A blog following teacher Aaron Jura as he plans engaging, yet relevant English Language Arts content for High School students in New Orleans, LA.
So, the beginning of the year is upon most of us. I have already lived through my first week back. I must say, I love the first week back at school. I really do enjoy meeting all the new faces and getting to know them on a deeper level. This deep level of engagement is key to success later on -- especially once some form of fatigue starts setting in.
Over the summer, as I have previously posted, I was fortunate enough to attend an NEH seminar on Appalachian Literature at Shepherd University in WV. One activity (of many) I have adapted to my first week lesson was George Ella Lyon's Where I'm From poem. I not only provided students with Lyon's version, but also with a template so that they could create their own. The level of work and creative writing I got back was breathtaking -- nearly publishable. Check out the poem and template here.
I'm sure you're familiar with the classic game of Jenga. Pull out a piece and attempt to keep the tower standing. Well, turns out, this works really great as a review activity for studying literature.
I ran across the Literary Jenga product on TpT and I am absolutely in LOVE with it. I have been looking for ways to "gamify" classroom learning to increase engagement. Literary Jenga is a way to start out with low/no tech requirements.
If you're feeling adventurous -- Breakout EDU offers a cool program where students seek out clues and answers to break into a locked box. Think of the teamwork required to complete this task. There is a library of created games or you can create your own. Set a timer and let the class begin -- no hints!
Back at school and enjoying the fresh start of a new school year. After such an inspirational summer working with amazing educators and scholars from all over the country (and world) I am back to school. A particular educator, Marjie Bowker, who I met during my summer NEH seminar, directs an ingenious self-published narrative writing program at her high-needs school in the Seattle, WA area. Check out more on this amazing program here. Being that teachers ARE the greatest thieves out there -- I decided to start a self-published student generated narrative writing program at my school.
While the project is just getting going at this point, I will be sure to update you with progress and any takeaways I have with trying to launch this type of program in the classroom. At this point we have brainstormed tie in's for professional writer workshops and readings to support the student's writing skills and we are also thinking about ways to embrace other cultures and tie in English Language Learners to the program through our Latin American studies program. Our graphic design and print layout classes will help a professional designer and typesetter with the development and layout (and art) for the project.
I think the best part of this project is it is self-sustaining (if done perfectly.) When students are published we sell their books and the revenue from those sales help to support the next year's printing.
Here's to another great year and another HUGE project to tackle.
Mr. J is a high school teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. J believes in the power of educators to help children and families achieve. Follow his blog for tips and techniques to keep engagement high and student achievement at the forefront.