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Teaching Tools

It’s not very easy to teach a class when you have no curriculum.  I’m totally winging it.

I’ve mostly been using a book that has lots of worksheets to help students in grades 7-12 become better readers.  I’ve been focusing on getting students to identify the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How in any given reading selection.  Some of them have it down pat.  Some of them make good guesses, but I can tell that they don’t really get it.    A few get it sometimes, but in more complicated selections, they can’t figure out what’s going on.

After a couple of days of that, I could tell that the students’ brains were already shutting down, so today we played Mad Libs.  I decided I need to find a Mad Libs book because the kids kind of liked them.

Our school has a new computer program this year called Criterion.  In this program, the teacher can give a writing assignment, and the student logs in, does the pre-writing, and types the essay.  Then the student can submit it to Criterion, which evaluates it for grammar, mechanics, organization and development, and style.  Then, the student can make needed changes to the essay before turning it in to the teacher.  For my students, I’m hoping that this program will help them to see what areas they need to work on and give them guidance on how to improve.  None of the other teachers have their classes set up in the program yet, so I’m going to be the pioneer and my students will be the guinea pigs.  We’ll see if the program is as good as it is purported to be.

I’m discovering that, although ideally I would individualize lessons for each student, it just isn’t that easy or practical.  It’s really hard to come up with a different lesson plan for each of 19 students.  Of course, it’s also hard when I have just a couple of students in a class and one failed the test by five points and the other failed by nearly a hundred points.  I just don’t have it figured out yet to what degree to do group instruction and how much to do individual instruction.

It’s also hard to come up with lessons when there is no real curriculum and the only goal is “get them to pass their End of Course Assessment” and the materials I have aren’t really created for that purpose.  I’m trying to get it all figured out.


About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

One response »

  1. Your situation reminded me very much of my year as a bilingual specialist trying to find the right tools and meet the needs of many levels and ages.


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