Monday, September 7, 2009

The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide

Though I bought this last year sometime, I never really had the chance to look at it until this year. I had a bit of an emergency at the beginning of this school year where the study skills classes I teach are concerned. I've taught study skills for five years now, every other day, no problem. Until now.

Not that what I have going on with the new version of study skills is exactly a problem. It's more like a challenge. For the first time, I've started teaching study skills every day for forty minutes twice in a period. So, the students I have for the first part of the period leave half way through and go to a math class and then I get kids who've just had math for forty minutes. All in all, I see about thirty students for first period every day.

This is where The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide by Erin Gruwell has come in handy. I needed to revamp this course anyway, because it was becoming a bit boring, for me and for students. I needed some creative, thoughtful activities that could be easily completed in forty minutes and that would still have the same reflective, goal-oriented qualities as the ones I've always taught. Also, since we do not yet have any laptops in our classroom because they're all being imaged, I need to have activities that do not require technology.

I like that each of the activities in this text comes with a good description of how it should be carried out, thoughtful quotations from students and teachers who've completed the activity, and blank reproducibles for easy photocopying or to use as examples for students. I'm not much of a photocopy-reproducible-type of teacher, but I am feeling some anxiety about the new set-up of this course and it's been comforting for me to have some back up, should I need it. Also, I have been excited by the products that kids have come up with. They're more than jsut busy work; students have poured a lot of thought and energy into their creation.

Thanks to this resource, we're off to a good start in what could've been a pretty crazy situation.

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