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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Day 6: Graphic Organizers and Note Taking

Today I worked with students to teach some learning skills. With the juniors, I had them analyze the 1st paragraph to M. Scott Momaday's Way to Rainy Mountain.

I had the seniors take notes on the Anglo-Saxons and their culture using the Cornell note taking method.

I felt I was more successful with the juniors. They created web diagrams that noted the nature imagery in the paragraph. I think the main reason that the exercise was successful was that the students experienced a feeling of success when they correctly identified the images. As I walked around the room, the kids showed me what they had discovered. They discussed whether or not the items they discovered were images or not. I believe that they learned something about analysis and imagery.

The note taking was not as successful for the same reason that the junior was. The students could not feel real success by successfully taking notes. I think that giving students an opportunity to feel success is something I will endeavor to build into my lessons wherever possible.

Something else of note, today my teaching was observed three times. Once by a representative from the Marzano people, once by one of the assistant principals, and then by both the Marzano rep and the assistant principal together. This is all a part of being a "School Improvment Grant" (SIG) school under NCLB's "transformation model." I'm actually glad to have someone come in and look over what I'm doing. I can use all the help I can get. I compare teaching to other professionals like lawyers and doctors who are said to have a "practice", not a job. Teaching is a practice, and I'm always trying to practice at my best, but I'm still practicing my craft.

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