April is National Poetry Month, and while it is essential to add in poetry throughout the entire school year, teachers usually place more emphasis on poetry during this Spring month. Here is a look at how I am getting ready to focus on poetry in my classroom. 1. Annotating Poetry One of the first lessons I teach my students is my Annotating Poetry Made Easy lesson. This mini-unit helps students learn how to read poetry and begins to help students establish a format for annotating poetry for analysis. In this mini unit, I use William Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and I include step-by-step annotating instruction that you can complete as a class. I always find it beneficial to annotate with students so that they can learn how to do it and increase their confidence in their annotating abilities. Annotating Poetry Made Easy 2. Analyzing Poetry Once my students have a solid foundation about how to read and annotate poetry, I then move on to teaching my st...
Test prep season is in full swing. It’s quite likely that if you teach in a public school, that you are feeling a little bit of pressure to produce successful student scores. I know that I am. I teach four different sections of testing students. While state tests are meant to measure a student’s success throughout the grades, in my state it all comes down to their performance during their junior year for high school and their eighth-grade year for middle school. To say that I’m feeling the heat right now is a bit of an understatement. As much as teachers would like to disregard state testing and stick to a curriculum that we know and love, for some teachers, that isn’t reality, and I have a confession to make. As much as it goes against every fiber of my teacher being, I’ve been teaching to the test these past few weeks. I don’t do it because I want to, but because I am expected to do so. Here are a few things I’ve been working on in my old classroom to try to incorporate test...
If you teach at a school that administers the PARCC, SBAC, or CAASPP, these standardized tests will assess your students’ listening skills. And typically, this is the strand in which most students perform the lowest. However, knowing how your students perform on the listening portions of these tests is helpful because it enables you to help your students boost these skills and improve the overall performance on the test. I, too, teach at a school that administers one of these tests, and the listening portion is where my kids earn the lowest marks. To try to combat this, I’ve started making a more focused effort to plan meaningful listening activities in my curriculum. While I don’t recommend always teaching to the test, it is necessary to note that the scores from these tests are important for our schools. And because of this, we should do what we can to help our students score their best. In my classroom, I add supplementary activities that are related to the units I teach that...
If there’s one genre that intimidates students, it is definitely poetry. Poetry, for some reason, can make students shrink with uncertainty, doubt, and fear before you even begin the unit. When I teach poetry in my classroom, I first like to introduce students to it by teaching them how to read and annotate poetry. By breaking this process down for students, it immediately becomes less intimidating. Once my students have a grasp on how to read poetry, I then throw them into the deep end with poetry analysis. When I teach analysis in my classroom, I use this poetry teaching unit that employs the acronym SWIFT to help students analyze one element at a time. SWIFT stands for Structure, Word choice, Imagery, Figurative language, and Theme and tone. Structure When students analyze the structure, I have them look at how the poem is organized. First, they take a look at it visually and note what they see. Then, I have them look a bit closer. They look at lines and stanzas a...
Lord of the Flies is a classic piece of British literature. And while many students in modern-day US students might not be able to relate to the plights of Piggy, Ralph, Jack, and Simon, there is a way to hook kids into the book. Just like the boys on the island experience a myriad of challenges to survive, my students also participate in a survivor-type team challenge as we read the book. Throughout the unit, my student teams work together on assignments and compete against one another on challenges that demonstrate their understanding of the novel. Teams earn points for winning challenges, and the team points are displayed on the board throughout the entire unit. GETTING STARTED The first thing I do is divide my students up into equal teams. I choose to have six different teams of about 5-6 students each. To make the teams as fair and as even as possible, I divide the teams by current class grade to make sure that every team has some strong members. Once I have my teams, I ...