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”

Reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison… again

Reading it once is not enough. When author Toni Morrison died last August, I assigned an article about her life and career for our first weekly Article of the Week assignment of the year. I also read the first chapter of her first novel, The Bluest Eye, plus parts of the foreword to expose studentsContinue reading “Reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison… again”

White Teacher Question: Are these race and social justice books enough?

Send me your contemporary social justice book suggestions I ordered these books for fall 2020 because I’m focusing on the power of literature to effect social change. Of course, recent events in response to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd make me wonder if there are more topical books I should have ordered insteadContinue reading “White Teacher Question: Are these race and social justice books enough?”

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”

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”

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 students don’t “follow along” in the book

“Following along” may not work for every student I’ve been reading Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson to my seventh-graders and we just finished it on Friday. About every two chapters or so, they’ve written a response to a question I’ve posed to help them comprehend the text as well as think critically about someContinue reading “When students don’t “follow along” in the book”

Headline poetry is so much fun!

It’s already my favorite back-to-school activity For the first week of school, my seventh- and eighth-graders created poetry made up of words and phrases found in newspapers and magazines. I found the idea on NCTE’s website, which offers lesson plan ideas. I also accessed this site where I found this beautiful quote that captures, forContinue reading “Headline poetry is so much fun!”

Save time. Always be planning.

I started this Triangle Fire bulletin board in May. I’m not usually that organized.   At the end of the school year last May, my seventh-graders started our Triangle Fire unit, a study of the 1911 tragedy in New York City that killed 146 young, mostly female immigrants. The fire had unknown origins, but ricketyContinue reading “Save time. Always be planning.”