Introducing Characterization with The Hunger Games

Although I didn’t always know I wanted to become a literature teacher, I have always loved to read.  When I think about the books that drew me in as a child, I remember the characters whose lives they followed – a girl who loved animals, a family who worked together to solve mysteries, a boy who just wanted to do the right thing.  I loved the stories because I resonated with each character in some way.

And although there are many aspects of literature that can attract a reader, I think developing powerful characters is one of the most effective.  Unfortunately, many of my high school students often lack the basic skill of understanding characterization by making inferences, reading between the lines, and analyzing character development.  For this reason, I developed a series of fun lesson plans to help students understand, analyze, and synthesize their knowledge of characterization with an engaging activity!  Check out the first in this series, an introduction to characterization! Continue reading “Introducing Characterization with The Hunger Games”

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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”

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”