American Literature

Leaves of Grass Text Pairing

I came across this article while waiting for my dentist appointment about a month ago. I noticed its’ catchy print title and since I was in the middle of planning new lessons for an upcoming unit on Walt Whitman, I snagged it and started reading.

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Into the Wild Text Pairing

Bear Meat by Primo Levi If you’re needing a text to pair with Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, may I suggest “Bear Meat”, a short story by Primo Levi, the Italian chemist, writer, Holocaust survivor. “Bear Meat” is a story about young men who take to the mountains for adventure and danger. They become…

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Into the Wild: A Movie to Read

Did you know that the 2007 movie, Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn and based on the book by Jon Krakauer, is FULL — and I mean FULL — of literary allusions? Here they all are.

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Connect to Thoreau with Into the Wild

Whether a modest, yet sturdy cabin at Walden Pond or Fairbank City Transit Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail, this is American Transcendentalism at its core.

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Henry David Thoreau for the High School Mindset

Ever have students tell you that school just doesn’t apply to them? Yeah, me too. Like all the time… maybe even more often than that.

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The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

understanding of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” then try this simple activity as a culminating project.

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How I Taught The Jungle in One Week

If you’re like me and don’t have a lot of time for Upton Sinclair’s 402-page The Jungle, try this “one week, one chapter, one-pager” approach.

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Lessons on Longfellow

This past week, my junior English III learned about one of the America’s first celebrities, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And I’m so glad I decided to go more in-depth with this cultural icon than our textbook allows.

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red, yellow, and blue paint composition

A New Lesson for The Red Badge of Courage

I wanted to introduce my students to literary impressionism by noticing Stephen Crane’s use of color and by creating a collaborative visual representation of the The Red Badge of Courage.

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“Song of Myself” Video Project Reveals Walt Whitman’s Importance Today

And then I stumbled upon something amazing: Whitman, Alabama. This was the inspiration I needed to demonstrate the importance of Walt Whitman’s poetry in American culture today.

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Reinforce reading with student photography

A recent snow day activity has sparked my curiosity about the possibilities of combining student photography with reading.

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Unapologetic and Afrocentric: The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison claims the center of the world This is a follow-up post to the original one I wrote on The Bluest Eye by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison. I concluded that post discussing the benefits of second and multiple readings of texts in order to fully and more completely grasp their messages.…

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass Unit Plan, Resources, and Handouts

These Douglass resources and handouts support the unit plan in my previous post Two days ago, I posted about a unit plan for The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself. In that post, you’ll find lots of information about the unit, which you can purchase by clicking here. It’s not a…

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass Unit Plan, Resources, and Handouts

10 reasons to teach Frederick Douglass plus the unit plan As I promised last week in my post about Frederick Douglass graphic essays, I’m providing a link below so you can purchase a PDF of my unit of instruction for The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Although this unit was designed for regular,…

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Explore Frederick Douglass with graphic essays

In light of the current and rightful nationwide protests, I’ve updated and reblogged this post. I have also added a new Frederick Douglass category to my blog so posts that feature Douglass, who I believe to be our country’s most unsung hero, are easier to find. Next week, I plan to share with you my…

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Watch This Outsiders Movie, Not That One

The Outsiders: The Complete Novel includes a subplot that the original leaves out If you’re like me, you love The Outsiders and can’t imagine teaching middle school ELA without it. So many kids identify with the Tulsa, Oklahoma greasers and their struggles with socioeconomic class differences, personal identity, and family relationships. Here’s my advice: Make…

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Teach Theme with Graphic Essays: The Old Man and the Sea

Here’s how I’ve used graphic essays and what I’ll tweak for next time. My junior English classes recently read the short story, “In Another Country” by Ernest Hemingway as a follow-up to reading “The Old Man and the Sea.” Because they had just completed a traditional written thematic analysis of the novel, I opted to…

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Classic Krakauer: An Escape Outdoors for Couch-Bound Students

Yesterday, I flipped through the newest book from Jon Krakauer, Classic Krakauer: Essays on Wilderness and Risk. As usual with Krakauer’s prose, I was once again transported to the far reaches of possibility. With Krakauer as my guide, I rappelled down 1,000 feet into Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico; I walked along the sulfur-scented volcanic…

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A River Runs Through It: A Walk Outside for Students At Home

My Novels class is reading this over the break My Novels class is currently reading (or supposed to be reading — wink wink) this classic novel by Norman Maclean. I’m reading it again alongside them and this morning I arrived at page forty. It’s only 110 pages long, so it’s a quick read. If you…

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Robert Frost: Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Pandemic

The coronavirus and Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” Holed up at home at my dining room table, I’m continuing with my lesson planning as scheduled during our two-week school closing. After our recent Ernest Hemingway unit concluded last week, my plan was to introduce my juniors to Robert Frost. Lucky them. Frost’s poetry is poignant, honest,…

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Five Articles to Pair with The Old Man and the Sea

These articles are intended to round out the ideas presented by the novella This winter, my junior English students have just finished reading The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and are beginning to develop their cumulative essays on the novella. To prepare for that, and to build more background knowledge about the…

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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: A nonfiction contender for 2020-21

Thinking ahead to new class sets for next year Nonfiction is definitely my thing. Yes, I love novels and short stories, but nonfiction really captivates me. And I guess it’s because I truly believe that life is stranger than fiction. As a result, I’m starting to consider which nonfiction books I’d like to requisition for…

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My Prentice-Hall English Literature is shown at left.

New Year, New Units: Beowulf and The Old Man and the Sea

Lots of planning comin’ up! Now that the new year has started, I thought I would write a short post about the units I’m starting with my juniors and seniors next week. My junior classes will begin Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea on Wednesday  and my senior classes will start Beowulf on…

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My First Attempt Teaching The Red Badge of Courage: it is what it is

My resources, my reservations, and my main reason to teach this book again Right now, at my new teaching position at a rural high school in Missouri, one of my junior/senior level electives classes is reading The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. If you’re unfamiliar with The Red Badge of Courage, it’s a…

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Graphic Essays Add Variety and Visual Creativity

A fresh way to reflect on Douglass’ experience, themes and symbolism During spring 2019, I assigned graphic essays to my eighth-graders after they finished reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. This incredible book, which provides Douglass’ first-hand account of the horrors and traumas of American slavery, provides a reading experience…

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