By Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan
We are always on the lookout for assessment opportunities that can happen authentically, right in the midst of our teaching. Asking a pre-assessment question before a whole class, small group or individual lesson is one assessment opportunity that we have found invaluable and it only takes a minute or two. We simply begin by asking a question, have students turn and talk, and move among the partnerships to listen and take notes. Once students have had time to talk, we tell the class a few ideas we heard and connect these ideas to the lesson we are about to teach. Read more
by Tricia Ebarvia
It’s just after 7:20 a.m. and my students are settling into their seats. Although it’s early, this class is usually lively, with students generally willing to try out whatever their English teacher has planned for them that day. This morning, I pass out cream-colored quarter sheets of paper and several tape dispensers. I go over the lesson plan to the sound of pages flipping, synchronized to the squeaky pulling and staccatoed tearing of tape. Into their notebook, students tape the following Willa Cather quotation:
“Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.”
Today is Day 1 in a brief unit on the personal history essay. I decided to call this next essay a personal history rather than the more familiar term memoir for a few reasons. One, the term memoir feels a little intimidating to me; the term has always implied a confessional quality to it, like a great secret is about to be shared, a great burden lifted. For better or worse, memoirs feel too big a task, too much to ask.
So instead, I like the term personal history. Read more
By Kelly Virgin
A few years back one of my real life friends asked me to be her virtual friend on yet another social media site. I was already lagging with my tweets, feeling overwhelmed by my newsfeed, and completely out of touch with current hashtags, so I was leery of signing up for anymore social media tasks. However, when she described it as “a Facebook for readers,” I knew I had to give it a shot. Since I accepted her invitation to join Goodreads.com in February of 2009, I have extended that same invitation year after year to over 300 of my students.
By Janice Ewing
So winter finally arrived. Remember how during the mild days of December we wondered where it was hiding, and if it would ever make an appearance? Then in January the snow burst in, followed by a couple of languid snow days, and now it’s that slushy, drag-along season, when we sometimes find ourselves struggling to maintain energy and enthusiasm.
A bit of metacognition about the blog (metablognition): when we first designed this project in 2013, we identified monthly themes that seemed to follow the path of a teacher’s year. As we’ve grown and changed over the years, we’ve continued to use those themes as a guide, rather than a mandate for the topics of our posts. The theme we chose for February was “Maintaining Positive Energy for Teachers and Students,” and that still seems relevant. Read more
By Bob Zakrzewski
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I became aware of Cline’s first novel a few years ago when a close friend and fellow English teacher raved about it. His rare enthusiasm made Ready Player One a title I kept stashed away in my memory, but also contributed to my falling into the dangerous trap of judging a book by its fanbase.
When this particular friend went on and on about this bildungsroman, dystopian, virtual-reality video-gamer adventure tale, I dismissed it. He is a gamer, and I am not. He loves Star Wars, obscure comics, and prog rock. I can appreciate these, but nowhere near the extent he or many of their avid enthusiasts do. This book sounded like something right up his alley, and something several blocks away from mine.
Last year, my curriculum supervisor sent out a message that she read the book and loved it, asking if any teacher would want to use it in class. Always open to trying new books with my students, I reconsidered the text. Read more