Showing posts from June, 2012


How do you make a good impression? In the short story "Seventh Grade" by Gary Soto, Victor and Michael enter seventh grade a little anxiously~maybe with a little trepidation. Their conversation steers itself toward making a good impression on the girls~for Victor there is one girl in particular whom he wants to impress: Theresa. Michael and Victor each have different ideas on how to impress girls. Like seventh graders everywhere, Victor and Michael are trying to fit in like everyone else.

For this lesson I will focus on the Common Core Standard RL (Reading Literature) 7.6 Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text. This story lends itself well to this particular standard because it will be easier for the students to compare and contrast the characters' actions and their development. This lesson will take anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes to teach allowing time for silent reading and writing.

Before the stude…


The first two weeks of the school year is called "The Honeymoon"~during this time you and those boisterous students attempt to develop some sort of relationship with each other. While the English teacher in me wants to jump right in to the curriculum and start teaching my subject, the teacher in me knows it's important to establish ground rules, develop routines, and pre-assess my students. Here is a poetry lesson that can be taught during the first few days of school that will serve the purpose of teaching curriculum and developing a relationship because you will get to know something about your students.

This mini-lesson is called "From List to Poem". First you need to do a quick informal assessment, so you ask the students "What do you know about poems?" Give your students the time to discuss this either with a partner, a small group, or large group. You could even have the students write their responses on a "dinner plate" graphic organiz…


I've just spent the last three days at the Rutherford County Literacy Academy in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. On Monday, Carmen Agra Deedy regaled the group of K-12 public school teachers with both personal stories and traditional folk tales. On Tuesday, Dr. Keith Polette shared literacy strategies with wit and cleverness. I can't think of a more enjoyable and intelligent way to spend a portion of my summer holiday.

We began the academy in the usual way~those good old tried and true ice-breakers. Now, if you're not familiar with ice-breakers then you have never attended a teacher in-service. After getting to know a few of the other teachers attending the Literacy Academy (other than the other teachers from my own school), we settled in groups to participate in some cooperative learning strategies. The first activity involved matching Newberry titles to their first lines. The next activity was called "Dinner Plate" where the group members had to first list all that the…


What makes a story unforgettable? A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving remains the most unforgettable story for me. I read it over fourteen years ago~I remember the number of years because my daughter was less than two-years-old when I sat in a comfy chair next to the picture window bawling while finishing the last fifty pages as she napped in her nursery. I was determined to finish the novel before she woke up~I even planned on possibly ignoring her if she awoke as I was finishing it.

The narrator of A Prayer for Owen Meany is John Wheelwright, the descendant of an independent Congregationalist minister of the same name. Owen Meany is his best friend and the cause of John's mother's death. Owen is a Christ figure~he plays the role of baby Jesus in the church play, the other kids "hang" him on a coat rack in Sunday School, and is splayed in a crucified manner at his death. Owen believes that everything about his own life and death is ordained by God and foresees eve…