Amy Cothran
8th Grade English
Christian Junior High School
El Cajon, California

Recommended Sites for Students:
Other Favorite Sites:
New Musical based on Jane Eyre!
Oh, To Be in London!
The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Brooklyn Tab Fans! Read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
Les Miserables, the Musical
Abba's Child, Brennan Manning's Masterpiece
Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here: Grammar Rock!
Kay Arthur's Precept Ministries
Be a Culture-Vulture for Extra Credit!! San Diego
Movie of the Century: The Sound of Music
HST Scrapbooking in Style: Creative Memories
Movie of the Year: You've Got Mail!
Analyze Your Personality: Please Understand Me!
Drink Dr. Pepper!
Free-Reading Ideas:
My Alma Mater! Harding University

Educational Philosophy

I feel privileged to work at a Christian school, where I have the opportunity to impact students' lives not only academically, but spiritually, as well. I count it one of my biggest responsibilities and one of my biggest challenges to show a Christian example to my students. As an alumna of Christian schools, I know that my behavior in class and on a personal basis with my students may be the most memorable and lasting aspect of my teaching. It is a great blessing to be able to integrate knowledge of God and His love for us into my literature and composition lessons.

I believe that all teachers are responsible for imparting knowledge to their students in whatever way is best to help them to learn. In order to do that, it is important to use a variety of methods so that each student's needs are addressed. For example, in addition to traditional methods such as worksheets and class lectures, group projects, artistic assignments, drama presentations, and audiovisual lessons should be incorporated. All of this work in presentation of the material goes to waste, however, if the teacher is not prepared to evaluate her students' work. Tests, quizzes, and grading on homework and classwork should show students that the teacher's expectations are high. Shoddy work should never be rewarded, but it is also vital for the teacher to be sensitive to the varying needs of her students in order to adapt expectations in the case of learning disabilities or other special needs. Variety in teaching methods can make a class that is demanding and difficult become an enjoyable one for most students.

Introducing Eighth Graders to Shakespeare

One of the most enjoyable units I taught this year was our cursory introduction to William Shakespeare and his contributions to English literature. We began with an impromptu version (Shakespeare-Action-Theatre, I called it) of Romeo and Juliet, where I assigned roles, read a short plot summary of the play, and then reread the plot summary, instructing the students to mime the action of the play. Since many of the students had already seen the movie or were familiar with the plot, this was a great "into" activity to interest the students in Shakespeare's other plays.

Next, we spent two days on Shakespeare's autobiography, incorporating a funny e-mail about the way people lived in Elizabethan England. The students enjoyed hearing about what they ate and how they slept back then. An overnight assignment to make a quiz using the handout of the main events of Shakespeare's life seemed fun to the students, but their scores on the quizzes the next day proved that it helped them to remember the material. I also passed around an anthology of Shakespeare's works and a couple of dozen pictures from my trip to London and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Last, we did another Shakespeare-Action-Theatre, this time of Much Ado About Nothing. I passed out the plot summary this time, and after reading through it, each student was assigned a scene. They were instructed to write a script for their scene, including dialogue and stage directions. I collected these scenes, put them on order, and gave them to a responsible student to turn into a complete script for the play over the weekend (for extra-credit, of course).

The next week, we assigned parts and used the student-written scripts to practice our play. Then we produced the play, with costumes and all, and videotaped it. The groups enjoyed viewing not only their own production, but also the other classes'. To wrap up Much Ado, we spent a few days watching the incredible movie version by Kenneth Branaugh. The students loved it because they knew the plot so well that the Elizabethan English was not too much for them.

As a grand finale, I invited my extremely dramatic sister and one of her friends to come in and talk about Shakespearean acting and to do a few scenes from Much Ado About Nothing. At the end of the year, several students remembered that visit as the highlight of the entire class.