The Favorite Place Poem

Have students create content with a poem about their favorite place Many of my students are reading poetry. On Instagram. Okay, okay… I know. But whether or not you take verse found on Instagram seriously, poetry is experiencing a resurgence in popularity… thanks to social media, where many poets, including Rupi Kaur and others, gainContinue reading “The Favorite Place Poem”

Try this poem to spark rich discussions in your classroom

“The Cold Within” by James Patrick Kinney Looking for a poem to generate a rich and engaging discussion with your students? I recently came across a post in one of the Facebook Groups I belong to. As I scanned the comments on a particular post, I learned about a poem called “The Cold Within” byContinue reading “Try this poem to spark rich discussions in your classroom”

Three printable templates for Where I’m From poems

Plus photos and links to help you plan Where I’m From poems from the author and poet George Ella Lyons… you just can’t write enough good things about them. That’s why this week I’ve decided to post twice about these poems that were a mainstay in my middle school ELA classes a few years ago.Continue reading “Three printable templates for Where I’m From poems”

Mini-lesson idea: Avoiding first-person point of view in academic essays

For the most part, it’s an easy fix. It’s nice when a common issue you know your students have with writing can be easily remedied. This is one of them: avoiding unintentional and unnecessary first-person point of view in academic writing. For the most part, the first-person words can simply be removed with… wait forContinue reading “Mini-lesson idea: Avoiding first-person point of view in academic essays”

Corona virus journals foster creativity

A reminder that students can still thrive in uncertain times Don’t underestimate your students when it comes to distance learning. Some of them might surprise you and take your assignment to new heights, as my senior student Savannah B. did with her journal (shown in photos). Savannah took my Life in the Time of CoronaContinue reading “Corona virus journals foster creativity”

When half your students don’t have internet access

Make Zoom optional About a week ago, I decided to host an optional meeting on Zoom so students could drop in to ask a question about an assignment, check on a grade, or just talk. One or two students dropped in momentarily to ask about their homework, and a half-dozen or so decided to chatContinue reading “When half your students don’t have internet access”

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”

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: MakeContinue reading “Watch this Outsiders movie, not that one”

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”

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”