Facing History and Ourselves – probably my favorite PD organization – did a nice little piece on the English class I’m teaching on their website today:
The course started with a six-week unit called “You and I” that examined the notion of identity, exploring questions like Who am I? How am I perceived by others? How do both of these perceptions impact my choices? Next up was a six-week unit called “Us and Them,” which looked at issues of difference and incorporated Facing History resources on membership and society. In this unit, the students explored the history of the Weimar Republic as a way to set the stage for reading All Quiet on the Western Front. The course will end this spring with a unit called “The Meaning of Life.” It may be a lofty title for a seven-week unit, but it gets right to the heart of what the students consider – that meaning in life often comes from interacting with others, that each of us has causes and people that are of life and death importance to us, and that other perspectives can offer guidance for our own lives.
While the focus of the piece is Common Core, I think the key is that it captures how great classes that focus on students as people can also serve the demands of the Common Core:
The backbone of the course is a solid syllabus of readings and assignments that have the students writing and reading personal narratives from multiple perspectives, researching, constructing effective arguments, and critically analyzing complex texts across a range of types and disciplines. As a result, the students are meeting the Common Core State Standards through a deep investigation of nonfiction, fiction, and essential questions about human nature.
4 thoughts on “Facing History Features My Class”
I am so heartened by the units you are teaching. As far as I know, there are no test preparation strategies (please don’t let that be known by Pearson!) for empathy. And yet, true learning is happening on such a deep level in your classes.
Just wrote a blog about empathy: http://blog.schoolclimate.org/index.php/climate/more/lets_mandate_this_school_uniform_to_improve_school_climate
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Yes, it is not either-or. We can do both: teach the skills and engage the mind/heart/spirit. If teachers are _not_ asking students to reflect on their lives and the meanings of them, then we model a smallness and timidity that students will have to work hard to rise above. I love what you’re teaching. Keep up the good work.
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