Top Ten Teaching Resources for 2014-15

I am two days away from attending the first day of pre-planning for the 2014-15 school year.  It will mark the start of my ninth year of teaching, which means I have been building up quite the large bag of tricks to utilize both in the classroom and in my curriculum development.

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Today, I thought I would share with you some of the materials that I am most looking forward to using this year.  They include lesson plans, worksheets, and teacher resources.

Top Ten Teaching Resources for 2014-15

(In no particular order)

1.  Standards Tracking Chart

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LAFS 1112 Tracking Chart Generic

2.  Bloom’s Taxonomy Question Stems

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A list of question stems that are categorized by their Bloom’s level.  All six categories are listed.

Blooms Taxonomy Question Stems

3.  Teacher Reflection Worksheet

This template is setup to be a traditional lesson plan, however, I am going to be using it as a reflection tool instead.  I teach three preps, so I will have three worksheets per week, one per class.  Where each of the days of the week are listed, I am going to reflect on what worked, what needs to be modified, and anything else that is appropriate for the lesson.

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Teacher Reflection Worksheet

4.  Literary Devices in Literature Chart

I don’t know why I didn’t start this sort of document in the past, but it struct me while reading Jane Eyre, reviling in Charlotte Bronte’s writing style, that there were many different literary devices being used.  “Gee, that would be a great example of how to use anaphora in a real-world situation to show the students!”  And the rest is history.  I will be adding to this throughout the year and beyond.

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5.  TED Talk Worksheet

This is a worksheet that can be used with any TED Talk that you want to use in your classroom.

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TED Talks Worksheet

6. Diagram for Writing an AP English Essay

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 9.31.36 AM 7.  Creating Classroom Norms Activity – Beginning of the Year/Semester

After explaining what norms are and why they are important, I have the students break out into groups to create a list of norms they would like to see implemented into the classroom.  After we vote on our top 5-7, I print up a document that states them and all the students sign it.

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Community Agreement and Norms

8.  Classroom Rules Through Memes

Rules for Getting Along in Room 204 Erm

9. Close Reading Strategy: SCOUT

Resource: The Readiness is All blog

S.C.O.U.T.
S: specifics (Locations, Characters, Time, Words, Choice of Details)
C: comparisons (symbols, metaphors, imagery, allusion etc…)
O: organization both sequential, what comes first and what comes last; and spatial, don’t bother looking it up, for me spatial organization is repetition, contrast, and questions like why is this paragraph or sentence so short or so long in comparison to the ones next to, or before, or after it. Organization also encompasses syntax.
U: unusual– this one is of course more difficult to explain, but I find it crucial. I want students to notice when things are different than expected. I want them to notice when generic conventions are broken, when something seems modern or just off. Those glitches in the matrix are often breadcrumbs leading down a potentially interesting rabbit hole.
T: Theme examples– This takes us full circle back to T3 (Topic/Tone/Theme) What are the quotes, symbols, plot events, motifs, characters etc… that point us back to theme and ultimately purpose.
Ideally I want students to find one or two of each of these. I might have them work in expert groups or I might just pick one or two of the SCOUT ideas to focus on for a particular work. After SCOUT-ing a work I want them to write their SCOUT discoveries in the form of a short paragraph of analysis. Before they write it down I want them to write down the page number and whether it is at the top, middle, or bottom of the page so we can quickly find the source of the evidence during class discussion.
Here is a list of literary terms for the S.C.O.U.T. process that I also use for the B.R.A.W.L (Battle Royal All Will Learn: a competitive team based Socratic Seminar process)

10.  Close Reading Strategy: 3T

Resource: The Readiness is All blog

TOPIC
So before we can discuss a piece of art (I use the word art to refer to any artistic endeavor including writing) we need to understand its specifics. When we talk about topic we are talking about basic comprehension: vocabulary, setting, situation, choices of details, characters, color, line, stroke, subject etc… if a student doesn’t understand a word or an allusion they will miss out on the ultimate intention and any corresponding theme.
TONE
Tone is the sulking Satan sitting on a ledge fuming over his Pandemonium. I require all students to have just ONE definition of tone. Tone is the author’s attitude towards the subject and the audience. Tone is crucial to understanding any piece of art. Tone starts with the title of a piece and works its way down and out. Tone can be tongue-in-cheek, playful, ironic, despondent and more. Tone colors every specific covered in the TOPICsection and leaves us with a palpable emotion. Students also need to understand the difference between tone, atmosphere and mood. Often in class I’ll say something like “listen up scumbuckets of Hades… I love, love, love teaching English.” The students quickly see that I can have one Tone (negative- illustrated by an epithet) towards the audience, and one tone (positive-illustrated by the repetition of the word love) shown towards the subject.
THEME
As we return to John Connor’s difficult decision we move into the pragmatic section of an artist’s purpose. (See this post for a brief discussion of the four purposes of art) Artists teach. They grab our attention by foregrounding an experience. The artistic dialogue is Hegelian in nature. There is a thesis made, a push back by the audience and society and then a synthesis of understanding. This is theme. I tell students that topic is what the story is about, but theme is what the story is REALLY about.
A poem that I love discussing early in class is Marge Piercy’s poem “Beauty I Would Suffer For,” or her poem “A Work of Artifice.” Her poetry is dripping with tone and has a fairly easy to understand initial theme. Of course there are more complex themes at work that you can explore later. I would link to the poems, but I’m not sure if the ones you find online are authorized postings by the poet.
If you want to really challenge your class, you can have them do a T3 with William Carlos Williams’ “This is just to say.” I enjoy using his poem once students experiment with the S.C.O.U.T. process which I will discuss in my next post.

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