As a new teacher to CCTS, I have learned valuable components during my first year. I realized just how strongly I felt about our school, the need for academic rigor, and the overall expectations of our student body. When I received Marc's e-mail regarding Curriculum Writing, I decided there was no better opportunity.
Within a half hour on the first day, Van, Joel, and I were exchanging ideas, suggesting book titles, and creating activities that would compliment our units. The time simply flew by. I appreciated the various input that was put forth. Joel has an extensive list of books that he read, with a magnitude of information floating around in his brain and I looked forward to hearing about them. Also, Van's input from Pennsauken was not only informative, but appreciated as well.
Although, I was originally apprehensive comparing our material and lessons to Social Studies, the transitions that we created and the unit themes that were constructed (such as "Psychology" and "Change") are topics that I cannot wait to teach. I also appreciate the "revisiting"concept, such as the Odyssey in both freshmen and senior year. The depth and details that students will accumulate by the time they are seniors will be far more extensive than we could have ever dreamed.
I must say however I had one major fear before entering this year that Curriculm Writing somewhat alleviated. I have five classes of RPO Junior Read 180 students... and this is their HSPA year. Although the growth they've demonstrated in the past year is remarkable... what if they don't pass? What will come of them? How will that reflect me? (I don't want to be selfish, but I can't help but wonder) However that seemed to dissipate when Dennis and Marc started talking on the last day of writing. They spoke about benchmarks and how a specific group will sit down together and find appropriate tests that will match the skills we have taught during that semester, marking period, month, etc. I know the tests aren't the same, nor are they on the same level of magnitude, but I hold similar expectations and I now feel reassured that my students will be able to pass the test to the best of their ability.
Overall, I feel as though Curriculum Writing will benefit our school. It will also improve the quality of our teaching. I look forward to teaching Macbeth, a Modest Proposal, and even events such as Hurricane Katrina and the aftermass of Haiti. We have now broadened our students' experiences. We have created a curriculum where the English classroom can branch out extend itself beyond what a student's original perception of "class" was. We are now creating experiences, not just lessons and I find that to be far more memorable than any grammar lesson (even though we will be teaching that too!)