Good Read: Teaching Argument Writing by George Hillocks, Jr.

Although I try to avoid thinking about school during most of my summer vacation (with the exception of a few days of training and curriculum writing), I usually make a goal of reading at least one book focused on pedagogy or instruction.  So, when I came across this list of “Underappreciated Books for ELA Teachers” by Kelly Gallagher and saw Teaching Argument Writing by George Hillocks, Jr, I decided to give it a try.  And I am so glad I did!  It is definitely one of the best books I have read on writing instruction.  I loved the balance between theory and practice that made it both instructive and engaging. Continue reading “Good Read: Teaching Argument Writing by George Hillocks, Jr.”

Analyzing Rhetoric with I Love Lucy

I recently shared about how I incorporate The Dick Van Dyke Show into my lesson about Evaluating Reliability in Historical Accounts.  Today I want to share another of my favorite shows, and how I use it to introduce or review Rhetorical Appeals – I Love Lucy!

I begin the lesson by showing my class the famous Vitameatavegamin scene, where Lucy films a commercial for a health product.  Most of my students have never seen it before, so I let them know that they will be seeing a commercial, and I want them to jot down all of the ways she tries to convince her audience to buy the product (if you are using this activity to review, you can specifically ask students to identify rhetorical appeals). Continue reading “Analyzing Rhetoric with I Love Lucy”

Evaluating Reliability in Historical Accounts

One of the challenges in teaching American Literature is creating relevance when studying very old texts with antiquated language.  A strategy I have found to be useful is creating connections to more contemporary texts and videos, particularly in my Warm Ups.  While there is definitely value in using pop culture references to engage students, I sometimes like to use videos from before their time.  This way, it modernizes the topic but is still new and maybe outside of their comfort zone.  One of my favorite types of resources to pull from are fifties sitcoms!  In this lesson, I use The Dick Van Dyke Show to help students recognize bias and evaluate reliability in historical accounts. Continue reading “Evaluating Reliability in Historical Accounts”

Storytelling Analysis Project with Rubric

I recently shared a warm up activity and lesson plan for Teaching Inferences with “The World on the Turtle’s Back” or any type of Native American oral literature.  In this lesson, the guiding question, “What do the stories we tell reveal about us?”, lead my classes to develop the skill of making inferences about an author or culture based on the texts they produce.  Last year I developed a Storytelling Analysis Project as an engaging way for students to demonstrate their mastery of making inferences based on evidence by telling their own stories and analyzing stories written by their classmates. Continue reading “Storytelling Analysis Project with Rubric”

Beginning the Year with Suitcase Introductions

All teachers understand the importance of the first day of school.  It is not only the day when you set the standards and begin to develop the classroom atmosphere, but also when you get to know your students and make your first impression.  The challenge is finding something that is engaging without being cheesy. Continue reading “Beginning the Year with Suitcase Introductions”

Making Inferences with “The World on the Turtle’s Back”

Like most teachers, now that the summer has begun, I have already started thinking about next school year.  In my American Literature class, we begin the year with the study of Native American oral literature.  More specifically, we read an Iroquois creation myth entitled “The World on the Turtle’s Back”.

My students are usually interested in this story due to some of the crazy plot elements (including a husband pushing his pregnant wife through a hole in the sky, a baby being born out of his mother’s armpit, and an epic duel between two twins).  But what I love about teaching this text is the conversations we have about the art of storytelling. Continue reading “Making Inferences with “The World on the Turtle’s Back””

My Classroom

One of the reasons I love my classroom is that it looks so different every hour, because I teach American Literature and English as a Second Language. One period I may have a class of 30 juniors analyzing complex literature, and the next, I may have only six students who speak very little English working on speaking in complete sentences.  I love the diversity this schedule brings with the types of students I work with and the type of work we do. Continue reading “My Classroom”