When Christian Bale becomes Beowulf

Here’s another way to infuse relevance into Beowulf If you extend your Beowulf unit into a mini-unit on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, three things will happen: 1) You’ll build excitement to read an Anglo-Saxon poem so old we don’t even know exactly when it was written or by whom. 2) You’ll open students’ eyes toContinue reading “When Christian Bale becomes Beowulf”

My post-COVID Follow-Up: Creative Vocabulary Resources

Here they are: the links for “Eight Ways to Explore New Vocabulary Words” Since COVID mixed things up a bit for me personally last week, I’m mixing things up a bit this week. I’ll explain in this quick video. Links: Please leave a comment with all the questions you have! And if you’re wondering aboutContinue reading “My post-COVID Follow-Up: Creative Vocabulary Resources”

How to get better “One-Word Summaries” from your students

Make these off-limits: the topic and their opinion In the past, after I assigned One-Word Summaries, I would often feel a little let down when I walked around the room, glancing over students’ shoulders as they wrote their paragraphs defending their chosen word. Read my post on the One-Word Summary if you’re unfamiliar with thisContinue reading “How to get better “One-Word Summaries” from your students”

Just in time for back-to-school: Three templates for Where I’m From poems

Plus photos and links to help you plan Back-to-school is the perfect time for Where I’m From poems. I’ve decided to repost this article from last May to help you add this great activity to your opening days. Where I’m From poems from the author and poet George Ella Lyons… you just can’t write enoughContinue reading “Just in time for back-to-school: Three templates for Where I’m From poems”

The New York Times announces its 2020-21 student writing contests

And get this: most are now open to middle school students! Yes! The student writing contests hosted by The New York Times’ Learning Network are back! In addition, most are now open to U.S. middle school students starting in sixth grade (for international students, ages 13-18). A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this postContinue reading “The New York Times announces its 2020-21 student writing contests”

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”

Headline poetry: At a loss for words? Let the words find you

Ever feel that words don’t exist to describe summer 2020? Ever feel as if words simply don’t exist to describe the summer of 2020? Here’s an idea: search through magazines, newspapers, mail, anything, and… let the words find you. I started this headline poem last night. I’m on step 1… searching and clipping. I haveContinue reading “Headline poetry: At a loss for words? Let the words find you”

When class discussions get controversial (and unfair)

I need this plan for better discussions in my classroom Because I am a writer first, and a speaker second, teaching via whole-class discussions does not come easily to me. When those class discussions involve racially-charged, controversial topics, it’s even more difficult. This difficulty can be blamed on two things: I teach at a nearlyContinue reading “When class discussions get controversial (and unfair)”