On a Roll

I was given the green light to plan for the English III class in February. In true Chili form, I panicked for a few minutes, thinking that I would never be able to pull together a plan for an entire class in less than two weeks. Then, in true Chili form, I repackaged my shit and got to work.

Sometimes, having more freedom actually makes planning more complicated; I really think that, though we love our freedoms, we desperately need limits – boundaries, walls, rules, whatever – to work within and give us structure. That Carrie wants CHS to base its work for a school year around a central theme actually makes my work easier; I have a starting point that I can anchor my entire lesson plan to, but I still have the freedom to decide how I’m going to investigate that theme – and how I’m going to present the concepts and skills – to my students.

Since our theme this year is tolerance and acceptance (hello? Have you MET me?! I can SO work with that), I popped open an online observances calendar and planned out the entire semester. I already knew that February is Black History Month and that March is Women’s History Month. My quick-and-dirty online research revealed that April is Genocide Remembrance Month, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and June is Gay Pride Month. PERFECT! The semester’s big ideas are covered!

For February, I think our main text should be The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I’ll probably show Mississippi Burning and we’ll read some primary documents from the era with a special focus on Letter form a Birmingham Jail. We’ll focus mostly on the Civil Rights Era just because that’s what I’m most familiar with and, since I don’t have a lot of time to do any brushing up on any other time period, I’m sticking with what I already know.  For as much as I’d LOVE to teach some literature from the Reconstruction era, I just don’t have the time to reacquaint myself with the authors of that time period.

So I’m asking you again, Dear Readers, to fill in your suggestions for my themes.  I’ve got some ideas for what I’d like to plug into my months, but I also know that I’m limited by my own experiences.  I’ve come to rely on you and your expertise to keep me from being too narrow, so do your magic, my friends; I await your wisdom!



Filed under colleagues, compassion and cooperation, critical thinking, I love my job, lesson planning, Literature, Questions, reading, Teaching, The Job

8 responses to “On a Roll

  1. Zee

    The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman for Women’s History Month. It’s a short story but my seniors loved it. It could also be used for Mental Health but I think it fits better in with Women’s History. It can be found on Project Gutenberg.

  2. Darci

    no suggestions but really look forward to seeing how this grows.

    As I am trying to play catch up with a class I have taken over mid-year, I am so very overwhelmed, that I appreciate your initial stalling.

  3. Is English III the same as the seniors? Or, what level is it? Anyway — Genocide Remembrance Month would lend itself to any of the Holocaust-themed lit that’s been suggested, and Kite Runner too. One of the big plot points the book focuses is on is the friendship between the two main characters, even though they are different from one another (Pashtun vs. Hazara…Hazaras are treated very horribly throughout the book).

  4. Slaughterhouse Five comes to mind for genocide awareness, or the Diary of Anne Frank. For black history month, it has been so “overdone” you want to find a new angle or at least a different book, I think. Rosa Parks, Roots, and Ruby Bridges are old news. There’s got to be something out there

    For Mental Illness, there’s a new book out called “Weekends at Bellevue” that sounds really great, but I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know if it’s appropriate.

  5. Zee, I wasn’t sure WHERE to put The Yellow Wallpaper. It’s been so long since I’ve read it that I’m not confident I’d know in which theme it would be most effective.

    Darci, if anything comes to you, please let me know. I mean it; I’m looking for all the help I can get.

    Midwest Teacher, I thought about the Kite Runner – I’d like to be able to put it SOMEWHERE because it really is a glorious book – but I’m not convinced it would fit in the genocide awareness theme. I’m also thinking about putting together a book club that I’ll open to the whole school (what am I, CRAZY?!); maybe I’ll start with The Kite Runner

    LaniePainie, I’ve got a full-blown post composing in my head about the idea of “the classics” and the canon and the books that we keep coming back to over and over (for good or for ill). Your comment about The Autobiography being “overdone” is something that I’ve been thinking about since I chose it. While I don’t disagree that it’s not a big surprise in the context of the Black History Month theme, I contend that something can’t be overdone if none of the students has read it yet, and I’m laying REALLY good odds that none of my kids has read it yet…

  6. magicalmysticalteacher

    Why not read A Thousand Splendid Suns for Women’s History Month?

  7. magicalmysticalteacher

    Ugh! I don’t know why everything appeared in italics after the title!

  8. MMT, it showed up in italics because instead of putting an “i” in the closing italics, you put an “a.” Simple typo; I’ve fixed it.

    To answer your question, though, I haven’t considered putting it on the list because I’ve not yet read it. I’ve got it on audiobook, but I think I’ve only made it past the first three and a half chapters, and only then a long while ago. If you recommend it highly enough, though, I’ll put it on my syllabus. I have no problem introducing works I’ve not yet read; I think it’s a good way to model for the students how experienced readers approach new material.

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