Pinterest for the Classroom

You would have to have been living in a cave for the past several years to not know the impact that Pinterest has had from everything from weddings to home decor, remodeling projects, and especially classroom curriculum and activities.  I’ve had several boards filled with wonderful and practical learning strategies and visuals that I’ve actually used in my own teaching.  I do have my Pinterest account (Here is my page) linked to my Twitter (@TeachMrsFerrari) account, but I wanted to directly share some of my favorite recent discoveries with you here!

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Guess what my Freshmen are going to learn this year!

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Guess what I have to learn first!  =)

Preparing for the Fall Part One: Anchor Texts

Anchor Text: The novel/play/poem/nonfiction text that is the primary text that exemplifies a chosen theme.  It is the text that is the source for all the supporting texts and lessons.  The confusion is that this is the book that is taught.  This is wrong.  You do not teach To Kill a Mockingbird.  You use To Kill a Mockingbird as an anchor text to explore the inherent nature of good and evil in people.

Now that my annual plans have been completed and I have attended all the necessary conferences for the summer, it’s time to buckle down and prepare for the fall.  I’ve been sampling classic literature over the summer, which has never been my genre of choice but have been compelled to through my 100 Books challenge, and have finalized my anchor text selection:

  • “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare (Both Standard and Honors)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Both Standard and Honors)
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Honors)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (Both Standard and Honors)

Book 2

The theme for 2014-2015 is The Use and Abuse of Power.  We will be exploring those in authority throughout the historical context of each text, how the characters and plot reflect those in authority and the social commentary made by the authors, who is in authority and why, what happens when power/authority is abused, social structures throughout history, and the role of the “average man.”

Book 1

I’ve been working with my colleagues, who are new to the teaching profession, assisting them with their own curriculum, pacing guides, and text selection.  The number one question that they’ve asked me is, “How do you choose WHAT to teach with SO many choices?!?”  The truth is that there are several factors that must be taken into consideration.

1.  Is this a text that I am going to be comfortable enough to teach?

2.  Is this text appropriate for my students, both in text-complexity and content?

3.  Is this text county/admin approved?  How much will I have to fight if there is controversy around this text?

4.  What am I hoping to teach my students by utilizing this specific text?

5.  What supplemental texts (short stories, nonfiction, poetry, etc) can I use to support the theme/Big Picture of this unit?

6.  Will my students be able to relate to this text?  How will I make this relevant to them?  The buy-in factor.

These are all questions that I ask myself as I make the decision of whether or not to include a text as an anchor text.  Once I have identified these texts, which I promise you is probably the most difficult part of curriculum planning for me, I reread the text with the idea in mind of identifying:

  • Elements of Characterization
  • Examples of themes
  • Symbols
  • Significant quotes
  • Vocabulary

Book 3

I will also begin brainstorming project or essay ideas.  I do not begin thinking about quizzes or tests until I’m much closer to actually teaching the unit.

Book 5

Love of Language: Mark Twain’s “Corn-Pone Opinions”

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I have a confession to make.  I have never read a Mark Twain novel, even the biggies: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  It isn’t because I don’t have respect for Mark Twain, it’s just that I was never provided the opportunity throughout my own education, nor have these two novels been incorporated into any of the curriculums that I have taught from.  I have read the short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” but admittedly, that is the beginning and ending of my Mark Twain exposure.

As I switch off my University of Cincinnati Student hat to my AP Lang fedora, I have stumbled upon my next encounter with Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  Our current unit presents the topic of popular culture, and while one may not think about a novelist and essayist from the 1800s as someone whom should be included, after reading his essay, “Corn-Pone Opinions,” I dare say that it is the very site in which the conversation should begin.

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If we consider what makes a trend, a fad, a fever catch fire, and by definition agreed upon the masses, popular culture’s definition is: the mutually agreed upon qualification of…something.  Twain’s purpose for writing this essay is two fold: A.) To define what a corn-pone opinion is, and B.) that all corn-pone opinions are based upon the need for people to seek out other’s approval; politics, religion, morals not being excluded from topics that are directly influenced by corn-pone opinion development.

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Corn-Pone Opinion: (Noun) Broadly speaking, it stands for self-approval.  An opinion based upon the assimilation of thought to conform to the majority in hopes of receiving approval

It’s not my goal to debate his thesis, but to share with you the eloquence in which he supports himself.  Because of the nature of Advanced Placement Language and Composition, the need to analyze for rhetoric and purpose, appreciating how something is said and not its message, as well as my devotion to sharing my love of literature, I wish to share with you my four favorite quotes from this essay.

  1. A trend begins by someone changing the norm.  For six months (give or take depending on the part of the country you’re from) people laugh.  Six months later, people reconciled and the norm violation is accepted and admired.  No one laughs.
  2. Public opinion resented it before, public opinion accepts it now, and is happy in it.  Why was the resentment reasoned out?  Was the acceptance reasoned out?  No.  The instinct that moves to conformity did the work.  It is our nature to conform; it is a force which not many can successfully resist  What is its seat?  The inborn requirement of self approval….But as a rule our self-approval has its source in but one place and not elsewhere – the approval of other people. 
  3. The matter of association and sympathy, not reasoning and examination; that hardly a man in the world has an opinion upon morals, politics, or religion which he got otherwise than through his associations and sympathies.
  4. Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people.  The result is conformity…I think that in the majority of cases it is unconscious and not calculated; that it’s born of the human being’s natural yearning to stand well with his fellows and have their inspiring approval and praise –  yearning which is commonly so strong and so insistent that it cannot be effectually resisted and must have its own way.

FYI:

This is real corn-pone bread:

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Corn-Pone Recipe

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