Community in Action

How to add a zinger to the end of a novel unit that deals with hard topics. Go through the steps to create a discussion panel of experts. Your principal loves it, your school board loves it, and your students love it. This conversational piece is the type of activity that students will remember long after they have left your classroom and building behind them. It gives them a safe place to ask questions, make statements, and be heard while receiving wisdom, advice, and encouragement by community members who are experts in their fields.

Shaking Up Shakespeare: Bringing the Play Back into Shakespeare’s Plays

Groans erupt from your class as you announce the start of your next unit, Shakespeare. How do you combat the negative feelings students already have about Shakespeare? How do you make Shakespeare fresh for this generation of students? This presentation is full of ideas about how to combat some of the most common problems when teaching Shakespeare: language barriers, negative stereotypes, drama terms and vocabulary, disengagement, and boredom.

Interviews and Cross-curricular Writing

How can you get students to connect deeply with a text and the historical context in which it is written? How is a person impacted by the historical events that happen during their lifetime? How do authors draw on historical and cultural events in developing their characters? Using interviews, students see a connection between their family’s history and the historical events that occurred during various generations. We can then use these interviews as primary sources for authentic responses to literature. We will brainstorm ways in which interviews can be incorporated in your existing curricula.

Ditching Multiple Choice Tests: Using Problem Based Learning as measurements of student learning through the use of Real World Experiences

Time and time again, students are asked to [recite information at the end of each unit, often in the form of multiple choice tests. But through this practice, the line between information learned vs. information memorized becomes increasingly blurred. Creating a Real World Experience provides students with the opportunity to learn through the use of inquiry: questioning, researching, presenting, and applying their learning to real life. Each Real World Experience is a culmination of literature, writing, history, and of course, civics. Through the accompaniment of both whole class and small group novels, students create genuine displays that reflect what they have learned and how their newfound knowledge can be applied to current events. In this session, you will be introduced to an example of a Real World Experience, which serves as each unit’s summative assessment. We will discuss planning, how to create assignments that align with Standards-Based Grading, and even take a look at a few student examples.

When you put this all together, just make sure you don’t have things separated from their names, etc. It requires some fenagaling in the end, but it looks clean.