Poem A Day:

This song has some borderline inappropriate themes, but the kids rarely even pick up on those this early in the year. I use it because it is a rocking awesome song, and its a great narrative with some figurative language. It’s easy for them to pick up on.



Today we began by reviewing the last class’s “round robin activity.” I asked: What were the themes of the stories? How did you know?

The objective today is to explore: how do authors develop themes?

First, we listened to this great Moth Radio Hour podcast- it is a very short story about a Kit Kat bar and life lessons learned.

Afterward, I asked students: What is the theme of the story? Would it have been clear without his explicit explanation? 



Hw: pick your favorite PAD and write an essay that summarizes the poem, identifies the theme, and explains how the theme is developed throughout the poem. Due Thursday.

Active Engagement:

Students worked in small groups to discuss the story and the narrative techniques the writer used to deliver the theme.

Students shared out and I collected their ideas on another Google Doc that I posted on Google Classroom.

Next we listened to another story from Moth Radio Hour about a young girl’s experience with her first contact lenses.

Students worked independently to identify the theme of the story and the narrative techniques used to develop said theme- they recorded their ideas in their notebooks.


For Homework, I asked students to pick their favorite Poem a day so far, and write an essay that summarizes the poem, identifies the theme, and explains how the theme is developed throughout the poem. Due next class. This was for another baseline data collection.


Poem A Day:

Lyrics are here. It’s a great song, and we found metaphors and allusions (nice review).


Today’s objective: writers read looking for ways others writers develop themes. 

I modeled this behavior by showing students how I annotated the first page of my copy of Scarlet Ibis. I showed them the imagery I noticed, the foreshadowing, and the repetition of colors or phrasing.

Then, as a class, students shared out what they noticed, and I collected their responses on a Google doc. I posted this to Google Classroom for students to reference.

Together we attempted to

-identify a theme or themes

and find

-symbolism, imagery and foreshadowing

Active Engagement:

Students engaged in a tremendous feat here- I told them this activity would be rigorous, and it was. They were up for the challenge though, and it was the first time I really knew that this year was going to be special. (spoiler alert: I wasn’t wrong).

Students got into small groups, and tackled three different short stories looking for themes and literary devices authors used to develop those themes. The work was broken down in an fun and interesting way- I certainly had never tried it before. I would do it again with a few tweaks- they needed more time.



We did not really have a proper closure today- the activity ran right up to the bell- but students were so involved in their work, no one packed up until after the bell. This is a pretty good sign that they were engaged in the activity.


Poem A Day:

Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” Stanza 1

Image result for walt whitman song of myself


Today’s objective is to define the short story genre. One takeaway is that short stories are narratives that convey or revolve around a theme. Writers of short stories use narrative techniques to deliver their theme, entertain the reader, or make them think.

We began by reading aloud as a class Steven Millhauser called “The Ambition of the Short Story.” It is wonderful and full of literary devices and figurative language. I love it- it is a wonderful resource to kick off a unit about literary devices in short stories.

Active Engagement:

As a group we discussed the article, and then brainstormed literary devices that authors use to impact readers. This was a way of checking their prior knowledge, and getting on the same page, speaking the same academic language- very useful at the beginning of the year. I used the list my classes came up with to create this study guide for a quiz on literary devices. I wanted students to know that we would be using all of these terms all year, and that I was not going to bother defining them over and over- they needed to commit them to memory. I reinforced this by using the poems a day throughout the unit to show examples of each literary device- we ended up having a real interesting time with paradoxes which I will detail later.

Next we read “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst and searched for literary devices he used. Students worked independently annotating the text while I read aloud to the whole group.


Students worked in pairs to share the devices they found and discuss possible themes.


Poem A Day:


Here we discussed conflict in the song and also the symbolism of the shoes, and the meaning of the title.


Today I introduced the project that students are going to begin working on. I like to give the students outlines of their objectives and goals for each unit at the beginning, so they know what they are working toward. This way, their work is more purposeful. 

Active Engagement:

Today I am collecting baseline data for narrative writing. I want to see what kind of skills they have now- before they take my class. This will help me assess their growth. They answered this simple prompt in class today.



I reminded students that their original stories were due next class and we wrapped it up.



Poem A Day:

MOTHS by Jennifer O’Grady

 This poem shares some themes and the tone of “Summer Skin”
Students liked the imagery and we discussed possible symbolism of the moths.


Today we discussed how to properly Respond to Literature in my course.  We read this article together as a class and briefly discussed our attitudes toward writing about what we read. Next, we reviewed the role of “conflict” in storytelling. We reviewed types of conflict typically found in literature.

Active Engagement:

Students were asked in the last class to bring a notebook in today for all of their English class work. I supplied composition notebooks for any students who could not afford one or couldn’t bring one for any reason.

After discussing my expectations for responses to literature, we practiced our first response to literature- the focus of this response is “Conflict”.

Students read “The Appalachian Trail” by Bruce Eason and responded to these prompts.


Students discussed their ideas about the central conflicts and it was interesting to see how differently students interpreted the conflicts and the characters in the story and their relationship. We had a whole discussion about reader-response theory which was cool and unexpected.

Welcome To Ms. Minto’s Classroom

Welcome to my classroom blog where I intend to post my daily lessons for my freshman classes this school year 2016-17.

Today is the first day of school, and in my class, it is all about establishing a positive and fun rapport, and setting up classroom routines.

I started today with the same ice breaker I use every year: I stare awkwardly at my students as I take attendance for the first time. The purpose is three-fold. One: To remember 120 names in a day is challenging. This helps. Two: It makes the students feel really weird and uncomfortable and unsure of me- I look at it as a catharsis. Now that they have felt all these ways, there is no need to fear these emotions in our future together. Finally: it is hilarious, and makes me laugh and makes them laugh. It works every time.

Next, I showed this fun slideshow, to allay the concerns of the students; they always want to know the silly, boring details instead of all the “good stuff.” So, I get all that other stuff out of the way early. I breeze through this quickly, and I almost NEVER mention school rules on my first day. Why? Because inevitably, ALL of their other teachers mention NOTHING but rules on the first day- so I assume the kids GET IT at this point.

Next, students introduce themselves briefly, and I launch into the first Poem a Day and the instructions for said activity. 

Each day’s activities will be broken into four sections, and, so will each of my blogs: Poem a Day, Mini-lesson, Active Engagement, and Closure. I like to open with the poem/song, then have a short mini lesson, where I teach a new skill, model a new skill, demonstrate a new skill, or we read and discuss new content. Active Engagement is most of the class, where students practice whatever the lesson is, and work with their peers. Finally is Closure, where I check for understanding and wrap up the learning objectives.

Poem A Day:

I chose this to be my first Poem a Day because it captures the melancholy we all feel on the first day of school, as the sweet summer, and all of its hopes and dreams and promises, draw to a close. Also there is some great figurative language that I want to review with these students who have just spent the last three months forgetting what a metaphor is.


Students are introduced to the class  and to me with this adorable slideshow.


Active Engagement:

Students Introduce themselves.


I answer any questions the students may have, and we dismiss.

Day one: In the books.