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”

Lessons Learned by a First Year Teacher

As goes the cliché, my first year of teaching was rough.  At the time, it was only my campus’ second year of being open, so there were a lot of processes that were not yet put into place.  The district did not have an ESL curriculum, and I was (and still am) the only ESL teacher on campus.  It was the school’s first year to have juniors, so we were starting from scratch teaching American literature.  On top of all of that, I was adjusting to my first full-time job and the stress that it brings.  At times, I didn’t feel like I had the energy to make it through the year.  Nevertheless, I made it through, and I have completed two more since then.  It was hard to imagine at the time, but things really do get easier.  There are still so many challenges, but I now have resources and support to help me face them.  Here is a reflection I wrote at the end of my first year about a few of the lessons I learned that extend far beyond just the classroom: Continue reading “Lessons Learned by a First Year Teacher”

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?”, leads 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”

Stretched Dimensions

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

I first read this quote during my last year of college, and it quickly became my inspiration as I entered the teaching profession.

As I reflect on my own journey in school growing up, I admit that I do not remember each fact I learned or recall each concept I once studied so hard.  However, rather than view those experiences as wasted, I recognize that they shaped me. Continue reading “Stretched Dimensions”