Poem A Day:

No Poem today.


Today we began writing narratives for our final project. Before we did, however, we reviewed ways to get started with storytelling. We discussed the idea of “show, don’t tell”, developing characters, and selecting appropriate point of view. I posted our notes to Google Classroom.

Active Engagement:

Students engaged in a small webquest back through time to review the narrative techniques we have learned about this year.


Students visited the Classroom Blog, read all four blog posts for the unit: “Shorts: Part 2”. This was the first unit we did in this course, and we learned a lot about crafting compelling stories. I asked them to scroll down to the bottom of the link, and read from the bottom to the top (They are in reverse chronological order).


Students reviewed this list we made at the beginning of the year of narrative techniques writers of short stories use. (This was actually your first essay prompt this year)


Students continued to work on their narratives.


I reminded students that their rough drafts are due next week.


We interrupt your regularly scheduled lessons

with a completely random, totally unexpected, wildy indiscriminate and destructive SURPRISE TORNADO (even though tornadoes never hit Connecticut). School was cancelled for three days following the storm.

FUN FACT: Tornados turn the sky green. Who knew? Well, now we all do. From experience. The best kind of learning…

Now for a note about the blog posts/lessons for the end of this year.

Upon completing Macbeth in April, I could see that my honors students were ready, willing, and totally able to write essays about how Shakespeare developed themes in the play. They were asked to select any theme they wanted and to discuss how the theme of their choice was developed through use of narrative techniques. Each of them wrote about a different topic, and their insights were very interesting. It is clear that having a Socratic Seminar before writing had a huge impact on the development of their ideas and their newfound ease of discussing those ideas thoroughly. One student turned in a 14 page essay about the moral complications of murder. Very interesting stuff.

That said, my CP students (on B days) were not ready to tackle that paper, and not in a place to continue our discussion of Macbeth. I decided to go ahead and move forward with them into the next unit on the graphic novel American Born Chinese. These students read that novel and wrote an essay about how the theme “Be True To Yourself” was developed through use of narrative techniques in that novel. This was a much easier text for them to understand, and a much more engaging text for some of my reluctant readers. They worked through this unit while my A DAY students continued their work on Macbeth.

Now (MAY 21), all of my students are done writing essays, and they have all read the newest text American Born Chinese. From here on out, they are back onto the same schedule as we move into PART TWO of THE TRUE YOU unit: The Final Project.

Stay tuned… it is going to be epic.

We interrupt your regularly programmed Classroom blog post with this mind-bending universe moment, from, the universe.

I just read this blog on by Karla Hilliard that I feel like I could have written myself.

She started out by talking about choosing mentor texts. Teachers can be overwhelmed at the prospect of finding new, relevant and engaging texts every year to use. BUT sometimes, the magic happens, and the perfect texts FIND YOU.

Well, when setting out to create this Nonfiction Unit, I spent a lot of time trying to pick a topic for my model lessons. I wanted to pick mentor texts to use about this one topic. This topic was going to be the crux of the unit, and if it wasn’t engaging enough for enough students, the whole unit may fail, and my practice would fail and my students, their parents, and all the administrators in my building would all hate me, right?

A lot of pressure.

Well, I went with my gut (the day before I had to choose SOMETHING) and picked space exploration, because I am very interested in it at the moment, and I thought maybe my own enthusiasm would be, contagious.

Then, well, the universe took over. And literally hand-delivered so many sources and pieces of media that I can’t fit them all in!

I wanted to choose a variety of sources that were all different types of media. I wanted a Ted Talk, a news article from a scientific magazine, a documentary film, a video clip from the news, excerpts from recently published books, podcasts, etc. I wanted it all.

I guess I chose the right time.

Last week, the Mars rover Curiosity sent back crazy pictures that made the news; Ellon Musk launched his Tesla Roadster into space with a copy of Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” blaring (music and literature!?!? right up my alley, thank you very much). I found more Ted Talks than I can use, and three books published last year that are mind-blowing AND well-written. The whole unit practically wrote itself.

And then this happened just now:

I checked out Ted Radio Hour, because that is a really well-done podcast that I have used in the past when teaching nonfiction.

And guess what their show was THIS WEEK!?!?!

TED Radio Hour


Peering Deeper Into Space

The past few years have ushered in an explosion of new discoveries about our universe. This hour, TED speakers explore the implications of these advances — and the lingering mysteries of the cosmos.

I mean… C’MON!!!

So, I had to write a blog post right away to say:

Thanks, Universe.