High School English Curriculum Guide Keith Brasel English 720 Dr. Cooks 5/8/03 Research Articles Research Article #1 Robinson, William S. “Towards a Theory of Error.” TETYC (September 1998): 50-59 Summary: William Robinson draws upon past research to produce a new taxonomy of sentence level errors that are intended to help teachers deal more effectively with the errors of basic writers. He draws on an article written by Hull and Bartholomae in which they lay out five categories of error. Robinson adopts them and simplifies them for the sake of the teacher to produce four straightforward rules for understanding the sources of error in student writing: Knowledge errors: the student isn’t aware of a rule; Dialect errors: dialects impact writing, and the more distant the dialect, the greater the potential for error in transferring speech to writing; Process errors: the process of writing takes away from the students attention to his own writing, and ‘distracts’ him to the point where he makes mistakes or forgets rules; Developmental errors: students, as they move into more difficult and unfamiliar writing assignments try for a kind of writing they can’t yet command and they begin to make new errors. To deal with these errors, Robinson prescribes writing, lots of it. He discounts the usefulness of exercises, and encourages teachers to have their students practice their writing with real writing assignments. Literacy Aspect: Robinson says this: “When weak students begin to write papers that are academic in nature, [they are] tacitly recognizing the phenomenon of discourse communities, [and are] trying in their writing to join this new community.” Students will produce a certain ‘brand’ error as they begin writing for new audiences. As teachers, we can be aware of our students’ recognition of certain discourse communities and their attempts at addressing them by the types of errors they produce. Significance: Robinson, the father of English 657 here at SF State, is a grammar god. His work with error is very useful to the high school teacher because he is very good at drawing up frameworks that allow the teacher to 1) recognize the errors that need to be recognized 2) skip the errors that can’t be defeated just yet and 3) correct the error by finding its source in the student’s writing. Often teachers find themselves not knowing what or how much to mark on student papers, contributing to the very low student appreciation of teacher comments. We spend too much time correcting stuff the student may well ignore. Robinson demonstrates how to target specific errors in student writing that will lead to their growth in writing. Research Article #2 Berger, Joan. “A Systematic Approach to Grammar Instruction.” Voices From the Middle. (2001): 38-44 Summary: Over the course of 7th and 8th grade, Berger institutes a schedule for grammar instruction that incorporates one new concept each month. With the help of her colleagues, she creates many worksheets students use to identify and correct the grammar point of the month. She does not believe in teaching grammar and punctuation separately, but makes the students incorporate their new found grammar lessons into their writing. There is a grammar requirement for every paper. For her, grammar instruction must be meaningful, that if grammar is included in readings and writing assignments, students will learn more than from the occasional error correction. Literacy Aspect: When reading or writing, students are underlining adjective clauses, digging out absolutes and appositives, and marking conjunctions. This forces students to think within the dual hemispheres of content and form. They are immersed in a sort of metawriting, where they are making conscious decisions about their sentence structures while writing them, or reading a piece twice to identify a part of speech. They learn writing conventions by seeing them in their work and the work of others. Significance: Being something of a grammar man myself, this piece is of great interest to me. One of the bigger problems confronting English teachers today is how to teach grammar. No one wants to go on diagramming sentences anymore or go through the rote motions of comp book exercises. Grammar by itself is intrinsically boring, but grammar in context can serve to illuminate sentence structures students may find useful, even beneficial. In her article, Berger left three copies of handouts she uses for student writing assignments that will come in very useful for me when I go to design my own. Incorporating grammar into writing is crucial for the structures to stick with the student. The schedule she implemented can be transferred to any grade level. She builds on simple structures to arrive at the more complex ones later in the year. The result is a very useful grammar regimen that can be implemented in any English classroom. Research Article #3 Dobie, Ann B., Harriet Maher, Connie McDonald, and Kathleen O’Shaugnessy. “Who, What, Where, When of Writing Rituals.” The Quarterly (2002): 18-25. Summary: This article details ‘writing rituals’ of various writers, both professional and student. It emphasizes the need for beginning writers to find a certain place, time, or frame of mind with which they can begin writing. The authors point out that writing is an intrinsically anxiety producing activity, one that often results in stress, writers block or procrastination. Their article’s purpose is to highlight the integral role writing rituals play with all writers, regardless of age, proficiency or background. They describe a number of “rituals”, which include everything from staring out the window to clutching lucky talismans or stuffed animals before setting down to write. The importance of these rituals, is to comfort the mind, and to produce a hypnogogic state, “a condition of drowsiness usually experienced before sleep… an open, receptive mental state… daydreaming.” They go on to recommend ways that teachers can help create an ambience in the classroom conducive to writing, and to encourage teachers to forgive the irrational habits of students before they write. Literacy Aspect: This article attempts to broaden the average English teacher’s knowledge of the psychology behind writing, asks them to consider the conditions conducive to writing, and encourages them to make writing a regular habit for their students. It doesn’t necessarily expand the literacy of students, but introduces teachers to how a certain psychological state, the fertile hypnogogic state, can influence student writing for the best. Significance: Often times teachers only assign writing to test, assess, or punish their students. This only adds to the anxiety of an already anxiety ridden process. This article is important in that it stresses the need for familiarity with writing to strengthen the skills of students. By practicing writing at certain times of the day, or in certain places, students gain confidence, find solace in a routine, and lose some of the pressure that is usually associated with writing. Such an approach can’t be stressed enough. So many times, I’ve seen my sister, friends, classmates – not to mention myself – lose it over a writing assignment. Writing is a challenging thing, and we all cope with it in different ways. It’s important that the teacher understand ways to help students not only cope, but succeed in the mental task of writing. Research Article #4 Earthen, Elise Ann. “Teaching Shakespeare through Performance.” MLA (1999): 277-85 Summary: A composition teacher at SFState, Earthman goes into detail about how she approaches Shakespeare in a class of diverse, multi-cultural non-English majors, which, basically, is what most high school classes are. She recommends that finding as many extratextual connections to Shakespeare – contemporary events, books, movies – so that the student has not necessarily knowledge of the time and place of the play, but of the situations, characters and values it expresses. These elements, after all, are timeless. Students aren’t expected to perform the play. That would involve too much difficult dialogue. Instead, they concentrate on how they would direct one particular scene, so that they “concentrate on developing an understanding of the plot, the characters, and the themes of the play.” Students then present their scene to the class. Earthman wants her students to walk away from this with the understanding that drama is by its nature open to interpretation, and to make competent interpreters out of her class. Literacy Aspect: Getting Shakespeare across to students who are uninterested in literature in the first place is a difficult task, but Earthman has some good strategies for doing it, namely treating the play as theater and as drama. She’s less interested in the language and critical aspects of Shakespeare than in the story itself. This is what she’s trying to get across to her students. It makes for good literacy building skills because students are presented with Shakespeare not as literature, but as melo-drama – TV fodder – something they can all identify with. They are taught how to remove it from its encrusted pedestal and enjoy it as something fresh, by looking at it as potential directors and interpreters. Significance: Shakespeare can be arcane, unintelligible and flat out boring for kids who don’t care much for literature, much less plays that are 500 years old. There are very few high school kids who get excited at the prospect of reading Shakespeare. In this respect, Earthman’s strategies for getting it across are invaluable. Teachers often place too much importance on the language itself; they get caught up in the poetry of Shakespeare to the detriment of the story. The stories of Shakespeare are timeless, whereas the language is dated. Students who are not as interested in English will benefit from a concentration on the stories, on interpreting them, connecting them to contemporary events and books more than they will benefit from learning sixteenth century vocabulary. Research Article #5 Smoot, Scott W. “An Experiment in Teaching Grammar in Context.” Voices from the Middle. (2001): 23-32 Summary: An English teacher at a middle school decides that he’s going to implement a new strategy for his Language Arts class. He calls it a “grammar in context” experiment. He planned to teach short lessons on what he calls “little grammar”: sentence structure, punctuation, and usage – a big subject. Still, his plan was to teach kids grammatical structures to build a conceptual framework for what Smoot calls “big grammar”: rhetoric, essay structure, perspective. He thought that by teaching them how verbal phrases and appositives modify and strengthen a clause, he could then draw parallels between the way sentences and paragraphs build upon each other in an essay. He drew heavily from Constance Weaver’s Teaching Grammar in Context. He tells of some early successes with his students in the field of “little grammar” but then gets bogged down in it. His students can’t seem to move past the issues of sentence level grammar to the bigger rhetorical picture. His experiment is essentially a failure. The idea of teaching sentence level grammar to understand rhetoric turns out not to be a very good one he admits. He never got around to the larger issues he wanted to discuss – he got bogged down in “little grammar”. Literacy Aspect: This teacher wanted sentence level grammar to help illuminate composition strategies, namely those found in historical texts. He wanted to use grammar as a bridge to understanding primary and secondary historical texts. He only required his English students to bring a notebook and their history textbook to class. Nothing else. They read historical accounts of colonists coming to the new world, speeches by Ben Franklin and Lincoln among others. Still, the bridge he was hoping to build between sentence grammar and rhetoric never really materialized, and he was caught between them. It seems that grammar doesn’t inform history as well as he thought. Significance: Teachers sometimes like to get creative with grammar, hoping that some rules of grammar will apply to other larger schemes of writing – that the micro world of grammar will somehow apply to the macro world of rhetoric. They are related, but you don’t have to necessarily understand one first to understand the other. This article proves grammar doesn’t necessarily translate well into history, math or other disciplines. I feel grammar is best used when it’s taught to improve writing. One other mistake this teacher made was that he used the linguistic names for certain grammatical structures like participles (where “ed or ing endings” would do). This is a good document that shows how easy it is to get bogged down in grammar and lose focus in other aspects of class. Lesson Plan Critiques Lesson Plan Critique #1 Summary: Over the course of three to four class sessions, students re-tell a fairy tale or story from a different character’s point of view. The objective is to help them see more than one perspective and to improve their narrative writing. Students are divided up into groups of 3-4 and are to choose a fairy tale or story (something commonly known), one story per group. Then, each student in the group picks the point of view of one of the characters in the story to serve as the basis for their own. Each story is a minimum of two pages, double spaced and typed. When the stories are complete, the group will compile them into a book with a cover page and illustrations. Assess the students on the basis of creativity in retelling the story, the cohesiveness of the new viewpoint, and the accuracy of the character’s perspective. +/- Points: From a literacy perspective, the concept of this lesson plan is great. Asking kids to step into the mind of a supporting character is a fun activity. It’s the basis of Tom Stoppard’s famous book Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. This book is a great ancillary to Hamlet, and this activity is a great culminating experience for such a unit. Students don’t get to do nearly enough creative writing in school, and this sort of assignment can really open doors for them and make English class a lot more fun. Students get to utilize their imaginations here, as opposed to their critical faculties. Some negative points are that kids, even though they’re in groups, do nothing together but stitch the book together. To make it more challenging, each student’s two page story could flow into the other one, making it a true group project, and the product more of a uniform whole rather than a compilation. Adapting it: Like I said above, this activity would work great after reading Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. If there’s not enough time to read both, the class could watch the movie version of R&G Are Dead instead. I’d give the groups less class time to work on their story, however. They don’t need 3 to 4 days to work on this when most of it can be done outside of class. This activity is also great for working in grammar points. Because narrative writing is so descriptive, structures like absolutes and appositives and verbal phrases can easily be worked into the student’s writing. I’d require that students use a certain number of each in their stories. Plus, when they were done, I’d have groups read them aloud to the class. If not for Hamlet, this activity could be used for any other major text to offset the tiresomeness of the inevitable essay. I can use it for the Odyssey next year when I’m teaching my freshmen. Lesson Plan Critique #2 Summary: Specifically designed for the Great Gatsby, this lesson plan is a visual assignment that asks students to draw up a map of Gatsby’s world, complete with character’s houses, landmarks and symbols. In groups of 2-3, students sketch out on a piece of butcher paper a rough draft of their map, paying special attention to the description of places in the book. The rough draft must be approved before the group is given the poster board to begin their map. Students draw their map as colorfully as possible, being sure to include labels of each landmark and a legend of symbols. Maps are then hung on the class wall. +/- Points: Gatsby is rife with symbolism, and a visual assignment complements the book’s vast imagery. Fitzgerald’s descriptions of West Egg are vivid, and his setting of the novel is central to understanding its characters. What better way to approach this than with a student created map of West Egg? The plan’s insistence that the map be faithful to the descriptions is good in that it forces the student to visualize the map not according to his own imagination, but to the details in the book. Some negative aspects are 1) the artsy students will be doing most of the work here. The project could easily be overtaken by one individual. 2) She doesn’t ask the students to include any of the quotes describing these places on the map. 3) This can take up a lot of class time as it has no real homework angle. Adapting it: The map works well for visualizing the setting of The Great Gatsby. I’d use it as a “through” exercise, somewhere near the beginning of the unit, thus establishing a visual reference the class can later look over as we move through. For my purposes, I’d require that the map not only include faithful descriptions, but key quotes from the book describing each place. I’d also make the legend something a bit more special. I’d have the students draw in symbols from the book throughout the map. The explanation for those can come in the legend, where they draw a little icon for the symbol and include a brief description of its significance in the story. Lesson Plan Critique #3 Summary: “Often, today’s high school students struggle with daily school work because they have not clearly established short and long term goals. This lesson will help them to develop personal goals that will bring greater focus to their daily lives.” So you see the purpose of this lesson plan. Now the procedure. Students read a motivational handout designed to outline how to set and meet goals. The class then discusses the handout in preparation for an essay assignment. The teacher provides a rubric for the assignment and students begin to outline their goals using the paper. The rubric asks for three short term goals and one long term goal and a quote or saying citing a principle or idea that the student will use to achieve his/her goals. +/- Points: Some students are slackers, perfectly content, even proud, that they have no goals. Some people are goal oriented, others simply aren’t. I can see a few students sluffing off on this assignment. Its “motivational” nature is a bit cheesy, and some kids will probably write whatever comes to mind just to complete the assignment. The handout is probably the weakest part of the lesson, which is significant, considering the whole plan is based on it. The handout is called the 7 C’s of success. It’s vague, general, and rather uninspiring. It reads like a corporate mission statement or one of those motivational posters they hang on the wall of HR departments. A positive aspect of the lesson is that, if altered a bit from the general sphere of “life goals”, it can be used for setting specific classroom goals – creating a document of onus the teacher can refer back to like a contract if the student were to slip. Adapting it: I would use this lesson as a beginning of the year map to success type of thing. In class, I’d have students write down their goals for the upcoming year both for this class and for their outside lives. I’d require two goals for the classroom, areas that they think they need improvement in (for instance spelling, writing, and learning to enjoy reading, public speaking….) and 1 larger goal for the year. I’ll keep these papers until June when they’ll be brought again to mark improvement, or to see if anyone has met their goals. I’d also require that the classroom goals be concrete, like “get an A on a paper” or “finish a novel” rather than “do well in class”. I would pass out the recommended handout only if there’s extra paper in the copy machine that day. Lesson Plan Critique #4 Summary: This lesson plan is intended to build student vocabulary through a game-like activity. The class divides up into four groups, with 4-6 students in each group. Each group member receives a 3x5 card with a brand new, unknown word and its definition, one word per group per round. Within the group, the students decide who will give the correct definition while the rest give phony definitions. It is up to the other groups to listen to each definition and then choose the right one. Points are awarded to the groups that guess right. +/- Points: This lesson plan seems like it can be fun. Vocabulary is a tricky thing to teach to students, and rarely do teachers go beyond the standard vocab list and quiz. Vocab games are a diverting alternative to the norm. This one is really a game of bluffing. One would have to use completely new words for this game so students don’t clean up and the game doesn’t get too easy. Also, it’d be preferable if the words contained strong Latin roots, so students who have no clue what the words mean exactly can deduce some sort of meaning and tell the best definition from the bogus ones. One negative point is that students can come up with some really bogus definitions that might be really funny, and there’s a danger that this can get out of hand or – worse yet – the funny definition sticks in the minds of some students rather than the real one by merit of it being memorable. Adapting it: I’d make few changes in adapting this lesson. I’d be sure to pick some good words and not leave it up to the students to choose the vocabulary. If the game goes well, however, and students enjoy it, I’ll let the groups choose the words as a strategy. I’d choose words with strong clues to their meanings by virtue of their roots so students can deduce it’s meaning. Also, I’d award extra credit as an incentive for kids to actually play the game and take it seriously. After the game is over, I’d hand out a list of the words used in the game with their correct definitions for the students to study for an eventual quiz. This game is really a just a good way of introducing words, not learning them. Lesson Plan Critique #5: Summary: This lesson is intended to help students remember various figures they meet as they study mythology and The Odyssey freshman year. Students write short, five line poems about five figures they’ve met in their reading. The first line of the poem is the name of the figure; the second is about a central event or action; the third tells when it occurred, the fourth where it happened and the fifth explains why. If necessary, the student can skip one line if there’s no mention of where, when or why. Students should be able to complete about three poems per period. +/- Points: Honestly, I don’t see anything really wrong with this lesson plan. These little poems serve like great little pneumonic devices for remembering the myriad gods, goddesses, heros, monsters and villains. There is, however, room for improvement. These poems can be put into a class book, with a poem per page plus illustrations of the figure’s attributes. The poem is a little spare just by itself, but still, it will help students create a more distinct memory of a particular mythological figure. Adapting it: Since I’ll be teaching freshman English next year, and since we’ll be reading Greek mythology and the Odyssey, I’ll be using this lesson plan. Towards the end of the unit, I’ll give an identification quiz on the many figures we ran across in our myths, as these gods and goddesses serve as the basis for a number of words and concepts we use today. I’ll make each student in the class responsible for 3 figures. We’ll spend one period writing poems about our respective figures. I’ll collect those poems and then compile them into a small study manual for the upcoming quiz. Each student will get a copy to keep for reference. In lieu of making it a study aid, I would have the student include an illustration with his poem that describes the god or goddess and his/her attributes. I’d then hang those on the wall for open house. Lesson Plans Lesson Plan #1 Objective: Students will learn about the English Sonnet. We will go over the form of the sonnet (iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme) and then each student will write their own. Materials: Chalkboard/whiteboard, copies of Shakespeare’s sonnets “When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes” and “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”, and a CD player with a copy of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” Procedure: 1) Pass out copies of Shakespeare Sonnets to class. Read “When in disgrace…” silently and then, with the help of a few students, outloud. 6 mins. 2) Introduce meter and rhyme scheme. On the board, define iambic pentameter, and diagram the typical sonnet’s rhyme scheme. Draw an iambic foot, unstressed/stressed on the board and teach students how to mark each (˘/΄). Reread “When in disgrace…” marking the poem as we go. 12 mins. 3) Rhyme scheme – elicit from the class the rhyme scheme of the poem. What lines rhyme? Show them how to diagram rhyme scheme. ABAB CDCD etc. 5 mins. 4) Pass out the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” and play the song. Students will hopefully hear the iambs in the lyrics. Discuss it briefly. 8 mins. 5) Read and mark “Shall I compare thee…” Students will mark the poem while it is read aloud. 8 mins. 6) With their copies of Shakepeare’s sonnets and the formula for writing one, students will begin to write their own in class and finish the rest for homework. Assessment: Students will receive credit for their completed sonnet and their copies of the sonnets we diagrammed in class. Hopefully, the students will have learned how to 1) recognize a sonnet by its meter and rhyme scheme 2) learned iambic pentameter and 3) how to write their own sonnets. Literacy Aspect: Sonnets, especially Shakespeare’s, can be viewed as outdated and cliché, with no relevance to today’s contemporary poetry. Hopefully the Beatles example will serve to show how the sonnet survives, even if it’s not written down in traditional form. Iambic verse with alternating rhyme schemes can be found everywhere, from rock to hip hop to commercial jingles, and continue to be used by poets and lyricists to this day. Lesson Plan #2 Objective: Build student’s organizational skills and reinforce the structure of an essay by demonstrating organization and structure in other media. Students will be able to find and isolate the main idea of the speaker/artists argument using a critical eye/ear. Materials: Television/VCR combo, CD player, newspaper and copies of Andy Rooney and Blackalicious’s “Deceit”. Also include transcripts for students to follow along with. Procedure: 1) Briefly review the structure of the essay with students, drawing on their own experience of writing. On the board, draw a skeletal outline of an essay along with a bubble cluster to refresh their minds of organization strategies. 5 mins. 2) Explain the activity to the students. “We’ll be looking for a main point – the central idea in music, tv etc….” Underlying principle here is that the critical essay doesn’t have an arbitrary structure, that it’s how people naturally take information in best, that it exists outside the English class. Play “Deceit”, asking them to listen for the rapper’s main point or idea. 7 mins. 3) Gather initial responses to the song (like it, dislike it?) and then quickly move on to what they thought the thesis was. Ask them to write down the rapper’s thesis (if they haven’t already) as they heard it in the song. Expect differing answers and draw on any opinions they might have. HAND OUT A TRANSCRIPT of the song and replay the music, this time asking the students to read along as they listen, to help discern the thesis by underlining the supporting comments the rapper might use in the song. 10 mins. 4) Did our answers change? Did you notice something you didn’t hear in the song? FIND THE CLASS CONSENSUS FOR THE THESIS. Draw out different opinions; find the majority opinion. 5 mins. 5) ON THE BOARD: Divide the board down the middle. On the LEFT HAND SIDE write “THESIS” and write the class’ answer for the thesis as taken from the transcript, verbatim. Below it, in outline form, ask the class to find and supply the rapper’s support to fill in the outline. Gather as much ‘support’ as possible, and see if the class can help sort it out on the outline. 12 mins. 5) On the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the board, we’ll transform the rappers lyrics into complete sentences. Each student on his own piece of paper copies down the left hand column. Then, on his own, he’ll transform the rap lyrics into his own complete sentences, forming a viable outline for a potential essay. 15-20 mins. 6) If there’s time left, begin Andy Rooney, repeating the same steps as above. If not, the lesson can carry over into the next day. Assessment: Students are given points for underlining the support on the “Deceit” transcript. They’ll be assessed by the quality of work they put into transforming the lyrics into an outline with complete sentences. Their transformed outline must have a thesis, 3 topic sentences with 1 supporting sentence for each and one concluding sentence. Literacy Aspect: Students learn the structure of an essay by observing it in Hip Hop music and a Television editorial. They find the written essay’s elements in non-written sources, and hopefully learn the sequence of those important elements (ie intro, topic sentences, support, body, conclusion.) Lesson Plan #3 Objective: Students will learn the qualities of myths by writing their own. The class will have read or will be reading some greek myths along with some other creation myths from different cultures. Students will explain one natural phenomenon by writing a myth. Materials: Construction paper, white copy paper, pens, markers. Procedure: 1) The class has read or is reading Greek myths. Open up a small discussion, asking the students about some of their cultural myths, or myths they regard as influential. 10 mins 2) Tell the class that today they will be writing their own myths, which can be loosely based off of myths they know, or can be completely made up. Hand out a blank “book” to each student. (the book is made of 81/2 x11 paper folded in half with one piece of construction paper for the cover. The book can be anywhere from 6 to 10 pages). Pass out pens and markers. 3) For their own myths, students can adopt greek heros or gods. They can rename them if they want. Their myth must explain one natural phenomenon that is heretofore unexplained by science, ie the creation of the universe, love, the emergence of life on this planet, what happens when we die, etc. Their myth must include one hero, one god, one ‘regular guy’ and one symbolic object (a weapon, mirror, flower, etc). They must fill their book with one paragraph per page. Illustrations are welcome too. 5 mins. 4) Allow students the rest of the period to work on it. If they don’t finish, they can take it home for homework, but it should be completed within one day. Assessment: Students are graded on the quality of work put into their book, including writing (clear, interesting, generally free of mistakes) and illustrations (appropriate for the myth, adds to the story but doesn’t tell the story). Their myth should explain 1 natural phenomenon that has not yet been explained by science and should use the prescribed amount of heros and gods. Literacy Aspect: Students are challenged to apply myths to their own world, updating ancient myths to explain what is still unexplainable. Hopefully, the idea of myth will jump out at them as a valid means for creating meaning out of something that is inherently enigmatic. They will empathize with ancient peoples who knew even less about how the world works than we do and realize that not everything around us today has a scientific explanation. Lesson Plan #4 Objective: Students (freshmen) practice finding the topic sentence of a jumbled paragraph. Students will see what exactly constitutes a topic sentence and what kind of chaos can ensue in a paragraph without one. Materials: Transparencies of increasingly difficult paragraph jumbles, [A paragraph jumble is a paragraph whose sentences have been reordered randomly. Each sentence has a consecutive number attached to it to identify it. For instance: (1) It felt scratchy. (2) He had a sore throat. (3) The boy was getting sick. Correct order is 3,2,1.] overhead projector, and overhead pens. Procedure: 1) Place an easy paragraph jumble on the overhead. Ask the students to find the read the paragraph. Does it make sense? Can anyone find the topic sentence? Have the students call out the correct order of sentences. 2) Having done the first paragraph, the teacher can now, if he/she wishes, put the students into teams and make a game out of this, where points are awarded to the teams that buzz in first with the correct order of sentences. Or students can stay as they are. 3) Place increasingly difficult paragraphs up on the overhead as the class progresses. A more difficult paragraph would be one that is longer, a bit more complicated, and has a more complex organizational pattern. 4) This game can last the whole period, or it can be cut short. If cut short, have the kids work on paragraphs by providing a topic sentence with a blank space in it like: “The most extreme example of a ___________ I’ve ever seen was ____________.” Then have students complete the paragraph. Or, do the reverse. Provide some supporting evidence and have the students write a topic sentence for it. Assessment: Award points according to which teams win the game. 10 pts for 1st, 7 for second, etc. Collect the paragraphs and assign credit for complete, logically written paragraphs. Literacy Aspect: This lesson builds logic and organizational skills. Students are faced with chaotic paragraphs to which they must assign some order. It takes analytical skills to isolate the main point out of a jumble of similar sentences, qualify them, and arrange them in order. Lesson Plan #5 Objective: Students hold a literary mock trial. Students will take on a character from a book, and play that character in a courtroom where he/she is on trial for something related to the book. Students will have to know the book inside and out to role play a character, and to stand up against the scrutiny of the attorneys, who will also be played by students. Materials: A gavel, a jury box, a witness box, desks for the defence and prosecution. Procedure: 1) Divide the class in half. Ideally, there should be 15 students in a group. (This is done so every student can have a role. Each group will put on its own mocktrial) Within the fifteen students, there is a judge, a defendant, a defense attorney, two prosecutors, and 10 witnesses, all characters from the book. The other group acts as the jury until its their turn. 2) The teacher decides what the main character is on trial for. For instance, if the book the class is reading is Catcher in the Rye, the trial can be a hearing on whether Holden is sane or not. If the class is reading Hamlet, Hamlet can be tried to see whether or not he’s crazy. Lots of possibilities. 3) The Prosecutors and defense must recruit witnesses to build their case. Each witness must be with either the prosecution or defense. Each side begins with an opening argument. Then the prosecution calls its first witness and the trial begins. It’s up to the jury to decide the outcome. They do so with a secret vote after the trial. 4) The trial for each group is to last a maximum of two class periods. In that time, they must call and cross examine the witnesses in an effort to prove their case. The witnesses must know their character by heart, and must be familiar with all the times their character appears in the book. Assessment: Students are graded on their fidelity to their characters, on the veracity of their testimony, and the effort they put forth in playing the role. The prosecution and defense are graded on the merits of their arguments. The prosecution and defense must lay out (in a maximum of 3 pages) their argument and how they plan to advance it. Each witness must write his/her own deposition, where they give their pre-trial testimony, basically writing what stance they think their character would take, citing textual support (maximum of 2 pages). Literacy Aspect: Mock trials are fun to put on. They’re very useful because they often elevate issues within the text to matters of ‘justice’. Themes are argued over, characters are discredited. The classroom becomes a real center for debate, and moves the questions posed by the book outside of a simply literary arena, to a moral arena where there is much more room for emotional disputation. Resources Resource #1 Gray, James and Robert Benson. Sentence and Paragraph Modeling. Bay Area Writing Project, No. 17 A tiny little book that’s really more of a pamphlet, Sentence and Paragraph Modeling is a fantastic resource for using grammar for teaching students how to write better. It details how to teach appositives, absolutes and verbal phrases to students, how to get them to incorporate it into their writing, and how to show them that it pays to know grammar. It’s heavy on modeling. It basically instructs students on how to write like professionals by mimicking the grammatical structures professionals typically use. In the second half of the book, Benson dissects the paragraph, and shows that there are really three kinds of paragraphs in the world: coordinate, subordinate and mixed. I won’t explain what they mean, but I will say that it makes formulating good paragraphs a heck of a lot easier for students. In general, this book has two excellent strategies for teaching some of the most difficult material English teachers have to teach. All too often, grammar is taught as an end in itself, like knowing the difference between a preposition and a conjunction, or a verbal and an appositive is going to come into use at any point in life. Teachers have historically bungled the teaching of grammar by failing to make it relevant to writing. This book does that. It shows how grammatical structures can better writing overnite, but more importantly, it shows how to use them. This is where other comp books fail. This book makes a knowledge of grammar into an asset, and for the first time, provides a clear benefit to knowing your appositives: write like a professional by getting more said with fewer words. Resource #2 The New Yorker Magazine The New Yorker is one of the best journalistic magazines in the country, with some of the best writers in the nation contributing to it. While it focuses primarily on New York, with its “around town” section, it still has some of the most in depth articles on public figures and current events around. The writing is engaging and the stories are always informative. It’s a bi-weekly magazine that also features outstanding fiction. It always has a short story in the back along with a small host of poems. It’s a great resource for reading material for juniors and seniors. It’s never too early to get acquainted with good writing. I’m ready to tap The New Yorker for not only news articles, but short stories and poems when I begin teaching next year. The short stories are always good, and can serve as excellent examples of how to write provocative narratives for students. The news articles are edifying and informative. Students can delve into a particular figure or issue. Articles can serve as the subtext for many a classroom debate. (The cartoons can be funny too.) Resource #3 AskEric.com ERIC is a giant online database full of lesson plans, research, news, and advice. Perhaps one of the largest and most well known of its kind, ERIC is accessed by teachers all over the world for innovative new approaches to lessons. Lesson plans are available for every discipline, and can be searched a number of different ways. There is no shortage of lesson plans on ERIC, and one can be found for just about any classroom situation. I found a few of the lesson plans I critiqued on ERIC. I was surprised by how thorough a site it is. Its archives are immense, and I’m sure I’ll be turning to ERIC for new and useful ideas as I progress through my student teaching. Resource #4 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Palace of the Legion of Honor Two of the largest art museums in the Bay Area, Moma and the Legion exhibit modern art and pre-modern art respectively. The museums occupy locations at either end of the spectrum: Moma is downtown on third street while the Legion is way off in the Richmond District, right near Land’s End. Their gift shops have lots of excellent books as well as photographic slides of the art for sale. One can find works by such artists as Picasso, Monet, Rodin, El Greco, Rauschenberg and others. Art, for what its worth, can be a valuable asset for an English classroom. Works of art can serve as writing prompts. Having a collection of paintings on slides can add a whole new visual dimension to English that has been traditionally absent. Art can also help describe the time period of a particular novel, moreso than some written historical accounts. Art is a major part of our history that is often overlooked. My experience is that students often are intrigued by some of these forms and pictures which they’ve seen before, been touched by, but never really investigated. I also feel that writing and painting are closely related. After all, they both aim to produce affecting pictures. Resource #5 MLA Handbook for Writers The MLA, or Modern Language Association, periodically puts out a handbook detailing the writing of research papers, grammar and punctuation. It gives explicit examples of how to cite sources, how to use quotation marks, and how to formulate a research paper, among other things. It has a section on style and mechanics, and has easy to follow instructions for writers who are struggling with syntax and/or style. High school should prepare students for college, and there’s no better way to do that than by introducing the research paper and all its trappings. Students should become familiarized with the MLA as early as possible, so they might see that there’s a standard protocol for citing quotes, for using quotation marks, and for, say, including margins in a paper. The MLA Handbook is something that every writer needs, whether experienced or a novice, because there are just too many rules to remember. Students should become acquainted with the rules and expectations of writing by at least their junior year, so that their papers begin to acquire all the exactness of a college paper.
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