I don’t know about you, but I usually end the first semester somewhat in a frenzy, jump into the holidays without (rightly) thinking about work, and begin the second semester with thoughts of regrouping and refocusing. Enter the #aplitchat two weeks ago which focused on basic essay components; this proved to be just what I needed to help me refocus and think about what it truly important in terms of writing the AP essay. The responses have been summarized by questions (here’s a list of all of the answers) and some application activities follow. As an added bonus, a list of favorite winter poems from our community is at the bottom of the post; I definitely see this list being a great resource for a class activity on a cold day. Now to essay writing – … KEEP READING
One of my goals for the year was to make this site better by posting five articles to the site every Wednesday related to ELA instruction. Imagine my dismay last Friday when I realized I had failed to post on just the second Wednesday of the month; needless to say, I am still trying to settle into the rhythm of the new year.
What’s Going on in This Graph? from The Learning Network at the New York Times is a new monthly feature to help students read graphs and info pictures. I see this as having potential to pair with both fiction and nonfiction pieces.
Isn’t it amazing how our favorite tech tools become verbs? “Google it” is, of course, the most ubiquitous, and my students get all excited when I tell them “we’re going to Kahoot today.” Well, I want to introduce another tool that I hope will wind its way into your verb vocabulary – Flipgrid.
Flipgrid is a marvel. In the simplest terms, it is a place to record short videos in response to a common prompt. These videos are then displayed on a grid, so you can easily view all of the responses. That is the simple version. Flipgrid is so much more. … KEEP READING
Over the 19 years I’ve been teaching English, it was only in the past 6 years teaching AP Literature and Composition that I began to realize just how challenging it is to understand the complex endeavor of literary analysis.
Every year, I’d be disappointed with the vast majority of theme statements in students’ essays. If you teach English, you know the kind I mean: “Of Mice and Men is a book about the importance of friendship” or “The Great Gatsby shows the American Dream.” The students often just repeated ideas they’d heard in class without exploring their own ideas about the complexity of the text, and I finally figured out why. I was asking them to bite off way more than they could chew and needed to figure out a way to scaffold practice of the many skills necessary for independently analyzing a text. … KEEP READING
Each Wednesday, I will be posting five articles related to ELA instruction. Since most of us are easing back into work, still reflecting on 2017, and planning for 2018, the first post is all about books. I hope these links help you stay current with the myriad of new books on the market. … KEEP READING
2017 has been a great year for APLitHelp and its community. We have posted 45 blogs by 11 different contributing authors offering teachers ideas and inspiration for instruction. The number of hits on the site increased from 73,388 in 2016 to 133,679 in 2017. The best part of the year by far for me as editor is the chance to meet, collaborate with, and serve other teachers. Thanks to everyone for making this site a strong and positive learning community; thanks to each of you for making me a better teacher and person. The top posts of the year (which were interestingly not all written this year) were: … KEEP READING
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