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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. 

10 Essential Writing Workshop Supplies from Amazon

10 Essential Writing Workshop Supplies from Amazon

Running an effective writing workshop can be a challenge on its own, but there are some supplies that can keep the writing process organized and effective for you and your students.  Here, I've compiled a list of my essential writing workshop supplies to get you through the rest of the year!

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.

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.

Support for Struggling Writers: How Essay Interviews can HELP!

Support for Struggling Writers:  How Essay Interviews can HELP!

The term “struggling” writer really applies to every single human being.  We have all struggled with writing at some point and will continue to struggle moving forward.  The difference between successful writers and unsuccessful writers (“success” being defined as students who turn in completed essays that convey meaning effectively versus those who do not) lies in being able to work through frustration.  

Three High-Interest Writing Assignments to Motivate Struggling Writers

Three High-Interest Writing Assignments to Motivate Struggling Writers

Motivating struggling writers can be quite a challenge.  With struggling writers, it is important to create high-interest assignments that students will want to work on, assignments that they will want to put forth the effort on in order to succeed.  If struggling students are bored with a writing topic, they won’t be as invested in it and won’t want to put the time and effort in to make it the best it can be. 

The Most Important Essay for High School Seniors: The Personal Philosophy Statement

The Most Important Essay for High School Seniors: The Personal Philosophy Statement

Teaching high school seniors makes for an interesting group of students because they've mostly already passed their standardized tests and know their next steps in life-- college, work, military, etc.

Playing Devil’s Advocate:  A Game for Practicing Argument Skills in Secondary ELA

Playing Devil’s Advocate:  A Game for Practicing Argument Skills in Secondary ELA

An essential skill for secondary English Language Arts is the practice of argumentation.  Some writers view all modes of writing as arguments; thus, rhetorical skills are key to crafting persuasive messages for targeted audiences.

Grading Essays: A Strategy that Reflects Writing as a Process

Grading Essays:  A Strategy that Reflects Writing as a Process

Writing is a process.  It is recursive.  No piece of writing is ever "final."  Something can always be better.  I often feel this way whenever I read back over my own old essays and inevitably find a sentence that could be better, a paragraph that could be stronger, or a word that could be more precise.  

Poetry for Writing Workshop in Grades 6-12: 10+ Devices & Poems to Model Them ALL!

Poetry for Writing Workshop in Grades 6-12:  10+ Devices & Poems to Model Them ALL!

You may find yourself in agreement with Frost's famous quote when it comes to teaching poetry in the secondary classroom. However, love it or hate it, poetry can play a helpful role in teaching students how to write! Famous poems can serve as mentor texts for students and showcase key literary and rhetorical devices in action.

Beyond the Test: 10 Innovative Ways to Assess Secondary Students

Beyond the Test:  10 Innovative Ways to Assess Secondary Students

Are your students moaning and groaning over taking another test or writing another essay? While these are tried and true methods for assessing many skills, I have been on a mission to find more innovative, unique ways of assessing student growth and learning.

A Philosophy for Assessing Writing: Aim for Improvement, not Perfection

A Philosophy for Assessing Writing:  Aim for Improvement, not Perfection

Over the past 10+ years of teaching high school, my philosophy for writing instruction has changed greatly.  It has been a decade of experimentation and adaptation; a decade dedicated to finding what works and trying out new methodologies...

The Writer's Notebook in Secondary ELA: Introduction & FREE Guide

The Writer's Notebook in Secondary ELA:  Introduction & FREE Guide

The Writer’s Notebook is the heart of the English classroom. It is the place that holds a student’s reflections on literature and life...

The Romantics vs. the Imagists: A Comparison of Two Different Styles

The Romantics vs. the Imagists:  A Comparison of Two Different Styles

Contrasting literary movements as a pedagogical approach to teaching literature is a debatable method, but I have found that juxtaposing literary movements...

Acronyms for Literary Analysis: A Comprehensive List of Strategies

Acronyms for Literary Analysis: A Comprehensive List of Strategies

When I set out to write the blog article for this week, I didn’t intend on writing about the various acronyms for literary analysis.  In fact, I didn’t realize there were quite so many acronyms out there...

The Complex Themes of Winter Poetry: Creating a Winter Poetry Unit for Secondary ELA

The Complex Themes of Winter Poetry:  Creating a Winter Poetry Unit for Secondary ELA

This winter season, I found myself missing the snow for the first time in my life because we made a big move from a cold climate where we have lived for the past six years to a warm climate where there is no snow.  I never fully realized... 

3 Reasons to Teach Beowulf

3 Reasons to Teach Beowulf

Many teachers, scholars, literary critics, and even students have argued and continue to argue that there is no merit in studying the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.  However, there are three key reasons why Beowulf is a valid unit of study in high school English today.  

Interactive Notebooks are NOT Just for English Class!—Why They Matter in Every Content Area!

Interactive Notebooks are NOT Just for English Class!—Why They Matter in Every Content Area!

I’ll be the first to admit that when I’ve seen other teachers doing interactive notebooks with their students, I thought of them as more of an “art project” than anything educational.  But then...  

The Writer's Notebook: Integrating Technology in Three Easy Steps

The Writer's Notebook:  Integrating Technology in Three Easy Steps

The Writer's Notebook is an essential tool for the ELA classroom as a facilitator for the writing process. It makes the teacher's job easier and more efficient to assign and assess work, and it helps...