Teacher-y Books

My copies of Jim Burke’s The Teacher’s Daybook, 2007-2008 and Understanding by Design, 2nd Ed. by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe arrived from Amazon today, and I’ve already begun working out my calendar in the daybook.  If you haven’t used this planner before, you might want to check it out, provided that your school doesn’t give you a planner already.  It’s a really good planner, with plenty of space for reflection and goal-setting.  I need to use those features more than I do!

I am familiar with UbD, but I wanted to read the book.  I must be crazy picking up more professional development to read when I still need to finish Jim Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion as well as read and/or re-read the summer reading assigned to my students, especially in light of the fact that the last Harry Potter book is due this summer.

Does your school have a summer reading program?  Our students read three books (four if they are in AP Language or AP Literature).  Students are assessed on two of the books during the first weeks of school without prior discussion.  What I usually do is give students an objective test on one book and have them write a literary analysis of the other.  The third book we discuss in class prior to assessment.  If you would like to take a peek at what our school’s summer reading program is like, you can download the brochure (pdf).

The latest version of my schedule is as follows:

  • 9th College Prep. Grammar, Composition, and Literature
  • 9th College Prep. II Grammar, Composition, and Literature
  • 10th College Prep. II Writing Seminar
  • 11th College Prep. British Literature and Composition
  • 12th College Prep. Short Story and Composition (1st Sem.)/Drama and Composition (2nd Sem.)

Those of you in public school are probably putting your eyeballs back in right about now.  Yes, I have five different preps.  I had four different preps/four different classes my first year, and in each subsequent year I have had five preps/five classes.  Our schedule is a modified block schedule.  Students take eight classes each semester.  Students have six classes a day, two of which are double-blocks, four days a week.  All eight classes meet on Fridays.  Classes meet four days a week — one double block and three single blocks, with one day off each week.  It took me a solid year to learn the schedule, but some of my colleagues have been teaching at my school longer and still don’t.  What this odd schedule means is that some days are really heavy teaching days for me.  This year, Mondays were hard because I had two double-blocks and two single-blocks to teach out of the six-block schedule.  Thursdays, on the other hand, were light, as I had one double-block and two single-blocks.  After the seniors left (their classes ended earlier than those of the rest of the school), I had only one double-block and one single-block on Thursdays.  Depending on the day, I have a lot of time to plan and grade when compared to the average public school schedule.  Still, I would be lying if I said I didn’t work really hard — much harder than I’ve worked anywhere else.

[tags]professional development, English, teaching, professional reading, schedule[/tags]

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9 thoughts on “Teacher-y Books

  1. In college, we used to call ETC "Chicken Soup for the English Teacher's Soul." LOL But, it has been immensely useful in my teaching, especially as I've gained more experience. I've never used Burke's Daybook, though. I'll have to check it out.

    As for UbD, I have the book and did a few workshops on it but it's time-consuming and I've never had the time nor the space to just sit and hammer out a UbD plan… I look forward to hearing your thoughts on UbD.

  2. Dana-

    I am working on using UbD as my unit design plan, but am struggling with it at the moment. Keep us posted!

  3. I picked up UbD at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago; night before last I got A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works by Robert Marzano and some others. I was quite pleased with some of his other "That Works" books, but the one I finally bought seemed to be the most practically applicable for me personally (I recommended What Works In Schools for our professional library at the high school). I also really liked Losing My Faculties, by Brendan Halpin, and The Right to Learn, by Linda Darling-Hammond. We had ETC as a work-book back in uni, and of all my texts, it's probably the one that I've enjoyed the most and found most useful.

    Through the Carnival of Education, I ran across a post by aquiram (aquiam.wordpress.com) talking about the possibility of online collaboration, which I support wholeheartedly. I think it's mostly because although as a n00b I have little to offer, I have tons to gain. I am not proud and quite willing to beg for help! ;)

    Our school does NOT have a summer reading program, except for honors courses.

    Any Potter predictions?

  4. Thanks for this post! I've been meaning to try the Teacher's Daybook. I'm going to get some new teacher books soon to help with summer planning, and I think I'll add that one to the list.

    As for UbD…the entire faculty of my school received the book yesterday, along with some tedious yet very brief training. I hope we'll be getting more, because I'm never going to end up using it solo with no support.

  5. Our school went to a planner on the computer, which is great, because they only check every 6 weeks if it's actually up to date! I am a procrastinator

    But I do have to list all the "skills" I will be teaching each lesson. I hate teaching by the numbers.

    I'll be changing depts so my life should simplify. I feel your pain, my first year at public school we did a modified block and I had 5 preps!

  6. First, WOW, my school does not check our planners or lessons. Thank goodness. We function considerably well without being micromanaged.

    I got that Jim Burke's dayplanner when I was a student teacher. It's groovy IF you use all it's features. What I found was that there was a lot of extra info I didn't use. Funny enough, I went to Staples today to buy a new 2007/2008 day planner. This isn't for lessons as much as just key dates, meetings, etc. I'm heading up a new small school and my calendar skills are going to need to improve if I am going to remember all the crap I need to do :)

    And oh, I'm at a year round school, so my new year is July 2nd, whoa momma.

  7. Hi all, if you go fishing through older posts, you'll find Jay McTighe came to our school and did some professional development last year, and I was really impressed. I have a basic understanding of UbB, but I bought the book so that I could plan this summer.

    Also, it looks like I spread some confusion. Neither my administrators nor my department head checks my planner or lessons. I do keep them to keep myself sane, but we are not required to submit plans. I did work somewhere once where I had to submit my weekly lessons to the curriculum supervisor, but I doubt she ever looked at them. When I was student teaching, my supervising teacher had to submit plans to her department head. I am constantly talking with my department head about my practices, though, so she might as well have my plans!

    And yes, Dana, I do have some HP predictions. Surf around my HP blog: <a href="http://pensieve.danahuff.net/.” target=”_blank”>http://pensieve.danahuff.net/.

  8. I have Marzano's Transforming Classroom Grading and I found it incredibly useful. Unfortunately, it is only ultimately useful if implemented on a school-wise basis. I gleaned some great ideas, however, and I've tried to incorporate them into my own assessment.

  9. I would like to start a summer reading program at my school. I was trying to look at your school's brochure, but the link didn't produce the page. Could you email it to me or re-post it if possible?

    Thanks :)

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