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RECENT POSTS

The AP English Language Exam Review Boot Camp

How much review for the AP Language Exam is TOO much? On a skill-based assessment like this one, students are already at a position of not-quite-there, proficiency, or mastery of a complex web of interrelated skills and processes. Like I said in a recent refresher review post, there is no…
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Junior studying for the AP Enlgish Language exam

AP English Language Exam Refresher Review

We’re coming up on crunch time for the AP exams, and the AP English exams in language and literature are outliers. They are 100% skill based, so review doesn’t look like cramming terms, memorizing formulas, or staying up all night with a study group. It’s more of a refresher on…
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Effective Ways to Use Anchor Papers in the Classroom

Anchor papers. Example essays. Guide papers. Exemplars. Sample essays. Whatever you call them, they are designed to make slightly more objective a subjective process—the evaluation of student writing. Whom Sample Essays Are For Anchor sets are designed for the paid readers who are scoring the essays; they are not designed…
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classroom spending

How to Spend Someone Else’s Money on Your Classroom

When I was teaching, I spent around $1000 of my own money every year on my classroom. That’s insane. Those dollars went to everything from hygiene products I kept in my desk to the breakfast I served on test day to the kids who would otherwise have jacked themselves up…
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things fall apart lesson plans

How to Approach Things Fall Apart in Your Lesson Plans

I miss Chinua Achebe’s voice. When he passed in 2013, I grieved. After teaching “Dead Men’s Path” and Things Fall Apart for my entire career, I felt like I had lost someone personally. My lesson plans for the novel in particular changed over the years, and my approach moved from…
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teacher plans for rigor

Rigor in the Classroom: What it is and isn’t

After decades of throwing around the word rigor, we still can’t seem to come to agreement about what it is. I see in private school marketing materials institutions that offer “a rigorous course of study.” The average parent interprets that to mean that this school will be a challenge in…
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5 Ways to Engage Teenagers in the Classroom

Need to engage bored teenagers in your classroom? Need to channel the energy of students who are bouncing off the walls? Are your own classes boring, and you don’t know how to fix the problem? Let’s talk about it. Why are students bored at school? Nobody wants to bored teenagers,…
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rhetorical analysis commentary

The Role of Commentary in Rhetorical Analysis

Call it what you will—analysis, evaluation, commentary—this piece of rhetorical analysis is OPINION. Evidence is FACT, and commentary is OPINION. (When I’m training students to recognize the difference between the two, we use color coding. You can read more about how I do that here.) Where students get tripped up…
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STUDENT WRITING A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY

Two Ways to Organize a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

The magic bullet. Here it is. You ready? Here’s your tidy little template you can apply to any rhetorical analysis essay. Just kidding. There’s not such thing as a one-size-fits-all outline for RA, but there are two ways we can teach students to approach each one. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Organization…
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critical race theory' CRT; white privilegewhite privilege

Critical Race Theory: Why is it such a big deal?

There are a LOT of angry parents, school board members, and politicians coming forward about what they are calling critical race theory. I get the anger–I really do–because many people think there is an attempt to indoctrinate our children to believe that White people are bad. I’m the helicopter parent…
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