Reading with a different pair of eyes

Storer introducing the sophomore 1984 project to his 4th period class, including Braeden Gibson (left) and Diana Vu (right). Fitzpatrick’s and Storer’s classes will both work on the project about the George Orwell novel.
Photo by Semay Alazar

Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, Wayne Storer joined Sarah Fitzpatrick Erdmann as the co-sophomore English teacher. The two teachers have had to work together to teach sophomore students the reading and writing skills necessary to be successful in their junior year.

Though they are using the same curriculum, the two teachers implement their own style of teaching into their classes, offering different perspectives on the same material. Storer reads entire novels to his class over the course of the semester.

“I’m a big novel guy,” said Storer. “I love having a novel that we all share together that is our common text. When you have a novel that you all work on together, you all do close reading practice on it, you all discuss it together, [and] it also gives us a target for an AP Lit style question three.”

However, Fitzpatrick reads a diverse range of texts in conjunction with scaffolding; breaking up a task into the smaller skills necessary to complete it.

“I am a big believer in providing scaffolding and approaching texts from a variety of entry points, focusing on close reading strategies and complex texts,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think my students are doing well and are enjoying class; we have a lot of fun and I have seen some major growth in their writing specifically.”

Preparing students for AP English classes, specifically AP Lit, is a big focus for Storer who teaches the class; reading novels on the AP list furthers that focus. Sophomore English student Miles Gendreau believes reading an entire novel in Storer’s class is helpful.

“I think it’s good that we’re progressively going through a book over the course of the semester,”  said Gendreau. “I think it helps, especially when it’s connected to the other things we’re learning; you can kind of put your learning in context.”

Sophomore Brigitta Nguyen is in Fitzpatrick’ class and believes that working with smaller texts lets students try new things without diving in head first.

“I personally really liked working with smaller texts throughout the year,” said Nguyen. “I believe that working with smaller texts is a great teaching style, because it allows students to ‘test the waters’ when learning new writing elements, or styles of writing.”

Because she had Storer freshman year and Fitzpatrick her sophomore year, Nguyen can compare and contrast the different styles of each teacher.

“Mr. Storer, of course, teaches that ‘meaning is all that matters,’ and I think that Mr. Storer’s teaching style really helped me develop great themes and analyses on an emotional-level [ethos],” said Nguyen. “However, Ms. Fitzpatrick teaches in-depth about many elements of style that go into analyses, and her teaching style helped me improve my writing on a technical level.”

One strategy Storer has borrowed from Fitzpatrick is the use of scaffolding. Although Storer has seen how beneficial scaffolding can be to different learning styles, he had some hesitations at first.

“Ms. [Fitzpatrick] is far more skilled at scaffolding than I am,” said Storer. “Some of [scaffolding] to me seems too low level, but I’ve learned this year that it’s not, and then I watched [students] work through some of these activities; some of the chunking, some of the charts, and I saw how valuable it was.”

Fitzpatrick has also incorporated elements from Storer into her own class.

“He has shared some interesting ideas that I have used and altered a bit in AP Lang specifically, such as group timed writes,” said Fitzpatrick. “I have also used some of his close reading strategies and the Book Talk project, of course.”

Though the two teachers may have a different focus, both have assisted Nguyen in developing her writing skills.

“Overall, I think that both teachers are excellent in what they do,” said Nguyen, “and having experienced both teaching styles from both teachers helped me become a better writer.”


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