Word clouds spice up distance learning

Have kids make word clouds about life during the pandemic My students have been home since March 17. As part of their distance learning, I’ve asked them to write a couple of paragraphs every other day or so for a “Life in the Time of Corona” journal. This journal, which we will finish in theContinue reading “Word clouds spice up distance learning”

How to get middle schoolers to write 16-page essays

Try “The 8th-Grade Human Rights Dissertation” Want to be impressed by your middle school ELA students? Want to see them rise to the writing occasion? Try this extended writing assignment that I call the 8th-Grade Human Rights Dissertation. Sidenote: Obviously, this is not an assignment for distance learning. It’s designed for a normal full-time scheduleContinue reading “How to get middle schoolers to write 16-page essays”

Photo Friday: Graphic Essays

Graphic essays break down theme into bite-size chunks Graphic essays break down theme into bite-size chunks of textual evidence, interpretation, and symbolism. Read this post to see how my juniors creatively demonstrated their knowledge of various themes found in Ernest Hemingway’s short story “In Another Country.” Thanks for stopping by! Become a follower for moreContinue reading “Photo Friday: Graphic Essays”

Graphic essays for high school students: A creative way to teach theme

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 toContinue reading “Graphic essays for high school students: A creative way to teach theme”

Something there is that doesn’t love a Coronavirus 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,Continue reading “Something there is that doesn’t love a Coronavirus pandemic”

Prepping for the Coronavirus break

Paper paper everywhere. Distance learning doesn’t mean high-tech for me. Yesterday at 3:35 pm, my school released until April 1st in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus. The night before, I was sitting at my dining room table preparing plans for students to accomplish over the break. Just because we’re not inContinue reading “Prepping for the Coronavirus break”

Teaching students to write essays that answer the question: So what?!

Asking “So what?” makes the difference My juniors finished reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Instead of taking an objective culminating exam, they will show their learning by writing a literary analysis essay. However, each student will choose the content and the focus of their essays instead of selecting a topic fromContinue reading “Teaching students to write essays that answer the question: So what?!”

Mentor text: Slice of life writing for high school students

Slice of life essays written by elementary students are everywhere; high school slices are harder to find. Here’s one. Last fall, near the beginning of the school year, I introduced my high school juniors and seniors to slice of life writing. Slices are short narratives that celebrate the ordinary moments in our lives that weContinue reading “Mentor text: Slice of life writing for high school students”

The struggle is real: top grammar issues my students struggle with

Now I know exactly what they each need to focus on Last week, I gave each student a sticky note and asked each of my students to write their  top one or two grammar or conventions issues they struggle with on a regular basis. I suggested, “Y’know… those things that you always have to lookContinue reading “The struggle is real: top grammar issues my students struggle with”

Teaching transitions in writing

Don’t teach just transition words… teach transition ideas as well. I taught this book for eight years in my middle school ELA classes. It’s such a ride! Plus, when you read it as a writer, you notice key skills the author James Swanson utilized heavily when he wrote this little gem. For me, teaching transitionsContinue reading “Teaching transitions in writing”