of the average but on the jets of the ones who exceed the norm.” I needed this kind of encouragement, especially after a conversation I had last period:
“Miss, why do you have four posters of Julius Caesar on your wall?”
“Because we’ll be reading Julius Caesar next six weeks.”
Another kid rejoiced in getting an 86% on Friday’s writing assignment, because, “Miss, I just guessed.” I tried to explain to him that, while I helped him a lot on this assignment, you can’t “guess” on writing – he did genuinely do the work on his own. He’s obviously not stupid. He looked like he didn’t believe me. The famous Barney Stinson quote popped into my head: “Challenge…accepted.” If I accomplish nothing else with this boy, getting him to believe he’s not “stupid” will do more good in his education than if I got him to memorize every verb tense in the English language.