by Sean Wheeler
"As for the curriculum requirement, I teach the standards. As Language Arts teachers, we are lucky enough to have all of our standards assess skills over content. Nowhere does it say that we have to read "Romeo and Juliet" in the standards. They do say that our students need to be able to recognize plot structure, character, setting, and other conventions of literature. Nobody tells me how to teach those things, or even what content I need to use to teach those things, I'm only required to make sure that students know those things. With that mission as a background, I work really hard to design lessons that are based on what skills my students need instead of what content I think they should be exposed to. I've found that teaching students about irony is much better when I use a Youtube video of Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner (What Wile. E Coyote expects to happen vs. what actually happens) than when I taught it using something like Chopin's "The Story of an Hour". At the end of the day, the stupid tests assess whether or not my students learned what irony was and not what story was used to teach it to them. (btw - the Looney Tunes lesson only uses a video projector, one computer, and the internet. It could also be taught using only a dvd player and a Looney Toons dvd. Super lo-tech.) Does this sometimes bring me into conflict with other department members who feel that we should be teaching certain stories and books? You bet."
"Online forums can't replace the classroom by any means. But they do provide a place where teaching and learning happens in a much more conversational climate. You'd be amazed at how much writing I get from the quiet kid in the back of the class that doesn't ever say anything. You'd be happy to see that the kids that blurt out responses without much consideration are finally able to consider what they write before they write it and to revise their thinking as they learn.