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Why It’s Better to Teach Logical Fallacies Backwards

I would guess that about 90% of our language is metaphorical. Try telling that to a teenager and then show her a sentence that mixes five different metaphors. She just can’t see it. Students are swimming in stale, metaphorical language, so it is all they know.  English teachers see in…
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Why the Walk-Out Students Should Face Consequences

  Reuters/Shannon Stapleton You’re not going to read what you think you’re going to read, but I’ll give you a hint: I love teaching Transcendentalism. Henry David Thoreau, on whose writing Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela based their civil disobedience, said, “It is not desirable to…
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How to Create a Reading Culture with Teenagers

I once taught a set of brothers who loved science fiction so much that the only punishment their parents ever doled out was “Book Jail,” the imprisonment of the book the offender was currently reading. What a dream: A teenager who loves reading so much that confiscating the reading material…
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writing

4 Ways to Make Writing Instruction a Peaceful Process

Do student associate comfort and joy with writing? Maybe not. Here are four ways to make writing instruction a more peaceful process. Deliver instruction in really small chunks. Teaching involves content, skills, and processes; sometimes, we simply manage students’ intake of information–a thesis has to be debatable, a preposition always…
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5 Approaches to Rhetorical Analysis

Ask twenty AP English Language teachers how to teach rhetorical analysis and expect to get twenty wildly different answers. A handful will tell a newbie to start with Cicero’s Five Canons of Rhetoric (Invention, Arrangement, Style, Memory, and Delivery) and drill down into each element. Another few will make the…
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10 Ways to Teach Students About Fake News

The ability to recognize fake news requires a complex skill set. The brain has to develop a fine filter that can sift through sponsored content that doesn’t look sponsored, bias that disguises itself as balance, and interpretation that looks like facts. For an educated, rational adult, this filter is at…
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35 Hilarious Student One-Liners

In 1991, one of my English 9 students asked to borrow a copy of Madame Ovary, and the list began. In 2013, another English 9 student asked if we were going to read Tequila Mockingbird, and I closed the list. In all that time, I’ve never gathered the hundreds of…
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Can an English Teacher Have a Life?

It was an experiment. My third year teaching, I gave up working at home for Lent. I had no second job and no husband or kids to come home to, so I just stayed late and got it done. I would throw open my windows so that I could hear…
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10 Tips for New High School Teachers

They are coming. You are about to put into practice what you learned about instructional strategies, Bloom’s taxonomy, and wait time for questions. Here are a few tips your college instructors might have skipped. 1, PUT OUT YOUR HAND. Introduce yourself to the treasurer, secretary, and custodians on the first…
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5 Reasons Not to Give Zeros

Me: I don’t have your essay, Trevor (Insert name of any disengaged male student)Trevor: I didn’t do it.Me: The last day to turn it in was yesterday.Trevor: I know.Me: Why didn’t you do it?Trevor: I didn’t want to.Me: Are you going to do it?Trevor: No.Me: You know that means a…
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