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How to Guide Students Toward Better Image Analysis

We had three channels, rabbit ears, and tin foil (and knew how those three things went together). My strongest sound memory is the slamming of our back screen door. I lived outside. My students have Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and YouTube; and they carry them in a pocket. They…
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Three Censorship Stories: A Career in Banned Books

I have a few stories to tell. I started teaching in the Medieval Period, my teacher desk hewn from the village oak. (It was 1990, but that seems SO long ago. It was early enough in the evolution of Man that I actually bubbled my grades in on a Scantron…
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How to Make AP Lang Multiple Choice Less Like Torture

We’re sliding into testing season (except it’s that long, slow, shallow kind of slide with spikes, barbs, and razor blades along the way). You dread it. They dread it. Even your #2 pencils dread it; they were made for writing, after all, not bubbling. Students need exposure to the types…
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5 Ways to Keep High School English Engaging

You’re done. Mentally over it. The next student who calls your name is getting his lips stapled shut. Lesson plans? Phfft. They’re lucky if they get an agenda on the board. Your testing may have already happened, so you have these lame duck class periods to fill. Your testing may…
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What to Teach AFTER the AP Exams

Because I’ve always had four weeks of class AFTER the AP exam, my go-to unit has been a will-bending, spirit-breaking voyage through William Faulkner’s Light In August. Parent complaints never deterred me. Principals couldn’t dissuade me. The year’s not over, people!! Recently, forums, Facebook groups, and Twitter chats have shown…
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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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