Between chatter on the blogosphere and my own university’s rather insistent focus on social justice, I’ve been thinking a lot about the achievement gap* and racial inequality in the classroom and in the education system as a whole.
First off, you may be wondering what the asterisk is doing at the end of achievement gap*. Well, that stems largely from the opinions of Dr. Camika Royal, which she expressed in her blog post on good.is. The Teach for America alumna claims that the phrase is flawed “because it blames the historically marginalized, under-served victims of poor schooling and holds whiteness and wealth as models of excellence.” I was prepared to disagree with her statement, but then I realized there is at least a little truth to it.
You know how I said in my last post that Fatih Akin is one of my heroes? Well, add Richard LaFleur to the list.
In the 1960s, Latin teaching in American high schools took a nosedive. People asked themselves, “Why are we teaching our children this dead language?” and pulled their kids from classics programs. It wasn’t until the 1980s that class offerings and enrollment at the high school level began to pick up again, and it was largely due to the efforts of University of Georgia professor Dr. Richard LaFleur. In 1981 he published a rather self-explanatory article entitled “Latin Students Score High on SAT and Achievement Tests,” and followed it up in 1987 with his book The Teaching of Latin in American Schools: A Profession in Crisis. Once people started rediscovering the advantages of a classical education, they also started putting their kids’ butts in the seats. Latin teachers nationwide owe him their gratitude.
LaFleur might be a Emeritus professor over at UGA now, but I have a li’l secret. His class website for Latin teaching methodology is still online. And I found it.
Pros and cons of anthology-type English textbooks. In college, I never did like that type of text, and it would always be the first on my sell-back list at the end of the semester. I always preferred the book itself.
Thoughts? What do you prefer in your classroom?
Fatih Akin is one of my heroes. He’s one of the foremost German filmmakers today, the director of Soul Kitchen and Im Juli, as well as a segment of New York, I Love You. He’s also the screenwriter of one of my fav films, Kebab Connection. Watch the clip below to see why:
Update: The original video I posted got removed from YouTube. Lame. Here’s the trailer, instead.
Here’s the synopsis: young Ibo, a Hamburger of Turkish descent, aspires to make the first German kung-fu film. Meanwhile, his girlfriend gets pregnant. Comedy ensues.
There are SO MANY reasons to include this film in your German classes. For one, the role of Turks in Germany is a hot topic issue, and this is a good way to get students to start discussing immigration issues both in Germany and in the states, as well as other German current events. For another, the exploration of fine German cuisine, the omnipresent Döner (I’m drooling just thinking about it). Or even still, listening to real German helps students with their Hörverstehen skills and expands their vocabulary. Which is why, you know, we teach German. Right?
I am currently in a M.Ed. program, majoring in Secondary Education. The program is mostly for career-changer-types who didn’t major in education for their undergrad, but are now earning their teaching certification. A teacher prep program at a major US university would have some of the best teachers to pass on their knowledge, right?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m still early in the program, so this is in no way a condemnation of all the professors here. I think I’ll actually like my methodology teacher, in fact. But there is this one…
Let me give you an example. Twenty minutes into our first day of class, he starts explaining one of our assignments, which involves a class presentation. He tells us, make it Socratic. Ask lots of questions. Involve the class. Good, good… But then I realize no one but him had spoken that entire period. Not a word. If class discussion is so important, why does it seemingly not matter whether or not the class speaks? WHY DON’T YOU TEACH BY EXAMPLE, YOU TEACHER OF TEACHERS?
Ah, the sonnet. For my English literary history class near the end of my undergrad I had to write a sonnet. According to my professor, the sonnet was the tweet of the Elizabethan age. I’m not on Twitter, but I imagine 140 non-rhyming, non-metrical characters would be easier to write than a sonnet. But that’s just a guess.
Today’s post comes to us from ReadWriteThink, which has a plethora (yes, I said plethora) of lesson plans and other resources for the English teacher of any grade level. Discovering Traditional Sonnet Forms by Jaqueline Podolski is one of their better examples. This lesson plan is set up for three 50-minute class periods, and has students read, analyze and write sonnets. Her step-by-step instructional plan is very detailed, allowing even for teachers less than fluent with the form to intelligently and creatively teach the sonnet.
What I really like about Podolski’s lesson plan is her use of sonnets from many different eras, like Gwendolyn Brooks’ “the sonnet-ballad” from 1949, which is used to initially introduce the form of the sonnet. Shakespeare, of course, is the king of the form, but using more modern bards will show students that it isn’t quite dead.
However, I was most impressed with Podolski’s method for introducing the sonnet’s poetic formula – she doesn’t. The entirety of the first class period has the students in groups looking at three different sonnets, and discovering for themselves what rules the form entails. Students might actually remember what the rules are if they have to work to figure them out, instead of simply glancing at a handout or powerpoint! Genius!
Here’s the link again. Enjoy!
When it comes to teaching, the “torch of enlightenment” gets passed both ways. This teacher takes a great poem, and launches into a thought-provoking discussion with her students.
On a side note, I also really appreciate her and her students’ thoughts on mental illness. Society attaches far too much stigma to a problem that is already causing enough pain and anguish for an individual and their family. Don’t hate.