After reading Louise’ s post (who was and continues to be one of my mentors for PAR ), I was thinking about who drives me the most…my students! I have had the pleasure of having some students take me for several reading classes in a row. Not only do these students drive me to give them my best, but I also learn so much from their own struggles, goals, and ambitions!
Here are a few…
Sadan: I had this student for RDG 071, 081, and 091. I have observed her grow each semester in her language and reading skills! I wrote a letter of recommendation for her to get her first job as a cashier at Ross. She was so excited! She had been interviewing for the past six months. I worked with her this past summer and several other students in an informal book club. She was very dedicated in developing her language skills…Her excitement drove me to spend my own time working with her and those other students.
Cynthia: I had Cynthia my first semester as full time faculty in the Fall of 2013. At the time she was a 50 year old veteran and widow coming back to school. For one of the assigned articles, the students had to write a response to someone who greatly impacted their life…she chose to write me a beautiful letter on how she was so nervous her first day, and felt too old and “dumb” to come back to school, but that I made her feel valued as a student by using her life experiences as examples and connections. I keep this letter pinned up in my office as a reminder on the impact we have as instructors. I had Cynthia for RDG 081 and RDG 091. I watched her struggle with so many issues, that I was challenged to make each class period worth her time and effort for being here.
Hamad: This student started in the same class as Cynthia…I also had Hamad for RDG 071, 081 and 091. Hamad was a college professor in his own country. Having him in my classroom has been such a great experience! Yes, he started in such a low level of reading, but recognizing his competence and degree from his own country drove me to make sure my lessons reflected that ability… He recently just became a citizen of this country and was so proud the day he came into class. I now have his son in my RDG 091 class.
I am sure all of us have students like this that make it worth our while to get up every day and do what we do! These are just a few of mine:)
As I was choosing new song lyrics for my students to infer as an activity today, I was thinking about how important it is that I ” hook” my students into a lesson, and this requires constant change, as each semester I see new faces…
Coming from an education background, it is still ingrained in my lesson planning that idea of incorporating an exceptional anticipatory set, or “hook.”
I find this step so imperative in activating my student’s prior knowledge/ schema when introducing a new topic. The change comes when I monitor and adjust the videos, activities, visual aids, and realia I implement each semester as I reflect upon each class. Here are some of my examples:
Video Clips: My RDG 081 students were reading a article on child-rearing styles, and after they read, I chose to have them watch a video clip that added a different type of style than what the article listed. The feedback from the students was very positive, as the video did a nice job of presenting the attributes of each style.
Activities: For my RDG 091 students I use fortune cookies to introduce patterns of organization and transition words. I have them work in small groups of 4-5, and they have to create a paragraph using everyone’s fortune. This type of application makes them think and builds their collaboration skills.
I also use visual images. A perfect example is when I introduce propaganda…I have the students look at different types of advertisements with a partner, and label each advertisement with a sticky note. This is a perfect introduction, as it is relevant, and makes that connection for them as they then have to transfer this skill to reading actual text…
As I plan my lessons….I think ……What can I do to create that spark of interest to engage their minds and curiosity in what they are learning about?
So bottom line is…..Yes, it’s all about your hook!
CINDY: The professional development opportunities offered by MCCCD are one of the greatest benefits of our work. During my fifteen years with the district I have attended many workshops, learned all I know about technology, attended a major conference each year, taken a sabbatical, and received summer and MCLI grants. A highlight of my career was being an MIL Fellow and my indoctrination into the scholarship of teaching and learning. Classroom research and reflective practice are now a normal and constant part of my work.
This year I was asked to be a PAR mentor and my professional development took a new and unique turn. On some days it takes place “across the hallway” with my colleague Sherry. Our dining room tables, the patio, a restaurant or two, and GCC patio tables have been the sight of serious professional development sessions, too! Inherently, “brainstorming and talking out ideas” with colleagues is how I best learn and plan for my courses, but somehow I think this relationship was also borne out of the adage “everything old is new again.” I say that because we seem to have similar training and experiences but working with Sherry has helped contemporize and re-energize my classes. In fact, I am finally parting with my mimeographed handouts and omitting or revising lessons (AND even posting them on Canvas! Thanks Sherry!)
Sherry: As I sat in a training listening to Chris explain the essential element of reflecting with my PAR mentor, I was laughing to myself because I am ALWAYS reflecting with my mentor, especially now that we are hallway buddies:) Cindy and I started our venture with our Supercharging 081 grant, which has led to incredible things. I remember my first semester where we had our RDG 081 students read Dracula, and she laughed because I added all the current pop culture vampire themed movies, television shows, and other books. She holds me accountable with her questions, and makes my own reflections define what outcomes I desire for my students.
The last two semesters we have been co-planning our CRE 101 classes. We have even implemented several co-teaching sessions, taking it a step beyond simple observations. Cindy has been a mentor that I can bounce ideas off of, ask numerous questions, make mistakes, disagree with, but most importantly she makes me feel like a valued and respected colleague. It is a give and take relationship….and the true definition of professional development in the sense that our collaborating leads to amazing teaching!!!!
Stay tuned for some specific examples of lesson transformations!!!!
I have found utilizing the Announcement option on CANVAS has been an effective way to reach my students. After every class meeting, I create an announcement based off the date. I include what we covered in class (linking any power points and videos), along with posting the next class period’s homework. If students are absent, I also link any recording sheets or articles they will need.
I have had many students provide feedback on the fact that I use this feature in a face-to face class. It helps them stay on track, especially since most of them all have smart phones. They do have a paper schedule, which we always go over in class, but this provides another type of support.
Another benefit is students do not have an excuse on not having their homework completed if being absent. It is still due, absent or not.
It is also a great way of holding them accountable…..I refer them back to CANAVS and the date in question.
Academic feedback and chocolate chip cookies…hmm…quite a story here!
I allow my RDG 091 students to form novel study groups based off their own personal interests. This has been a huge success, as many of my students coming in to my classes HATE to read. The fact that they are provided some choice in what they read, discuss, analyze, and evaluate goes a long way for the overall buy in.
What surprises my students is I let them know that I am also reading their chosen books…yes all 15 novels for both of my RDG 091 classes. They are asked to create a schedule over a six week time frame. I then model a lesson on what active reading is, and allow them to practice in class with a selected article. For many students they don’t understand active reading because they read something and can’t remember what they read five minutes later.
For their first seminar meeting they bring their Active Reading Journals to class. I enjoy flowing in and out of the groups, listening to them discuss the seminar prompts. I love when they “test” me to see if I have really read the same assigned section! By the second seminar meeting it is a given:)
The students then always ask, “Are you really going to read all of our responses?” Actions speak louder than words. When they receive their graded journals back with written feedback they have their answer. It is a true pleasure to have a student come back and respond to a question I wrote on their paper, or to make a connection to one of my responses. This type of academic feedback leads to an important aspect of teaching….the connection you have with your students!
You always get one though….which leads me to, “BTW..I like chocolate chip cookies.” This was randomly written in the middle of one of my student’s responses. He laughed when he read my response. He told me “Ms. you are the first teacher to catch this. I do this every semester to see if the teachers are reading what I write.”
This student came back to me the following semester, and I take that as a compliment, and affirmation that as an educator making that connection is what matters the most!