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EXHAUSTED ENGLISH TEACHER ASLEEP AT DESK

When it is time to leave teaching?

I have a ceramic sign hanging in my home office, and it reads, “Leap and the net will appear.” My mom gave it to me when I left my second school. I had already leapt, and she wanted to assure me that a net was down there because I wasn’t…
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rhetorical analysis in AP English Language

Why Start with Rhetorical Analysis?

Whether school is on a traditional year-long schedule, a 4×4 block, or a modified block with A days and B days, there is a case to be made for starting with rhetorical analysis. Reason #1: Rhetorical analysis is the foundation of everything we do in AP Lang. On Day 1…
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SPIRAL NOTEBOOKS FOR RHETORICAL ANALYSIS

How to Spiral Rhetorical Analysis

What is spiraling? The concept of spiraling clicked for me when I was a curriculum specialist. (For three years, I came off the front lines and served as Secondary Writing Curriculum Specialist for a large district in North Carolina. I served the ELA teachers at 47 middle and high schools…
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BOY THINKING OF EVIDENCE FOR RHETORICAL ANALYSIS

4 Ways to Improve Evidence in Rhetorical Analysis

Call it a concrete detail, evidence, support, or proof. What defends a debatable idea is REAL, TRUE, FACTUAL, and APART from debate. If the topic sentence defends the thesis, and the concrete detail is strong, commentary will be (almost) a breeze. If the concrete detail is weak, irrelevant, general, or…
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templates and graphic organizers for rhetorical analysis in AP English Language and Composition

The Beauty and Dangers of Formulaic Rhetorical Analysis

Mrs. Stewart, my high school AP Lit teacher, passed recently, and I grieved. That woman taught me how to write; she reined in my verbosity (though some of you might disagree) and got me to calm down and get to the point. She did it with a formula, THE five-paragraph…
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How to get UNSTUCK in Rhetorical Analysis

You’ve been there: Your student mopes up to your desk for a rhetorical analysis writing conference, and the graphic organizer section for commentary is blank. Blankety blank blank. Nuthin’. The student is frustrated. You’re frustrated. You can’t steer a ship that’s not moving, right? Here’s the deal: Students get stuck…
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TEENAGERS ARGUING WITH TONE

3 Engaging Ways to Introduce Tone Analysis

Tone is my favorite thing to teach in the whole rhetorical analysis process. Because tone carries meaning, it’s the end-all, be-all. Miss the tone, miss the meaning. I spend two to three block class periods right at the beginning of first semester helping high school students wrap their heads around…
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pencil on paper

The Why and How of a Baseline Writing Assignment

Why get a baseline? The teacher needs to know students’ strengths and weaknesses for content planning. The teacher needs to know students’ strengths and weaknesses for logistical planning (pairs, groups, etc.). The baseline will serve as a point of comparison to show growth at the end of the term. The…
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man on tightrope teaching Donald Trump's rhetoric

The Tightrope of Teaching Donald Trump’s Rhetoric

The first time I read the transcript of his July 3 2020 address at Mount Rushmore, I was struck by Donald Trump’s rhetoric, specifically his ignorance of the history of that region. On my second reading, though, I decided that it was sugar coating or white washing, not ignorance. On…
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How to Help Secondary Students with Context Clues

My third grader is a better reader than some of my high school students. He’s had a couple of strong reading teachers in school and gets support at home. (Pro Tip: He has to read me a chapter to get a half hour of screen. Magic.) We’ve all had those…
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How Color Coding Works in Written Analysis

Go buy some stock in Paper Mate because you’re about to bump that bottom line. Red Flair pens and blue Flair pens should be on your list of required classroom supplies and your list for Santa because they are going to change completely the way you teach students to analyze…
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