One Week Down

I had a great start to my week! I absolutely enjoy my classes, and my new collegaues seem to be adjusting and fitting in well. Here’s how my week went with some key lessons.

College in the H.S. (American Lit.)

I started the kids with a dozen literary terms. I created a chart with the following columns: literary term, definition, example in the literature, and author. This way the students must find examples throughout the semester of every literary term I give them. On Monday the kids will be quizzed on the spelling of each, being able to match each term to a definition, and matching each term to an example I provide.

Also, we are reading a collection of Native American myths and a few Colonial writings prior to starting Fools Crow by James Welch. This year I created a series of questions and practice quizzes covering the short pieces to help them get to know my style and what I expect. This should help a bit.

The kids are working in small groups and by themselves. I usually begin each class by asking for questions from the previous day’s work and end each period by asking for questions as well. I walk among the students and spot check them, so I can usually head off any difficulties.


The first series of lessons I provide the mythology students (as I turn them into, as I tell them, “myth geeks”) is to help them memorize the basic thirteen gods and goddesses of the Olympian Household.

First, I went over the Greek and Roman names using a PowerPoint presentation with pictures included, and the students filled out the first two columns of a chart I made them (which has cells for the names, realms, and symbols). Then I have them make flash cards with the Greek name on one side and the Roman name on the other. I also require that they write the Greek name in green and the Roman name in red to help their memories (colors are an excellent means of helping memory if you haven’t tried it). Next, the students quiz one another using their cards, and then I shout out a Greek or Roman name and the students chant out the god’s other name.

Each consecutive day during the first week is the same except that we move from one column to the next (Wednesday the names, Thursday the realms, and Friday the symbols). I also have them choose one realm to remember and add it to the bottom left of the Roman side of their card and to remember one symbol and add it to the bottom left of the Greek side of their card. Now they have 13 flash cards which can be used to study three different items. Quiz on Tuesday.

During the second half of each class we read part of the Greek/Roman Creation story, and I teach them how to take good notes and create a family tree based on the Creation tale. This story in Edith Hamilton’s Mythology covers everything from Chaos at the very beginning of time to Zeus’ victories to become the supreme ruler.

This structure breaks each period into 3-4 activities and slowly builds the students’ background knowledge as we move towards the sequence of tales we read. Small successes now builds confidence and creates large victories later.

The reason the students need to memorize this information is that Edith Hamilton used stories translated from Latin and Greek and used those names accordingly and because sometimes the storytellers referred to the Olympians by their realm (i.e. “Earthshaker” for Poseidon because he’s the god of earthquakes) or by their symbol (i.e. “he who wields the trident” for Poseidon as well).

Sophomore Honors

This week for these kids was a bit light because we have two days set aside for a reading assessment, but we still made time for vocabulary and historical background for our first novel.

I gave the students a crossword puzzle with our first 14 vocabulary words. They solve the puzzle and transfer the words and definitions to a chart I provide. They then create a picture for each word (whatever helps them remember the word’s meaning), compose a sentence for each word, and try to list synonyms for each. They received this on Tuesday and completed the reading assessment Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday I tossed markers out to students, and they put their words, pictures, and sentences on the white boards. We shared them, made corrections, and talked about how the words are normally used. It’s very collaborative and fun. On Monday we’ll take a quiz requiring spelling, matching to definitions, and filling in blanks in sentences.

The second half of the class we went over an outline on a PowerPoint providing context for Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I knew it went well when the class was laughing and asking questions while we discussed famines, hunger, and oppression. I’m not sure how we hit it off so well, but we’re off to a great start!

We won our rivalry game to open the football season too, so all in all it’s been a terrific beginning to the year.

1 thought on “One Week Down

  1. Nuss

    Just finished my first week. Quite the interesting experience, teaching at an alternative school for the first time.

    The kids are great, which I’ve heard is a bit of a change from the past as we’ve gotten a little more stringent with our admissions. The problem is, our counts are very low, as are the counts around the district. We’re going to have to start taking many more students, and I’m worried about how it’s going to upset the gains we’ve made in changing the culture at this school.

    We shall see.


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