Hello there Blogosphere.
I admit it. I’ve been remiss at updating A Spartan’s Will. I’m sure my Proton Cara is staring at her screen nodding with a smile, “Judge me now, Bee.” You’re right. No more judging.
Most of my life has revolved around work, and in the few nights I can spend not working, I try to reconnect with friends and family. So, somewhere in my long agenda, ASW has fallen down my list of priorities.
However, today, with a day off thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr., I am going to actually provide an update of my life as a teacher! More to come soon (hopefully), but for now, I’ll try to summarize my life as teacher.
Warning: I’m going to treat this post like I treat many of the PowerPoints I force my students to endure. It will be randomly injected with pictures of animals…. I’m not really sure why, but there it is.
Civics: My semester teaching Civics did not go at all as I expected. Part of that was that Mumford had two complete schedule change-ups, and about one-third of my students came into my class at the end of November. I tried to compensate for it, but then threw up my hands and decided to just move on as planned and not give a final.
Following along with the election was especially challenging for me. Most of my students come from communities of strong Democratic voters. And while I identify as an Independent Moderate Liberal, I refused to tell my students what my political views were. My job as their teacher was to help them recognize both sides in every argument.
Easier said than done.
Many of them refused to even recognize the Republican position on the issues I presented and made their political preferences based on racial lines. Trying to build their critical thinking skills has become one of my main missions since I made this realization, and we spent the next unit (3.5 weeks) on political ideologies and why people tend to believe what they do.
At the beginning of the unit, I had them take a political ideology quiz. I scored their conservative and liberal views and held onto the results until the unit was over. Many of them have very conservative views when it comes to the economy, gun control, and the military.
So, score one victory for Ms. Bacero there.
I can’t develop their critical thinking skills overnight, but at least they have more of an open mind than they did before. And by the way they were talking about Obama and Romney during October, I’ll take whatever kind of victory I can get.
US History: In the beginning of December I was assigned an extra section of US History. The 9th grade US History teachers have been a little inconsistent here. One teacher was hired late (October) while another left the Mumford staff, leaving those sections with a long-term substitute for two months.We’re currently finishing up our unit on the Second Industrial Revolution and the Gilded Age. They’re starting to get the hang of it, and they seemed into watching episodes here and there of “The Men Who Built America.”
I’ve also tried to make more of an effort to using Primary Sources in the classroom. The kids connect best to the material when they can connect with certain individuals from an era and think of it best as a story. To accomplish this I’ve been using Voice’s of a People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. At the same time, I’ve been trying to improve their reading comprehension, so I edit the pieces down, number the paragraphs, and their assignment is to look up and define two words they they don’t know or are unclear about in the paragraph and then summarize the paragraph’s main idea in one sentence.
Again, it’s an uphill battle.
I think that’s good enough for now. I’m planning for a trip to visit the Proton in Washington D.C. in April. It’ll be a true little SPARTANS reunion at last. However, don’t think that’ll be the last of me until then. I’m going to try and update at least two times before then. Who knows? Maybe three times! I could be ambitious.