Teaching Whole-Class Novels: New Book Available Now

There’s room and reason to teach whole-class novels, right along with honoring student independent reading choice. ELA expert Robert Ward explains how to do both, as he shares three decades of success expanding the literacy skills of students at every level of proficiency. But learning the nuts and bolts of reading and writing doesn’t mean … Continue reading Teaching Whole-Class Novels: New Book Available Now

Literary Symbols: A Reading Treasure Hunt

As a middle school ELA teacher, I regularly teach whole-class novels to guide my students beyond a surface reading of great books and toward a deeper understanding of the author’s use of literary devices—especially conflict, theme, irony, point of view, foreshadowing, and symbolism. Although symbols can be difficult for young readers to grasp, the quest … Continue reading Literary Symbols: A Reading Treasure Hunt

Writing Complex Sentences Develops Substance and Style in Student Essays (Edutopia featured article)

Have you ever dreaded grading a pile of upward of 150 essays you assumed would be filled with the uninspired ramblings of students who couldn’t care less about the craft of writing, let alone the topic of their composition? When every student writes on the same topic, you often see a limited number of examples … Continue reading Writing Complex Sentences Develops Substance and Style in Student Essays (Edutopia featured article)

Ten Book Report Ideas Students Love

Can teachers sustain a student’s enthusiasm for a recently-completed novel while also reinforcing that student’s understanding of the literary elements and figurative language they have been learning? Can teachers be certain a student actually read and understood a book on their own and simultaneously encourage that student’s creativity so they begin to write like the … Continue reading Ten Book Report Ideas Students Love

Character Therapy: A Novel Way to Teach Students to Triumph over Trauma (Edutopia featured article)

With teen suicides and school shootings on the rise, educators are searching for interventions for students at risk of taking lives—both their own and others’—as well as for ways to prevent troubled youth from becoming maladjusted adults who also take lives. This cycle of hopelessness and hurt must end, but how do we teach all … Continue reading Character Therapy: A Novel Way to Teach Students to Triumph over Trauma (Edutopia featured article)

Four Note-Taking Strategies for Films (Guest article by Peg Grafwallner)

I recently read Robert Ward’s exceptional article for KQED's In the Classroom blog “Teaching Film as Literature” and was immediately struck with the simplicity of the implementation. While there is undoubtedly a great deal of background work that goes into designing, implementing, and assessing a lesson such as this one, this strategy can be differentiated for students … Continue reading Four Note-Taking Strategies for Films (Guest article by Peg Grafwallner)

Teaching Film as Literature (KQED featured article)

I teach English Language Arts at a film and media magnet in Los Angeles, CA. The main novels my 8th graders read in my class are Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor and The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Both books are Newbery Award winners written by African-American … Continue reading Teaching Film as Literature (KQED featured article)

Character Therapy: Examples, ACE, and a Sample Dialogue

This post is a companion to my Edutopia article, "Life Lessons from Fictional Characters." That article explains in detail the purpose, process, and benefits of Character Therapy, a literature-based approach to helping children overcome the negative effects of adversity. Examples of Young Adult Books Suitable for Character Therapy When looking for possible sources of conflict and … Continue reading Character Therapy: Examples, ACE, and a Sample Dialogue

The Super-Ordinary Hero Project: Matching Growth Mindset with Benefit Mindset

"If more people follow their superpowers-- and everyone has one-- then we're going to be better as a society" (Adam Neumann, founder of WeWork, in Time magazine, 2016). Try this inspiring, interdisciplinary culminating project that works well with students at any grade level. Since kids of all ages are obsessed with superheroes, channel their natural interests … Continue reading The Super-Ordinary Hero Project: Matching Growth Mindset with Benefit Mindset

The Advantages of Teaching Whole-Class Novels (Edutopia featured article)

English teachers are typically literature lovers, so it is natural for them to share their passion for reading with their students by introducing them to great books. However, some teachers find the prospect of reading and analyzing an entire novel with their classes overwhelming or problematic. Teachers' most common concerns center around these questions: How … Continue reading The Advantages of Teaching Whole-Class Novels (Edutopia featured article)