Meeting Standard Seven: The student teacher demonstrates mastery of the skills and knowledge central to the discipline. Interest in, and energy for, his/her discipline are demonstrated through the creation of lessons which present diverse students with challenging activities and projects, engage then, and encourage them to solve problems, raise questions, and interact in ways that contribute to a positive learning environment while developing skills as critical, inquiring thinkers.
After several bad experiences with Shakespeare’s plays in high school, I avoided them in college. I was not overenthusiastic when I found out that I would be teaching Romeo and Juliet, however, I actually had a lot of fun with the play and enjoyed teaching it. I really tried to make Romeo and Juliet relevant to my kids by raising the issues in the text that they can relate to: adolescent love and attraction and conflicts with parents. The multiple modes of presentation and opportunities to work together helped students stay engaged with the text.
Because my knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays is sparse, I utilized several resources that helped me think about engaging ways to teach Romeo and Juliet. I also designed assignments, such as the character diary and CD project, which I thought would engage students and allow them to show their understanding of the text creatively.
My second unit on Of Mice and Men proved harder to make explicitly relevant to my students. Showing excitement about the text and my students’ work really helped my students get excited and stay engaged with the text. For example, my students enjoyed drawing characters from the book, especially after seeing my drawing, which made clear that I am not an artist. My goal for this assignment was for each student to envision a character and draw him or her without drawing stick figures. This assignment was especially successful with my students who like to draw because they do not often have opportunities to express what they know through drawing.