Happy Year of the Rooster!
On January 23rd, AHSD25 middle school ELA teachers were learning how to use new digital and print curriculum that is "closely tied to high stakes PARCC testing." We'll be piloting a unit shortly after our science fiction unit. Sharon Nelles sent home a note to this effect. I plan to keep the following in our curriculum: independent reading every day, sharing books at least once a week, choice in writing when possible, revision opportunities, keeping track of our own skills, and we'll continue to work toward our goals for each quarter. I will continue to provide video feedback when possible, and will update Edline whenever I have feedback to provide. Regarding PARCC, we do not focus on teaching to the test, but we do try "PARCC-type" questions throughout the year, and we will be taking a practice test (to help students become familiar with the tools on the computer) before we dive into the pilot curriculum. Students will be taking the PARCC tests in March.
We began the past two weeks with writing - some students chose to write creatively (their own science fiction), and some chose to write their opinions (supported with facts from articles, of course) about whether or not humans should begin to colonize Mars. (The characters in "Dark They Were and Golden Eyed" were originally colonists on Mars.) We then had a fishbowl discussion on this topic. All that joined had thought-provoking points brought to light by the articles they read!
This past week we read a "Twilight Zone" script - "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street." It was great to hear the different voices as we read. We watched part of the old version, then the newest version, bringing to life the "what if" questions students had. We also read "Zero Hour" by Ray Bradbury, and the writing and fishbowl discussions regarding who was "most to blame" were priceless. I hope this week students realized the importance of observing and asking questions before assuming or making judgments. One class actually stated that the different perspectives and the big picture matter, and that multiple characters were to blame at different parts of the story.