Teaching High School English

So much of my page is about fitness I needed my own little section for my first true passions…reading and teaching.

I spent my entire childhood and adolescence reading. Well, okay, not my ENTIRE life, but besides basketball and the occasional sleep over with friends, I had my nose in a book. I got this trait from my mom and her 1o brothers and sisters, all of which who read on a daily basis. I loved, and still love, spending hours in book stores finding new books to read and sitting with a cup of coffee enjoying the magical words on a page.

I teach 11th and 12th grade English and absolutely LOVE it. I love love love having the older kids. I connect with them and really try to engage them. I always have said, if you don’t like reading it is because of WHAT you are reading. My goal for each school year is to coral students onto the “I like reading” or “I don’t mind reading” side vs. the “I hate to read”

After several years of experimenting with what types of novels students enjoy, I have found that they like novels they can relate to (DUHHH) and novels that surprise them. I change it up A LOT with my seniors. For example, this year we read Lone Survivor and Misery, two novels that are almost unheard of in a high school English classroom. Guess what? THEY LOVED THEM. We did A LOT with theme, characterization, point-of-view, suspense…the typical stuff…but we also wrote a lot in journals, compared these texts with poems, psychological films and documents, and studied the historical background for each setting.

I think the problem a lot of teachers fall victim of is repeating the same curriculum year after year. Before you know it, it has been 20 years and you are still teaching the same thing! I make it a goal to switch up my curriculum each and every year…not the entire thing, but I always include 1 new text. It is a never ending cycle figuring out which texts are the best each year.

Classics are AMAZING…I love love love The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Huck Finn, etc. but there is nothing wrong with introducing some modern books as well. When choosing a modern book, I make sure the vocabulary words are at or above grade level and determine if this is a book that I can spin and use with a variety of avenues in English Literature.

I have more flexibility with the seniors and definitely include a lot of college and career readiness such as preparing cover letters and resumes, practicing interview skills, writing their college essays, etc. With the 11th graders I am more focused towards the regents, or now, the Common Core Exam. Am I supposed to teach to the test? No. Do I do test review each day? No. BUT, I do use the exam as my curriculum guideline along with the Common Core Standards. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be giving my kids the best opportunity possible to do well.

I am a young (27-years-old) teacher and love what I do. I am always looking to make connections with fellow teachers and collaborate! Please feel free to e-mail me at liveteachfit@gmail.com

–Mrs. Marshall

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