I'd like to know what you are doing differently next year. Here is what I am working on:
I am changing the amount and depth of my homework. I currently ask critical thinking questions for each section straight from our newer textbook. I am modifying that to essential questions on themes with the expectation that they will provide students with a deeper understanding of the big issues instead of content specific questions.
I am modifying my cell phone policy to be more flexible. Too many students are playing "Words with Friends", instead of engaging with the materials. By the same token there will be days when we are using them. I think I have cheating on a test, but can't be sure.
I need to work on kids focusing on what we are doing. They aren't discipline problems, but they just aren't taking notes or working on what we are working on. I don't give out a lot of worksheets. I can't explain it. Engaging more kids may be the best way to explain it.
I am looking to connect with other schools around the country and hopefully the world. I also am looking into schoology.com. I like the Facebook feel which I think the students will love. Anyone use this site already? I was considering Edmodo as well, which I see has a group on this Ning, but I think that Schoology has more to offer. I like that you can create online quizzes, and it has Google Docs integration. I want the students to take more ownership of their education and collaborate virtually.
Thanks Ken. I had signed up for epals in 2009 and never took the time to dive right into it. I am going to revisit the site this year.
I just read your post about what you are going to do differently it sounds much like my plan (although I didn't post it) I am going to take a stab at the ISN and really am going to try a more hands on, inquiry based lessons. I recently read Ron Clark's End of Molasses Classes and I am inspired to be more enthusiastic and really focus on getting the students excited about learning!
I am going to be reorganizing the curriculum in some of my classes. This is going to be the first year the freshmen are divided up into Honors and College Prep, so I need to differentiate between the two and find ways to challenge the honors students more. In addition, I'm going to expand the curriculum so it is actual a World History class, and not a Western Civilization class (like it's been taught for the past several years). A large part of this is brushing up and teaching myself more about Asian and African history, so much of my summer is going to be spent reading and finding new materials.
The other class I teach is "America and the World during the 19th Century." The course actually starts in the late 1700s with the American and French Revolutions, and goes until the end of the 19th century. The goal of the course was to connect American history to what was occurring on a global scale, but sometimes that is difficult. The other teacher of the course is dividing up the year into half US half world, but I am going to reorganize the curriculum so it is more thematic and connects on that global level (I hope).
I also want to find new ways to get students engaged in the material. I'm not sure if that means breaking the class up, so it is always moving, or having a major theme or question for each day. I need to incorporate more technology, especially since that has not been my strong point in the past.
In addition, one of my colleagues and I are reworking the research paper assignment for the freshmen. I've taught the paper for two years, and it takes away a lot of time from the curriculum, so we are looking to streamline it, and also determine what skills students should know entering the 9th grade, and work with the rest of the department on developing those skills.
Finally, I'm hoping to reorganize my classroom so it better meets my organizational needs and the educational needs of my students.
Hi James - I teach both Honors and College Prep 10th grade World Civ (non-Western). You're welcome to check out my class website. I have lots of resources that may be helpful. They aren't always labeled Honors/CP, but you may be able to get the idea. Also, especially for Honors, check out the Choices Program (Brown University) for excellent resources.
Less emphasis on the textbook's structuring of events in American history. We use Enduring Vision for APUSH and while I like its depth, sometimes it gets pretty tough for many students to keep up. Hippocampus.com has impressed me as an online alternative for students who struggle with the textbook.
I too am trying interactive notebooks (thanks for all the insight everyone!)
I'm trying to figure out how to focus on content without my students losing the quality of work - I find that if I push content, they don't always turn in organized, neat, or creative work, but if I push organization and neatness, they go back to basics and there's no critical thinking? Any insights?