I’ve been starting to play around a little bit with my curriculum/ course-framework for next year and thought some of you might enjoy seeing how I organize my year.
I’ll be sharing ninth grade English today, and – hopefully – tenth & eleventh grade/ AP Language and Composition in the future.
First, though, here are a few things you should know about the course(s) I teach:
– I teach in a speciality center/ STEM Academy where students apply to an individual program and must maintain a certain GPA in order to stay in it. My particular program is the Center for Mass Communications. My students are (mostly) interested in things like broadcast journalism, production, and graphic design – that’s why they entered the program. But, as I like to say, they get English as a *bonus. 🙂
– As a result of the above point, I work closely with another teacher who focuses on all things Mass Communications. Although I would consider my class a “typical” English class, I do tend to focus a little bit more on nonfiction, journalism, and current-event type of things. I’m also very fortunate to have access to a lot of great technology resources because of the program I am in.
– All of my classes are Pre-AP or AP level.
– For the most part, students have the same two teachers (myself and my partner) for ninth thru eleventh grade. *This is especially nice because I don’t have to “start over” every year getting to know the students and setting the expectation for my class, and because – if I don’t get to something one year – I simply move it to the next! (They take English 12 back at their base schools but are technically still in the program then.)
– I really like to have a year-long “theme” for each of my classes. However, like most of you I’m sure, I also am held to state standards and other curriculum guidelines. What I have found works best is to divide my year into two semesters with each one having a different theme. Within that, my teaching is still primarily SKILL-based, but I like for everything to have a kind of “flow” to it.
I think that about does it as far as “background” for you, so here’s what I teach (in order) in ninth grade:
I hope this gave some of you – especially first-year teachers, I know how DESPERATELY I wanted ideas/help when I was just starting – some good ideas as you plan for the fall… I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about specific parts and would LOVE to hear what you teach/ how you organize your year!
Time to get out of my pjs and on with the day…
Does the 2nd semester feel more rushed since you have an additional book in there, or does the research project in semester 1 even out? Are your final assessments primarily essays, or do you vary it up with projects?
This looks great and is a nice, basic overview. I’ve been going back through my classes this year & summer (going into year 3 of teaching English/English learners) and really looking hard at the skills I’m building and how that connects to state standards. It is definitely helpful!
Do you run current events primarily independently or is it more Kelly Gallagher style?
I love your teaching Tuesdays!
I find that I’m always a little slower getting started in the school year than I want to be – with beginning of the year activities/assemblies/etc. Also taking into account that research project takes a while (which you mentioned) and the fact that I make the novels more independent reads as they year moves on, I usually can squeeze in an extra book in the second half of the year. Of course, that isn’t always the case, but I always plan to!
Just because we are a pre-AP curriculum, I try to emphasize the academic essay a lot and almost always have one to round out any novel study. I always find that asking students to write about a novel and the skills we have learned/studied within in gives me a good understanding of what they actually learn. I also assess with Socratic Seminars and (occasionally) other projects. 🙂
Finally, this year will be my first year using current events. I plan to do them more independently, but am definitely going to look into Gallagher’s style. Thanks for reminding me!
Hope that helps!
Hi there! I will be starting my first year of teaching in August! Woohoo!
I will be teaching 9th grade on-level/inclusive literature students. Any tips of planning curriculum for my FIRST year? For example: how to keep things simple, not going “over-board”, narrowing down what to teach etc?
I would really appreciate some words of advice. PS- Thanks for your tips on teaching from a cart! I learned that I won’t have a classroom this year, so that post really helped.
The easiest thing is to read through the book, figure out the 4-5 most important skills you want students to have throughout that book — whether it’s identifying symbolism, persuading an audience, or whatever — figure out how you’ll assess it, and then plan your days from there. By focusing on 4-5 skills per book unit, it will simplify what you really want to accomplish.
So for example, I teach To Kill a Mockingbird in my 9th grade classes. There are so many things that I COULD focus heavily on, but instead I focus on students understanding: social class hierarchy/hidden rules of society, mob mentality, symbolism, and character’s choices. When I think about what I want students to remember 5 years from now, that stuff is what’s important — my district calls those the “enduring understandings”.
Do you know what books you’ll teach?
Love this! Thanks Megan!
First of all, CONGRATS on starting your first year! The first year will be HARD but SO WORTH IT! Just the fact that you are even thinking about things is already WELL BEYOND where I was the summer before my first year… So, you’re doing great in my opinion! 🙂
I guess my biggest tip is to GET HELP – from Pinterest, blogs, and fellow teachers! Find a buddy in your school that teaches some of the same classes and partner up. I LOVE to get ideas from my colleagues and work together to plan things.
Realize that your first year probably won’t be your BEST year teaching, but we all have to have one. I strongly recommend that you keep a notebook or word document throughout the year with notes for yourself to the next year, and always try to stay about two weeks ahead of your students in terms of plans. Mostly though, remember that – more than anything else – your students appreciate a teacher that works hard and invests in THEM, not just their test scores or skill sets. A friendly smile and a good PLAN goes a long long way!!!
On a more practical level…
– Things will probably always take longer than you expect them to.
– A teenager’s attention span for any one work/unit is probably about 4 weeks max.
– BE FLEXIBLE (English classes always get chosen for assemblies, voting, special speakers, etc. etc. Also, if you live in a place that gets snow, know that your plans are already doomed.)
– Teach things YOU care about as much as you can. The kids can tell if you hate Shakespeare or poetry or grammar.
– Be confident – remember that YOU are the expert here. Treat yourself like it!
Hope that helps!
I have been following your blog for almost a year now. It really speaks to my style and I too am 30 years old and starting my 8th year of teaching (SO CRAZY)! I teach 9th grade special education and also co-teach in a history and English class. I am a mother of 2 as well. (Congrats on the news that you will also soon be a mother of 2). Anyways… I was wondering if you would be willing to share more about how you will be incorporating the current events in your English curriculum. This sounds like a great idea with using informational text. I am also very curious on how you teach vocabulary. I am always looking for ideas to incorporate into my class and also the inclusion classes I teach in. I have enjoyed catching up on your blog today after talking to my co-teacher for English (she is the one that introduced me to your blog last year). We enjoy discussing your posts at lunch. Can’t wait for more posts soon:)
This might not be the kind of question you’re used to addressing but I am a parent in search of answers that I can’t seem to find. My ninth grader came home from English with a list of 4 books they are reading in the first semester. In the first 4 weeks they read Lord of the Flies and are half way through Night, or at least they are supposed to be. Because his teacher requires they fill out lengthy “fill in the blank” notes the reading is taking him a terribly long time. He is expected to cover 30+ pages every 2 days including the note taking and later annotations. There is a weekly quiz as well. This is not a literature specific class, he also has had 2 major essays and a speech. The class is on pace to read 8 works of literature this year with additional requirements pertaining to each. I believe in hard work and hate to say he can’t do it, but I’m not sure if I could keep up. This is not an honors class ans his teacher is very new to the school. What I need to know is if this seems at all reasonable to a professional.
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