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Showing posts with the label Lesson Ideas

Trump vs. Obama: Analyzing Rhetoric

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We can’t have enough lessons over speeches or the rhetoric within those speeches. There is no end to it. The least we can do is have fun.So… I created a lesson, analyzing Trump’s victory speech and Obama’s victory speech. I wanted to give students a look at a speech that is heavy in rhetoric versus one that is… well, not so heavy in rhetoric. Anywho… if you’re interested… here is the lesson plan.Trump vs. ObamaRhetorical AnalysisThings You Will Need to Teach This Lesson:·        Lesson Plan·        Rhetoric PowerPoint (included)·        Student Handouts: Analyzing the Rhetoric Within a Speech (x2), Trump Victory Speech, Obama Victory Speech, Trump vs. Obama Grading Handout, Rhetorical Analysis Rubric (included in this pdf)·        Answer Keys Before the Lesson:·        Please review the lesson plan and PowerPoint.  Delete anything that isn’t applicable to you.  Add things that are.  Make this lesson your own.·        Print the student handouts and review the answer keys.Lesson:Act…

Resources for Teaching Anthem by Ayn Rand

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Before I create a unit, I always create a Pintrest board to generate ideas. I find that it’s the easiest way for my chaotic mind to organize something as complex as lesson building. Anything and everything I find that relates to the topic goes onto the board. I then filter through relevant materials and start to build a calendar from there.Below, you’ll find the board that I used in my preparation to teach Anthem by Ayn Rand. I hope you find it helpful.


Thank you and happy teaching!

Analysis Overview

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When it comes to evaluating students at the beginning of the year, I find that analysis is one of those topics that get swept under the rug. We assume that by high school, students have already learned these skills, and yet we find out, year after year, that that is not the case for some of them. This lesson I created adresses some of those issues.Analysis OverviewPreTest, Overview, Close Read, AnnotationsThings You Will Need to Teach This Lesson:·        Instructions·        Analysis Overview PowerPoint·        Analysis PreTest Handout (Included in PDF file)·        Analysis PreTest Answer Key (Included in PDF file)·        The Story of an Hour Handout (Included in PDF file)·        The Story of an Hour Answer Key (Included in PDF file)Before the Lesson:·        Please review the lesson plan and PowerPoint.  Delete anything that isn’t applicable to you.  Add things that are.  Make this lesson your own.·        Print the student handouts for each student.Lesson:Activity One: Analysi…

Teaching Collectivism and Individualism for Anthem by Ayn Rand

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The two philosophies of collectivism and individualism are heavy throughout Anthemby Ayn Rand. When I decided to teach this book, I researched both ideas and knew that if I wanted the kids to understand these heavy concepts, I was going to have to simplify and condense.And what better way to simplify and condense then pictures!?As the kids came in, I had this picture of V from V from Vendetta on the board: Those that have already seen the movie knew the reference, and it got the wheels turning. I then showed the kids several pictures of people doing things alone. With some discussion they were able to grasp the theme that I was going for.I switched over to several pictures of people doing things in groups. This one was easier to get at because they could already see the patterns we were making.Then I gave them the definitions for individualism and collectivism. They wrote them down in their notebooks. We discussed a little and by the end they understood that the basic tenants of …

Incorporating Infographics into the ELA Classroom: Writing an Essay

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In Texas we have this handy dandy standard:

(11)  Reading/Comprehension of Informational Text/Procedural Texts. Students understand how to glean and use information in procedural texts and documents. Students are expected to: (A)  evaluate text for the clarity of its graphics and its visual appeal; and (B)  synthesize information from multiple graphical sources to draw conclusions about the ideas presented (e.g., maps, charts, schematics).
and it has been left so open-ended that it be interpreted any number of ways.  I know that in class we're always evaluating images and maps.  They will come up eventually, so I will not have to worry about hitting the standard that way.  But I don't think I'll have another opportunity to go over an infographic. And even if I do, infographics are fun.

So what better way to kill two birds with one stone: handle the standard while also gauging what the kids know and where I need to focus when it comes to essay writing.

I love infographics,…

4 TED Talks to Use While Teaching Things Fall Apart

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Here we go again...

1.  “What makes a good life?  Lessons from the longest study on happiness” by Robert Waldinger


Okonkwo is obviously an unhappy man.  Turns out the key to happiness is the relationships we build.  I guess someone should tell Okonkwo that...

2.  “How movies teach manhood” by Colin Stokes


I love the ideas presented in this talk.  I think the messages that we're sending to our kids through film aren't always inspiring.  Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in censorship.  However, when society has a test to determine how female inclusive a film is and most films fail it, there's a problem.
3.  “The Five Major World Religions” by John Bellaimey

Many of my students don't know anything about religion outside of their own.  This video was, for many of them, an introduction to other religions.  I connected it to the book through the theme of imperialism.
4.  “How Africa can use its traditional knowledge to make progress” by Chika Ezeanya- Esiobu

I thi…

3 Videos to Use During the Holidays in the ELA Class

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Yes, I know it’s March.  But I just found my PowerPoint and so I’m sharing now.



1. History vs. Christopher Columbus by Alex Gendler
Why do we still celebrate this holiday?  This animated TED ED talk goes into what’s not taught in elementary school about Columbus.  Cliff Notes: he was a bad dude.

2.Can Art Amend History? By Titus Kaphar
So I teach a lesson about the first Thanksgiving.  Days 1-3 delve into the English version of the holiday and what most people believe about Thanksgiving.  Days 4 and 5 discuss the Native American perspective, which isn’t discussed enough.  This TED asks the question: Can we learn about the unpleasantness of our history through art?  Is it more palatable to digest that way?  Super entertaining talk.

3.Black Friday: An Accident of History by Hank Green
Not technically a TED Talk, but it’s good.  Hank Green talks about Black Friday and its origins.  We all get a little preachy about the meaning of Christmas (vs. the commercial ideal that’s taken hold) and…

5 TED Talks to Use with the Theme of Fear and Mystery

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I can’t believe I’m about to talk about fear and mystery right after Valentine’s Day, but here goes.



1.What Fear Can Teach Us by Karen Thompson
Really great TED Talk about how instead of shying away from our fear, we should embrace them, turn them into stories, and then act upon them.

2.Vampires- Folklore, fantasy, and fact  by Michael Molina
An animated vampire talks about the mythology behind vampires.  It’s kind of corny, but it’s interesting to see the origin and various country interpretations.

3.Zombie Roaches and Other Parasite Tales
Ed Yong describes a parasite that attaches itself to its host and takes over their body.  He also talks about the tapeworm and other such gross things.  The talk is entertaining and actually changed the way that I think about the creepy crawlies that I’m afraid of.  Especially the ones that might take over my body.

4.Where Do Superstitions Come From? By Stuart Vyse
In this TED talk, several popular superstitions are dissected.  There’s not much els…

Using Mulan to Teach Gender Stereotypes

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I love Disney.Honestly, at this point, it’s probably a bit irrational.My husband doesn’t understand it.My kids don’t understand it.But Disney movies in the 90s were the companion to an only child, i.e. me.So anytime I can go back to my happy place I will.Therefore, I use a lot of Disney in my teaching.
When I do my big unit on gender stereotypes, I reference Mulan a lot.One year, I had almost an entire student group tell me that they hadn’t seen the movie.I dreamed that night about all the lessons I could plan around the movie.Besides viewing it as literature, I had the students identify any point in the movie that supported the idea that gender norms/ stereotypes can be beneficial, and any point in the movie that supported the idea that gender norms/ stereotypes are not beneficial.I had them transfer those into a graphic organizer that also had a bubble outline for a persuasive essay.They then had to choose a side and write a draft using the movie as evidence.Pretty easy.
If you’d l…

Advertisement Project: Teaching Persuasion

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I know that everyone who has to teach persuasion has done this at least one time in their teaching career.So I’m not proposing anything new.I’m just putting mine out into the ether.


Hands down, the best way to get teenagers to understand persuasion is to appeal to their hungry little consumer on the inside.  It seems like, for about of month out of the year, I become an expert in commercials.  And once the kids begin to break it down, see how advertisements work, see how marketers use formulaic methods to get people to buy their stuff even without realizing their being marketed to, the kids want to try their hands at it. 
The Advertisement Assignment is pretty simple: the kids work in pairs to create a print ad or a commercial for an assigned product.  They get a blurb of what the product is about, and they have to create a name, a logo, and a tagline with a clear message, all while using persuasive elements that they’ve learned from over the course of the unit.  Other than those in…

Using Hashtags to Retain Information

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Last week I mentioned hashtag summaries and then realized that I had never mentioned them before. 

Sounds about right...

Anywho... #hastagsummaries have changed my life: they're quick, they're fun, they're creative.  And I've had quite a few kids tell me that this is the easiest way for them to retain information when it comes to those long boring essays that they have to read for the state.  So #winwin. 


Here's the process:
Whenever we have a nonfiction article, I have the student's number the paragraphs.Read the paragraph.Come up with a cute, clever #hastag that summarizes the paragraph in a way the student would remember.           For example, we were reading an article about the 1920s.  Here's the paragraph:


Women were delighted by the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave them, at long last, the right to vote.  Feeling emancipated and in rising demand on the labor market, young, urban and fashionable flappers joined men in boycotting the Proh…

An Introduction to Gender Stereotypes

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I'm not going to get on my high horse about what happened to Cracked.com.  That isn't what this post is about.  It is, however, a post about one of their articles that I've been teaching for a while.

The 6 weeks before STAAR become STAAR prep.  Therefore, all of the units that we work on become debatable thematic units.  The first one I usually tackle is gender stereotypes.  For some reason,  it is super engaging (more than I thought it would be) and the kids enjoy tackling an issue that is very much applicable to them.  However, they don't understand that gender norms are a fluid thing.  The things that we have come to associate with a particular gender aren't the things that have always been associated with that gender.

Back on track...

... I start my unit off with an article from Cracked called 5 Gender Stereotypes That Used to be the Exact Opposite as an introduction to the above idea.  It does have bad words in it (I print out an edited version for my student…

Six Videos to Use While Reading Anthem

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I've talked about my love of TED Talks both here and here.  When we did our Anthem unit at the beginning of the year, I found more in the other channels that I subscribe to on YouTube than I did on TED that related to the book.  So here they are: six videos I used to supplement Anthem by Ayn Rand.  If you're interested in the PowerPoint I use, you can find it in my TPT store here.



#1: "Changing Educational Paradigms" by Ken Robinson
This is the RSA Animate version of the longer TED Talk "Do Schools Kill Creativity" by Robinson.  In it he discusses the idea that culture and learning have changed, therefore schools need to adapt to the way kids are learning.  The whole video is an interesting watch, but what I used to relate to Anthem was the bit about divergent thinking.  We had a whole group discussion about divergent thinking and how it relates to Equality.  The students were also able to relate other parts of the video (such as the assembly line idea) to

Using "Race: The Power of Illusion" to Dispel Racial Ideas in Preparation for Desiree's Baby

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Every year I teach Desiree's Baby.  It's my favorite short story to teach students; the look of shock on their faces at the end... it's awesome.

The first year I taught it, I was shocked at how little the kids knew about race.  A lot of my students know what race FEELS like: they know what it feels like when someone underestimates them because of the color of their skin, they know what it feels like to see people praise a person who villainizes them, they know what it feels like to grow up having a different experience than the ones they see in the shows they watch.  But a lot of them don't KNOW race: the history, the science, the misconceptions.

Enter my favorite Webquest thanks to PBS!



Race: The Power of Illusion is an interactive website that explains almost everything you could ever want to know about the idea of race.  And it was just what I needed to get my point across in as little time as possible.

I needed the students to understand that race is just a constru…

3 TED Talks to Pair with A Midsummer Night's Dream

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I don't know if I've said this before but I love TED Talks.  My kids watch one every Tuesday that relates to our main text.  Last six weeks we read A Midsummer Night's Dream, so here are the TED Talks I paired with it and why.



1.  Mandy Len Catron: Falling in Love is the Easy Part
A Midsummer Night's Dream is filled with the idea of love: what is it, is it serious, or is it a flight of fancy? After falling in love using a questionnaire, Mandy Len Catron discusses the idea that it doesn't take much to fall in love, but staying in love takes work.  I use this talk at the beginning of the unit to hit the theme of love and to also get the kids thinking about what it means to truly love someone.
2.  Amy Adkins: Why Do We Dream?
I love mixing facts with fiction.  The loss of reality and dreams are major themes in the play.  This video gives real-world theories as to why human beings dream.  I ask the students to choose one reason and use it as a defense for the Athenians.…

Groovy Greeks: An Overview of the Ancient Greeks for Context

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I love reading A Midsummer Night's Dream with my kids.  Over the years I've realized that a lot of them do not have the context to understand the first scene of the play.  I discovered the animated show Horrible Histories while searching for a quick way to give them that context in a way that they'd actually pay attention.  To make sure that they did while watching, I created a guided questioning handout.  I also realized that the video wasn't going to be enough.  So I found an article on CommonLit that dissects the class system.  Because students need to understand Hermia's plight and why the mechanicals are the comedic relief (I use a subsequent lesson to drive this idea home), the assessment is two paragraphs where they have to use both resources to explain what life was like for women and the working class.  
The lesson plan is below.  If you're interested in the handout I use, you can find it in my TPT store here.


Groovy GreeksIntroduction to the Ancient G…