History of You

History of You was conceived as a course for all incoming students at our school. Its purpose is threefold: to build habits that would insure students' success, to build language arts skills, particularly writing, and to acquaint students with the personnel and opportunities at Satellite.

Because so many of our students are returning to school after months and years of poor and non-attendance, it is important to focus on developing habits like punctuality and organization. Students keep meticulous notebooks where each day's assignment is labeled and stapled in correct order. Teachers do weekly notebook checks. There are many conversations about the importance of regular attendance. Students assess their progress, their strengths and weaknesses in periodic reflections in letters to their teachers. Sharing their ideas in large and small groups, working cooperatively with others and listening respectfully to their peers and teachers are also behaviors that are a focal point of their learning.

Our second purpose is to give students a lot of writing practice and instruction. The autobiographical focus of the writing and reading give students an opportunity to make meaning of the experiences that have shaped their lives. Peer reviews, teacher conferences and grammar lessons help students practice correct usage. Doing pre-writing activities, brainstorming and revising their work reinforces the idea that writing is a disciplined process that involves steps until a final draft clearly communicates one's ideas.

Thirdly, we hope our History of You class helps students to know their new school. They conduct in depth interviews with each other and the principal. They meet the school´┐Żs support personnel and have a weekly "brothers" and "sisters" group to discuss issues unique to their gender.

TOPICS:

• Autobiographical reading and writing
•Using a thesaurus
•How to conduct interviews
•Self-identity exercises including a culminating art project
•Grammar and paragraphing
•Using detail and precision to make writing come alive.
•Reading for meaning

ASSESSMENTS

Homeworks Organized notebooks
Progress in writing skills Presentation of Work
Guided self-assessments  

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL: Grammar worksheets for English Made Easy, The play The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds, Autobiographical excerpts from Malcolm X, The Life of Assata Shakur, Audre Lourde's autobiography, and student writing

INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES: Peer reviews Teacher Conferences Student Self-assessments Small group work, cooperative learning groups