I am embarking on yet another trial – Build-A-Unit. It’s a huge struggle for an English (Literature) teacher to make learning constructivist and autonomous, when so much of what we are asked to do is analyze a particular cannon. I’ve never really understood the point of a cannon of literature. Who chooses what makes a book a “classic” anyway? And, honestly, these days, how important is it for everyone to read all the “classics?” Maybe I’m a divergent English teacher or subversive. Thankfully, my school gives me a lot of leeway in choosing texts and in how I teach. Regardless, I constantly struggle with a desire to challenge my students with something like they may see in college (and then never again afterwards) versus allowing them freedom to choose what they read in order to apply it to a more “real world” situation.
So, with that in mind, my students this quarter have a choice of “units” to pick from: To Kill a Mockingbird (a classic), a dystopian novel (chosen from a short list provided by me), and global issues (a real-world problem/solution research proposal). Each cohort will meet once a week with me to check in and receive their next week’s assignment. The other days, when their cohort isn’t meeting, will be spent preparing for the next meeting, working on vocabulary and/or grammar, and working on their “Passion Articles” (my alternative to traditional Independent Reading).
I wonder how well they will stay motivated without me constantly hovering over them. I wonder if they’ll budget their time well enough to get done what needs to be done. I wonder if I will be able to keep up with and manage three units in one class as one time. I wonder if I’m a little nuts (ask me that again in a couple of months…). On the other hand, I’m excited. I wonder if this will excite them, too. I wonder if they’ll explore things they wouldn’t have otherwise looked at. I wonder if they’ll be challenged to contribute within such small groups. I wonder if they’ll look back on this quarter as one of the ones where they learned the most while enjoying it the most.
I suppose that’s part of the beauty of education: “I wonder…”