When reading Chapter 4 of Content Literacy for Today’s Adolescents, I kept thinking of one topic I’ve been continually discussing with my roommate – student interest and engagment. Teaching English would be exponentially easier if every lesson incorporated something that interested the student. Like most things in life, however, that is much easier said than done. Trying to find real life connections between my English objective and my students’ lives is quite the difficult task. Like Brozo and Simpson write on page 90, “Interest is one of the most potent motivators for students,” but as I would like to add, one of the harder tasks a teacher encounters. The idea is revisited on page 101 with “learner autobiographies.” I enjoyed reading about this activity and would like to implement it in my English class. My only hesitation is that some or most students will not take it seriously. Another problem my students might face is the inability to express their thoughts due to a lack of vocabulary and writing ability. I’ve also wondered whether or not my students have an interest in anything that would require them to think on a higher DOK level. At times I feel that many of my students would avoid higher level thinking like the plague and immediately recoil from its presence. Regardless, attempting an activity such as learner autobiographies can only help so it’s worth a shot.
I found this chapter to be very readable and applicable to my life as a first year teacher. Some of the ideas, such as creating an assessment portfolio are wonderful, but like I mentioned earlier, are much easier said than done. Implementing a portfolio would be great for the teacher’s reference, for showing student growth, and also for documentation and later references. Creating assessment portfolios would be an immense amount of work. I’m currently trying my hardest to just stay afloat with a ten pound brick already in my hand. Anyway, the chapter reminds us that assessment is not “an activity that teachers ‘do to students,’” but an “ongoing activity” that includes both teachers and students and the evolution of instruction and learning (89). I need to focus more on interpreting assessment data. I’m okay with giving assessments (although, mine could probably always be improved), but I need to spend more time studying the data that comes from it. From this, my teaching can be improved and my students can learn better.