Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Molly Bonamici, a Novel

All proceeds from book sales are donated to a student scholarship. Available at or Thank you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

FSA Informative/Explanatory Writing Rubric

The Peer Editing Rubric below was adapted from the rubric on the Florida DOE website.


Florida Standards Assessment Informative/Explanatory Writing Rubric

For each of the following, answer yes or no. Also point out to your peer the sections of the essay that could be improved. Suggest ideas for improvement.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Vocabulary Development Activity--Synthesis, Creative Writing, Collaboration, Current Events

As a way to develop vocabulary skills, knowledge of current events, synthesis, and creative writing all at the same time, I use the following activity/handout. Prior to this activity, I provide students with a list of common SAT words. For homework I tell them to find a news article (by googling) that uses one of the SAT words. They should highlight the word in the article, as well as write a definition of the word at the top of the article. (The list of SAT words should be long enough so that you can assign one word for each student.) Students are told to print out their articles and bring them to class. Then I divide the students into groups, and give them the following directives.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Links to Articles on Issues Related to Globalization

It is so important to make our students understand that the world has changed dramatically since the rise of the Internet.  As Friedman says, in his excellent analysis of the digital revolution and its repercussions: The World is Flat.  We need to teach our students about the implications of a radically different world as a result of the technological renaissance in which we are living.  American students and workers need to try harder than ever to be innovative, creative, and competitive.  Below are some interesting links to articles on globalization:

Youtube also has a series of excellent short videos on globalization entitled "Did You Know." I download the videos to my flash drive at home and then show them on the LCD projector at school. Students find them interesting, and the videos are a great springboard for discussing how globalization might affect the choices that they decide to make in terms of college and career planning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

INSIGHT Activity: Interconnecting Numerous Sources Inspires Great Higher Thinking--Encouraging Text-Dependent Responses

Synthesis of All Texts Read in Course as well as Other Disciplines

INSIGHT: Interconnecting Numerous Sources Inspires Great Higher Thinking
It is a sound teaching strategy to periodically review/reinforce all learning/reading that occurred thus far in a given curriculum. (This technique is supported by the Spacing Effect in Psychology, whereby students more easily remember information when that information is studied/reviewed at spaced intervals over a longer stretch of time.)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Re-Visioning Education

Part One: Technology and the Internet: The Necessary Springboards for Curriculum

Integrate technology and the Internet into the American curriculum now.  In the real-world "global village" of today our students must process hyperbolic information communicated in extremes of repetition and speed.  The new world order is a cognitively dissonant place, replete with conflicting meanings and valueless values.  "Driven to distraction" (Hallowell, Driven to Distraction) by explosions of quick-cut lightening-jolt images, students try to make sense of a marketplace of ideas where no single bit of communication seems to be any more relevant than another. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Likeable Links

Gaming, Progress, Teaching and Entertainment, Equality for Men and Women, Innovation and Complexity--all great discussion topics:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Delete the Department of Education and Other Suggestions for Improving Education

  • Get rid of the Department of Education. From my observations (in Florida) this department has proven inept--testing fiasco, foolish micromanagement of educators, too much bureaucracy, out-of-touch with what really goes on in the classroom. Total lack of action, direction, and leadership. Consider hiring those in the Department of Education as teacher support staff in the classroom. We could help them become more efficient.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"The Flat Tire," Flash Fiction

Image result for baby deer“The Flat Tire”
by James Mulhern

Elizabeth opened the window to rid the car of her husband’s breath. He had drunk too much as usual, burping and swerving a few times on the desolate road of the New Hampshire mountain. She couldn’t look at him, and they hadn’t spoken since they left the restaurant, where he insisted on having another whiskey sour before they set off.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Guidelines for Compare/Contrast Analysis Essay--Angelou, Walker, Hurston

  • Make sure you decide on a focused thesis statement.  Do not try to compare/contrast too many elements.  Choose a few elements to compare and contrast for such a short essay.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Common Core and Language Arts Assessment: How to Analyze an Author's Style

I use the following handout in my Advanced Placement English Language and Composition classes (grade 11), but the information is also helpful for grades 9 and 10. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Career Research Essay

Career Research Essay—at least 4 pages, typed, double-spaced, 12 point Times Roman font, one-inch margins. Must include an additional Works Cited page.

You will soon be entering another phase of your life, becoming more independent and responsible.  “Real Life” involves important decisions, and one of the most pivotal decisions is the career path you choose.  I want you to reflect on a possible career, investigate and research the issues pertaining to that job, then write an essay in which you put together everything you have learned in an organized fashion.  You must cite any information you provide throughout your paper (parenthetical citations).

Below is a list of points you need to cover in your essay.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Essay Checklist for Discussion of Literature

Below is an an example of a student checklist for writing drafts of essays.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Scholars: Copy and paste the post below into a Word document and place it in your binder. You may handwrite the post if your prefer.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Technology at the Tipping Point: The Negative Effects of Our Relationship With Glass Screens

I have been a teacher for twenty-six years.  During that time period, I have been impressed by the kindness, character, and compassion of so many students.  Obviously, we cannot generalize about the behaviors and actions of young people in our society by the heinous actions of a few.  We do, however, need to examine the cause for increasingly sociopathic and character-disturbed behavior among some young individuals.  I would like to suggest that there are multiple reasons, and not one factor alone, that may be causes of an increase in violent, callous behavior.
One phenomenon that may contribute to a rise in sociopathy in our society (not just among the young) is an increasingly technological society that encourages relationships with certain things--Iphones, Ipods, Ipads, video games, computers, etc., over relationships with people.  Most months we hear stories of individuals perpetrating mass murders.  In October of 2013, there was a shooting on a train in San Francisco, where commuters, enthralled by their electronic devices, were oblivious to the murderer who was waving his gun before he shot a college student.  This incident is a sad and tragic metaphor for our new technological world.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Make Better Use of Multiple-Choice Assessments

Research indicates that frequent low-stakes testing in the classroom results in better results on high-stakes tests, such as state-mandated Common Core Tests, the SAT, and the ACT. This fact may seem paradoxical, as many teachers think that we test too much, but assessing with low-stakes tests in the classroom is much different from the high-stakes tests mentioned above.

I do not think that administering a multiple-choice test in the classroom, where students simply fill in bubbles is effective. In fact, I think that administering multiple-choice tests is an easy way out for educators. We give the student a test, they fill in bubbles, and we, as educators, have something very easy to grade (certainly much easier than grading a pile of essays, which we don't assign enough of, but that's another story, and another post).

Monday, November 2, 2015

Walden Activity

Turn to page 381 in the textbook (The Language of Literature, American Literature, McDougal Littell). Read the background material to Walden. Consider the literary terms in the list below (look the terms up first and write the definitions). Then, as you are reading the excerpts from Walden, cite examples of these literary devices and comment on the effectiveness of Thoreau's use of these techniques. How is your reading of the text enhanced by his artful use of these literary devices? Explain as best you can. Write down any questions that you have or parts of the text that you find confusing. We will discuss later as a class.

Write notes in your binder. They may be checked at any time for a grade.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pointers for New SAT (2016) Reading Test

The SAT Reading Test 2016

(Information in this document was excerpted and adapted from The Official SAT Study Guide of the College Board, 2015.)

Consider purchasing The Official SAT Study Guide for March 2016 and beyond. The book is an excellent resource. It is available through the College Board Store or

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Florida Standards Assessment (FSA)--Writing

American Institutes for Research (AIR) developed the Common Core tests for the states of Utah and Florida. The following links may offer some insight about the Florida exam (March 2-13, 2015):