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Success StoriesAfter reading about all the frustrations we face with apathetic...

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amethystrose | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted April 20, 2008 at 7:55 AM via web

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Success Stories

After reading about all the frustrations we face with apathetic students, how about we share some success stories as encouragement?  At this time in the year, I need all the encouragement I can get!  I'm about to return to work after spring break to face reading research papers!

Ok, so I'll share that my kids do seem to gotten a lot out of our unit on Romeo and Juliet.  We had great discussions about why this play is NOT the greatest love story ever told and the kids were very animated in their views of the main characters.  That showed me they were thinking, as well as making connections to teenage angst today.  Plus many of them were willing to get up in the middle of the room to brandish a light saber during the sword fights!

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 20, 2008 at 8:04 AM (Answer #2)

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Good call, Amethystrose!  Spring semester is so hard to get through (some years, I think, are worse than others), so it is good to hear some positive things that are happening in our classrooms!

My Brit Lit class this year consisted of three teenage boys...loved Beowulf, hated Jane Eyre, type of situation.  We're at the end of our reading list, and I have them reading The Code of the Woosters, by PG Wodehouse.  They are all enjoying the subtle humor, and I'm so thankful that a book that doesn't have a ton of blood and gore in it is appealing to these young men!  One of the boys actually really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, which also made me pretty happy!

In addition, our Shakespeare reading is going strong, and we have a production of The Taming of the Shrew coming up this summer - with a cast of 24 kids (in a school with a grand total of 44 students!)!  Too much fun!!!

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 20, 2008 at 2:44 PM (Answer #3)

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My biggest success story this year is with one student in particular. She came into the US from Yemen two years ago. She was 17 and had not been in school since she was 9. She came to our small continuation school because her parents felt it was a more controlled environment where she could be separated from boys as much as possible (even though the school is about 75% boys they thought it was better than the large high school in the next town). She spoke absolutely no Englishand I speak absolutely no Arabic. I bought two Arabic to English dictionaries and worked before and after school with her and together for the past two years we have learned so much from each other! She just learned that she passed the California High School Exit Exam and that she will graduate early and with honors. She is a sponge and has become fluent in English very quickly and speaks beautifully. Students like her are why I teach and why I teach where I do. She plans to go to college next year and I am so proud of her I can hardly describe it.  :)

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 20, 2008 at 5:11 PM (Answer #4)

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Great job, clane!!!!!  You are a miracle-worker in that school - God bless you for all you do!!!!!

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 20, 2008 at 5:43 PM (Answer #5)

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I mentioned this in the original posts on apathy, but I'll expand here.  Because the students were so apathetic, I was having trouble getting my seniors to even try reading the books.  They would Sparknote or, even worse, just take failing grades.  So, after doing some lively discussions about marriage and relationships, fame and money, I passed out The Great Gatsby WITH some very detailed reading worksheets - what did Nick say on page ___ about ____ type of thing.  These type of worksheets are below what seniors should be doing, but I wanted to try to force them into reading the book.  And it worked!  I had 5 students come to me and say that this was the only novel they read on their own in high school (sad, but at least there is one!).  One of these students actually began reading more Fitzgerald because he was so impressed.  I couldn't be more pleased!

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

Posted April 22, 2008 at 8:41 AM (Answer #6)

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Every year at this time my students are starting to really wind down and the baseline apathy that has plagued them all year really winds up. So, I pull out Chaucer. Yep. I teach my sophomores a poetry translation of Chaucer (okay, I read a good 75% to them in class, but still!). We do "The Pardoner's Tale" and I teach logical fallacies so we can look for all the stupid things he says. The students really love this assignment, and it lets me open up a discussion about whether people are this stupid or if Chaucer intended the story to be satire. Kids really get into this. We do the Wife of Bath and then the Miller.... I read all of the Miller out loud and the kids gasp and laugh and totally lose it with the whole arse out the window and "A beard! A beard!" Then I have kids write about the source of human evil. They really connect with this assignment so it's a great one to teach right now when they are so ready to BE DONE

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted April 22, 2008 at 9:35 AM (Answer #7)

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Great idea! 

Last spring, I began to tire of my students' reactions to Shakespeare.  I typically cover it at the end of the semester.  I ran across the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival's website and saw that they had a group called "Globeworks" that travels around and presents scenes from various Shakespearean plays.  They also discuss why he is so important in history and they involve students in their scenes.  I decided to get this group to come to my college (they have to be booked about a year in advance!).  They came in late March and did 2 acting workshops with students here and they also performed various acts from Othello.  The response was wonderful!  My students got so "into" the workshop and really became actors during the workshops.  Students that had hardly spoken a word were suddenly volunteering to play parts.  It was so refreshing to see that and so heartening!  The students enjoyed the performance, too, and commented about how they had a greater appreciation of Shakespeare afterwards.  I plan on booking the group for NEXT March, too!

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

Posted April 23, 2008 at 4:46 PM (Answer #8)

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I teach at a very small public high school in a rural community. Our only feeder school is Title 1 because the majority of children are from low-income families. We've been struggling with low test scores and a high drop-out rate.

However, this week we've had very, very good news.

Tennessee Governor's Academy for Math and Science is a residential high school that accepts one student from each county each school year. This year, two students were chosen from my county, and they're both from my school!

Another of our students was accepted to be one of only 20 rising seniors to take part in the Bridge summer program at the University of the South at Sewanee, one of the finest universities in the nation. This program is also for students interested in math and science and is a "bridge" to enrollment at Sewanee after graduation. The program is special in another way: the students must have overcome some kind of adversity; many of the students are from ethnic/minorities. Our student has overcome Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. He's also ranked first in his class!!!!

They make having to deal with the apathetic knuckleheads a little more bearable!!!

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

Posted April 24, 2008 at 5:25 AM (Answer #9)

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I love the fact that after attempting to get my juniors to improve on their writing by inserting more active verbs, adjectives and specific word choice to say EXACTLY what they had in mind (without much enthusiasm from the kids, I might add), they finally got it!  We were reading a beautiful passage in Crane's RED BADGE about the trees in the forest and how they were like the vaulted ceilings in a cathedral with the little points of light shining down and the stillness of the place.  I read it aloud, and stopped.  I looked up at the kids, who were all listening for once, and several of them said, "Cool, Mrs. L.  Read that again."  So I did.  Then, instead of continuing to read that day, we went back over what I had been talking about with their writing and we used that passage as an example--substituting words and phrases and discussing how the meaning changed or didn't.  It was one of the most thrilling moments of my teaching career because YIPPEE!!! They GOT it! 

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amethystrose | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted April 30, 2008 at 4:24 AM (Answer #10)

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I just wanted to plug some of my kids' performances on No Fear Shakespeare's "Show Us Your Shakespeare".  For these freshmen, this year was their first encounter with the Bard.  They had to select any Shakespearean monologue or soliloquy of twenty lines, learn a bit about the play and the character (on their own), and then memorize and perform the speech.  The only catch was that they were not allowed to use Romeo and Juliet since we were reading that in class.  The link below will take you to one of my students, but you will find the remaining five who were selected to represent our school in the right hand column.

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/videos/suys/6d4799e381

Enjoy!

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jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 1, 2008 at 5:58 PM (Answer #11)

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One of my greatest success stories of this year was my sophmore class' response to Macbeth.  They loved reading it and had great discussions on many issues as we read it "in parts" in the class.  Then we took a field trip down to Phoenix (one of the first of my school to go that far) to go see the Southwest Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth.  We went to a student production.  Only three schools were there: two large schools and my class of a dozen.  My kids loved the performance, but what really impressed me was hearing them talk afterwards about the other kids in the audience who made comments about how boring the play was, or laughed at the wrong scenes, or who were just not paying attention.  "Boy they missed out!" was the consensus of my class. "how could they not love this play!"  The entire class wrote reviews comparing the play we saw to what we had read.  Now they are really enthused about reading Shakespeare.

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted May 7, 2008 at 6:45 AM (Answer #12)

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I just wanted to plug some of my kids' performances on No Fear Shakespeare's "Show Us Your Shakespeare".  For these freshmen, this year was their first encounter with the Bard.  They had to select any Shakespearean monologue or soliloquy of twenty lines, learn a bit about the play and the character (on their own), and then memorize and perform the speech.  The only catch was that they were not allowed to use Romeo and Juliet since we were reading that in class.  The link below will take you to one of my students, but you will find the remaining five who were selected to represent our school in the right hand column.

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/videos/suys/6d4799e381

Enjoy!

Way to go!  Those were so good - Parth's Hamlet brought tears to my eyes!  Your students learned so much by doing this, and you should be very proud!!! :)

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

Posted May 7, 2008 at 7:16 AM (Answer #13)

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I just wanted to plug some of my kids' performances on No Fear Shakespeare's "Show Us Your Shakespeare".  For these freshmen, this year was their first encounter with the Bard.  They had to select any Shakespearean monologue or soliloquy of twenty lines, learn a bit about the play and the character (on their own), and then memorize and perform the speech.  The only catch was that they were not allowed to use Romeo and Juliet since we were reading that in class.  The link below will take you to one of my students, but you will find the remaining five who were selected to represent our school in the right hand column.

http://nfs.sparknotes.com/videos/suys/6d4799e381

Enjoy!

Was "Lear the Musical" done by your students? It is amazing! I'm going to use it before I teach Julius Caesar next year to show the students that Shakespeare is not impossible to understand.

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

Posted June 25, 2010 at 3:11 AM (Answer #14)

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I think one success story I had was when teaching Pride and Prejudice and as a closing activity we staged a masquerade ball when each student had to come as one of the main characters and design their own mask, without using any words. Then we all walked around the class with each student guessing who was who. It was an amazing activity that really engaged even those who didn't much like the novel. One of those "zone" moments.

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