Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BEST Instruction INCLUDES the HEART of the Core Curriculum: ILOs

Good Day, Friends,

One of the most rewarding experiences a teacher enjoys is hearing from former students who take a minute to say thanks. It is THE BIGGEST PAY DAY when it happens - at least for me. And I'm guessing many of you would agree. Over the years, I've experienced a few of those pay days, but never have I received a thank you note for helping a student achieve a dynamite score on a standardized test.

I'm not saying that hasn't happened to someone; it just hasn't been MY experience. I have received email messages, however, thanking me for other applications of knowledge gleaned in my language arts classes. For example, a few years ago I found an email in my in-box from a former student who told me she learned to love writing in my classroom, and that writing literally saved her life as she worked through several psychological issues.  Housed in a rehabilitation center, she filled journal after journal with her thoughts, her reflections, her fears, and her hopes. Writing was therapeutic! And now writing is her career.

That is just one example of "goal accomplished," as outlined by the "over-reaching intent of language arts instruction, grades 7-12: ... to understand and investigate the self ... ."

Today we're going to look closer at the first detailed description of what students should take away from a language arts class, as found in the USOE Secondary Language Arts Core Curriculum.
  1. Demonstrate a Positive Attitude towards Language Arts and Processes.
    1. Develop confidence in the ability to access text.
    2. Enjoy the processes and outcomes of reading and writing.
    3. Develop confidence in the ability to express ideas, emotions, and experiences.
As I read over this elaboration, these questions come to mind:
  • How many students have positive attitudes about Language Arts and processes? If they don't, why not?
  • What can I do to help promote a more positive attitude about this subject I love and the processes I value?
  • How many students enjoy the processes and results that come from reading and writing? Why do some students find them enjoyable and some do not?
  • What can I do to help students better enjoy and appreciate processes and results?
  • What does it take to support students in developing confidence in their ability to express ideas, emotions, and experiences? Why is that important? How can I help them value the ability to do so? 
While I won't answer each question separately, I do believe there are some basic answers that apply to many of these questions, starting with LIKING KIDS and possessing a PASSION for teaching. I know there are 101 buckets of problems that are dowsing the fire we try to keep kindled. I read the JEA survey results that 57% responded that morale is lower this year than last year, but losing our passion while working with students will only make the situation worse. Instead, let the interaction with students be the refuge from the bickering over budgets and the policies of politicians.

This post took a turn I didn't plan on, but I don't feel that we can get at the heart of ANYTHING if we LOSE heart.

Best wishes,

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