A blog following teacher Aaron Jura as he plans engaging, yet relevant English Language Arts content for High School students in New Orleans, LA.
After an amazing three-weeks participating in the National Endowment for the Humanities teacher seminar titled From Harlem to Hip-Hop: African American History, Literature, and Song I presented my culminating project titled The REAL Illuminati.
If you haven't noticed, many of my teaching strategy posts center around the concepts of engaging students in higher levels of academic achievement. Inspired by Dr. Tricia Rose's talk on Redlining and discriminatory policies and politics in the United States I concluded my project would take the redlining information from the federal government and juxtapose it against modern day racial gerrymandering.
This project would not have come together without the input of several amazing people:
Access all the readings, recordings, PowerPoint, and all other materials on Google Drive -- by clicking here.
This presentation uses the power of student friendly and culturally relevant ideas -- the narrative of "The Illuminati" to illustrate how power can be wielded behind the scenes to disenfranchise particular groups -- an impact very relevant today in America.
The presentation's main claim is that modern day racial gerrymandering in congressional districts is eerily similar to the now "illegal" discriminatory lending practice commonly called redlining.
When you look at the presentation, using Charlotte, NC as a guide you will see the similarities between 1940 redlining maps, the gerrymandered congressional district (blue line), when you layer in 2010 census data on racial concentration in Charlotte, NC.
The point of this exercise is to illustrate a claim, evidence, the tools of argumentation; while still using culturally relevant hooks to engage students in what could be viewed as "boring" without the strong sales pitch.
There are many exciting possibilities when using current events in the classroom, and the recent Supreme Court decisions on this issue also provide an opportunity for a larger, horizontally aligned connection to social studies, law, and even science (topography, etc.) Students could extend this even further into the math sphere by looking at election probabilities based on demographic data.
Again, the possibilities are endless -- I hope this inspires you or you use it in your class to create a more socially conscious student body -- the next leaders of our great nation!
I hope this is something you can use or modify to use in your classroom.
Continuing on yesterday’s post on technology in the classroom and how I (a high school English teacher) use it. In the part I post I detailed several key sites and apps to make life easier. If you picked up one or two (MAX – it’s the rule) of those tools, be sure to master them before moving on a new tool.
CURRICULAR TOOLS FOR THE ELA CLASSROOM
I teach English and reading at a high school level, so the majority of tools I will share are those that will work best in an upper grade application. I am sure my lower grade teachers could also use some of them too with minimal to no modification.
Hope you can take away some ideas from this post of curricular technology tools and their potential applications in the secondary English classroom. Next time, I will post on some tools you can use to help keep engagement during lecture presentations. Until we meet again.
One thing that teachers (newbies and veterans) always need to talk about is technology in the classroom. New teachers tend to be so tech heavy they literally fall apart (I’ve seen it) when the inevitable projector bulb goes out. Veteran teachers tend to be a bit fearful of change to the classroom environment and at times the element of handing off control to students becomes an issue with technology application during instruction. Overall, this was one of my most successfully taught professional development courses, because it seems that everyone is searching for more opportunities to leverage technology in the classroom.
START SMALL AND BUILD ON SUCCESS
Don’t try to do it all! Try to use one (or maybe two) of the tools – master their use and application to your classroom and then move to another tool. If you try them all at once you will fail, you will feel the failure, and it may turn you off from trying again. Whatever you think, DON’T DO IT! I am especially speaking to the newer teachers out there.
There is more to being successful with technology in the classroom than being able to use the tools yourself. The real magic of technology in the classroom is when it helps students to connect with content, learning, and ultimately increases achievement. This is not something that will come right away, and teachers should prepare to start small and incorporate management tools and technology to make life easier before jumping head first into some of the more “feature filled” applications.
MAKING LIFE EASIER
I use a variety of technology tools to make life easier on me. Many of these tools have an initial investment of time and labor (setting up classes, assigning logins, etc.), but really pay off once you have them operational.
This is just part one of my list – in a week or so I will be posting a comprehensive list of tools to use in the classroom with students to increase engagement and achievement.
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.