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Lesson PlansJust taking an informal poll of how many of you have used the lesson plans...

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Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 20, 2008 at 2:01 PM via web

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Lesson Plans

Just taking an informal poll of how many of you have used the lesson plans offered on eNotes. Do you have any suggestions, or see any room for improvement? What would your ideal lesson plan include?

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 20, 2008 at 2:19 PM (Answer #2)

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I came to eNotes as a user and purchased a lesson plan for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  We were required to spend an ungodly amount of time on a single work and I was hoping for innovative ways to create a memorable learning experiences.

While some of the content was helpful, there was far too much "read aloud" meant to take up an entire hour's class.  I would like to see more creative ideas, more history, more tie-ins to other means of presenting materials.  I also found there to be far, far too much "busy work" (seat work), seemingly aimed more at free up the teacher's time than encouraging student learning. 

Why don't we begin discussion boards for any novel with which we've had successful exercises used in the classroom?  That way, teachers could always have a supplemental source to nix any ideas that they don't feel would work.  Feedback on others usage also might help us assemble lesson plans that have had tried-and-true implementation.  As any parent will tell you, what sounds reasonable on paper doesn't always work in practice.  (Or Communism, for that matter.)

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 20, 2008 at 2:38 PM (Answer #3)

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I've used the eNotes lesson plans for every novel I've ever taught. (I've only been teaching 5 years.) I think the lesson plans are great, but I wish they included suggestions for differentiated learning. Many of my students are low-ability, and some of the activities are beyond their skill levels. I couldn't have made it through Julius Caesar without the eNotes lesson plan, though.

I'm not too happy about the puzzle packs. I can make my own word search and crossword puzzles. I can't figure out the magic squares myself.

I love the idea of creating a discussion board for sharing ideas. I've gotten several ideas already that I'm planning to use. 

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 20, 2008 at 4:44 PM (Answer #4)

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I agree with both of the previous posts, which seem to me to offer opposite ends of the spectrum. Although I realize the creator of each set of eNotes lesson plans has a broad audience, I haven't found much differentiation for levels of instruction. Yes, too much busy work is there; it just seems to fill up sheets of paper.

My students are all college-bound, bright, competitive, hard-working boys who expect an hour of homework per night in each class. They don't spend time doing busy work or even homework in class, nor do we use multiple-choice tests in most English classes. In this highly academic atmosphere, the students do enjoy having the chance to do something creative, but it has to be directly related to the subject matter, or they question its purpose. The Lady Macbeth letter assignment, for example, would be disdained by my seniors, but the frosh would love it. I would welcome creative ideas! 

So I'd like to see additional essay and class discussion topics as well as some challenging writing assignments. At the same time, I'm sensitive to the need for a completely different kind of materials because I've also taught students in other schools who needed all kinds of clever motivation to do any work whatsoever.

Great suggestion to share ideas!

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 20, 2008 at 6:25 PM (Answer #5)

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I agree with both of the previous posts, which seem to me to offer opposite ends of the spectrum. Although I realize the creator of each set of eNotes lesson plans has a broad audience, I haven't found much differentiation for levels of instruction. Yes, too much busy work is there; it just seems to fill up sheets of paper.

My students are all college-bound, bright, competitive, hard-working boys who expect an hour of homework per night in each class. They don't spend time doing busy work or even homework in class, nor do we use multiple-choice tests in most English classes. In this highly academic atmosphere, the students do enjoy having the chance to do something creative, but it has to be directly related to the subject matter, or they question its purpose. The Lady Macbeth letter assignment, for example, would be disdained by my seniors, but the frosh would love it. I would welcome creative ideas! 

So I'd like to see additional essay and class discussion topics as well as some challenging writing assignments. At the same time, I'm sensitive to the need for a completely different kind of materials because I've also taught students in other schools who needed all kinds of clever motivation to do any work whatsoever.

Great suggestion to share ideas!

Linda and Cybil- I am so glad you brought up learning differences as well as level needs.  I have a lot of experience in learning styles.  Please indulge me while I relate two teaching experiences:

The first class I ever "taught" (as an undergrad) was an adult literacy course.  I had about 30 students, most of whom couldn't read a stop sign.  But when given assessment tests, those who were visual, auditory, or tactile learners were given instruction based on their particular strengths.  I will never forget a Hispanic man in his late 50s who learned to read with magnetic letters. 

Eight years later I had a child with autism and I really learned what "learning differences" meant.  I was grateful for that volunteer experience as I struggled (and continue to struggle) to help my daughter communicate. 

This may seem distant from your college-bound learners, but fundamentally, it's not.  Finding student's strengths can be challenging.  Ever since that first course, I've sought to integrate my techniques so that all styles of learners get at least one "hit" in their areas of strength. 

Let's all proceed with ideas for real-time class activities, with a note towards what level the lesson is intended, or how the idea might be elevated or scaled down.  I look forward to hearing everyone's suggestions! 

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM (Answer #6)

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Hooray! When I taught 7th and 8th grades, we tracked students by ability (yes, I know it's illegal, and I don't know how we got away with it). We had high, middle, and low classes--and called them that! Within the first week, the low group knew they were the low group and started calling themselves the dumb kids.

Now that I'm in the high school, I'm glad to say I have a real mix of learning abilities. I want to be able to give the same assignment to an A student that I give to a struggling reader and have both feel that they are being challenged. Maybe there's a new resource in the making here????

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 20, 2008 at 6:55 PM (Answer #7)

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I frequently use the lesson plans available through eNotes.  I love the vocabulary activities and the context clues pre-reading sheets.  I also enjoy the activities which help direct kids to pay attention to the language of a text.

Recently I used the Red Badge activity where we focused on the descriptive language--adjectives, active verbs, possible synonyms and if they were as effective.  The kids really responded and we have been focusing on all these things in our writing as well as further reading.

Yeah!

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 20, 2008 at 7:08 PM (Answer #8)

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I love to use the lesson plans on eNotes as a jumping off point for ideas and I use them all the time just for that purpose. I agree with many of the posts, I would love to see differentiation, I would love to see less read aloud and more interesting activities that have been better developed rather than simply suggested. I would like to see some grammar and literary device tie ins more often. I have often taken the study questions and added more questions that require some critical thinking. I have taken probably 60 or 70 of the lesson plans on eNotes and made them my own. I've added lots of these elements, but the eNotes plans were all a great place to start. If anyone is ever in a pinch for an idea let me know because I've adapted tons of the eNotes materials to do much of what you're all talking about and I wouldn't mind sharing. :)

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allyson | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted March 24, 2008 at 6:16 AM (Answer #9)

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I also always look at the lesson plans, but only use a few in a unit. I prefer more movement and creativity in the classroom balanced with higher order writing. I would love to have a discussion board for ideas.

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leagye | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted March 30, 2008 at 6:29 PM (Answer #10)

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Hooray! When I taught 7th and 8th grades, we tracked students by ability (yes, I know it's illegal, and I don't know how we got away with it). We had high, middle, and low classes--and called them that! Within the first week, the low group knew they were the low group and started calling themselves the dumb kids.

Now that I'm in the high school, I'm glad to say I have a real mix of learning abilities. I want to be able to give the same assignment to an A student that I give to a struggling reader and have both feel that they are being challenged. Maybe there's a new resource in the making here????

I'm a bit confused. At my high school, we have three levels of English in 9th and 10th grade: General, College Prep, and Scholarship. In 11-12th grades, we offer General, College Prep and Advanced Placement. Isn't this grouping by ability? How is this illegal? Aren't "high, middle and low" just different words for the same thing? I have only been teaching for 4 years, so I'm not familiar with the legalities of former practices in public schools. Can someone catch me up on this?

I teach 9th grade English 9 (CP and SCP) and 12AP. There is no way that I can present the same assignment to my CP kids that I present to my SCP kids. My SCP kids would be falling asleep and/or my CP kids would be lost. I have to present assignments that are adjusted for ability. My SCP's are critical thinkers, while many of my CP level students need help getting through the steps that get them to the same place eventually. I have used many of the Teacher's Pet lesson plans for my CP students, and use the Prestwick House unit plans with my SCP and AP students.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 30, 2008 at 9:21 PM (Answer #11)

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Hooray! When I taught 7th and 8th grades, we tracked students by ability (yes, I know it's illegal, and I don't know how we got away with it). We had high, middle, and low classes--and called them that! Within the first week, the low group knew they were the low group and started calling themselves the dumb kids.

Now that I'm in the high school, I'm glad to say I have a real mix of learning abilities. I want to be able to give the same assignment to an A student that I give to a struggling reader and have both feel that they are being challenged. Maybe there's a new resource in the making here????

I'm a bit confused. At my high school, we have three levels of English in 9th and 10th grade: General, College Prep, and Scholarship. In 11-12th grades, we offer General, College Prep and Advanced Placement. Isn't this grouping by ability? How is this illegal? Aren't "high, middle and low" just different words for the same thing? I have only been teaching for 4 years, so I'm not familiar with the legalities of former practices in public schools. Can someone catch me up on this?

I teach 9th grade English 9 (CP and SCP) and 12AP. There is no way that I can present the same assignment to my CP kids that I present to my SCP kids. My SCP kids would be falling asleep and/or my CP kids would be lost. I have to present assignments that are adjusted for ability. My SCP's are critical thinkers, while many of my CP level students need help getting through the steps that get them to the same place eventually. I have used many of the Teacher's Pet lesson plans for my CP students, and use the Prestwick House unit plans with my SCP and AP students.

No, they're not the same at all. Calling English classes general, college prep, and AP is very different from tracking the low, middle, and high ability students. Remember that I was talking about 7th and 8th graders. To put a child in a low-ability class will label that child for the rest of his time in school. There is no stigma to being labeled a general student.

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jlcannad | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted March 31, 2008 at 7:39 AM (Answer #12)

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I've never actually used them because I write curriculum for my district and creating activities is pretty much second nature for me. However, based on these comments, if you need help tweaking the lesson plans to create more differentiated activities (both high and low end), I would certainly be willing to offer my help.

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jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 1, 2008 at 6:50 AM (Answer #13)

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I started using Teacher's Pet and enotes at least 6 years ago. The lesson plans are great. The Teacher's Pet quizzes are pretty good. There are actually a few errors on the answer key for the quizzes and tests. The vocabulary sheets are nice. Teaching using context clues is a great way to introduce vocab.

I don't use the quizzes at all on the enotes. I LOVE the essays and critical commentary.

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asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted April 12, 2008 at 1:34 PM (Answer #14)

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I often use the study guide questions and test questions.  I usually use a variety of sources for those kinds of questions and just piece it all together.  I don't actually use the plans as far as when to read and when to assign questions,etc.  I do however use quite a bit of the Prestwick House questions and activities.  I love the lessons that deal with very specific aspects of the novel like the author's use of imagery, etc.  Amy Lepore mentioned the Red Badge unit and I used that as well.  I loved the lesson on figurative language. There were passages that were provided and the kids had to find similes/metaphors/personification and write what effect it had, etc. I used this with some of my lower kids and they did great with it.  The Gatsby lesson from Prestwick includes an activity with a map and the students have to figure out where 5 of the main places are located using details from the first two chapters.  It really helped them to visualize where everything was located.  Lately, I've been using some of the AP resources as well.

I never use the puzzle packs.  That kind of stuff is just busy work.  I see no point in assigning things like that.

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asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted April 12, 2008 at 1:38 PM (Answer #15)

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Other things I would like to see are more ideas for writing prompts based on the novels.  I recently looked at the "How To" section and I love the one on comparing two characters.  It would be great to have prompts related to those "How To's"  I think I'm going to use that next week and have my kids write about Gatsby and Dexter from "Winter Dreams."

I must also say that the Enotes lessons have saved me a lot of times.  I'm at a new school this year and I'm teaching 5 different levels of English.  There have been times this year when I've been literally a day ahead of the kids in the reading.  Of I've been teaching something I myself haven't read since high school!  So the Enotes lesson plans were a great reference to keep me knowledgeable of all the things I was trying to teach at once.

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 12, 2008 at 7:57 PM (Answer #16)

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The study guides and lesson plans were what brought me to eNotes in the first place.  Talk about excellent quality!  They have helped me develop my own plans, which I have to do as we're on a different schedule than most schools, but the questions are great for class discussions and writing assignments.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 24, 2010 at 10:53 AM (Answer #17)

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Generally whilst the lesson plans are good foundations, I do find that I need to make them more interactive and fun by adding a variety of group work and paired work activities and ideas for assignments. Having said this though this is a minor criticism as these lesson plans do most of the donkey work for me and give me more time to design activities to accommodate my students.

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