So I have this student in my 11th grade U.S. History course that has been perplexing me and in turn, my mind and ego are creating unnecessary doubts of my teaching abilities. I have been painfully asking him to stop reading his novel and be with the class and involved with what we are doing. He tries, he gets bored, picks up his book. He wrote for me in the first assignment this year and couldn't believe when I commented to him how I appreciated his deep thinking but its time to move into utilizing evidence to help explain his thinking and reasoning. " you actually read what I wrote?", was his response. This statement made me wonder how many students have never heard verbal feedback about their writing from their teachers. I know teachers always give written feedback, but honestly, I don't think students get much from it- or even read it. John Hattie in Visible Learning writes about his research on factors that effect learning growth- teacher feedback is a big one- and the sooner the feedback the better. Written feedback on a paper sometimes gets to a student 2-3 weeks after the assignment was due. There must be a better way- there is, and technology helps even more with this immediate feedback. Apps like Nearpod , Socrative.com and google classroom can allow you to see the work as they do it and respond verbally right then and there (or comment- but...). If you are going to comment on a paper, try using voice comments in google- Kaizena extension works well.
But I got off track....my student...I asked him what I needed to do to get work out of him, "I really like your teaching -- I just get stuck and frozen". We are just beginning our industrialization and immigration unit and I have been thinking about the classic novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow. I mentioned to my student what if I gave you some assignments from a novel- before I could finish my sentence his smile occupied his whole face and he became more alive than I have ever seen him. That was last week, this morning I had the joy of giving him his book. I told him a few things to look for in the writing style and to first take note of all the people mentioned- they are historical figures we are learning about. By the end of class today, he managed to stay fairly engaged with us, read two chapters. list out the characters and their descriptors, and suggest to me that he writes detailed summaries after each chapter for homework. Sure- sounds good to me. "That's a good assignment you have created for yourself. I will add some essay questions to each chapter too. " "Okay, see ya later Ms. MacLean."
hmmm, should the whole class read this novel?
I need to incorporate more fiction options in my US History class. Common core allows time for this.
My ego will lie to me, if I stay in purpose and intention, solutions will come.