Now that year #4 is over, it is time to revisit what I wrote in this space in August of 2008 about what I wished to accomplish during the course of the school year. I'm going to deal with each goal individually.
Goals for English 1 CP
1). Improve Poetry instruction by making it more meaningful and accessible.
-- This still needs improvement. We have a new textbook for the upcoming 2009-2010 school year, however, and I've spent some time flipping through Classroom Notes Plus and other National Council of Teachers of English publications, so perhaps this is the year for a major jump.
2). Engage students in more meaningful discussions relating readings to their modern lives.
-- This is difficult to gauge, but I think I did a better job relating readings to what is going with my students in their own lives.
3). Teach The Odyssey in a more cohesive, understandable fashion.
-- I had a student teacher teach the Odyssey, so I will have to revisit this one.
4). Introduce some research element to the Comparative Mythology unit.
-- Same as the previous goal.
5). Spend more time discussing modern myths.
-- Again, same as the previous two. If I were an outsider reading this, I would get the impression that Mr. McGuirk just passed off his weakest units to a student teacher. Fair assumption, but the timing just worked out that way.
6). Flesh out the lessons on my two favorite stories, "The Most Dangerous Game," and "The Birds," and try to really help the students to understand the moods of the stories.
-- This absolutely worked. I did a much better job teaching these two stories this year and I think that everyone benefited.
Goals for English 3 CP
1). Read sections of The Prince during MacBeth and use them to analyze the characters of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth.
-- I did not do this. I think I still do not feel that comfortable with The Prince. I may put this on the back burner for another year or so. My MacBeth priorities have shifted for this upcoming year.
2). Find a better way to teach vocabulary.
-- I ended up teaching vocabulary exactly as I had in the past. This is still something that needs more work. I've been reading up on it, though.
3). Create more interesting lessons around The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron.
-- Both of these were vastly more interesting this year, but there is still room to grow. The Canterbury Tales in particular can be made much more interesting by focusing on how they are examples of social criticism.
4). Find a research paper topic that is interesting and challenging.
-- This was much better. Students wrote about what it meant to be heroic and I had them submit multiple drafts throughout the year. This was still not the success I wanted, but it was much, much better than previous years.
5). Find a year-long project idea that encourages reflection without being overly confusing or cumbersome.
-- This worked out nicely because I tied it in with the research paper. Fortunately, Dumont High School is moving to midterm exams for next year. Final projects will not exist next year.
Goals for SRA English
1). Differentiate assignments better based upon a particular student's needs.
-- I would say that this worked. All of my SRA students passed the HSPA test.
2). Stay organized with all of the paperwork needed to run this class.
-- I was much better with this during the past year. I rarely had to make any last minute photocopies, which was encouraging.
3). Continue to positively reinforce all student work.
-- Again, every student made it through the HSPA, so I would hope that is an indication that I am doing something right.
1). Create better methods to teach and evaluate vocabulary skills.
-- This still needs work.
2). Encourage students to become more proficient at answering open-ended questions.
-- This is difficult to gauge. It is especially important for juniors to do well in this area, as their HSPA scores often ride on open-ended questions. Of the 44 juniors I had take the HSPA, only 2 did not pass. That is a pretty good percentage. I recognize that they have to pass it on their own, but I at least tried to make them comfortable with the types of questions that they would see.
3). Do not leave so much work for the end of each marking period or for the end of the school year.
-- Failure. Always tons to do at the end. Better than last year, but again needs more work.
Next year's goals coming soon.