Edison-Fareira High School
Web Page of Mr. Cassorla, Edison Volunteer Teacher
and retired English and Theater Teacher
This web page was last updated on June 17, 2018
Purposes: The purposes of this web page are to highlight the talents of my students, and ultimately, to provide learning resources as well. This is not an official web page of the school. For official information on this school and others, please visit www.philasd.org
I enjoyed teaching at Edison-Fareira H.S. for seven years as of this writing, or since September 2008. I retired in June, 2015 and have continued to be active as a volunteer. Many teachers have said that they learn from their students, and I am no exception. At "Edison," I have been witness to great skills, artistic passions and creative excellence. Some of my students' work is reflected in the Literary Journals shown here, which I have been privileged to compile and edit along with other teachers and our students. Other video work is on www.youtube.com Search there for "Fried-Cassorla" to find relevant videos. Also, you may write to me regarding any student work at firstname.lastname@example.org I have not posted all of the previously published such journals. A total of seven were produced, and I may get around to uploading some of the older ones now that I am retired and "infinite" time. :).
Just see our latest and older Journals, just click on the images or HERE! hyperlinks below, and the booklet should open up as a pdf file. I hope you enjoy our students' creativity!
May 11, 2018 - Volunteering at Edison HS - visiting classes of Mrs. Emily Cohen (English) and Ms. Clarissa Stetson (art)
I made the following videos with my wonderful students while working at Edison High School. Waivers are on file for all students shown.
Location of all of my youtube videos:
COURSES and SUBJECTS:
Click on the Journal cover below or just click HERE!
The printed Spring 2015 Edition shown above was printed through Prime Movers Media, a wonderful organization that encourages literacy skills throughout the School District of Philadelphia.
Click on the Journal cover below or just click HERE!
The printed Spring 2014 Edition shown above was printed through Prime Movers Media, a wonderful organization that encourages literacy skills throughout the School District of Philadelphia.
The printed Spring 2012 edition was produced by our own Ink Well print shop and graphics studio, under the guidance of Instructor G. David Mills. They do excellent work and are open to the public for business, as part of our Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings.
Click on the Journal cover above or click HERE.
May 11, 2018 - Volunteering
A Rewarding day of Volunteer Teaching at Edison HS
May 11, 2018
From time to time, I volunteer co-teach at Edison High School. That is where I taught for seven years and the school from which I retired three years ago. The students are spirited and fun-loving, and the staff is smart, talanted and totally committed to the childrens' education. Here is an account (probably in too much detail) of a part of one such day...
The day before re-visiting Edison, I had texted and emailed teacher-friends and the principal to plan an enjoyable day of volunteering at my former high school. It’s a very different experience from my normal pedagogical experience teaching at Gwynedd Mercy University — but fun in a different way.
English Class with Mrs. Cohen
All signals were go! Co-teaching at Edison is easy as a volunteer. No elaborate lesson plans to prepare, no parents to call -- but you do have to plan what will be taught and how you’ll do it.
Case in point: English teacher Emily Cohen and I decided to work on a lesson based on the memoir,Warriors Don’t Cry, by Melba P. Beals. This is a book about the author’s experiences as a member of the Little Rock 9, a group of students who integrated the Birmingham, AL, schools. Mrs. Cohen’s class had been reading it aloud in class and were up to Chapter 6.
I did some online research and found an excellent background document with worksheets on the Howard Zinn Foundation’s web site (https://zinnedproject.org/). Zinn was a great American historian who wrote a People’s History of United States, a progressive viewpoint book and a bestseller. In any case, the document we found was perfect in that it had provocative questions, character analysis, and space for drawing visual representations of what was on people's minds during the period.
So we used several of the worksheets to our advantage. I had emailed the documents to Mrs. Cohen, and she had copied the most relevant pages. Note that as a volunteer in another teacher's classroom, I am always mindful of what the teacher has in mind for a particular lesson. Do I have liberty to create an add-on to that lesson? Or must I stick to the exact script? In this case there was some wiggle room.
An aside: whenever I teach is a volunteer come I do my best to create or obtain a seating chart. This way I identify students by name and asked them questions and see how they are learning. Otherwise, I am simply Mystery Man, and why should they pay attention to me? Of course, the main teacher introduces me and gives me her or his seal of approval, and that helps.
So we did some play acting today. I asked one of the students if she would play a character name to Melba, the author's name. Melba was a 14-year-old girl, and her grandmother was fiercely protective of her. Grandma would fend off racist attacks with her shotgun as she was sitting on the front porch.
So, to set the stage for an improv, so to speak, I did various character voices, and the student who was to play Melba was courageous enough to speak into the microphone that I always carry with me. This tool plus my portable amp helps galvanize the class's attention. So we had fun doing voices and play situations.
As with the social studies class I later attended, students had to hand in a completed piece of work to the teacher at the end of the lesson. This requirement makes the students feel that they’re doing something well and accomplishing a task for which they will get credit.
Discovering Olmec culture in Social Studies Class with Ms. Rooney
So after spending, say, an hour out of a 90 minute class, I said goodbye to Mrs. Cohen for the moment and went upstairs to see Ms. Rooney, a skilled social studies teacher. She texted me that they were learning about Olmecs and other aspects of native South American pre-Columbian history. Being almost totally ignorant of that subject, I did some homework the night before.
One technique I find effective as a guest teacher is to use a video to make the main pedagogical points. I pause the video frequently and asked the students to write down various notes or to complete a worksheet and engage with me and the main teacher in relevant conversation. Once again, as a guest teacher you cannot demand too much. So I simply wanted them to write down 6 to 10 essential bullet points from a 2 1/2 minute educational video, and they did.
With Ms. Rooney's help I was able to get one student to be the audio visual manager, so I could be freed up to talk to the class. Also, cultivated student discussion leaders who would help the rest of the class catch on.
Surprise! I learned something that I did not expect. Historians believe that the Olmecs may have come from Africa, specifically the nation of Mali. I had always thought that Native American cultures came from Mongolia and China, having worked their way down the coast-line some 30,000 years ago.
That may still be true for many tribes, but the Olmecs certainly look African. They enjoyed playing a particularly deadly form of basketball in which the loser also loses his life. I said that I was glad that the Philadelphia 76ers did not face that kind of a tradition, since we had been eliminated from the playoffs a few days earlier!
So there you have a few scenes from my visit to the social studies class where I not only taught but learned.
Art class with Mrs. Stetson
My last stop was the art class of Mrs. Stetson. She is a talented young teacher who knows not only how to teach but how to engage. Today she was working with them on basics of portraiture. She taught students not to be embarrassed if they got a key feature off-kilter. For example, one student had the eyes on a woman’s face incorrectly aligned. She said to that student: "It’s no insult to realize you’ve made a mistake. Erase what you’ve done, and re-do it. I do it all the time."
The student took that advice to heart and reworked her drawing.
Last at-school experience: I met a senior in the lobby whom I had taught when he was a ninth grader. We had a good talk. His name was Mark and he will be a construction worker. I asked him what he remembered from our time together.
He recalled dressing in costumes and working on skits that we filmed, and also learning about Homer's Odyssey. I remember him as an initially recalcitrant student at the beginning of the semester, who later blossomed into one of the class leaders. As a reward for their attention I would show them part of the movie Mr. 3000. This young man had roared so loud at some of the funniest scenes that his laughter will be forever be etched in my brain. I told him that!
Last experience - this one at Dunkin Donuts
That was my day at Edison, and I capped it off with a cup of coffee at the local Dunkin’ Donuts. There, this policeman and a boy were posing with the boy wearing the officer's cap. They allowed me to snap a photo which you will see here!
Visiting Edison is a fun and rewarding activity in my retirement. These young people need support; plus, they’re warm hearted, and are generally eager to learn.