July 2015 Wrap Up

Highlights of the Month

Top Posts

Top 5 Posts of July:

5.  What is Your Reading Style?

4.  Analyzing Fiction and Nonfiction Strategies

3.  How to Begin your PrePlanning

2.  Planning Tools

1.  The Reading I Didn’t Do and Classroom Bootcamp 

Books I’ve Read:

Classroom FYI:

 

Friday Link Up!

Friday Link Up

1.  What to Read Next: 100 Timeless Books, Poems, and Essays by Terry Heick

P.S. Here is a list of titles that have immediately gone on my To-Read List:

  • Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
  • Jack Kerouac, On the Road, the Original Scroll
  • Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
  • Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden
  • Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

2.  10 Truths About Building School Teams by Elena Aguilar

As ELA department chair, the two areas of focus for me this year are:

3. Who you are as a leader has the greatest influence on a team.
Your emotional intelligence as a leader is the key knowledge and skill set from which all others emerge. Leaders must learn to recognize and manage their emotions — and recognize and manage the emotions of others. We need to make friends with feelings. They exist. The more we battle or avoid feelings, the bigger the mess. When we meet them head on, we can make progress toward building healthy teams and meeting the needs of kids.

9. Communication between team members is the thread that connects everything.
It always comes down to what we say and how we say it. But teams in schools never seem to pause and discuss the kind of communication that we aspire to have. We complain to each other off line, we bemoan the grumpy colleague or the one who dominates conversations, but we never deal with it head on. It’s time. We need to address communication in teams — down to the granular level of the words that we use with each other.

3.  Is This the Beginning of the End for the SAT and ACT? via NPR

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NACAC’s [the National Association for College Admission Counseling] own research has found that some schools are considered “selective” because of their lofty SAT or ACT average scores. But it’s not at all clear whether performance on those tests is a reliable predictor of future academic success.

4.  The Re-Debut of “Reading Rainbow” on Netflix on August 1st via Upworthy.com

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5.  Key and Peele

Analyzing Fiction and Nonfiction Strategies

With the adoption of the Common Core Standards, and other states that have implemented parallel standards of their own, the English department has been given the task of supporting students’ growth in understanding texts, fiction and nonfiction, in a deeper and more analytical manner.  An inch-deep, mile-wide approach to reading analysis is no longer acceptable.  Teachers must wrap their minds around teaching skills as opposed to texts.  This means that we must change the way in which we teach students to approach reading.

1.  Close Reading

Essential Aspects of Close Reading:

  • A close reading is a careful and purposeful reading AND rereading.
  • Students really focus on what
    • the author had to say
    • the author’s purpose was
    • the words mean
    • structure of the text tells us
  • A transaction between the reader and the text
  • Getting what the author had to say and bringing some of your own ideas to bear on that text.

“Close Reading and the CCSS, Part 1.” – Common Core State Standards TOOLBOX. Web. 29 July 2015.

Some Close Reading strategies:

-OR-

It seems as though there are a thousand-and-one resources available for reading and analyzing literature.  You can purchase entire unit plans complete with daily assignments, guided reading questions, collaborative activities, assessments, and powerpoint presentations!  They are a new teacher’s savior and an experienced teacher’s rejuvenation.  When I started teaching AP Language and Composition, I searched for nonfiction text analysis resources, and while I found some wonderful lessons, I felt empty-handed.  I was given just enough information and guidance to be able to meander through my first year, but I knew that it would become my objective to really customize those materials to best support both my students and myself.

2.  SOAPSTone

Any AP English teacher can tell you that the go-to strategy for analyzing any nonfiction text is the SOAPSTone method:

After reading a nonfiction text, a student would analyze the piece to identify each of the SOAPSTone elements.  This allows them to gain a greater understanding of the text, make connections, and therefore use a more critical eye while evaluating the efficacy of the piece.  For example, if a student was unaware of the political background or historical impact of a piece, they may view its argument in a much different way than what was intended.  Additionally, the tone plays a major role in how a piece is interpreted.  A sarcastic, humorous tone will lead the reader in a much different direction than a didactic one.

41EqLO2XLWL3.  SIFT

Thanks to the wonderful resource, and foundational element of my Pre-AP English course last year, The AP Vertical Teams Guide for English, I was able to identify another text analysis method: SIFT

  • Symbol: Examine the title and text for symbols
  • Images: Identify images and sensory details
  • Figures of Speech: analyze figurative language and other devices
  • Tone and Theme: Discuss how all devices reveal tone and theme

 

4.  Fourfold Method

analysis of drama, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction

  1. Literal or historical level: the things that are happening in the story are literally happening on a surface level
  2. Political level: the level on which human beings relate to others in a community and in the world
  3. Moral or psychological level: the way in which the self relates to the realm of ethics
  4. Spiritual level: the universal level on which a persona relates to the cosmos, the way of the pilgrim soul

5.  Aristotelian Theory

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  • Cornerstone of critical theory
  • Poetics laid out the basis for traditional analysis of drama (dramatic fiction)
  • “the imitation of an action; a writer’s attempt to represent reality or truth in artistic form”
  • Structure and purpose of tragedy is:
    • Unity of Action:
      • tragic plots must have a clear beginning, middle, and end
      • action should be ordered and continuous
      • cause and effect process
    • Catharsis:
      • events should inspire pity and terror
      • vicarious experience to attain emotional purgation, moral purification, or clarity of intellectual viewpoint
    • Tragedy
      • reversal of fortune/fall from greatness brought on by error or frailty
      • hamartia inner weakness or inherent error
        • usually through excessive pride or hubris
        • reversal of fortune is characterized by “reversal of situation” and “recognition”
      • “Scene of Suffering”     

The AP Vertical Teams Guide for English. 2nd ed. New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 2002. Print.