Wednesday, July 9, 2014

English Op Room

I spent Monday working with two colleagues on an "English Opportunity Room" curriculum.  One colleague is the head of our PLC and an invaluable resource.  She and I wrote the first curriculum for another class similar to this one. The other colleague is our college English teacher who will be teaching this remedial class with me.

The isn't going to be called English Opportunity Room, but it will be based loosely on the Math Op room that provides a double dose of math for struggling students.  We aren't calling our class English Op room because we have had a Reading Strategies class for the past 10-12 years, so we are leaving the name the same. (I'm guessing that will be less hassle in the computer enrollment program.)

Last spring, I sat down the Math Op room teacher and was able to pick his brain.  He was so helpful and let me see all the activities the students worked on, the individualized instruction, and the testing schedule. There was a lot of variety in how they tackled the standards, which tends to be crucial for struggling students.  He has had a lot of success in helping students succeed in their regular classes.

Sometimes I wish that our Language Arts Standards were a bit less overwhelming and not quite so broad or all-encompassing. However, one of the first things we did was go through and circle the Anchor Standards that are absolutely crucial to the success of the students. We will concentrate on those.  And once we know which students will be in our class, we can individualize what skills need particular emphasis.  (Though now that I think about it, it doesn't really matter if we know our roster.  We could have drawn up the skills for each student on a separate page and then pulled the ones we needed when we saw our roster.  Darn!  Now, I think of that.)

We spent most of the morning hashing out exactly what the class was to do and then hunting for resources. We divided up the semester into six week segments, but then also divided up how class time was to be used each day of the week. The use of actual class time will change with each six weeks period.

The students in first semester English Op will be Juniors who need some extra work on their reading and writing skills. They were identified through the STAR reading test and also a fluency test.  (Their performance in my English II class also indicated a need for some remedial work, though this wasn't used for placement.)  The hope is that they will perform better, not only in English class but all classes, and then succeed on the State Test next spring.

Right now, the plan is to incorporate interactive notebooks into this class.  (Disorganization tends to be a quality that many low performing students share.)

All this being said, I bet you can guess what I am doing.
*I have spent several days hunting reading and writing resources that we can use to teach and challenge.
*I've found interactive websites to work on grammar and punctuation skills.
*Today, the plan is to create the interactive notebook for the first two weeks, so we can help the students.

And all this work is just for the new class.

There are new textbooks for my English II class.  I definitely need to immerse myself in the new text. I also want to have 180 days of Bell Ringer activities ready before school even begins. Somehow it always seems like the more work I can have done before school starts, the more enjoyable the school year is.

Do I have a bit to do before school begins?  Why yes, yes I do.

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