The Book Fort
Instructional Ideas for Immediate Implementation
Welcome to The Book Fort: Issue 33
Week 33: 180 Days of Awesome
It's Finally Here!
I am looking at the text through a unique lens; I do not have a high school classroom of my own right now and do not plan to have one next year. Instead, I am co-teaching in a 9th grade classroom and can already see how much of 180 Days, particularly the thought process in planning an instructional year with a trusted colleague, is going to shape my approach to the 2018-2019 work I will be doing both as a co-teacher and a doctoral student in the final year of study. 180 Days offers an approach to co-teaching and collaborative work that breaks down barriers of time and geographic location. Kittle and Gallagher show that with intention and shared values, instruction can be transformed in ways that engage and empower young people, something all effective and caring educators seek to accomplish.
While I am still digging into all of the text and you MUST purchase your own copy (immediately), this week I will share a few of my first thoughts on how incredibly useful and thoughtful this book is. Here is one of my favorite paragraphs from the Afterword as Kittle and Gallagher reflect:
"So why does it matter that now [the student] writes the lifeless, no-one-but-a-high-school-English-teacher-reads-it, five-paragraph essay in grade ten? Because it is devoid of Jack. It is a task (grocery shopping, laundry) and Jack will complete it, but he won't light up inside it. He won't stretch. He won't corral all the ideas that flood his mind at once. He'll just write the essay he's been assigned to write, another lap around a formulaic, mindless track. Perhaps this one writing experience won't hurt him, but the relentless repetition of this form will. Standardized thinking stifles what we most value in writers: insight, courage, creativity, and joy" (222).
Gallagher, Kelly and Kittle, Penny. (2018). 180 Days: Two Teacher and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Shared Core Values
Establish Daily Practices
Don't mistake this for lack of autonomy; I am the first to bristle when I feel like someone is telling me how to teach or suggesting what I should or should not do in my own classroom. That's not this at all. Instead, as suggested by Kittle and Gallagher, once you've determined your core beliefs about teaching and learning, agree on shared instructional practices that you both can utilize to ensure those beliefs are upheld. A few of the considerations are below to get you started with this thinking process.
Teaching Essential Discourses
Multigenre Research Projects
For Kittle and Gallagher, the mutligenre project took the form of a research discourse in 180 Days (Chapter 9). They initially laid out a five week unit in which students worked through the entire writing process from idea generation to sharing polished work, but noted that students were so highly engaged (even at the end of the school year), and some students were unable to realize their creative visions due to time constraints. So, allow more than five weeks! I set aside six weeks for my projects, but students were still spending hours working in the library (I know, right?!) up until the last day before presentations. It also depends on your bell schedule and end-of-year events that can inevitably interrupt instructional time. If you'd like more info on my own project, please let me know! I have some things I am happy to share. I have included a few of the considerations from 180 Days below.
Website of the Week
Cite This For Me
Ed Tech Tool of the Week
Love podcasts? Want to increase your students' listening skills, build their academic vocabulary, and bolster background knowledge? Then you should check out Listenwise, a tool that allows students to access curated podcasts on a variety of timely topics and can be shared to Google Classroom. The free version allows teachers to share the podcasts and daily current events with students; there is a 30-day free trial for the premium upgrade which is much like Newsela, which offers quizzes and lessons, among many other things. Follow them on Twitter @Listenwiselearn for new ideas!
What Colleagues Are Reading
What the Big Idea? by Jim Burke
Kentucky colleague and fellow #BookLove cohort member Michelle McKelvy is re-reading Jim Burke's What's the Big Idea? as she prepares to begin an inquiry project with her 9th grade English students. She says, "I love the many examples [Burke] provides of real classroom students doing real classroom work to the results we all want our students to achieve. I also like the idea of teaching students how to learn by questioning." While Michelle uses essential questions in her units, she says having students develop their own questions has been a game changer for both her and the students. Check out Jim Burke on Twitter @englishcomp and connect with Michelle @MMckelvs.
Digging into Literature by Joanna Wolfe and Laura Wilder
Fellow Murray State University Doctoral Candidate Brandon Abdon recommends Digging into Literature: Strategies for Reading, Analysis, and Writing by Joanna Wolfe and Laura Wilder. Brandon has given this text to his entire English Literature committee as essential professional reading. He says it is "...the best pedagogy book focusing on literature, not just literacy in general" and is "incredibly lucid." We could all use more lucidity in education! Connect with Brandon @AP_EngLangLit.
Genius Hour by Andi McNair
Texas colleague Lorie Lyon is reading Genius Hour by Andi McNair and recommends it to those wishing to implement this in the classroom. Lorie likes it because: "It breaks down Genius Hour or Passion Projects using the Six P's, Pitch, Plan, Project, Product, and Presentation. It walks you through the process of implementing Genius Hour and gives examples from real classrooms." I can't wait to see what her #SiglerStars do with this next year!! Follow Lorie to see all the wonder-filled things she's doing @SiglerStars5th and @lorclyon. Check out Andi McNair on Twitter @mcnairan3.