Being Present in the Classroom

Have you ever looked out at your class and realized that a large percentage of your class isn’t engaged?  The reality is that sometimes what we have to do in our curriculum isn’t always interesting to our students today.  No matter our bells and whistles, our acrobatics, our attempts to make it fun, students won’t be engaged unless they are present.  This is a lesson for us all.  We must be present and truthful in everything we do in life.  We must acknowledge the fact there are things beyond our control that don’t allow us, or our students, to always be present, but it is an idea, a skill, that we should discuss in our classrooms.  Below is a video clip of Patsy Rodenburg discussing her “why.”  Although this is about theater, it is relevant to us all, teachers and students alike.  I have shown this video clip and discussed the idea of being present in drama classes, English classes, and with my drama club.  The ending is powerful and will leave your students thinking.

Close Reading and Annotating Text

When the Common Core learning standards came out, there was an expectation that teachers would focus on the skills of close reading and annotating text in their lessons.  Although this wasn’t a new skill by any means, it was a new focus in all subject areas.  I put together a presentation which I presented to the faculty in my district that gives a basic overview of close reading and annotating text.  I created a video of this presentation (above).

I also use a version of this same presentation, with less slides, in my classroom every year when I introduce and review this concept.  I explain to students, in both 9th and 11th grades, that the phrases “close reading” and “annotating text” are going to be common phrases that they hear in the English department from year to year and possibly in their other subject areas as well.  This overview is a nice way to remind us all of the basic components of this skill.

In the video, I refer to the PEE Principle.  The PEE Principle is a technique for writing that I learned when I taught secondary English in London many years ago.  It is always a fun day when I get to tell my students that they are going to get to PEE down their page! Besides that, it has been the single most effective technique that I have taught in my classroom that has led to student success in academic writing.  I wrote more about the PEE Principle in an article and video that I have published on Hubpages.  To read that article click here.