By Rosie Levenson, AmeriCorps member serving on the Bain Capital team with Blackstone Innovation School
My favorite PITW, or “Putting Idealism to Work," a collection of ideas to guide our service, phrase is PITW #32: “Inject Creativity into Everything!” For myself and other City Year AmeriCorps members, PITWs are an important aspect of City Year culture, and this PITW encourages me to be more creative when I make academic intervention (focused tutoring) lesson plans. I host these sessions for seven students, whom I pull out into small groups. Together, we work on skills such as fluency, comprehension, and phonetics. This space is critical not only to academic learning time, but for relationship building with my students. More importantly, intervention time is the main space in which I chart a course on how and what my students will learn.
For me, leading independent lesson plans is naturally daunting and anxiety-inducing. Rather than festering in my anxiety, I decided to take control by pre-planning my lessons so that they appeal to multiple kinds of learners and were genuinely interesting to my students. I tried to craft lessons that blended academic material with fun tasks for checking understanding.
For example, to build reading comprehension, I gave my students readings on Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea. From there, the students answered questions, wrote in their journals, and drew pictures- all relating to the historical figures and their accomplishments. Through this lesson, the students not only learned that comprehension takes multiple forms, but experienced that idea too!
Another session I devised was a fluency lesson focused on vocal inflection and expression. We started with a chart to gauge my students’ previous knowledge on the subjects, then mimicked Taylor Swift’s inflection in “Shake it Off”, and then recited some of Shel Silverstein’s best poems. This lesson was not only super fun—it also let my students interactively experience fluency in a way that was relevant to their interests.
At the end of the day, my dedication to lesson planning is a strategy that not only benefits my students, but also myself. I enter my intervention time feeling more prepared, energized and confident. For my students, I have material that is relevant, engaging and tailored to their individual needs. My hope is that if I am more invested in my lessons, my students will be, too.
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