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Located on this page are artifacts from my time teaching 11th grade English at Everett High School.

As a refresher discussion at the beginning of the hour, I used a Jamboard to present my students with questions regarding themes, plots, and symbols used throughout The Odyssey. Originally I was going to have students just type answers to add using their laptops, but they were a little squirrely so I handed out markers to use the whiteboards instead. Students like using the whiteboards, anyway, and it gets more people actually participating when they don't like speaking in front of everyone. I wanted students to be thinking critically about some of these questions, as it was in preparation for a discussion post activity. Students had to take a position based on this prompt: "At the beginning of The Odyssey, it's said Odysseus suffered a lot on his long journey home. How much of his suffering was the result of his own choices and how much of it was beyond his control?" Then, students had to respond to their peers whether they agreed or disagreed with their stance and why. This lesson allowed students to collaborate with peers around them, and then take that interaction to the online discussion board where they can build on their writing and argument skills. 

As we started getting into the unit, I started ultilizing chapter reading guides for different books in The Odyssey. However, I noticed a vast difference between the answers students were turning in in terms of brevity and scope. While some students were technically true, they didn't take the time to explain/justify their answer like I assumed they would -- my bad! So, to remedy this, I took a question from one of the previous chapters and modelled the kind of answer structure I was wanting them to follow. We talked about what should go in each sentence, where to called back to evidence, and how to synthesize that information. 

Written Feedback 

For young writers, having good feedback from teachers is essential for their growth. When my students were writing their essays, I made sure that they received feedback (both from myself and my peers) at multiple stages in the process so they could keep making revisions until their final drafts were completed. Giving students individual feedback allows students to know exactly what they need to work on, as well as what they are doing well. This helps build confidence in young writers while still giving space for critiques, which is all necessary for student growth. Highlighting where students excel alongside where they can grow lets students know that mistakes are not meant to be the end of the world, but a part of the writing/growing/learning process that we all must learn how to deal with if we want to get better. 

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