Literary analysis is tough.
• “Explain how the author uses setting to establish the mood of this short story.”
• “Determine the narrator’s tone and present two pieces of textual evidence to defend your choice.”
• “Examine the writer’s use of the colors green and yellow as symbols that support the novel’s theme.”
I’m a literature nerd, so digging into these prompts would keep me happily engaged for days. Most teens, though, don’t share my enthusiasm, often because they don’t yet have the tools, experience, or confidence to articulate what they see in the works of literature we study.
The solution? Modeling and practice. Once teens start to see how the game is played, they quickly become more comfortable – and vocal! – in sharing interesting things they notice.Continue reading
I know, I know, it’s only the beginning of August, but it really is time to start thinking about the fall. As you get your planning underway, please know I have so. many. things. to ease your prep load. Today, I’m featuring five essential items – my all-time favorites! – that might be helpful: Full […]
You want to add more current event materials to your classes, but you definitely don’t have the time to dig through the daily paper or online media to find school-appropriate stories that’ll actually get kids talking. That’s where the education staff at The New York Times has your back. I’ve enjoyed their Learning Network materials for years, but just this weekend I learned about a mother lode of goodies they’ve compiled for us.Continue reading
The research citation experts over at the M.L.A. just released their 2021 edition of the handbook. Do you know the differences between the 8th and 9th editions? If not, join me for this quick overview of the rule changes that’ll impact students this fall:Continue reading
Note: This is an updated repost.
You’ve wrapped your last major unit and final exams are still a week or so away. You could spend five days on Review Jeopardy (um…no, thanks) or you could grab some of these tried-and-true resources that’ll keep kids focused until finals. Continue reading
A few years back, I noticed something weird – kids sometimes, maybe even often, learned more when I did less. One unexpected side effect of our spring semester 20Time experience was that I saw kids taking more ownership of information when they were the ones doing the research. This started me thinking about, and changing, how I present all sorts of material. Continue reading
Today’s post comes from a recent email (used with permission) from a fellow English teacher. For privacy, I changed her name.
First, thank you, as always, for your thoughtful, realistic approach to education. I am deeply grateful! Next, a few questions for you. It sounds like you are free to create and use your own curriculum. Is that the case? Are you and the other English teachers expected to cover the same content? To have the same number/type of assessments?
Also, my department chair insists on following up every single chunk of reading with what he calls “focus” questions, the bulk of which involve reading comprehension questions, all of which are approached in the exact same way – context, lead-in, quote, sometimes analysis. Thus, let’s say for The Catcher in the Rye, he expects kids to answer 10-15 focus questions after every chapter. Am I right in despising this approach to curriculum and thinking he is out of touch with how to approach curriculum in a meaningful way? I know I’m asking you to weigh in on something here that has no remedy; I’m just wondering if I’m the one who’s out of touch!