It’s no secret: I am a fan of The New Yorker. I began my subscription to The New Yorker a couple of years ago when I decided to be intentional about learning how to write. If one wants to write well, she should read good writers, and everyone knows that some of the best current writing is in The New Yorker. Last week on my way out of the school library, I glanced over at the holiday display when what to my wondering eyes did appear but Christmas at the New Yorker so I halted my rear. The forecast of snow brought early dismissal and dread but visions of new mentor texts and lesson plans danced in my head. Okay – you get the idea. I immediately scooped up this book knowing that I had found a stocking full of ideas to keep us moving forward until break while giving us a break from the ordinary. Here are five lessons inspired by Christmas at The New Yorker. … KEEP READING
“Wait a minute, Mrs. Krulder,” one of my AP Literature and Composition students objected about a month into the fall semester. “So you’re saying we just MAKE UP the meaning of the poem?”
“Yes.” I explained, “You use ideas and patterns you notice in the text to formulate what you think the poem means.”
“But that’s just . . . just . . . b.s.!”
“O.K. . . . yes.” I agreed, “Literary analysis is b.s. that you can credibly and convincingly back up with evidence from the text.” … KEEP READING
One week ago yesterday, I was on my way home from NCTE 2017 which gave me several strategies to take back to my classroom but also the inspiration to do the work of teaching. There’s no way I can put into words all I learned, but here are some thoughts that continue to linger in my mind:
Choice in Reading –
Student choice is so important in education and specifically in reading. I loved hearing several people including some prominent authors and teachers talk about how they hated school. HATED. But then they found that book – the one where a character was like them and suddenly they were no longer alone but rather swept into a world of fiction and understanding. We MUST be committed to getting the right books into the hands of students. In addition, whole class novels cannot be taught to death but rather presented in a way for students to build reading skills, discover meaning on their own, and be a platform for rich classroom discussion and learning. I will say it over and over: we are not teaching a text; we are teaching students how to read and make meaning of texts.
How to write about imagery seems especially troubling for students. I witnessed this first hand at the Advanced Placement Literature reading last June where I read around 1,200 essays on the complex, contemporary poem The Myth of Music by Rachel M. Harper. Among other things, students struggled with what to say about the imagery in the poem. Most students could find images that evoked one of the five senses and allowed them to better picture the scene that the poet was presenting in her poem. The problem was they continued to say (over and over and over again) some along the lines of “The writer paints a picture with imagery.” Here’s the problem…. … KEEP READING
Writing an introduction can be hard; writing a conclusion is even harder. How does a student close a paper without summarizing what has already been said or introducing new material without time to fully unpack it? Below are two methods for writing effective conclusions: … KEEP READING
My classes have started blogging this year, and we are loving it. We participate in a blog exchange of AP Lit classes nationwide and read other student blogs monthly and comment on them. This has been such a great experience for us because my students’ writing is being read by someone other than me, they are considering thoughts of other students who live in different parts of the nation and have different perspectives, and students are learning how to navigate the blogosphere. … KEEP READING
Are you getting bored teaching the same works but don’t have the resources to trade out novels? Or perhaps you are just looking to create a different unit from scratch? Look no further. The following list is compiled from a Twitter chat hosted by Talks with Teachers to brainstorm resources for teaching texts dealing with the theme of escape – perfect for a Halloween twist. These resources include major works, short stories, poems, songs, Ted Talks, films, documentaries, writing ideas, question ideas, and more. Pick and choose what you need to create your own unit. … KEEP READING
To make Frankenstein relatable to our world today, I have students read and discuss various science articles. I do this lesson within the first couple of weeks of reading as an introduction to some of the overarching messages of the novel. For this activity, you will need large pieces of butcher paper (one for each group), markers, and links to the articles accessible for students. I have articles linked here to use, but it’d also be neat to find some additional articles that are locally interesting to your school or region. … KEEP READING
I haven’t thought much about pen pals since elementary school when there was a sense of mystery and excitement associated with receiving a letter from a faraway friend. Using pen pals in AP Literature has captured a bit of that fun and whimsy, all in the context of literary analysis.
Here’s how it happened: As I was planning lessons for our first novel (Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), I knew that I wanted students to write informal responses while reading–to develop ideas, share insights, and ask questions. I also knew that I did not want to add to my always-overwhelming stack of papers to grade. Emboldened by Kelly Gallagher’s assertion that “students should be writing way more than a teacher can grade,” I decided that this work would not be handed in. And yet, my students needed to have an audience for this piece. That’s when I remembered pen pals. … KEEP READING
I’ve written in the past about how the relationships I’ve developed on Twitter have transformed and energized my teaching (How Twitter Saved Me).
and how colleagues sometimes look at me with skepticism when I encourage them to take an hour out of their already crazy busy schedules to talk to teachers they’ve never met before.
But when they finally decide to try out a chat, that first step into the vast Twitter ocean can seem a bit daunting. While there are several great posts out there on diving into Twitter, I’ve yet to find a simple, straightforward guide to which I can direct my tentative friends. … KEEP READING