One of my favorite lessons to teach in my short story unit is the Hero’s Journey. I enjoy teaching this lesson because I love seeing my students’ aha! moments - the moment when they get it, and they start making the connections between the content I am teaching and their favorite books and movies. Their faces light up, and faint chatter about Harry Potter, various Disney movies, and other stories slowly fills the room. To introduce the Hero’s Journey, I first teach this Pr ezi by Laura Randazzo. I adore this Prezi because she makes the content completely accessible for the students. It provides relatable examples that the students know, and it also includes videos that show key events throughout the Hero’s Journey cycle. After teaching the Prezi, I then show the Ted Ed video “What Makes a Hero?” by Matthew Winkler. This video is spectacular for a couple reasons. First, I love how it presents the Hero’s Journey in relation to a clock and a cycle. This visual sticks with the...
As English teachers, we are in a unique position where we not only shape and refine students’ writing skills, but also, possibly, hopefully, their world view. We are able to do this because most of  the literary works crucial to our curriculum were written with the intention of inspiring profound and controversial thought. Here are three thought-provoking ideas and motifs that are essential to teach high school students. You can use any of these motifs commonly found in literature to study robust themes in your classroom. Sometimes, in order to foster a student’s growth for the better, it is beneficial to show them a monster rather than a role model - an anti role model if you will. Showing examples of humanity’s inhumanity can be quite revealing in regards to our own character flaws. After all, oftentimes the reason we do not like someone is because we see an aspect of ourselves which we hate within them. In Elie Wiesel's novel, Night , Elie recounts his first-hand expe...
For several years now, I’ve watched students struggle year after year with the same concepts. They have a difficult time analyzing literature on a deeper level, and they also struggle with properly embedding their quotes. Rather than face the same struggles again this year, I anticipated the struggle and revised how I teach my students to read and write about short stories. It is working. Not only is it working, but it is working far better than I ever could have imagined. My students are understanding the stories more, and their analytical writing has improved leaps and bounds since the first assignment. STEP 1: TEACH LITERARY DEVICES I began my short story unit by directly teaching various literary devices and how to properly embed quotations. I also placed an emphasis on close reading with my Sticky Note Literary Analysis graphic organizers. Then, I started small with a super short story and an even shorter writing response. STEP 2: ASSIGN A SHORT RESPONSE We read K...
I like to incorporate a lot of nonfiction in my curriculum. While I love fiction and make sure I include it in my instruction, I also firmly believe that studying, analyzing, and writing about nonfiction is vitally essential for today’s learners. When I teach argumentation and nonfiction texts in my classroom, there are three skills that I intentionally teach toward the beginning of the unit: paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing . While I believe that teaching specific rhetorical devices and strategies are important, I save those lessons for when my students are able to correctly paraphrase, quote, and summarize any piece of text. Paraphrasing In my opinion, I believe that paraphrasing text is a bit easier than summarizing text since it is essentially rewriting the entire text in one’s own words. One of the pitfalls in which most students fall victim to is failing to properly cite paraphrased text. This is because so many students assume that just because the text is in th...
I teach a lot of nonfiction in my junior-level and senior-level high school English classes, and oftentimes these nonfiction articles and speeches deal with new, complex topics. Before we read the article, I want to access my students’ prior knowledge on the topic, as well as get them thinking about the topic in an effort to properly prepare them to read and understand the text. One such way to introduce new and complex topics to students is by having them create collaborative brainstorming posters. These posters are simple and require minimal preparation, but they generate excellent classroom discussion. This post contains affiliate links. The materials you will need for this assignment: Butcher or poster paper Markers To complete a collaborative brainstorming poster in class, have students get into groups of three to five students. Each group will get one piece of butcher paper, poster board, or chart paper. Each member within the group will select one color m...