Analyzing Metaphor in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

It’s funny how teaching a piece of literature often actually changes your own perception of it!  This is definitely true for me and T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”  I first read the poem in college, and as my professor was very passionate about it, we spent what felt like a very long time analyzing it.  At the time, I was not overly impressed, but the first year I taught it in my high school American Literature class everything changed. Continue reading “Analyzing Metaphor in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock””

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Analyzing the Poetry of Billy Collins

During my time in college, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a poetry reading by Billy Collins.  I was not familiar with his work prior to this event, but I was immediately drawn to his sarcastic, dry, and playful style.  Fast forward to my first year of teaching American Literature a few years later, and I was excited to discover that Billy Collins was included as a contemporary author in my textbook.  However, as I began to plan my lessons over his poetry, I stumbled across a challenge.  Because Collins has a well known disdain for over-analyzing poetry in classrooms, I wanted to find a way to help provide an authentic experience for students to enjoy and appreciate his poetry, while still providing the support they would need to understand it.  Over the past few years and with a few tweaks, I think I finally designed a lesson that accomplishes both of these goals. Continue reading “Analyzing the Poetry of Billy Collins”

World War II Speed Dating

Although I absolutely love teaching American Literature, one challenge I find is that students have heard so much about certain periods in American history, that they find those topics boring.  Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily have all of the background knowledge they need to understand the literature written at that time.  One such topic is World War II.  While many students are familiar with some specific details, I often discover that they don’t really understand how all of the different components of the war connect.  Based on a technique I had the opportunity to observe in a U.S. History class, I have developed an activity to help provide students with important background knowledge in an an informative yet engaging way! Continue reading “World War II Speed Dating”

Using PSAs to Practice Persuasion

This year in my English III classes, we focused a lot on argument and persuasion, so I quickly found myself trying to find ways for students to demonstrate mastery of writing strong position statements and using rhetorical appeals effectively without asking them to write yet another dreaded essay.  Fortunately, I came up with one idea that students really enjoyed! Continue reading “Using PSAs to Practice Persuasion”

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”