A blog following teacher Aaron Jura as he plans engaging, yet relevant English Language Arts content for High School students in New Orleans, LA.
Just updating that I have finished the curricular resources for American Literature. I have posted them here for you to see:
I also wrapped up the author's study group project. I have posted the basics below. A more expansive unit for author's study will be posted on TpT soon.
Seeing as I just finished up a Colonial North America course for my Masters in American History I thought it would be a good time to share some Thanksgiving history. See links below. But, I also wanted to stop by and say how thankful I am for my students, colleagues, and administration who make everyday a good day (usually).
Overall, I think this holiday has really gotten away from us. The overindulgent natural of pigging out on a variety of mushy foods with different flavors -- and yet all the same texture. Along with the overly indulgent Black Friday sales where you buy things you don't need because they are a "bargain." I think the pilgrims and puritans alike would hate our modern interpretation of Thanksgiving.
I recently received the challenge of changing everything I had planned and perfectly executed in English I to change everything and be prepared to teach American Literature in the Spring semester. All teachers out there know how stressful this can be.
I am actually very excited to teach American Literature to 11th graders. First, I had many of them as Sophomores -- so we already know each other. Second, the breadth of literature to cover in an American Lit course is inspiring.
As for full works I am planning on teaching: The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, and The Bluest Eye. My setup for the curricular map has us traveling through literary periods including colonial writing, romanticism to transcendentalism, realism, modernists, post-modernism.
Overall, the high stakes test for students is the most concerning. This is especially important considering the passage rates on the English III EOC test in the past. I think a wide ranging approach to American Literature will best prepare students for the complexity of texts.
Also, I am excited to try out Laura Randazzo's Weekly 20 idea this semester. This will allow students to select a high engagement area of study and conduct a sustained research project on the topic of their choice. The culmination will be a presentation and written project that students will turn in at the end of the semester. With 20 minutes a week -- who knows what a student might be inspired to do. I am doing one too -- any suggestions are welcomed.
While I have been teaching this semester I have also been taking courses in pursuit of a masters degree in American History. Over the summer I attended courses at Columbia University in NYC on The Underground Railroad. This semester I have been attending a course on Colonial North America. I am excited to say that I ended up with an A in the course. Religion is not really my strong suit, so I had my work cut out for me.
The course covered early settlement through the Great Awakening and I have uploaded all of my essays and a lesson plan I created as part of the process. Enjoy!
I often talk in my History and English classes about the need to do something to change the world. I, as many other people around the world, was horrified by the attacks by extremists in France, Kenya, and Lebanon. I find that too often these events become social media campaigns that allow people to "feel" like they've done something. I disagree. I think that if you want to actually make a difference and impact big changes you need to be directly involved in the issues and to ultimately become more informed.
I would challenge anyone to look into the specifics of how ISIS/ISIL and others (Boko Haram and Al Shabaab) became radicalized and ultimately armed to the teeth. Let's examine the roles of other nations in strengthening this group through radical rhetoric and a non-inclusive foreign policy. Lets examine who could be a leader on the issues of security -- an isolationist? Most likely not.
My problem with social media and "shares" "likes" and "favorites" is that it does not allow for any real substantive thought on an issue to share about it. A person scrolling through a feed of cat videos and pictures of celebrities dressed like normal people to share an image representing how they are "with" a particular group during distress. In actuality the act of sharing a post is not enough. People must become informed and force change to make something happen on this issue.
Some links to review are:
5 Minute history video on the rise of ISIS/ISIL
Lebanon's problems with ISIS/ISIL
As some of my students know I too have been engaging with learning and keeping up a growth mindset. I enrolled in a Masters of American History through Gilder Lehrman and Adams State University.
This term I have been studying Colonial North America and many of the things I have been learning have been eye opening to me and I am currently writing a unit on Colonial North America for Teachers Pay Teachers using primary source material to analyze history.
The most important reminder I have had from my professor John Fea has been related to the idea that history needs to be examined through a non-Whig prospective. This has really forced me to analyze sources from an outside view and has made me a better instructor.
I will post my essays here for you to peruse as well as a culminating lesson plan that you will be able to access at no cost and use in your classrooms. If you want some great resources for discussing Colonial North America in class there are two books I recommend that we have covered in the course:
Alan Taylor's American Colonies is what we are using in class as our secondary source. It is an amazing narrative view of life in colonial times. The other book is a collection of primary sources on the Stono rebellion that I pulled from my college years called STONO.
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.