The Rigor of Informational Text

The new Common Core standards require more “rigor”. So what does rigor really mean? Could it mean we expect our students to learn at higher levels? How do you assess a high level understanding of informational text? The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts emphasizes the importance of students reading informational text. […]

The Process of Writing

A recent Vanderbilt study of 300 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers reveals that teachers reported spending only about 15 minutes per day explicitly teaching writing.  Students spent just 25 minutes a day on writing activities that focused on worksheets and short answer responses. Children will write essays throughout their academic careers, to gain admission […]

Gearing up for the SAT’s Writing Section

The SAT Writing test reinforces the importance of writing throughout a student’s education. This section requires students to develop a point of a view on an issue, and to use reasoning and evidence based on their own experiences, readings, or observations to support their ideas. The essay will be graded based on a student’s ability […]

D’Oh! Teaching with The Simpsons

What American television family has entertained, mocked, and shocked Americans for the past 23 years? The Simpsons! Few would have predicted when The Simpsons debuted on December 17, 1989, that it would endure to be the longest-running American sitcom in television history, and the longest-running show in primetime. The Simpsons—Bart, Marge, Homer, Lisa, and Maggie—may […]

Let’s Get Ready for some Football Fun

When Hank Williams Jr. penned the song “Are You Ready for Some Football”, he probably did not realize the impact of those words. The music gets you excited about your favorite football team. You root for a championship season and a shot at the playing in the Super Bowl. While baseball might be the considered […]


Myths for Today

Myths are among the world’s oldest stories. They have endured for eons. Invite students to be the latest generation to fall under their spell. Magical objects, tricky animals, and clever women. Epic battles and heroic challenges. Journeys to heaven and the underworld. This is the stuff of myths. Originally, they explained the world. Today, they […]

Play Ball: Including Sports Writing in Your Class

Sports writing is a genre that is often benched in English class. It deserves playing time. Do you have some students who are not fans of reading? Surprise and excite them by introducing a genre study on a topic often ignored in English class: sports writing.  Sports writing may surprise you also. Yes, it includes […]

Growing a Poetry Tree

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree” is from the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. Imagine growing a Poetry Tree in your classroom to investigate and celebrate poetry. Cultivate the soil by studying the elements of poetry, fertilize your plant by examining poetry, and admire your Poetry Tree […]

The Five Senses of Summer Vacations

From surfing the waves in Florida to hiking in the Grand Canyon, writing about “what I did over the summer” seems to be a standard for the beginning of the school year. Tapping into students’ five senses can make this type of essay come alive and help the reader see, feel, hear, taste and touch […]

Put a Little Poetry in your Life (or your Pocket)

When is the last time you read a poem? It is easy to overlook the genre; poems are often so short they could fit on slips of paper, tucked in a pocket like a secret. Novels carry the weight of pages, non-fiction texts the importance of facts. To some, poetry seems insignificant, but poetry expresses […]

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