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The past two days we have observed two units: vocabulary and short stories. In vocabulary on Thursday, the students were shown 10 sentences one at a time, and they were called on to come up and underline the context clue. This vocabulary lesson wasn't very engaging, and I don't think the students were doing what they teacher asked (find the context clue) until they were called on by the teacher. Vocabulary is a difficult subject to make interactive, but one idea I had was to make the sentences entertaining for the students, or at least relevant, so that they would want to pay attention. For example, having sentences with the teacher or other teachers from the school as subjects, or sentences about Justin Beiber would surely gain the attention of the students. The next day for the vocabulary quiz, the fill in the blank portion did use sentences that were relevant, which was good. Along with the quiz, on Friday the students had their weekly vocabulary assignment due. In every class, at least 5 students had not completed the assignment so they were allowed to go in the hall and finish while the others went over the answer. The high numbers of incompletions made me wonder what the penalty was for incomplete assignments. I got the feeling it wasn't that harsh since so many students hadn't done it.

For short stories, the students have a list of short stories they can read from their literature anthology books, and they need to complete one page in their packet for each story. Throughout the day I got to read a few different short stories, and the stories were pretty good. A few of them were multicultural, which was great, and one was so complicated that I had to think pretty hard about it to figure it out. As far as the packet, the worksheets were very traditional, list the main characters, explain the conflict, summarize the book, etc. The teacher's objective for this unit was to understand the basic elements of a short story, and I'm sure this lesson aligned with these objectives; although I'm not sure it was meaningful for the students because they were simply going through the actions of completing the worksheet. I'm not sure how I would teach this standard. Maybe combine it with a writing lesson and have students write their own short stories, being sure to include all the important elements.

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I have also watched some pretty dry vocabulary lesson, and I agree that it is a little tough to make it interesting. I LOVE your idea of making the sentences more relevant/interesting. I think the only way it could get more interesting is if Justin Bieber himself walked in and underlined the context clue. :) I also think that vocab lessons could lead to writing in which the students write short stories that include clues that lead the reader to the vocab word. Just a silly thought. I am betting that the punishments for late work aren't too harsh and I am wondering why that is. Could it actually be because of the high number of incomplete assignments? That is a vicious cycle.

Again, I love your take on the short story lesson. It doesn't take a whole lot of tweeking to turn something into a meaningful lesson, one just needs to put the time in. I think that students can learn a lot from the stories in the anthology but there comes a point where the students need to be given an opportunity to practice and show their skills in a more meaningful way. It is almost like teachers fall into this big black literature anthology holes and they can't see the light anymore, which is full of authentic learning. That is a bit dramatic but I think "big black hole" is a fair metaphor for the lit anthologies with accompanying worksheets.

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This page contains a single entry by hoelz006 published on December 11, 2010 6:16 PM.

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