The Ten Percent Summary

Jazz up the typical summary assignment Ever get tired of having kids write summaries? If you’re like me, it’s easy to become tired of summary writing. However, I also know it’s a skill that students need to practice from time to time. Summary writing helps students comprehend a text, prioritize its ideas, and convey theContinue reading “The Ten Percent Summary”

Check out The Hero’s Journey podcast

A great supplement to teaching the hero’s journey Have you discovered “The Hero’s Journey” podcast? Subtitled “Books & Films Through a Mythical Lens,” this is a fantastically interesting podcast I used in February to supplement my hero’s journey lessons. Use the monthly show to introduce students to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey in popular movies, someContinue reading “Check out The Hero’s Journey podcast”

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”

A River Runs Through It: a fresh walk outside for students staying 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 youContinue reading “A River Runs Through It: a fresh walk outside for students staying at home”

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 theContinue reading “Five articles to pair with The Old Man and the Sea”

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 onContinue reading “New Year, New Units: Beowulf and The Old Man and the Sea”

When anxious, depressed students stare into space

Don’t assume they aren’t listening Last spring in my middle school language arts classes, I taught the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave for the eighth year. It’s the autobiography of Douglass, who was born into slavery. In his formative years, he experienced an epiphany: literacy equaled freedom. As a result,Continue reading “When anxious, depressed students stare into space”

In middle school research, pictures are winning

In the game of middle school student research, pictures are winning and words are losing. I have noticed increasingly that students, when they are researching a topic for a writing assignment, spend a lot of time not reading articles. Many spend their time looking at pictures. Or watching videos. I can’t tell you how many timesContinue reading “In middle school research, pictures are winning”