Common Core

5 Innovative Activities & Projects for Any Novel Unit

5 Innovative Activities & Projects for Any Novel Unit

As secondary ELA teachers, there are certain traditional activities that we tend to give our students during a novel study. These activities range from body maps to dialectical journals.

Five ESSENTIAL Questions to Guide Textual Analysis

Five ESSENTIAL Questions to Guide Textual Analysis

Textual analysis can be very confusing when it is anchored or bogged down by esoteric terminology, jargon, and specific devices. This terminology can make textual analysis and close reading and intimidating process for students.

How to get Started with Mentor Sentences

How to get Started with Mentor Sentences

Mentor sentences are an excellent tool to use in the secondary ELA classroom to model essential skills from grammar to literary devices.  They reinforce quality writing skills from published in authors in a positive way rather than the traditional sentence correction method that modeled negative traits.  

8 Ways to Help Students Break Through Writer’s Block

8 Ways to Help Students Break Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is real.  It can be the brick wall that stands between success and failure.  And it can be the force that prevents students from completing writing assignments.

Tone Tunes: Using Music to Teach Tone in Poetry

Tone Tunes: Using Music to Teach Tone in Poetry

Being able to decipher the tone of a piece of writing is crucial to being able to decipher the thematic message of a text.  This is absolutely true for analyzing poetry.

The Art of the One-Pager

The Art of the One-Pager

One-pagers are all the rage these days. When students process their learning in this fun visual style, the results are powerful.

Satire Through Subtlety-- Using the Comics of Savage Chickens to Teach Satire in High School English

Satire Through Subtlety-- Using the Comics of Savage Chickens to Teach Satire in High School English

I am a HUGE fan of Doug Savage's Savage Chickens "comics."  Savage Chickens is a single-frame comic drawn on a sticky note that illustrates the life of chickens whose experiences reveal the "savage" truths of the human existence.

Jack the Ripper + "Mack the Knife": A Lesson on Deciphering Tone and Bias Through Diction

Jack the Ripper + "Mack the Knife": A Lesson on Deciphering Tone and Bias Through Diction

In this lesson, the students first read a series news article written about Jack the Ripper from The London Times, late 1800s, and they identified the tone of the articles.
 

Famous Love Letters: A Unique Approach to Rhetorical Analysis and Creative Writing for Valentine's Day

Famous Love Letters:  A Unique Approach to Rhetorical Analysis and Creative Writing for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a polarizing holiday-- people either love it or hate it.  But no matter how you feel about the holiday, Valentine's Day provides an opportunity for students to focus on the most powerful emotion behind literature and art:  LOVE. 

The Five Most Important Argumentative Essay Topics of 2018

The Five Most Important Argumentative Essay Topics of 2018

As we kickoff 2018, the media is already reporting upon key issues that will define the new year.  These issues include women's rights, sexual harassment, DACA, the tax code, healthcare, unions, prescription drug abuse, cryptocurrency, and many others. 

6 Christmas Commercials to Analyze this Holiday Season

6 Christmas Commercials to Analyze this Holiday Season

The Christmas holiday season is the most popular retail season of the year.  Companies hire ad agencies to compete against all of the sales of the season in order to attract attention to their products and services.

Three Famous Christmas Speeches to Inspire Writing

Three Famous Christmas Speeches to Inspire Writing

It's the "most wonderful time of the year" once again!  Every year, the holiday season inspires new movie ideas, and some of these movies go on to become some of the most beloved films of all time with some of the most well-known movie speeches in film history.

Thanksgiving & Abraham Lincoln: A Rhetorical Analysis Activity

Thanksgiving & Abraham Lincoln:  A Rhetorical Analysis Activity

For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to go back to the roots of our celebrated "Turkey Day" to address the fact that the original Thanksgiving had nothing to do with pilgrims or turkeys at all.

The Logline: A Screenwriting Tool for Text Analysis

The Logline:  A Screenwriting Tool for Text Analysis

In screenwriting (writing for movies and TV), the logline is key to brainstorming story ideas and also selling them or "pitching" them to buyers.  Crafting loglines can help the writer to flesh out new plot ideas before writing the entire script.  It's much easier to revise the logline rather than an entire hundred page script!  

Screenwriting: A Creative Approach to Targeting the Common Core

Screenwriting:  A Creative Approach to Targeting the Common Core

Screenplay writing is a type of writing that we don't really address in secondary English Language Arts.  The closest students get to this type of writing is through reading drama.  But why is this the case in the 21st century classroom?

Writing is Recursive, NOT Linear: Free Task Cards Included!

Writing is Recursive, NOT Linear:  Free Task Cards Included!

Writing goes all ways: forwards, backwards, sideways, over there, and over here.  In fact, the only piece of the writing process that occurs at a set point in time is publishing.

Commentary for Literary Analysis:  Four Square Strategy for Success

Commentary for Literary Analysis:  Four Square Strategy for Success

Do you ever see something like this when grading literary analysis essays?

“Frankenstein’s monster says, ‘If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!’”  This shows that the monster wants to cause fear.”

Daily Writing Prompts to Inspire New Ideas

Daily Writing Prompts to Inspire New Ideas

TeachWriting.org has announced a new writing project for the 2017-2018 school year.  This year, the collaborators at TeachWriting are creating DAILY WRITING PROMPTS via their Facebook Page.

20 Prompts for Photo-Inspired Writing in Secondary ELA

20 Prompts for Photo-Inspired Writing in Secondary ELA

Using photography is an excellent way to inspire writing.  Photos can be used to prompt personal narratives, persuasive essays, creative pieces, op-eds, thematic analysis, and more!  

The Worst Essay of Your LIFE: A Unique Approach to Assessing Writing at the Beginning of the School Year

The Worst Essay of Your LIFE: A Unique Approach to Assessing Writing at the Beginning of the School Year

The beginning of the school year is an important time to assess the writing skill levels of new students in our English classes.  One way to do this is to assign a diagnostic essay in order to "diagnose" each student's writing level.