Articles of the Week – 1.17.18

Articles of the Week1.3.2018

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.

Why Giving Feedback is Trickier than It Seems from MindShift has lots of food for thought for teachers and lots of classroom application. I like this article because it doesn’t say “this is the way to give feedback” but instead gives considerations.
9 Misconceptions about Student-Centered Writing Instruction (Heinemann) explains the myths associated with giving students choice in their writing.
Aiding Reading Comprehension with Post-its from Edutopia this week details a strategy of using sticky notes and writing prompts to improve reading comprehension.
3 Ways to Make the Writing Process More Authentic by Katie Martin is an easy read that helps teachers keep writing from being formulaic.
Poem of the Week: Winter Poem by Nikki Giovanni

Happy New Year from APLitHelp

The Best of APLitHelp

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

Christmas at The New Yorker

Holiday Lessons

IMG_0700It’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

What Happens in St. Louis Shouldn’t Stay in St. Louis


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:

from Donalyn Miller's Ignite session
from Donalyn Miller’s Ignite session

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.


Literary Analysis via Student Blogs

Literary Analysis viaStudent Blogs

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

Escape from the Ordinary Unit

Teaching on Physical, Psychological, or SocialConstraints-

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

Taking the Fear out of Teaching Frankenstein

Taking the Fearout of TeachingFrankenstein

by Melissa Smith

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

Teaching on the Theme of Power

Power-Resources to Customize a Unit

Are you considering teaching a unit on power? Or perhaps you are looking for some resources to pair with a major text with a theme of power? 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 power. These resources include major works, visual art pieces (click on the link to see the picture), songs, Ted Talks, films, documentaries, writing ideas, question ideas, and more. Pick and choose what you need to create your own unit.  … KEEP READING

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