We frequently get questions from teachers who want to teach novels, but simply do not have enough time to read entire books with their classes. While we generally advocate for reading novels in their entirety, we completely understand that this is not always possible for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to English language levels and school schedules, as well as state, school, and district mandates. Today we want to give you a few tips for picking out which novel excerpts to read with your class.
Summer reading can be a struggle for students who can sometimes lack time, motivation, and skills to complete the task. Not to mention, with all of the internet shortcuts and summaries at the tips of their fingers it is an equally daunting task for teachers to assess whether or not the reading has actually been completed. Although this struggle is formidable, personally, I do not think it's time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As English teachers, we work everyday to hopefully make small strides toward creating a love of reading among our students. One way that we accomplish this goal is through a three prong assessment structure:
I think it can be nice to switch up the reading list every couple of years or so. Sometimes we are forced to change because of school/district policies, and sometimes we just want to change to keep students (and ourselves) engaged in the curriculum. Today I want to share 5 of my favorite books for the high school classroom so that next time you are approached about changing the book list, you have some place to start. I'd love to hear your suggestions/reasons in the comment section below! I'm also including links and helpful information about the Simply Novel Reading Guides that will get you ready to teach these books in no time! (Simply Novel reading guides are aligned to common core and are available in print and pdf from simplynovel.com. Check out the website for these titles and much more.)
The Great Gatsby is widely-regarded as one of the great American novels and many of us teach it every year to secondary students who seem to instantly get the feeling of lost dreams, the feeling of being "within and without" and the feeling that the American Dream is too good to be true.
Today, I want to share with you some of my rules for answering questions about literature. Please leave a comment with any additions or questions you have! Together we can make a master list and raise the bar in classrooms around the country!
It is the time of year again when we meet in departments to plan out summer reading programs. For me, the words "summer reading" can be a delight and a drain. I work at a school that requires summer reading for college prep and honors English classes at every grade level, which can present some challenges. Even with the struggles, I think that summer reading is a battle worth fighting. If you are interested in some of the scientific benefits of summer reading, click around this site for a bit. Here are my thoughts on putting together a summer reading program that will enhance the curriculum without burning out teachers or students.
A co-worker recently re-posted this article criticizing changes that my alma mater UCLA made in 2011 to the English department required courses. Gone are the days of required single author courses in Milton, Chaucer, and Shakespeare, which have been replaced with thematic courses and syllabi full of a combination of the traditional canon and new voices. Of course, I poked around and saw other articles like this one, in support of the changes and found this clear explanation of the changes from the Daily Bruin. This all got me thinking about the books that our high schools require. I currently teach American lit and British lit to juniors and seniors in high school and so my required reading relies heavily on our anthology with the supplement of a couple of novels. Even though I LOVE my curriculum, I think it is important to think about how we select required reading. Below I've listed some of the major considerations out there with a brief opinion of my own. I'd love to hear your two cents! How much control do you have over your required reading? Are you happy with your current list?
We've all had those class periods that seem to drag on with a flat discussion because half the class didn't really read the last night's homework. With all of the shortcuts out there on the internet and sometimes a general apathy that hits teenagers, how do we get them to actually read? Here are some of my ideas and I'd love to hear yours in the comment section below:
Today, I am excited to bring you a tip for using google presentations to create classroom engagement and collaboration. This idea is a combination of a project that a colleague of mine has done for years, the inspiration of Catlin Tucker's vocabulary instruction (she is really amazing), plus of course, my deep seated love of socratic seminar, novel study, and google drive (full tutorial here)! This project puts ownership in the hands of students and frees up a lot of my time for meaningful writing feedback instead of a ton of prep for teaching a novel. Check out the Youtube video below for the specifics of my project:
One of the most difficult aspects of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and having to deal with how to approach the "n" word in your classroom. Here is an excellent article written by Earl Ofari Hutchinson on the subject.