This is the website for Mr. DiDonato's tenth grade English class. The syllabus can be accessed through a link on the bar above.
Important dates for assignments, quizzes/tests and homework as well the week's class schedule will be added and updated below as the year progresses.
Mr. DiDonato's Personal Vision
When I think back about my time as a high school student, English was the class I felt the most comfortable in and when I think about my favorite teachers, most of them just so happened to be English teachers. I think about 11thgrade A.P. literature where Mr. Alexander had the attention of everyone in the room as he became animated and enthusiastic about looking deeper at any chapter of a novel, scene of a play, or verse of a poem. I think about how in Mr. Del Campo’s 12thgrade creative writing class, he asked us to find our own voice and play around with the “rules” of conventional writing and grammar. I think about how this all relates to a passion for storytelling that lead me to initially pursue media studies as an undergraduate. To me, ‘storytelling’ wasn’t just the plot of an assigned novel, but the building blocks hidden in any text that could either help answer a question for class or contextualize experiences in my own life to write a personal statement such as this one. As an adolescent, I saw teachers as storytellers. Several times a day in forty minute increments, a teacher would put on a show with audience participation and have an immediate impact; the classroom was being used as a place for students to find their own voice and learn more about themselves, their critical thinking skills and their aspirations. Having pulled back the curtain on my perceptions of teaching during observation hours, I realize the inner workings of what seemed like an invisible machine are actually purposefully designed moments of instruction. I want to model my teaching after the experiences I’ve had and work with students not just by being passionate about my content, but using methods that will reflect a disposition of engagement and interest.
In previous courses at Pace University, I’ve looked at hypothetical teaching dispositions and two that have resonated with me are a facilitator teaching style and an authoritative management style. An authoritative style encourages independence while still placing limits to allow for students to exhibit self reliant behaviors. A facilitative teaching style places the emphasis on student-teacher relationships where I can remain flexible in seeing what students need. As I think about some of the learning theories I encountered in this class, I can see some ideologies that compliment those styles. Dewey and Vygotsky both valued group work and collaboration. Ideally, I would love to find a balance between students’ self-exploration and my own passion for English. Each lesson is formed around big ideas and essential questions. By looking at universal themes and then using them to generate questions that are open-ended and engaging, I can begin to see where to push forward with my curriculum. Understanding by Design (UbD) also looks at the big picture by stressing that we identify desired results first and then determine acceptable evidence and plan learning experiences. Using this as model for lesson planning, I realize how I can look at both the big picture of student understanding and the micromanagement of content-related instruction. It is also important for students to relate to the material. Whether it is using hooks to connect students to their previous knowledge and experiences or using Universal Design for Learning to accommodate different types of learners, my passion for wanting to help students learn however they can by being able to adjust my teaching methods helps me to understand the importance of connecting to each student individually.
As I review the conceptual frameworks from Pace, Charlotte Danielson and the EdTPA, I’m struck by how “effective teaching” addresses several different areas of the classroom experience. Aside from knowing one’s content, teachers also help manage the school environment and act as role models. As I learn more about the importance of knowing as much as one can about a student’s life outside of school, I hope to create a curriculum that can work for different students that is universally beneficial. I believe young minds want to learn. This sentiment is where I begin to see how my passion for storytelling can intertwine with this personal vision. By forming a community with students that is adaptable for all learners, I can help students to find their own voice and work with them to tell a story. I realize that methods are what can help a teacher articulate a story for students, but the teacher is not the sole storyteller in the room. At a certain point, I want the student to takeover and become storytellers in their own right.