Best Practices in Urban English Education
Best Practices in Language Arts Literacy

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English is the discipline that students will encounter in all of their classes, from physical education to math to sciences and finally in a language arts classroom. The proper use of English however, requires discipline, numerous reading and writing assignments, projects; research, interactive participation and most importantly fun. How often have teachers neglected to focus on the interests and diversity of their students only to see that they are teaching to the walls or to only a select few when most of their classes could have been eagerly engaging in the educational process?

Through our observances of language arts classes in urban elementary and middle and by including some concepts we have acquired from our educational classes that we believe would work well in all settings including urban, we hope to illustrate a possible curriculum for a language arts class. In most classes now there is a push towards developing creative and critical thinking, multiple intelligence instruction as well as a focus on working in groups rather than alienating students and making them work entirely by themselves while listening to the droning voices of teachers at the head of the classroom. Students’ opinions, inputs, ideas, and questions become more welcome in this group setting, enabling the participation of more students within the class, even of those who are often shy and insecure since they now have at least one more peer to assist them.

During classroom observations we noticed that though each student had their individual books, they were often sitting in groups of 2 or 3; where they could consult each other on the assignments at hand, including discussion of the work, questions, or interpretations. Students could often revise each other’s work prior to submitting it to the teacher, boosting not only their confidence but also their skills. This is one of the practices that can be very effective in any subject not only in language arts, it enables students to have more active participation and the teacher to walk around the groups and observe them providing assistance only where needed.

One more practice that would be important for the classes, specifically in Urban Schools, and which was also observed in some of the schools was the time provided to students to pick out their own books and read at random, without any assignments so that they would get into the habit of reading and increase their interests, abilities and imagination, hence enabling critical and creative thinking.

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