Classes I Have Taught
7th & 8th Grade Science
Middle School is an important transition year for kids. Growing up is a big theme and social media, hormones, and cliques play a huge role in this. What better time to talk about reproduction, genetics, and body organ systems (like the endocrine system)!? It's a blast to teach kids about how their bodies work, what aspects they've inherited from their parents, working with them to figure out how they can make themselves their own person. Invention and presentation play a huge part in this class as students work hard to figure out the mechanics behind life sciences and how to explain them to others.
I always loved my journalism class on High School. Working hard to produce the school newspaper was exhilarating. I endeavor to produce the same exciting experiences of serious investigation, high stakes deadlines, and meaningful reporting in my classroom.
Here, my students engage with the daily news as readers, researchers, writers, and editors to publish monthly news publication, called the SKILLs Times. Students read to identify, annotate, summarize and draw connections between newsworthy articles and ongoing stories in the news. As reporters, students summarize an article or synthesize multiple articles to compose an article. They carefully edit the writings of their peers, giving them feedback not only on spelling and grammar, but also on word choice and style using collaborative writing methods provided by Google Docs.
Throughout their work, students engage in whole class discussions and debates concerning “grey area” matters (i.e. issues with no clear right or wrong answer, opinion, or perspective) that center on current events in local, national, and international news. Students practice participating in dynamic group conversation – with the support of their annotations – based on facts they read and ideas brought forward by another person in the discussion. Their work culminates, every month, in the collaboratively produced a monthly publication, The SKILLs Times!
Here, I'm giving a brief talk into how I'm taking part of my classroom - the part where I read aloud to model tone and fluency - and handing it over to my students. They're 18-21 years old, so they're ready for it. We've started calling this program, Book Talks.
In short, I create a few demo lessons to show my students what a Book Talk looks like, then I guide them through the process of making their own. The result: my students uploading and sharing their own videos about books they like, commenting on each other's videos, and "liking" them. It's been a simple fun way to motivate my students to think differently about how they talk about what they read.
Collaborative learning is really important to me. Developing the skills of speaking about reading, actively listening to others share their opinions, and writing about their collective discoveries is as important as developing advanced reading skills. So, you'll often find me designing curricula that merges these skills. In my English class, for example, my students are assigned roles and responsibilities for finding, recording, and tracking certain aspects of the narrative, characteristics of the characters, or connections to the world around them and teach their findings to the group.
Students read to identify a theme or lesson about real life issues under the guidance of the essential questions: How do I take notes to track my thought process while I read the text? What information is important or interesting enough to collect and share? How do proficient collaborators think and act as they share what they’ve read? How do I support my opinions with facts/evidence from my notes? How do I synthesize information from character observations to identify a theme or moral? How do I tell a group of people about a book that I’ve read with the purpose of conveying the main idea or theme? How do I listen actively to the presentations of other with the purpose of learning something new?
Throughout their work, students work to meet the expectations of their peers, hold their peers accountable to feasible expectations, and decide how to “synergize” as a team to complete the assignments. Students work collaboratively to read and analyze, but they will also work independently on their own interviews and podcast assignments. As a culminating project, students will post their podcasts on the class website called, Essence Interviews, in order to share their work with families, friends, peers, and the larger community.
Youth Radio was a little invention that I worked on with a few of my students that eventually become an elective. It's a simple podcast station, where students could post music and interviews they'd creating using GarageBand and the recording software on our school iPads. What started as a small hobby grew into class of 8-10 students, all plugged in, creating music, writing about what they were interested, and making cultural media right before my eyes. I find this up-coming generation of learners fascinating to watch as they learn how to use new technology. It's so unbelievably fast and remarkably exciting.
To protect my students' privacy, these are jpegs of the sites, not the links.
The SKILLs Times
English Lit. + Audio Recordings