The Early College High School
Some background: Students make a choice to come to our school. They often leave behind most of their friends who go to our "traditional" high schools. These students come to our school knowing they can achieve an Associate's Degree by the time they graduate and are often in their Junior year at our University when they graduate. It is challenging and they must give up lots of things. We don't offer sports (just intramurals) or marching band or a theater program. As such, they can decide to return to their regular neighborhood high school at any time. It is my job to make them feel secure, happy, and challenged as freshmen.
With that in mind, I had some mini-therapy sessions this week. We talked about what was stressing them out. Mostly, it is getting used to homework every night and keeping up with their agenda. Here's the great part: we also talked about what they liked about the school so far. The second list far outweighed the first. They mentioned the food, the atmosphere, the academics, no bullying, helpful upper classmen, and the teachers. Now, if I can just teach them how to do a concise summary of a short story, all will be well.
This exercise is one of the ones in the Shakespeare Set Free series. I used the same method with the story, The Cask of Amontillado. Here is what I did:
1. I had the students view a promptbook tutorial that I found on youtube and complete a WSQ (WSQ is an acronym for Watch Summarize and Question that I have adapted from Crystal Kirch). I also used the example from the SSF book and some images from the SSF jump drive.
2. I gave each student one page of the story. I enlarged it to about 18pt and increased the margin to about 3".
3. Students were instructed to cut at least 1/3 of their page. This makes them close read the selection and decide what is the most important on the page.
4. Students then decided how to move their characters onstage. They had to decide where the character was at the beginning, where they moved, and where they were at the end of the page.
5. Students added tone for any words that were spoken. They had to be as specific as possible.
Are you seeing what I'm doing....it's called sneaky close reading!
6. Students then added any small movements, props, and pauses.
Here is a great example:
This is the kind of close reading I had to BEG my AP kids to do when I had AP Lit. I was really happy with the results.
There are still some challenges that I am finding with my freshman. I am trying desperately to teach them how to do a great summary of a short story. We are getting there slowly but surely. It is tough though. I am also trying to work on their levels of questions that they write. They are so used to writing low level questions.
This week we are reading The Scarlet Ibis and The Most Dangerous Game. I love giving them disturbing short stories (insert evil laugh).
Hope everyone has a great week getting ready for school to start!
Blessed to be Teaching!