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What I Teach the Week Before Thanksgiving

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  The weeks before a break always seem like the longest.  The kids are restless, I'm restless, and we all understand that all we're really doing is biding our time until that last bell before break.   Thanksgiving is a different type of beast altogether though.  My district gives an entire week, the first real break since school started, and we know that right around the corner is Christmas.  It is hard to focus, let alone get 150 students to focus.  But one thing I've learned in all my years of teaching is that the best catalyst for engaging students is to tell them they don't know something that they think they know.    Enter my week before Thanksgiving unit.  Each day is about dismissing the beliefs that they think they have about Thanksgiving.  They look at encyclopedia entries, primary source documents, secondary source documents, speeches, and even listen to a podcast to get the right story, the truer story, surrounding Thanksgiving... and not just from the perspe

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. Obama Rhetorical Analysis Things 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.

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!

If I Could Get Away With It: Movie Edition | The Royal Tennenbaums

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Wes Anderson. Le Sigh. Here’s the trailer. When this movie came out I was a freshman in high school and I fell in love. This movie is whimsical and quirky and my teenage brain didn’t understand how the story worked but I knew that it just did. And I knew that it was brilliant. And because of this film, I have seen every Wes Anderson movie (although… outside of the aesthetics, I don’t think that I’m a fan). The Tennenbaums are extraordinary. And they have been since they were children. One is an actress, one is a tennis player, and one is a mogul. They are all famous. They reunite after 20 years because their father claims he’s dying, and just like any catalyst to a story, it sets off the domino effect that changes the course of their lives. If I could get away with teaching this movie, I would use it to teach characterization and style. Every single character in this movie is three dimensional, every character has motivation. We would start of the unit with a note taker an

If I Could Get Away With It: TV Edition | Buzzfeed's Unsolved

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So, this is the second edition of this series. I really wish that I could show Buzzfeed’s Unsolved. Here’s the trailer for season 4. (Warning: it is NSFW) I absolutely love this internet show. Two guys (Ryan and Shane) who work for Buzzfeed, go to notoriously “haunted” locals all around the world and try to commune with the spirits there. If the show wasn’t already entertaining enough, the dynamic between Ryan and Shane is hilarious. Ryan (who claims to have had experiences with the paranormal) is usually scared shitless in every scenario. Meanwhile Shane does everything he possibly can to piss the ghosts off enough to interact with him. He concludes every episode as a non believer, and I don’t think that will ever change. None of the evidence into the paranormal is ever conclusive, but I don’t think that it would be “unsolved” if they ever found any. If I could get away with teaching this show, I would use it as context for some of the things we study. There is an episode wh

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 Overview PreTest, Overview, Close Read, Annotations Things 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

Helping Students to Remember What We've Read

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Am I the only one that finds that kids don’t remember what they’ve read through the year? Also… who out there is a Supernatural fan? Warning: When I thought of this idea, I had been watching a whole lot of Supernatural. And I had become pretty absorbed in all things Supernatural. Like… it bordered on obsession. At the beginning of every show, there is a text card that says “The Road So Far” as a way to recap the show. I decided to use my love of Supernatural as a way to recap what we had read in the classroom. So I made a poster (actually it was a few sheets of letter paper) and I posted it at the back of my class. Every time we read something, I posted the first sheet of our reading next to the poster. It was a running list of the things we read in class that year. Whenever I mentioned a piece and the kids looked at me like I had grown two heads, I would point to the back of the room and then be pleasantly surprised by the collective “oh, yeah. I remember that!” When I taught

Teaching Collectivism and Individualism for Anthem by Ayn Rand

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The two philosophies of collectivism and individualism are heavy throughout Anthem by 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 tena

If I Could Get Away With It: Movie Edition | Borat

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I think it is becoming a series. Except I decided that I don’t just want to focus on tv shows. There are also a lot of movies that I think have tons of value but I wouldn’t dare show them in a classroom. When I first thought about doing a movie post, I didn’t have time to even fully formulate the idea in my brain before I was screaming Borat ! Here’s the trailer. I believe that as teachers, we are the first line of defense against injustice. We are social justice warriors, teaching the next generation the things they need to know to make this world a better place. I also believe that in order to teach them to be better, we have to allow them to stay curious and question EVERYTHING. Even if that means they question authority too. I know that in our state, satire is really hammered home in English IV. And I’ve always thought this movie (although at points is a bit obscene) is a brilliant piece of satire. In 2006, America was the big kid on the playground that no one really wan

If I Could Get Away With It: TV Edition | Trigger Warning with Killer Mike

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this. There is a lot of great content that I wouldn’t dare show in a classroom (for various reasons) but wish that I could (for various reasons). I think I’m going to start a new series where I discuss those shows. Maybe it can help someone out there get the inspiration flowing. So my first TV show is Trigger Warning with Killer Mike. Here’s the trailer. (Warning: it is NSFW) Now, what I love about the district I’m in is that the kids really engage with political topics, and I can get away with a lot in regards to administration and social issues. But I would not get away with putting any part of this show in a lesson. Despite this, I think this show should be required viewing for everyone. The ideas and themes themselves are worth an entire term of lessons. For instance, the first episode “Living Black” finds Killer Mike trying to live within the Black Economy for three days. Spoiler alert: It does not go well. And this is how the show works.