For almost every teacher candidate, student teaching is an exciting time filled with a multitude of flashbulb memories. During my time at Round Lake High School, I can say, with certainty, that this was the case for me.
Working alongside Mrs. Amanda Allen, I learned how to navigate the post-covid context of classroom teaching. In Mrs. Allen’s classroom, students have strong routines, they engage in writing often, and they are met where they are at by teachers who care greatly about their success not only in the classroom, but in life.
I took on five sections of English 4, four of which were co-taught to help meet the needs of the students with IEPs and 504 plans. In this context, I was able to learn how to work with co-teachers in constructive ways while meeting the diverse needs of students.
Units of Study
Teaching 1984 By George Orwell
When I began to take over the classroom, we were reading 1984 by George Orwell. While teaching reading comprehension and writing skills, we explored this text in a variety of ways. One of the most exciting lessons I had the opportunity to teach during this unit was the concept of Love vs. Lust in Orwell’s text.
In this lesson, first, students reviewed the designated reading in a fun game I created. This reading review game was based on the popular video game, Among Us. In this game, students identify the IMPOSTER (or untrue) event of the reading. They record which number is the ‘Imposter” on a whiteboard and hold it up for me to record. If they are right, they get a point. The team with the most points gets a sticker. (Sometimes everyone got a sticker!) Here are some links so that you can see how the game looked and functioned:
After the review game, students engaged in an interactive presentation where we reviewed the designated reading and discussed the differences between the two concepts: love and lust. More specifically, students were asked to consider the differences between love and lust, along with identifying what kind of relationship Winston and Julia have.
Using Nearpod to integrate multiple-choice questions and to promote engagement, students explored these ideas both introspectively and in small groups. There was a Turn & Talk Activity along with an Exit Slip that helped students wrestle with this concept in challenging and meaningful ways.
Here is the Google Slides Presentation.
Here is the official lesson plan from this day.
Exploring the text in this way helped my students both make meaning from what they read in ways that were interesting and engaging to them.
Other lesson plans regarding how I approached the teaching of 1984 can be found in these links:
- 1984 Part 1 Chapter 8 (Lesson Plan and Presentation)
- 1984 Part 2 Chapter 1 (Lesson Plan and Presentation)
- 1984 Part 2 Chapter 8, 9, and 10 (Lesson Plan and Presentation)
- 1984 Part 3 Chapter 1-4 (Lesson Plans, Materials, and Presentations)
- 1984 Melcon Writing Assignment on Love vs Lust
Teaching American War by Omar Al Akkad
When it came time to teach American War, I had fully taken over the classroom. With this freedom, I decided to teach American War while also teaching students about critical literacy lenses. Specifically, my students learned about the Reader Response Lens and the Feminist Lens during this unit while asking ourselves two essential questions:
- What does it mean to be un-American?
- Why do some people stand up against injustice while others choose to participate in it?
Approaching the novel in this way meant students were analyzing a text in specific ways while contextualizing their findings within the real-world.
For example, while there was no ‘overarching summative exam’, students engaged in multiple lit circles about the concepts within the text and hosted a food drive for the Round Lake High School Food Pantry that coincided with our study of the food insecurity seen in the novel.
My students planned how long the food drive would last, we discussed what food items to bring in, and we also discussed how to celebrate once the food drive was over. (We hosted a cake party!). If students could not bring in non-perishables, they were invited to write easy-to-make-recipes of personal importance that would then be compiled (by me) into a class cookbook that would be made available in the food pantry while people shopped for food. A copy of the cookbook using redacted student names can be found here.
To see how I approached the teaching of American War on a week-to-week basis, below you may access all of my weekly plans for the teaching of this novel.
- Prologue of American War (Plans and Presentations)
- American War Pages 11-80 (Plans and Presentations)
- American War Pages 80-175 (Plans and Presentations)
- American War Pages 178-275 (Plans and Presentations)
- American War Pages 276-320 (Plans and Presentations)
- American War 373-End of Novel (Plans and Presentations)
Community Activities During Student Teaching
Below, you will find a graphic showcasing the miscellaneous ways I worked to build both classroom and school community at Round Lake High School.
The End Of The Beginning
Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. But it was the students at Round Lake High School that made me fall in love with this profession. And while this chapter of my life is coming to a close, I know that these experiences will stay with me forever. I’m excited to see where life will take me next.
If you have any questions about this blog post, or you are a former student who would like to reach out to me, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org