Thursday, August 19, 2010


One of the sites I follow (or one of the blogs--I can't remember) mentioned a website called Edmodo and described it as a social networking site for teachers and students. Here's one that mentions it. It sounded intriguing, so I decided to check it out. I am very glad that I did.

Here's an Edmodo demo video that shows you what it's all about:

I used it for two days in our school's computer lab to review two summer reading books for my two tenth lit/comp pre-AP classes. Students had the choice of reading either Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle or Anderson's Feed. I decided to let students respond to discussion questions that I posted as notes. On some of the notes, I gave students the choice of three questions and on others, they had to respond to all given discussion questions--parts of a book versus the book as a whole. Students were encouraged to read others' postings and to edit their own.

Feedback from students: Overall, they greatly enjoyed being able to type their answers rather than having to write them out by hand. They enjoyed creating avatars for themselves. They also enjoyed the social aspect of it as well. They also liked that I can send them alerts about assignments straight to their phones or e-mails.

Some wishes from me: I wish that I had a way to reply to their replies other than creating a reply to the note itself. I wanted to be able to tell them that they weren't on the right track or if they had a good answer. I was able to do both of those things by sending students individual notes, but I feel it would have been faster to reply right there rather having to scroll back to the top of the messages. Their replies soon became cumbersome to navigate, though the page did hide them from view when they became numerous. 

I haven't played with the assignments option, but since my students are really intersted, I plan on trying to figure out more ways to use this site in my class.  Two girls even asked me why other teachers weren't using the site.  My reply of course was  to say that other teachers just weren't as cool as me. Ha, ha!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Connecting to 1984

Little Brother (Cory Doctorow novel)Image via Wikipedia

This summer's reading assignments for the tenth lit pre-AP students is to choose to read either Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle or Anderson's Feed. Another teacher also teaches the class, and his pick was Cat's Cradle. I chose Feed because I wanted to connect it to 1984 when students return in August. I think I can connect both books in some way to 1984, but I think that Feed will be easier to do so.

I just got finished reading Doctorow's Little Brother, though, and now I'm wishing I had asked the students to read it instead. The good thing about using Feed is that I could also use it to fit in with the persuasion standards that are a part of our state's curriculum. Little Brother would work for this as well, just in a different way. I think I will have to think of way to incorporate it into the curriculum as well. It was sooooo good! The other cool thing about Little Brother is that it is also free to download even though it was published in 2008.
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Friday, July 2, 2010


The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical)Image via Wikipedia

Last night we took our fifteen year old daughter to see The Phantom of the Opera. Overall, it was a very enjoyable affair, and she really loved it. However, even though we had really good seats, our pleasure was diminished by a couple of factors. After the show began and even after intermission, several patrons were allowed to go to their seats all the while blocking others' views. There was a family seated behind us who had a child who constantly interrupted the program by asking questions about what was happening on stage. I don't totally blame him, however, because he should have been told beforehand what was and was not allowed at the theater. At the very least, they could have told him the basic plot or shown him the movie so that he would know what was going on. And does anyone else feel as I do that food and drink do not belong at a live performance? People were dressed in a variety of manners, and the whole affair seemed to be only a step above going to the movies.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Questions to Ponder

One of the bloggers I read recently posted questions she has been pondering as of late. I thought I would respond with my own musings. Two of the things Healigan is pondering: "the move to retreat to young adult fiction for high school students that our student teacher is researching in her classes (not very happily either)" and "the negative judgment of the classics as worthwhile."

I actually am quite passionate about using young adult literature in the classroom. I do not push the classics aside to read only YA novels, however. I usually use them as bridges to the classics. I have always been convinced that young adult literature is a valuable tool to use in the classroom. A book that gave me ideas for its use was From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges Between Young Adult Literature and the Classics by Sarah K. Herz and Donald R. Gallo. I believe that common themes, archetypal characters, and symbols can be found in YA novels and the classics. YA novels have allowed me to have discussions in the classrooms that I never had previously. Young Adult literature is a topic that I will explore when we are finally finished for the summer!

Sneak Peak: One book that I feel that I have been successful with using is Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk. I have used it with Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. I will post my lesson plans for these novels at a later date.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Finding new blogs to read

I just love it when I find a new blog to read. Many of my friends are hooked on Facebook, but I am not a part of that network. Blogs are what I enjoy. But not just any blogs--no, I enjoy reading blogs related to teaching or those that I can relate to my teaching. I'm an education nerd; I admit it. Today, thanks to Dana Huff's weekly Diigo links, I have found a new blog to love: Shakespeare Geek. I read the blog on Shakespeare Geek which was supposed to be about how the old guy relates to computer geeks but what I really got out of it was a lesson on what all of us should get out of education. It really urges students to go above and beyond what is required in class in order to get the most out of life. (what a concept!) I printed it out because I think I would like to read parts of it just before the next time I teach a Shakespearean play.

After reading that post, I, of course, scrolled to see the headlines of the other posts. This blog has been around since 2005 and yet I'm seeing it for the first time today! Oh well, at least I'll have some reading material for the summer! One of his other posts led me to this site, a site that offers videos of advertisements that use Shakespeare to promote their products. I may find a use for it next year...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Using Google Search Creator

Just discovered a new feature of Google that I might have to figure out how to use in my classroom. Thanks to Dana Huff, I was able to learn a bit more about Google Search. This site has some how-to information about the application, and this site has some practical uses for it in the classroom. This site mentions using it for bibliographic purposes. I found an example for Romeo and Juliet. What do you think? Could it be useful in a high school English classroom?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Satire and Persuasion--2 literary texts

Here is the worksheet that goes with the "A Modest Proposal" lesson plan.

Comparing Literary Works Satire

Lesson plans for "A Modest Proposal"

Here is a lesson plan I created to teach about both satire and persuasive appeals.

Daily Lesson Plan for a Modest Proposal

Understanding Persuasive Appeals using Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

I have modified a project that I have used successfully for the past two years. We read Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and then analyze his use of persuasive techniques. Students have the option of writing a paper, creating a PowerPoint that they'll turn into a video using animoto, or they'll create a video with a partner. All of these products will showcase their version of a modern "modest proposal." You will have to sign up for an educator's account at animoto's educator site for students to use all of the site's features.

A Modest Proposal Project Checklist 2010