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Sheila K. Gray

English and Reading

Education

  • University of Miami, B.S.C. English/Organizational Communication
  • University of South Florida, M.A. Education
  • Northern Kentucky University, M.A. Liberal Studies (English and Communication Concentration)

Teaching philosophy

Important skills I want to teach my students

I want my students to be life-long readers and confident writers. Giving students choice in what they read and modeling a passion for reading provides a foundation for students to develop individual reading habits that persist into adulthood. As writers, students create pieces that reflect personal and professional writing of the day.

Teaching methods to reach these goals

Giving students choice in what they read and modeling a passion for reading provides a foundation for students to develop individual reading habits that persist into adulthood. The only way to become a better writer is to write - a lot. Students will engage in a wide range of writing activities producing pieces for a broader audience. Assignments will focus on students developing their own voice and writing for today’s readers.

My favorite projects

I challenge students to submit their writing to publications and to writing contests so that they are writing for a broader audience. The Scholastic Writing Program provides the broadest opportunity for students to be recognized at the regional and national levels for fiction and non-fiction writing. Students also love writing about their own passions. Students create a blog on a topic of their choice. Blog Day, when students share weekly posts with classmates, has become a favorite lesson. Finally, writing can be a wonderful way for students to truly identify with literary figures. When reading Othello by William Shakespeare, students assume the persona of a major character and write a letter back home in the voice of that character. As these letters are read aloud, students not only gain a better understanding of the actions of the scene, but they also more fully grasp the motivations of the characters.

Why I love teaching

There is an energy in the classroom that is unlike any other environment. Each new group of students finds a different meaning or perspective in a work of poetry or a scene from Shakespeare giving the discussion new life. I find satisfaction in developing lessons that will yield the “aha” moment for students as they finally understand the significance of a verbal or the proper use of the introductory comma. But my greatest joy comes when students eagerly approach me to discuss a book they just finished that they want to recommend to their peers. Those glimpses of passion in my students fuels my love of teaching.