Day 19: Best Ever... #aprilblogaday

Prompt: Best lesson ever? Best unit? Best curriculum? What made it the best?

My first five years teaching I worked in a Transfer high school. In NYC these alternative high schools fell under the then Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation. One of the many advantages for students is that they can earn credits at a faster pace to make up for time lost. This means three marking periods/report cards per year. This also means I was creating two new classes every trimester. That is 6 a year with little repetition, especially in the first couple years. Students may need 6 English credits which means they take your class all year long. (Small schools, only 2 ELA teachers). I wrote a lot of units of study. I got fast and efficient. This also allowed me the privilege of trying new things all the time. 

While I think my strength is the design and implementation of project based learning especially capstone or culminating portfolio work. That said, I have always enjoyed the writing piece more than the reading piece. Yes, yes. Need for both. Yada, Yada, Yada. I like writing. (Clearly, Meredith.) My favorite unit, a literary unit on journey myths. THINK: The Wizard of Oz, Into The Wild, and my favorite Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos. Tied to a study of the Hero's Journey my students dive into vivid fiction but also amazing non fiction, memoir being my favorite, and explore themes around having to leave where you are from in order to truly discover who you are and what is important to you. There was also much talk of big ideas like values and family.  The Gantos book was often used in the infamous critical lens essay on the ELA Regents exam each year (before CCLS revised the role of writing about literature in our English classes). In the end my students were always able to make connections to their own journeys of self-discovery and personal evolution.  


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