Last year, one of my classes was specifically about teaching English at the intermediate division (roughly grades 7-10). Each class, we did practical activities that we could use in our practicums and in our future classrooms.
One of the main activities we did was making our own journals and filling them in each class period. The journal itself was made from decorating an old file folder, adding in white paper, and tying ribbon or string to hold it all together. Here is what mine looked like:
Our professor would give us prompts and the option to either write or draw what we were thinking. Here is an example of my response to an excerpt read to us from the novel Pirate’s Passage– we had to write and sketch what we thought would happen next.
We read three young adult novels during the course: The Outsiders, The Secret Under My Skin, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Fun fact: I read The Outsiders as a student in grade 8, and it is still being analysed in schools today! In this next photo, our professor had read us an article about gangs, and we had to respond to it in our journals. I thought this was a great way to connect what is read in schools with current events.
Throughout the course, we responded to a number of different prompts, either related to what we were reading or to a song, poem, or any sort of media. Journaling is a great way to get students writing right away, and allows them to write freely (their first thoughts and ideas) without worrying about spelling or grammar. Often, we would only have a few minutes to write, which increased the spontaneity of our answers.
We were also given a large number of resources in the form of a course pack. These articles ranged from lesson ideas to book recommendations and current news and updates about adolescent literacy. Most of the articles came from Classroom Notes Plus, the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and the English Journal. Another great resource we were introduced to for lesson plans and ideas was Read Write Think.
In addition to our in class activities, we also had the chance to apply what we were learning in practice. We visited two grade 10 English classes who were studying Lord of the Flies and did an activity called “Body Biography.” with them. In groups, students were to draw one of the main characters (on poster paper), adding any elements that reflected the character’s personality, growth, actions, or emotions in the novel. It was a great activity and the students enjoyed showing what they had learned about the novel and character development.
As a whole, I really enjoyed this course and it gave me many ideas for assignments, novels, and lesson plans for intermediate English.