A great thing about talking to another English teacher is the ideas we generate when we're together. I suppose other people talk about work when they meet up with someone in a similar field, and I wonder if other doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, etc. talk about their jobs with as much enthusiasm as teachers do. At least the teachers I hang out with. Or maybe it's just me, and they're all humoring me.
Anyway, when I met E for coffee yesterday, we came up with some great brainstorms. I've been complaining loudly lately to anyone who will listen about the horrible cloud high stakes tests have created over my head--and the head of any teacher who likes to ENGAGE students' minds and interests, and not just "teach to the test." Complaining about how I don't want to just push multiple choice tests and worksheets at my students but get them to think creatively and write creatively and interact with literature instead of just spew content and analysis. But the MAN keeps saying we need to prepare students for the ACT and nothing else matters (we've even been told students don't need to care about what they write because they won't ever write after high school) (can that be true? I'm not naive enough to think all my students will WRITE all the time, but surely everyone writes, in some fashion, right?)
E gave me some great ideas I can't wait to try to get my students to produce meaningful, authentic writing--writing that has a purpose and an audience.
1) for my Creative Writing Club kids: have a writing marathon some Saturday, where we travel to 3-4 local spots, sit and write in each one for 30 minutes, then get together at the end to share what we've written. Pick one to polish and publish (local newspaper, maybe?)
2) do a collaborative project with my Creative Writing (class) students and her 7-8 grade writing students. Pair them up and have them write a poem together; I will try to visit her classroom and she will try to visit mine; we may try to get the students together to share at the end.
3) send my English 10 students out into the community to get corporate sponsors so we can raise money to publish a class anthology, for which each student will submit one piece of writing.
Are these not great ideas? I can't wait to put them into action.