As hyperbolic as it might sound, everything an English teacher teaches their students is in preparation of them writing their college admissions essays. While the stakes for all prior written works were just letter grades, a well written admissions essay could very well be the stepping stone for a student to achieve their goals and dreams. As such, it is our duty to prepare high school juniors and seniors for these pivotal prompts and give them every advantage for starting the next stage of their lives. Here are 4 ways to help your students write their college admissions essays. 1. Teach what colleges don’t want to read.  Avoid the cliches! Just like with a resume or a cover letter, a college admissions essay has to “sell” the student. As obvious as this may sound, too many students fail to promote themselves properly, which leads to the admissions officer being unable to differentiate them from the thousands of other “sales pitches” they read that week and subconsciously ign...
States recently released standardized test scores, and teachers and administrators all across the nation are looking for ways to improve their scores. One particular area of assessment that can be quite difficult for educators to incorporate into everyday instruction is listening. Listening is an essential skill that many of our students need to work on; however, in today’s fast-paced, technologically-driven world, listening attentively to audio files can be quite challenging for today’s youth. For this reason, I include Listenwise.com in my curriculum. Listenwise is an edtech site for educators that combines audio news stories, primarily from National Public Radio, with content-rich and academically-focused discussion questions. I began using Listenwise last year with many of my teaching units, and my students’ test scores improved! Here are four different ways you can have your students analyze audio content on the Listenwise platform. 1. Analyze for main idea Bei...
Anyone who has ever taught creative writing is familiar with story prompts. They’re usually presented in the form of a What if? scenario where the protagonist meets with an unexpected event. For example: Mary wakes up as usual and prepares to go to school, but when she goes to get into her car, she finds it isn’t where she parked it yesterday! What does she do? On the surface, this prompt seems to have everything necessary for the basis of a story: a protagonist whose expectations are defied by an unusual event. It is very likely that your students have received similar writing prompts to this one since they were in kindergarten. Sadly, it is prompts like these that are teaching students the wrong way to write stories. The problem with What If? scenarios like these are they promote students to write externally, meaning they write a series of events that the protagonist reacts to. Reactions and unusual events are not enough to make a compelling story. Realize, I’m not criti...
In a previous blog post , I discussed how I teach the Hero’s Journey and a project that my students complete to demonstrate their understanding of it. Below are a list of novels, short stories, and poems which each have a protagonist set off on or forced into an adventure and change as a result of it, not necessarily for the better. Novels To Kill a Mockingbird : This story takes place in Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression when quality of life was low and racism was high. The story’s perspective is that of a little girl named Scout Finch who is forced into adventure when her father, Atticus, a prominent lawyer in the community, takes on a case to defend a black man who is accused of raping a white woman. The whole Finch family has to weather the backlash of Atticus’s decision which in turn leads to young Scout being educated in the essential goodness and evil of humanity. Don Quixote: The protagonist of the novel is Don Quixote, a man so obsessed with fantasy novels ...