Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Speaking of Inaccessible...

Today, I removed myself from the confines and distractions of my living room (normal work space) and hiked up to the library to work on annotating the MA Curriculum Frameworks. Before today, I have been making pencil notes in the margins for each of the Strands. Today I created a (rather) kick-ass template to document my curriculum notes and lesson plan ideas, which you can see here:So, as I'm working through this, I keep coming across pieces of information that are difficult to decipher. An example:
5.23 Identify simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences. Forgive me, but I do not know how to do that... Another example:
5.24 Identify nominalized, adjectivial, and adverbial clauses.
5.25 Recognize the functions of verbals: participles, gerunds, and infinitives.

Now I am confident that I will be able to figure these things out (and they aren't all a complete mystery - I can identify a gerund in most circumstances), but how will I present this to the class without boring them to tears? With some help from the spouse, I have settled on two possible approaches. The first option is to divide the class into small groups, assigning each group one of these to research thoroughly, once they can tell you as much about a gerund as they can about last night's episode of Gossip Girl, then they will teach the class through some creative act (i.e. a skit). The second option, though really it's just part two of this lesson, is to have students bring in the lyrics to a favorite song or, if they prefer, a poem. In small groups, we will identify all of these things in their selected text and consider (in writing) the impact and function of said items. 

Now, there are also strands like:
5.30 Identify, describe, and apply all conventions of standard English. 
I don't want to be nit picky, but this seems vague. Maybe I've spent too much time with these today or maybe I'm approaching bitter, but this reads like a cop out. Aren't there hundreds of books written on this very thing? I understand that it is challenging to layout everything students should learn in a mere 130 pages, but there are some glaring issues here:
  • The assumptions made about the prior knowledge that the teacher should have. (There are many readings referenced that I have never read nor heard of, in some cases. I am a more-rounded-than-average reader, or I thought I was.)
  • The belief that being able to identify a gerund is a crucial component to a rounded English Language Arts education. 
  • The language used to describe some of these Strands is often too vague to hammer down or too dense to crack open. (In defense of the Department of Education, I should also say that many of these are well worded and have explicative - if boring - examples of classroom activities.) 
My next step, after slogging through the second half of the curriculum, will be to find all the ways that these strands can overlap and to find engaging ways to teach them. I'll be digging my smoke and mirrors out of storage tomorrow. 

1 comment:

david santos said...
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