Thursday, March 29, 2007

Earlier this week I observed a student teacher in an alternative certification program based out of San Francisco State University. The student teacher was teaching a vocabulary lesson to a diverse class of about twnety ninth-graders at Albany High School.

I was impressed with how the teacher who I'll call Gary taught the lesson, and how the students engaged the material. In a class period lasting about fifty minutes, Gary explored language with the students orally, in writing, and in pictures. Gary worked with students to have a kind of rote definition, a conceptual understanding, an application and an example of the term. Toward this end, he enabled students to incorporate popular culture references as examples of the terms they were studying; Gary redirected students' whose understanding strayed with poise and affirmation. He spent time with every student individually and worked with them as a whole class; Gary allowed for collaborative work in small groups and pairs, and also required independent attention from students. Gary allowed students to move around and he moved around himself. And he incorporated tactiles and visuals into the lesson.

Gary did all of this with a group of students with considerable calm and connectedness and no real disruptions. This wasn't the "honors" class, either. It was a very diverse class in an urban high school.

Gary is going to make a fine teacher. He already is. Credit also goes to Principal Ron Rosenbaum who recently presented on a panel at NCTE's 2007 CCCC Convention in New York. Ron was joined by teachers and researchers to talk about high school to college writing transition.

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