Tutor profile: Paula F.
Is it important to teach the writer instead of teaching to standards?
Absolutely! A fun strategy I was taught this year (and implemented) was the skill of studying mentor texts to learn the author's craft moves. Then kids can make their own checklists from studying this text. So yes, they need to meet the standards of a grade level PLC in writing for example, but they can go deeper by adding more goals that they have noticed the writers of wonderful mentor texts do. This also helps kids develop their own individual strength as a writer where they are not just checking off criteria they have mastered. Instead they have made the checklist personal to them based on the work of mentor authors.
Can Shakespeare be comprehended and mastered by second language learners?
Absolutely. As I stated above, I taught Romeo and Juliet to my fifth graders, the majority of whom were transitioning to English. I exposed them to the real Shakespeare text, and we unpacked it, front loaded it and acted it out. Then kids wrote out a chapter in their own words to add to the play. Finally, we performed the play, and it was so rewarding to watch the kids develop a deep understanding of the play.
Subject: US History
How should a teacher of fifth grade go about teaching the dynamics of slavery during the American Revolution? What was its role? Why did it exist?
What I did was to integrate the book "Chains" into the study of the Causes of the American Revolution. It is the story of a 13 year old slave who wants her "freedom" above all else, at a time when there is a fight happening between patriots and loyalists. Slaves and slavery is not even seen as an important issue. We read this book together and learned the chronology of the American Revolution. Simultaneously we developed opinion argument essays arguing which side was right. Amazing discussion, and indepth knowledge of the American Revolution was taught in addition to developing writing skills.