Thursday, June 23, 2016

Common Core and Language Arts Assessment: Analysis Handout for High School Students

Analysis (in both reading and writing) will be the most important skill to teach students for the new Language Arts Assessment that will be replacing the FCAT. Below is a handout that I created for all high school grades. Feel free to use this material in your classes, but kindly include a line of attribution citing this website, as I also work as a freelance writer and editor.

Explanation of Analysis 

Analysis is the WHY and the HOW. What? Why? How? Explain and elaborate on the effect. Specificity is key!

What would help explain specifically?

What words does the writer use? Why does she use those specific words? How is the use of those words effective? And most importantly, how does that particular use of language support/relate to the overarching argument/claim/thesis/theme in the text?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Understanding Plagiarism Handout

“Plagiarize,” according to The American Heritage Dictionary, means
  1. To use and pass off as one’s own (the ideas or writings of another).
  2. To appropriate for use as one’s own passages or ideas from another.  To put forth as original to oneself the ideas or words of another.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Proposal for Student Think Tanks

Student Links in Core Curriculum (SLICC):  A student "think tank" dedicated to creating links among core curriculum would be a great way to encourage buy-in and preparation for all standardized testing and improve critical thinking skills across disciplines. SLICC pages could be added to school websites.

Questions for our scholars: Are you slick? (SLICC)  Can you make it click? (Class Links In Core Curriculum)

I. Background:

One objective within common-core type tests such as the FSA ELA is a greater emphasis on informational or expository texts, in terms of both student reading and writing. By grade 12, 70% of the texts that students read should be informational, and 40% of what students write should be expository (informational). The Writing Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects include a focus on informative/explanatory texts. The English Language Arts Common Core Standards go even further, including a separate set of Reading Standards for Informational Text (in addition to the Reading Standards for Literature). Moreover, as students progress in grade levels, they should be reading texts with increased complexity. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Teaching Methods Based on Learning Theory

Over the past few years, I read a lot about learning theory and began experimenting with new teaching methods. I had already been using many of the techniques, but the compelling results of research studies convinced me to brainstorm novel ways to increase the use of such methods in varied ways. Below is a synthesis of the principles I try to utilize in my teaching methodology.

All students can definitely make real progress.
  • A  Authentic: Is this lesson truly useful and why? I ask myself exactly why I am facilitating this particular lesson. What skills will my students gain? How? In what ways does this lesson link to a larger unit plan? Is the lesson truly a worthwhile learning experience?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Questions for The Great Gatsby

For most of your responses below, cite specific pages in the text. Always support your opinions with quotes from the book.
  1. Discuss Fitzgerald's conception of the American Dream. Does he view it as totally dead, or is he suggesting it is possible to revive it? Define the American Dream according to Fitzgerald during that time period (1920s).  Do you think Fitzgerald likes the popular notion of the American Dream during the 1920s?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Interesting Article on How Deliberate Practice of a Skill Creates Physical Changes in the Brain with Other Great Links Embedded

I have found that the more you teach students about how their brains work, the better learners they become. Discussion of brain physiology is also a way to integrate science across curricula.  The information from the link below might be interesting to share with your students.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Themes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

For Twain's novel, I discuss the following themes prior to student reading of the novel. Then I tell students that they must find two sections of the text to quote for each of the themes listed below. After each quote they must include an explanation of how the text/section that they are referring to exemplifies the particular theme. Once students have finished reading the novel, we have a scholar-led discussion on the book. (See "Students Learn by Leading" post on this website for ideas about how to facilitate a scholar-led discussion.)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Week

I do appreciate the kindness of Teacher Appreciation Week, but I've been thinking. Why don't we have an appreciation week for people, who I believe, deserve our thanks more? For starters:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reading Declines Across the World

We have a big problem.

At the twelfth annual Publisher's Forum the following facts were discussed:
  • Random House spokesperson Annette Beetz (Random House is one of the biggest publishers in the world) stated that a company survey showed a 4 percent decline in the regular, book-consuming audience last year. Instead of reading, consumers are choosing gaming, film, TV, and other media. This statistic may not sound significant, but if the trend continues at its present rate (without even considering an increase), in ten years 40 percent of that readership will have disappeared.
  • In most of the emerging economies, such as China, Brazil, India, and Russia, book sales have slowed down or become flat, even reversing in some instances.
  • Consumer books are far below the popularity of in-home video entertainment.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sample Advanced Placement English Language and Composition Summer Assignment

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition
Summer Assignments—Reading/Writing

Part One--Reading

Reading Choice: Read any two books from the list below.

My Antonia, Willa Cather (Internet*)
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (Internet)
Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana (Internet)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Handout on How to Take Notes on Fiction

  1. Summarize important chapters/scenes/sections of the text.
  2. Write down all vocabulary words that you do not know.  Look up the definitions and write them down.
  3. Write down any questions you have about what you are reading, i.e., things that you don’t understand. Ask your teacher in class about confusing sections.  Be sure you have written down the page numbers for confusing sections in the text.
  4. Write down good examples of figurative language—similes, metaphors, personification.  Quote; provide the page number.  Elaborate on the effectiveness of the figurative language.
  5. Write down which sections/aspects of the text you liked best.  Provide page numbers. Explain why you liked those sections.
  6. Write down which sections/aspects of the text you liked least.  Provide page numbers. Explain why you did not prefer those sections.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Rubric for a Literary Analysis Essay

  • Analysis means explaining (with textual evidence, i.e., quotes) how an author effectively renders/shows/establishes a particular literary aspect.  For example, theme, mood, characterization, conflict.  Before you begin to write the essay, you have to figure out what larger aspect of the text you will be analyzing. (Sometimes your teacher will assign a specific literary aspect for you to analyze; other times, you will have to choose that literary aspect on your own.)  As you are reading the text, you need to find excellent examples (quotes) that will support that larger literary aspect.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

FSA Item Stems Worksheet

The information in this document was excerpted from the Draft of Grades 9-10 English Language Arts Item Specifications that is posted on the Florida Department of Education website. A few of the Item Stems were created by me. You may find it useful to have students use the sample Item Stems to create questions for what they are reading in class.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Likeable Links

It's always great to refer students to excellent essays on the writing process.  Check out the following link: