Practices in Pedagogy

"To Teach is to Learn Twice Over"

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EDU 4899- Reflection on Vocation

As part of the requirements for my EDU 4899 course, I was tasked to read Drs. Kline and Hartnett’s article: Preventing the Fall from the ‘Call to Teach’: Rethinking Vocation.  See the link below:

To describe my experience simply: it was incredibly bittersweet.

On one hand, I am now incredibly concerned I will push myself too hard, too fast, and expect too much of myself… only to fall into a state of complete burnout. I worry that I will be part of the staggering 45% of beginning secondary teachers that leave the profession in their first three years (Journal of Education and Christian Belief, 9). I can easily see myself getting caught up in the chaos of high expectations, thereby becoming increasingly overwhelmed by trying to be at my very best every single day of the week. I can easily see myself setting lofty, borderline unreachable goals, thereby making it impossible to ever truly be satisfied with my work. I can see myself volunteering to coach, advise a club, attend extra-curricular events, and join several school committees– all in the pursuit of more effectively serving my students and improving myself as an educator– yet falling under the colossal burden of trying to do too much. I can easily see all of this occurring, which scares me. Hartnett and Kline point to “discipline problems, reality shock, physical exhaustion, and lack of adequate salary” (9-10) as the reasons most new teachers quit the profession, which all seem like very real, very probable possibilities.

On the other hand, reading this article ironically makes me excited to begin my career. I am obviously going to respect the startling realities involved in beginning to teach. I will do this by remembering Drs. Hartnett and Kline‘s wise words about “Primary and Secondary callings” (12-13) seen below:

As you can see from the screenshot above, acknowledging the fact that we are called to be servants and worshippers of God first, and teachers second, will aid in the health and satisfaction of young teachers. I can definitely resonate with this notion, and will continually aim to remember this idea as I go into my first year of teaching. But most of all, I am enthusiastic for the work to come as it has been my dream, ever since I was a child, to become a teacher. And now- after 16 years of formal education, hours upon hours of reading and analyzing literature, even more hours writing essays, several internships, countless teacher observations, way too much practice grading papers, weeks spent lesson planning, completing the beastly TPA, and so much more– I have finally achieved my goal! How can I now be excited by this?!? I know it will be difficult, time-consuming, and straining on my heart, but I look forward to the work to come. I look forward to having my own classroom, to assigning my own projects, to grading my own students’ papers. I look forward to the many challenges and lessons to come!


EDU 4250- Pedagogical Reflection

Malcolm Little, known by most as Malcom X, was raised in Harlem. I was raised in the suburbs of Vancouver, WA. Little was often hailed as a “model schoolboy” throughout his early academic years, displaying a wonderful joy and enthusiasm for life. I was a carefree, easygoing troublemaker in my early years. Little was told by a junior high school teacher that he had no chance of becoming a lawyer—a dream of his at the time—because he was black, and black people supposedly “had to be realistic” (49) about their occupational possibilities. I was told that I could one day become an incredible teacher. Little responded to his news—his unfortunate, new knowledge about the realities of life for a young black child—with a tragic plunge into a life ruled by drugs, hustling, gangs, and crime. I responded to the supportive encouragement I received by working tirelessly to improve my intellectual self. Little went to prison; I continued to go to school. While in prison, Little discovered a passionate love for learning and leadership. This new knowledge led to his being freed from prison and eventual rise to prominence among the African American population of the day. One early morning I was frantically woken by my mother and told to pack my things, as we were moving out of our house because my dad had lost it by gambling away all of our money. A couple days later, my mother and father filed for a divorce. This knowledge led me down a path of frustration and self-doubt. Little continued to rise in influence, power, and fame. I began a long period of avoiding my schoolwork, slacking off, and breaking any relational bonds I had at the time. Shortly before his death, Little traveled to Mecca and was immediately touched by a peaceful, humble way of life. In a series of several experiences throughout early high school, I was forever changed by the love and affection of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Little’s anger diminished; my self-confidence returned.

In no way, shape or form, am I suggesting my life should be seen in the same light as the legend of Malcolm X. He was simply a genius, I am but a simple man. He was intellectually gifted, passionate, influential, and a brilliant leader of his people. I have yet to do anything of any real circumstance in this world. My point in the above paragraph is not to advocate for my comparison to the great Malcolm X, but rather to point out how everyone—no matter their background, upbringing, or experiences—undergoes a series of transformations. Jane Roland Martin, author of Educational Metamorphoses: Philosophical Reflections on Identity and Culture, argues these transformations, these small or large educational experiences, are the foundation of our personal, social, and intellectual development. She asserts, “Throughout history and across cultures education… has changed the way we humans walk, talk, dress, behave, view the world, and live our lives. In other words, it has utterly transformed us” (1). Malcolm X experienced four of these transformations; one in his development into a model schoolboy, one as he fell into a criminal life on the streets of Harlem, one in rise to a infamous, influential leader, and finally one in his discovery of a humble, beneficent faith. I experienced several as well, including my life as a young troublemaker, development into a driven student bent on becoming a teacher, fall into shame during my parent’s divorce, and rise to a passionate, confident follower of Christ. According to Martin, education serves as a “powerful maker and shaper of human lives” (2).

As part of Martin’s exploration into how educational metamophoses “make and shape” our lives, she discovers that we must abandon two common assumptions: education resides only within the confines of a school and education necessitates improvement (48). Personally, this first thought is rather significant. Although I am ashamed to admit it, when I used to imagine education, my mind immediately leads to school. However, lately my ignorance on this issue has become quite apparent. My first few weeks in the classroom have served as a constant bombardment as to how my students are not simply blank sheets of paper when they arrive at school each day. Each student comes to school with backpacks filled with cultural backgrounds, identity issues, past experiences (good and bad), personal bias, unique personalities, relational concerns, painful memories, happy memories, emotional inconstancies, and varying socio-economic backgrounds. To assume that these students are only going to learn from what YOU teach them that day is simply ignorant. We as teachers must respect the significant educational experiences that occur outside our classroom. On the second day of my internship, a young female student announced her homosexuality to me during passing time. She then went on to describe how her ex-girlfriend had attempted to commit suicide the previous evening, and how she was leaving school to be with her partner at the hospital. Clearly, this student was learning much more about life from what was occurring outside of my classroom, than inside of it. Citing  argues, “Schools can make people dependent on school without really educating  Somehow my lesson on Sophocles’ character development in Oedipus Rex did not hold a candle next to the raging fire of fear, regret, relationship issues, and identity complexes burning within that student. I walked her down to the counselor’s office to then be picked up and taken to the hospital, and have never regretted my choice. I know that if I had simply understood education as schooling—if I had ignored the true, applicable learning experiences life presents everyday outside of the classroom—I would have failed that student.

The second assumption about education Martin argues must be torn down is that education necessitates improvement. As Malcolm X’s experiences in junior high school with the “realistic” teacher clearly portray, education does not necessarily lead to improvement. By being told he should give up on his dream of becoming a lawyer, by experiencing that painful bout of education, Malcolm X’s life was immediately led down a road paved with pain, crime, and prison. Martin explains it much more clearly: “Malcolm’s metamorphosis into a hustler was not brought about by a wave of a wand or the administration of a drug… it was due to education in the broadest sense of that term… that acknowledges that education can be either educative or miseducative” (49). In similar fashion, learning of my parent’s divorce lead me to a dark place of shame and frustration. Simply put, education cannot only lead to a life enriched, but also a life worsened.

So what does this information mean for teachers? Should these broken assumptions and new ways of thinking undermine our passion and commitment to teach? No. Never. By reflecting on Martin’s ideas, along with our own experiences in the classroom, we must never forget that teaching is a fragile, sacred art. As sculptors carefully, painstakingly form beautiful statues from rocks, so to must teachers sculpt. We, like the sculptors before us, must see our students for the potential they possess. We must see them filled with a potent power to transform, and be willing—in insatiable courage—to support their transformations. With love, affection, understanding, and patience, we must see to it that the transformations we encourage be ones of improvement. With a continually widening perspective, we must see to it that we support our students’ education outside of the classroom. With constant reflection and refined thought on the complexity of students’ identity formation—from gender to ethnicity—we as teachers must always respect our students as individuals, and treat them as such. In all that we do, we must always remember that life is simply made up of a series of educational metamorphoses, and that the decisions we make as educators will undoubtedly affect the lives of our students for years to come.



Martin, Jane R. Educational Metamorphoses: Philosophical Reflections on Identity and Culture. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Print.

Book Review on “The Freedom Writers’ Diary”

The Freedom Writers Diary describes an English teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California who truly experienced the harsh realities of being a new teacher. Erin Gruwell entered a classroom filled with varying cultures, racial slurs, and threats reverberating off the walls. The book discusses the most radical forms of diversity within the classroom, and how difficult a teacher’s position can be amongst learners with cultural, religious, social, and economic differences. Not only did her students refuse to work together, they refused to work at all. Gruwell was forced to adapt her curriculum to accommodate a culturally responsible teaching strategy. In doing so, the teacher created the best possible learning environment for her students. The Freedom Writers Diary is a collection of journal entries written by Gruwell and her students. It is formatted in four sections: freshmen through senior year, and dialogues the events that unfold within the Wilson High School classroom. With an amazing personal commitment, as well as the aid of concerned community members, Gruwell provides her underprivileged students with new books, fresh materials, field trip opportunities, full-time attention, and even guest-speakers of the highest caliber. The book is one of unifying love, redemption, and finding hope in the darkest of times.

I strongly feel this book has universal appeal, for it pertains to real issues and real people. Any high school student can connect to the student writers. High schoolers might not completely understand the harsh realities of gang life in Long Beach, but they can grasp the other conflicts these students are presented with: anger, jealousy, guilt, remorse, and self-loathing. These internal struggles are ripe with universal appeal, for we all experience them at some point in our lives regardless of who we are or where we come from.

Although I would most definitely have to preface a unit focused on this book with a letter home to parents—for the fact that the book deals with very real stories of violence, sexual abuse, and gang life– I strongly feel the benefits far outweigh the consequences. As long as each of our classroom discussions are guided with respect, maturity, and tolerance, I think this book could serve as an amazing basis for a unit in a high school language arts classroom.

Book Review on “A Separate Peace”

In John Knowles’ most famous novel, Gene Forrester returns to his boyhood school, the Devon School, and recalls events that occurred there 15 years ago. In the summer of 1942, he forms a competitive friendship with his roommate, Phineas (Finny), the school’s best athlete. Competition eventually lends itself to jealousy and envy, which in turn leads the two young boys down a dangerous path from which they cannot come back. Knowles explores the evil that resides within the troubled world of adolescence, all the awhile presenting a truly moving narrative about love, friendship, and war—both external and internal.

A Separate Peace is not only an interesting and engaging read, but is perfect to explore in a high school classroom. Knowles’ writes with an easy-going style, yet does not disappoint readers in providing a unique, insightful, and powerfully poignant story. Gene and Phineas are characters who anyone can relate to and learn from. The high school setting is an obviously relevant location for a high school student’s reading. The themes of friendship, betrayal, jealousy, adolescent angst, war (both internal and external), and the quest to find our individual identities all offer so much to the typical high school student. Warren Miller, in his critical essay on the novel, declares, “Mr. Knowles has something to say about youth and war that few contemporary novelists have attempted to say and none has said better. He deals with youth’s special friendships with great delicacy and understanding; what is more, he writes with wit and style” (Miller, 6). Not only is the novel an excellent starter novel for high school students, but it also offers so much in terms of real-life application. Therefore, designing a lesson around Knowles’ novel could be both a wonderful opportunity for close reading practice and an opportunity for students to see fiction’s insatiable power to communicate the truths of our lives better than any other medium.

Reflection on Methods Lab and HOPE Standards

My methods laboratory experience has been a truly educational opportunity. Even going once a week has proved to be fruitful! While reflecting on the Standards of HOPE and how they are being implemented in my methods classroom, I am torn between distinct truths. On one hand, my mentor teacher does a fantastic job of respecting student diversity (Standard H) by utilizing a variety of ethnic authors in our class readings, as well as being careful in leading respectful, tolerant discussions in class. She also practices effective teaching (Standard P) in the sense that she always has a lesson planned and prepared. She is organized and always makes sure to have everything set up for teaching before she actually teaches. My mentor teacher also undoubtedly exemplifies true service in the teaching profession (Standard E) by being a sincere, kind hearted instructor who is constantly seeking to serve her students. However, I strongly feel the curricula she is forced to teach is not nearly as challenging and effective in promoting student engagement (Standard O) as it could potentially be. The school that I intern at has just recently put into motion a district-wide curriculum that, in my opinion, is as restrictive as it is beneficial. The curriculum is comprehensive; therefore, teachers are required to follow unit and lesson plans almost word for word. So even though this has many benefits—consistency in each department, organization across the district, and an easy way to assess each teacher (if his/her class is on track with the curriculum, then he/she is doing well)—I still am struggling with it. I struggle with the fact that the curriculum forces teachers into a box. They are not allowed to take risks, to be inventive, to try things that may not work, or even to be original. Everything is regimented. So when it comes to the standards, I do not feel my methods classroom offers a challenging curricula. I can only hope that with more time, I may see that the benefits of this comprehensive curriculum outweigh the restrictions. However, I must wait and see!

Reinventing Vocabulary Instruction (Bloggary #5)

Vocabulary Instruction Article (Harry Potter)

After reading the article above, I cannot help but express my sincere agreement and conviction for original, engaging vocabulary instruction—such as in the case of utilizing the “Harry Potter” series as an opportunity to explore Latin word roots. As an actual product of such instruction, I can firmly, unequivocally defend the assertion that unique vocabulary instruction does wonders for the growing mind.


Far too often, vocabulary instruction is dry, tedious, and just simply boring. Teachers fall back on rudimentary techniques—lecture, repetition, and more repetition—in order to “teach” vocabulary to their students. I remember one specific teacher from my days in the public school system who attempted, and failed, to teach me vocabulary. Ms. J. (for the purposes of this response, I shall just use an initial) was my fourth grade teacher. Early on in the year, she made it abundantly clear that we were going to leave her class with a much more expansive vocabulary than when we arrived. In order to keep with this bold statement, Ms. J. handed us twenty five long words every Monday morning, encouraged us to study those words every night, and tested us on Friday morning. Yes, Ms. J. did force these words into our minds by posing the threat of failing a test—usually totaling one hundred points—each week. But what Ms. J. failed to do was actually teach us the words. We were never once taught how to learn these words; we were never once given class time to work on our words; we were never once offered an interesting manner by which we could engage with the material; we were not even offered help when we drastically needed it. I tried and tried to teach myself these words, but was mostly unsuccessful. Without any in-class instruction or engaging methods of learning, I was left to fail. I lost confidence in myself as a student, and as a competent person in general. When a student is left without the words to express their feelings or thoughts, he is left with little hope.


However, the following year I was offered a saving grace. Her name was Mrs. D., and because of her unique idea to use Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the classroom, my vocabulary (and academic confidence) was redeemed! After a few weeks into the year, Mrs. D. handed us a pre-test on a list of vocabulary words that all fifth graders should know. The next day she came back to report that many of us had not done as well as she expected. She asked us about our previous instruction, and how we felt about our personal ability to use more academic, longer words. Noticing that many of us were embarrassed to even talk about it, Mrs. D. came up with a plan. For the next three weeks, she took time out of the day to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets aloud in class. During this time, we often stopped when we came to a difficult word (especially the Latin words, which are commonly used as spells in the story), and had a lengthy conversation about how we could go about trying to understand the word’s meaning—including searching the context of the words, deciphering the root of the word, and many other strategies. After we all got to a place of understanding, we would continue onto our reading. Most of us students just thought Mrs. D. was being really nice and letting us slack off and read a really popular book that we all wanted to read anyway. Little did we know that through this extended, guiding reading, we learned more in three weeks than we did in the previous year. We were having fun, engaged in learning new vocabulary, and being taught how to teach ourselves in the future. Mrs. D. truly led us all on a path of success and hope.


Alleen and Don Nilsen’s “Latin revived: Source-based vocabulary lessons courtesy of Harry Potter” agrees wholeheartedly with Mrs. D.’s plan. The authors’ article describes how teachers can, and should, utilize the overwhelming popularity of the Harry Potter series in order to instigate unique vocabulary instruction opportunities.  They point to the fact that students are interested in the text, and therefore will pay that much more attention to instruction when it uses the text itself. They declare, “We have all been taught that students learn words best when they see them in context. Using a source-based approach is one way to provide a portable context—one that learners can carry with them” (129). Clearly by my own experience discussed in the previous paragraph, the authors’ idea is completely correct. In order for proper learning to occur, students must be interested. In order for students to be interested, teachers must use material that students find engaging and fun. The lesson plans included in the article are a wonderful example of such instruction. The authors use the Latin words found in Harry Potter as the basis for deciphering word roots and practicing techniques to better understand unknown, confusing words by breaking them down.


I strongly feel this strategy could greatly help with the present literacy crisis in our public school system. Instead of dull, test-based vocabulary instruction, teachers could utilize popular literature to provide engaging, constructive teaching opportunities. And as students continue to be given fun, unique opportunities to learn new words, they will be better able to express their thoughts and ideas in all disciplines of study. Not only that, but students will feel more confident in themselves and more willing to take educational risks in order to improve their future learning.

Complete Lesson (Parts 1-7 of SPU Template): “Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry”

Complete Lesson Plan: “Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry”



“Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry” (Lesson Plan)

“Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry” (PP Presentation)

“Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry” (Artifact #1)

“Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry” (Artifact #2)

“Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry” (Artifact #3)


The purpose of this lesson is to prepare and equip me with the knowledge and experience needed to successfully complete my student teaching internship and the Teacher Performance Assessment. First and foremost, the assignment provides me with the opportunity to practice completing a lesson plan—using the Seattle Pacific University Long Template—that is both accurate and relevant to the work I will be doing in the classroom. Secondly, the assignment initiates thoughtful, pertinent reflection on standards-based instruction. The process of planning, performing, critiquing, revising, and finishing, has allowed me to be actively engaged in my development as a better teacher. I have been blessed with the chance to take risks in my planning, receive constructive criticism from my peers, and improve my work dramatically. Finally, I have been able to practice the processes associated with the TPA. I have been planning to teach, teaching, and reflecting on my teaching, all in the hope that when I am assessed later in the year, I will already know what is expected of me.

The assignment in itself is a completed plan for a lesson entitled “Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry.” Intended for a high school freshmen English classroom, the lesson is centered on practicing close reading strategies, critical thinking, and making and defending interpretive claims. The lesson focuses on two main standards: the student understands and uses different skills and strategies to read (Reading 1) and the student understands the meaning of what is read (Reading 2). Therefore, by the end of the lesson, students should be able to read closely and pull main ideas from a given poem. This will be done through independent reading, rereading, public reading, marking/highlighting the text, talking to fellow students and the teacher, and a group drawing activity. Students should be able to see what Emily Dickinson is trying to say (answer to the riddle, main idea, etc) and provide an accurate, thoughtful defense of their interpretation (using imagery, symbols, descriptions, illustrations). For the purposes of the lesson, we will be using a riddle called the “River Crossing Problem” and Emily Dickinson’s “I like to see it lap the miles.” These two works are similar in that they are both complex riddles, and are wonderful examples of the correlation between solving riddles and explicating poetry. Employing creativity, engaging activities, and collaboration, this lesson will encourage students to not only learn, but also be excited about their learning.

This assignment demonstrates my competency in Standard O2 because of its foundation in planning and adapting curricula. Standard O2 states, “Teacher Candidates offer appropriate challenge in the content area. Teacher-candidates plan and/or adapt curricula that are standards-driven so students develop understanding and problem-solving expertise in the content area(s) using reading, written and oral communication, and technology.” Breaking this over-arching statement down into a simpler form, it mainly speaks to teacher candidates’ ability to complete three different goals: create adaptive/student-centered curricula, facilitate standards-based learning, and use the four components of literacy (reading, writing, oral communication, and technology).

The first aspect of Standard O2 details how teacher candidates are able to plan, implement, and adapt curricula in order to provide students with a better understanding of the content area. So, because this assignment is completely focused on creating a lesson plan, teaching the lesson, receiving constructive criticism from peers, perceiving my students’ success or failure to grasp the concept (based off assessments), and revising my plan in order to better teach my students, it absolutely coincides with Standard O2. After teaching the lesson the first time, I realized that my initial entry task took far too much class time to complete. It was a waste of precious class time and problematic to my students’ learning. Therefore, in my revision of the lesson plan, I elected to shorten the entry task by 5 minutes. Similarly, during my initial teaching performance, my peers reflected on my consistent lack of professionalism in front of the class as a clear obstacle to student learning. Instead of speaking formally, I repeatedly spoke with “umm’s” and “you guys,” which severely undermined the maturity of my teaching. Instead of being professional and having everything ready by the beginning of the lesson, I had to stop at different points in order to pass out worksheets and set up my Power-point presentation. Once again, I fixed these issues and found success in my second teaching of the lesson. Completing an adaptive assignment—where my work is changed in order to better adhere to the needs and abilities of my students—I have shown how my teaching is always student-centered.

Simultaneously, my lesson plan was constantly, unceasingly contoured to State Standards—the second aspect to Standard O2. No matter how much certain aspects changed, such as the length of my entry task, the goals of my lesson remained unchanged. The lesson was always focused on Washington State Reading Standards 1 and 2, which say, “the student understands and uses different skills and strategies to read (Reading 1) and the student understands the meaning of what is read (Reading 2).” These standards produced two goals for the lesson: practice several close-reading strategies and use critical thinking skills in order to produce thoughtful interpretations. Students were made aware of these two goals at the beginning of the lesson, and were continually encouraged to work towards them.

I displayed my fulfillment of Standard O2’s final attribute: using reading, writing, oral communication, and technology to encourage student expertise in the content area in several ways. My students practiced guided, close reading a total of seven times! They worked through a complex riddle in three different segments, each encompassing a different close-reading strategy. Then, students read through the Emily Dickinson poem four different times: once with the teacher reading aloud, a second time with the teacher reading aloud and the students following along, a third time with each student reading on their own, and finally a fourth time reading the poem within a group. Students also were given several opportunities to utilize writing in order to aid them in their expertise of the content area. In the entry task, students were encouraged to write out a brief interpretation of the riddle. During their reading of the poem, students were asked to write out—after each segmented reading time—an interpretation of the poem. Finally, the collaborative illustration activity provided students an opportunity to write out, and draw, images and interpretations based off their group’s discussion. In all of these activities, students were allowed the chance to practice solving problems in the content area through their writing. Oral communication was prominent in the many teacher-led discussions as we read the riddle and poem as a class. It was also a vital factor in the group illustration activity, for students were required to discuss and synthesize their thoughts on the poem within their group. They were encourage to debate, ask questions from one another, and most importantly, to develop a compromising interpretation in their pursuit of the knowledge in the content area. Technology was the least used component in the lesson. However, even it was utilized to some significant degree. I employed the use of Power-point presentation in order to help facilitate and lead my students in the lesson. Without this technology, the lesson would not have been nearly as effective.

In one last final note, this lesson reflects a great deal about the types of knowledge, teaching, and literacy I employ in my teaching. My lesson is primarily pertaining to soft, pure knowledge. Soft knowledge means that interpretation is the central problem, where debate and reinterpretation are necessities.  Pure knowledge is theoretically oriented and abstract. Therefore, as my lesson is founded on creating and revising interpretative claims based off abstract ideas expressed in poetry, it is quite clearly utilizing soft, pure knowledge. My teaching in this lesson is primarily telling and controlling, meaning that the learning is mainly achieved through teacher-led discussions. Although there are hints of a deeper teaching style present in the lesson, such as the emphasis placed on developing personalized interpretations of the poem, the lesson functions predominantly as an avenue by which my knowledge of poetry explication is transmitted to the students through dialogue. Finally, the style of literacy evident in this lesson is undoubtedly adaptation. The lesson emphasizes the functionality of literacy skills by showing how close-reading and critical thinking techniques are essential to comprehension. By practicing skills such as rereading, collaborative reading, and illustration, students are encouraged to see to the necessity of literacy in our world today. These styles, or metaphors, are incredibly beneficial to recognize, for they encourage me to reflect and improve my teaching. I someday want to incorporate all possible teaching styles into my own, making me that much more of an effective instructor for my students. The more diverse my teaching, the more my students will learn.


* To see a video of my lesson taught in a classroom, follow the link below to


Reflection on Teaching Lesson: “Unpacking Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry”

After teaching this lesson to my critical friends, and having them complete critiques of my lesson, I have come to the realization that certain parts of my lesson should be changed. Two main aspects come to mind in order to create a more efficient, learning-enabling lesson: professionalism in the classroom and time management.

Professionalism, at least in this instance, pertains to how I carry myself in front of students. I often employ unprofessional language when instructing students, a habit that could lead to student disengagement. From saying “umm” multiple times in a single lesson, to referring to students as “you guys,” I present a casual, immature, and unfocused classroom environment. And although I do want students to feel at home in my classroom, I definitely do not want them seeing it as a place where work does not occur. Education is difficult. Learning is time consuming. Personal development is not simple. Therefore, my classroom should be perceived as a place where every person, especially students, is treated as an adult. The “umms” and “you guys” undermines this goal by begin too casual and patronizing. If I feel myself at a loss for words, I will remain silent. If I want to gain the attention of my class, I will refer to them as “ladies and gentlemen” or “class.”

The second main aspect I would like to see improved in my future teaching is time management. From not being fully prepared for my lesson before beginning it (as in the case of necessary paperwork NOT being handed out before the lessons starts), to allowing certain portions of the lesson take way too much time (as in the case of my entry task taking almost 10 minutes), I clearly mismanaged what little, precious time I have with my students. If I were to teach this lesson again, I would undoubtedly make sure all necessary materials are prepared ahead of time, as well as beginning the lesson with a shorter, simpler riddle. That way, we will be able to move on more smoothly into the next portion of the lesson. A shorter riddle will offer students an opportunity to think critically in the same way as the original riddle, but will also streamline the lesson. Instead of planning for only a couple, longer, and more complicated activities, I would like to plan out an overabundance of small, pertinent activities that can be patched together to fit the time restraints of a specific lesson. Therefore, instead of underestimating the amount of time classroom activities will take, I will always be prepared.

In conclusion, I have learned a great deal about my students and myself in teaching this lesson. I’ve learned that students need shorter, engaging activities to keep the classroom running efficiently. I’ve learned that I need to be more cautious of my unprofessional language and time management habits while in front of students. These lessons will allow me to better myself as an educator, and will therefore encourage me to more effectively help students learn.

A Second Possible Lesson for 9th Grade Language Arts

Lesson #2 (“Friendly” Competition?)

The link above possesses a lesson (presented on the SPU Template Parts 1-5). The lesson is entitled “Friendly Competition?” and focuses on close reading strategies, analytical thinking, and real-life applications. Although there are many critical reading objectives employed in this lesson, the two most essential goals are…

1. The student understands and uses different sills and strategies to read (WA State Reading EALR #1)

2. The student understands the meaning of what is read (WA State Reading EALR #2)


The most important, and easily most engaging, portion of this lesson is its real-life applicability. Through a series of close-reading opportunities– independent, public, and interpretative–students will unpack three different passages from John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, in order to better explore the issue of adolescent competition and jealousy. This issue plagues our youth culture, and the opportunity to explore one author’s expression of said topic could be incredibly fruitful. Students will be able to passionately discuss their reading, their reactions, and their general opinions on a very real, tough issue.

The lesson would be a part of a greater unit, focusing on reading the entirety of John Knowles’ novel. Because this particular lesson utilizes passages from chapters 3 and 4, the lesson would need to be at least midway through a [possible] 3 week unit. Presumably, a teacher would need to briefly teach the ‘novel’ as a distinct genre, contextual information regarding John Knowles and American social life during World War II, introduce the inspiration behind A Separate Peace, and also already have explore chapters 1-3 before beginning this lesson. The rest of the unit after this particular lesson would focus on finishing up the novel and completing a summative writing assessment.

Finally, the following link below possess a supplemental to0l for a teacher hoping ot teach this lesson:

PP Presentation (Friendly Competition Lesson)

A Possible Lesson For 9th Grade Language Arts

EDRD- Lesson #1 (Unpacking Riddle Poetry)

The link above is a possible lesson plan (completed on the SPU Template) for a 9th grade Language Arts class. The lesson is entitled “Unpacking Emily Dickinson’s Riddle Poetry,” and focuses on accomplishing two main objectives:

1. The student understands and uses different skills and strategies to read (WA State EALR Reading #1)

2. The student understands the meaning of what is read (WA State EALR Reading #2)

By aligning the seemingly opposing processes of explicating poetry and solving riddles, a teacher might be able to provide an informative, engaging opportunity for students to learn how to read closely AND understand what they are reading! Critically reading and interpreting poetry is usually least on a student’s list of favorite tasks to do (especially high school freshmen). Therefore, this lesson offers even the most apathetic students to find joy and success in unpacking difficult poetry.

Presumably, this particular lesson would fit into a greater poetry Unit. Because the lesson expects students to already have some understanding of poetry as a distinct genre, a basic set of skills to analyze poems, interpretative reading strategies, and possibly some contextual knowledge on Emily Dickinson and some other famous American poets, this specific lesson should fit in at the later stages of the Poetry Unit– possibly even near the final week.

Finally, the link below possesses a supplementary tool for the teacher hoping to complete this lesson:

PP Presentation (Unpacking Poetry)

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