My Favorite Anticipatory Activity for Literature

Happy Tuesday!

I was going to post this yesterday, but Monday marked the first day back to work after Spring Break, and I was more than exhausted.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately; my usual sleep schedule is one of “The Early Bird Gets the Worm,” but lately I haven’t been able to calm my brain down enough to allow for slumber to take over.  Hopefully tonight will be better.


Despite being sleep-deprived, Monday also marked the day in which I introduced George Orwell’s 1984 and Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” to English IV and Pre AP English, respectively.  With a double-lit-introduction, it allowed me to utilize my favorite anticipatory activity with two classes.  I love this activity for many reasons:

1.  It allows students to voice their opinions in a non-threatening/aggressive format.

2.  It involves both interpersonal, verbal-linguistic, and bodily-kinesthetic learning styles.


3.  It’s a controlled activity that allows students to get up and be out of their seats.

4.  They get to consider topics from several different points of view.

5.  They feel safe changing their mind and consider the factors that lead them to their decisions.

6.  It’s student-centric.

Steps to Lesson:

Teacher Prep:

1.  Before the lesson begins, the teacher will identify the key themes that they will have the class focus on for the unit.  If you’re a novice teacher, there are TONS of websites that provide the themes for you.  My favorites are SparkNotes and Shmoop.

In addition to themes, other key topics can be identified, such as expected behavior based on sex or age, choices characters make, philosophies held by characters, etc.

2.  Once themes and topics have been identified, an opinion-based statement that students will be able to respond to.  For example:

Theme: the dangers of totalitarianism

Opinion-based statement: The national government always acts on behalf of its citizens’ best interests.

Theme: Technology

Opinion-based statement: Without technology, the world would be a better place to live.

Ideally, 6-10 statements are ideal for this activity.

3.  Designate two opposing sections of the classroom, one for AGREE and one for DISAGREE.  It is up to the teacher’s discretion if they want a third, neutral location.  I tend to avoid this because it allows for some students to become disengaged, not truly acknowledging both sides of the argument, or physically becoming stagnant.

iStock_illustrated people with arrows in opposite direction


1.  Introduce the idea of the activity by informing the students of the purpose: to both identify the themes within the upcoming text, but to also discuss the various views of the themes within a safe environment.  It’s vital that the expectations are clearly identified to allow for an active discussion: respect for others’ opinions, not speaking over one another, and allowing for the opportunity to change your mind.

2.  Clearly identify and explain the steps of the process:  for each revealed statement, students will consider their initial opinions and then move to the “AGREE” or “DISAGREE” side of the room.  Opportunities to share opinions will be allowed for each, as well as the freedom and acceptance to change your opinion once you have “case your vote.”

3.  Reveal the first statement and once students have settled, allow for students to share their views.

4.  Continue until all statements have been revealed and discussed.

Post Activity:

There are multiple ways in which students can respond to this activity.  You can use this as an exit slip as well as a closing activity.  Students will respond to a question/questions in written form.  I highly recommend a written response so that the room is quiet, focused, and conducive for reflection.  Some suggested questions can be:

1.  Which topic did you feel the strongest response to and why?

2.  Which topic did you feel the most ambiguity and why?

3.   Which topic did you change your opinion about after you voted?  What influenced your decision?

4.  Which topic did you find to be the most divisive? Were you surprised, why or why not?

5.  Which topic were you surprised that most people agreed with and why?

6.  Which topic were you surprised that most peopled disagreed with and why?

Let me know if you utilize this style of anticipatory activity in your classroom and any alternatives you use!

Reflective Teaching Challenge Day Sixteen: My Superpower Wish


If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

I Teach.  What's your superpower

In my mind, there are several ways that one could apply a superpower in the classroom.


  1. There are days that I wish I could be the Flash, dashing from my classroom to the restroom between classes, to the copy machine, and back before anyone noticed that I was gone.Endurance-1994604
  2. I’ve day dreamed about having superhuman endurance/energy so that I am not subjected to the afternoon lulls or the ability to stay up late preparing for the next day’s class, not feeling the effects throughout the next day.  2551238-superman_man_of_steel1
  3. According to, having superpower of Invulnerability is, “Invulnerability grants heroes immunity to one or more forms of physical, mental, or spiritual damage. If you possessed this power, you would never have to worry about getting beat up by bullies, mending a broken heart, or suffering from depression.”  I definitely could utilize this ability on the days in which flippant comments from students, hostile parents, and unsupportive administration gets to me.  We’ve talked in the past that educators are some of the least appreciated, underpaid/overworked professionals.  Talk about some of the most deserving of the superpower of Invulnerability!multilingual1
  4. Omnilinguism is the ability to understand any form of language, and assuming that I could add the stipulation that I could also speak any language, this would be probably the most effective superpower because of the high percentage of ESOL students that I worked with.  2-How-To-Predict-The-Future-With-Twitter
  5. The ability to predict the future would be an interesting ability to possess.  I would use this talent in accordance with my teaching by predicting how well students would perform on assessments.  Before you start yelling at me, I want you to understand me clearly: I want to know if I’ve taught them, supported them enough so that they will be able to confidently complete assessments that I CREATE, NOT those standardized tests.

Reflective Teaching Challenge Day Nine: My Biggest Accomplishment


Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).

More than one in four new teachers are suffering from ”emotional exhaustion” and almost burnt out soon after starting their careers, according to a Monash University study.

The reasons offered include a lack of administrative support, onerous compliance measures and much tougher emotional conditions than they expected to face, particularly in economically depressed areas

-“Burnout Hits One in Four Teachers” by Konrad Marshall from The Victoria Age

Ingersoll extrapolated and then later confirmed that anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years (that includes the nine and a half percent that leave before the end of their first year.) Certainly, all professions have turnover, and some shuffling out the door is good for bringing in young blood and fresh faces. But, turnover in teaching is aboutfour percent higher than other professions.

Approximately 15.7 percent of teachers leave their posts every year, and 40 percent of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all.

-“Why Do Teachers Quit” by Liz Briggs from The Atlantic

The biggest accomplishment that I have experienced in my teaching career has to be that I’m still here.  After reading several accounts of teacher burnout rate reaching anywhere from 25% to 40%, even 50% within the first year, I am proud to say that I am still here.  My desire to remain in the classroom is higher now than it was when I first began.  I deal with all the same issues and draw backs as other teachers, and I am just as motivated to show up the next morning as ever.  It may not seem like anything that impressive, but it’s my biggest accomplishment.