How to Create a Bootcamp Binder

2016-17 marks my 4th year of teaching Advanced Placement English Language and Composition, AP Lang for short.  I’ve been able to accumulate and streamline materials that I find to be the most effective for introducing, applying, and mastering the skills … Continue reading

Speed Dating: The Canterbury Tales Edition

This school year, my focus has been on putting the class more into the hands of the students.  This has been partially accomplished by rejuvenating the idea of classroom blogging, but on an in-class basis, it will take much more than that.  Our first anchor text of the year is Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.”

There are 29 pilgrims and a host, so being able to learn and understand all those characters from the prologue can be quite a daunting task.  In previous years, my initial reaction would be, read the prologue, have students take notes, and most likely have a PowerPoint presentation accompany the lesson.  SNOOZEFEST!  With my new goal of transitioning from my older, staler lesson formats,  I approached this seemingly up-hill battle by switching from teacher-led to student-led instruction.  Last year, I read a wonderful lesson plan online about utilizing the concept of speed dating with “The Canterbury Tales.”

Pre-planning for Speed Dating:

  1. Assign each student one of the pilgrims from the prologue
  2.  Read the Prologue to “The Canterbury” tales and have students take notes on their pilgrim.  I have also encouraged them to do their own research online.  A blog entry was assigned for students to describe their pilgrim in terms of profession, appearance, personality, religious devotion, and how closely they maintain the objectives of their profession.
  3. Get-To-Know-Me Assignment – Like in “olden days” when people went to video match-making services, these pilgrims needed to put together an introductory “video” of themselves introducing who they are, their goals in life, their objectives, their personality traits, hobbies, etc.  These were presented in class.

Speed Dating:

  1. I setup the room so that there were desks in pairs, lined up in rows. Students entered the room and randomly sat down.  Next year, I will probably pre-assign their seating locations to avoid talkative friends from sitting next to each other.
  2. The warm-up question required students to write 7-10 “First Date” questions.  These could be utilized during the speed dating.
  3. A chart was placed on the board that explained the people on the left would remain seated while those on the right would rotate on each 2-minute bell.
  4. I gave students a chart to fill out that made them analyze their dates based upon the following criteria:
    1. First impressions
    2. Level of compatibility
    3. Level of reliablity
    4. Chances of a second date
    5. Overall impression
  5. After the speed dating, students analyzed which pilgrim would be the most compatible with their pilgrim and which was the least.  They would need to analyze this based upon the information that they know about their dates.  Additionally, students will add textual evidence from the prologue to support their answers.  This will go on their WordPress blog.

An Update on Classroom Blogging

Initial post about using WordPress/Blogging/Feedly in the classroom

Several weeks ago, I discussed my desire to have my students begin blogging in the classroom.  My plan was to have them create their own WordPress accounts and write both creatively and academically, both inside and outside of the classroom.  The school year is only 3 weeks old now and I have successfully assigned two blog postings.

Blog Assignments:

  1. “Convince Me” Final Draft
    1. Students will participate in a Think-Pair-Share in order to create a list of the characteristics of a convincing argument.
    2. Students will share out their responses to create a master list of all the characteristics.
    3. Students will read a sample argument essay in which the major parts are labeled.
    4. Students will create their own definitions of the parts of an argument essay based on the samples and their purposes.
    5. Students will respond to the following prompt: I am a flexible teacher, so if I hear a convincing argument for something, I will give it genuine consideration. I typically assign homework three days a week. Write a one-paragraph argument that attempts to convince me to cancel assigning homework for Eng IV.  Alternative: You may like homework, so you can argue for why it should still be assigned.
    6. Students spent three days between peer editing, reading samples and grading them, and studying other argument essays before writing their final draft that is uploaded to their blog as their first posting.
  2. “To This Day” Inspired Poem
    1. In our synthesis essay unit entitled “Haters Gonna Hater,” I had students read multiple texts from various genres that all dealt with bullying.  One poem that was included in this unit was “To This Day” by Shane Koyczan.  There’s a fantastic rendition, in addition to the TEDTalk, of “To This Day” that you can watch here.  
    2. Students worked with “Arm Partners” (someone that is within arm’s length of their original seat) to read through the printed version of “To This Day” and they completed a Close-Reading analysis.
    3. After sharing their analysis with their partners, students watched the video version of “To This Day.”  This is the version we watched:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY
    4. Students were asked to discuss the specific writing choices that were made that separated this poem from others they had read.
    5. Finally, students were asked to write their own versions of “To This Day” in which they mimicked Koyczan’s style.  The topic was bullying.  Their poems had to be 10 stanzas with a minimum of 6 lines each.  This poem was posted on their blogs.