The Great Gatsby: Chapter 1 Challenges

Chapter 1 isn’t always a student’s cup of tea “In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” (from The Great Gatsby, Chapter 1) We all recognize that famous first sentence of The Great Gatsby. It’s a quiet sentence, isn’t it?Continue reading “The Great Gatsby: Chapter 1 Challenges”

Frederick Douglass Final Project: The Graphic Essay

A fresh way to reflect on Douglass’ heroic life and text Back when I taught middle school ELA, I assigned graphic essays (essentially a dressed-up one-pager) 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 andContinue reading “Frederick Douglass Final Project: The Graphic Essay”

Argument Writing: Stossel in the Classroom Contests

2023 deadline: March 31 Need a real-world reason to assign argumentative essays? Look no further. The Stossel in the Classroom 2022-23 Essay Contest welcomes your students’ arguments. I have used Stossel in the Classroom contests twice with middle schoolers, and even though none of my students won, the contests were valuable experiences. I think wheneverContinue reading “Argument Writing: Stossel in the Classroom Contests”

The Web, Student Focus, and Ralph Waldo Emerson

Five Allusions to Emerson in The Shallows by Nicholas Carr Today, we mostly know Ralph Waldo Emerson, the popular nineteenth-century transcendental philosopher, through a handful of quotes that have filtered down through the centuries. Three examples: Beyond Emerson’s many well-known sayings, however, the larger ideas behind his writings ring few bells in the collective mindsContinue reading “The Web, Student Focus, and Ralph Waldo Emerson”

Poetry Chapbooks for High Schoolers

Have students self-publish their poetry in chapbooks This will be a short post, but I wanted to briefly fill you in on a culminating activity my high school poetry class completed last spring. Our final project of the year was to create a poetry chapbook, a small(ish) book that contained the many poems they createdContinue reading “Poetry Chapbooks for High Schoolers”

On Tap for 2023: Gatsby, Inspiration & Insights into Student Focus

Plus: my top ten posts of 2022 I savor these last moments of the holidays. They’re the perfect time to reflect, rethink, and redirect my site’s content to better serve you, my dear readers, in the coming year. In doing so, it’s always interesting to learn which posts resonated most strongly with readers throughout theContinue reading “On Tap for 2023: Gatsby, Inspiration & Insights into Student Focus”

When Students are Disengaged and Unable to Focus

We need to reclaim our ability to focus. Is it possible students are suffering more anxiety and stress because they know deep down inside they’re falling short of their potentials? Johann Hari discusses how to think deeply again in his book, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention.