Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Heart Methods

As the fall semester is winding to a close now, I've been giving some thought to how I will teach my classes differently next fall. The bulk of my teaching occurs in the fall, when I teach my two methods courses; I do teach at least one course in the spring as well, and I supervise student teachers, but my two methods courses are the centers of my heart, so to speak.

To imitate my students, "I heart methods."

One of the teaching techniques that has been working well for me the last two years has been in my junior-level methods class, which focuses on teaching writing. This class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesdays, we do the normal college class thing -- read chapters and articles, discuss them, do assignments, etc. On Thursdays, however, we workshop. Students are assigned to write three pieces through the course of the semester: a book review, a memoir, and a set of three poems. We spend Thursdays writing, peer and teacher conferencing, reading our works aloud, and doing mini-lessons. I've been quite happy with the way this has worked, so -- except for a little tweaking -- I'll be leaving that one alone.

My senior level class, however, is a different story. This class focuses on teaching literature, and I have yet to find a textbook that I like for the course. I've been fairly unsatisfied with this semester's textbook, as have my students, and so I've decided to imitate my success with the junior class and to create a literature workshop that will be engaging and will provide a model of the kind of teaching they could put into practice.

I haven't thought it through carefully, yet, but here are some initial thoughts about how the workshop might look for that senior class:
  • I will choose a type of literature and focus on that during the semester. I've been thinking about environmental literature or perhaps magical realism.
  • We'll read at least one novel and supplement that with other texts, such as young adult literature, poetry, art, etc.
  • We'll use some online functionality, though I'm not sure yet exactly what. It will probably involve our course wiki, at the least. Perhaps a webquest? I'm not sure.

And that's all I've got! One thing is certain, and that is that providing structure and a format for some kind of reflection piece on how this might translate into teaching junior high or high school English will be important. I've learned that from my experience with the junior class.

If any of the internets have suggestions for literature/approaches/assignments that would fit into these quite broad genres, I would be happy to hear them!

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