Sunday, January 15, 2017

March: Book One & Two (Critical Thinking Questions, Comprehension Questions, Task Cards and Activity)

As an Alt-Ed teacher I am constantly looking for new ways to entice my "reluctant readers" to read. One genre many of my students enjoy are graphic novels. I was first introduced to graphic novels as a college student. A history professor introduced me to Art Spiegelman's Maus. This book was one of the most powerful books I had read on the Holocaust. After reading Maus I remember thinking, "if I ever teach history, I am definitely including this book in my history curriculum." I kept that promise and have been using Maus ever since.

A couple years ago I introduced another graphic novel into my history curriculum; March: Book One. The book was so successful with my students, I've expanded my classroom collection to include books two and three as well.

This weekend I updated my original lessons for Books One and Two. I also added a new activity based on a tried-and-true activity I have been using as a final assessment with my history students the past ten years- a "Positive-Negative Timeline."

"If you're not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you're consistent, you will succeed." - John Lewis

March: Books 1 and 2 Lessons:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Martin Luther King Quote Analysis Activity (Task Cards)

My Civil Rights History class is winding down (less than two weeks left) and there is still so much to cover! Like most history teachers, I feel there is NEVER enough time to cover everything that needs to get covered.

We just finished watching Selma so I planned a couple activities dealing with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and recent attempts to dismantle certain provisions of this law. I found a couple incredible infographics I use with my students to help illustrate the history behind the Voting Rights Act and where we are today with regard to voting rights. I developed a lesson plan around these infographics. In addition, I have a mock voter registration activity planned for later this week.

In addition, we are working on our "Civil Rights Road Trip" projects and I still need to allow time for my kids to work on their final project, a "Positive-Negative Timeline of Tolerance and Intolerance."

Still, I wanted to do something special for MLK Day next Monday. After thinking about a meaningful activity I could infuse into my prepared lesson, I decided to make some MLK quote analysis task Cards. Most of my students enjoy task cards. I put a lot of thought and time into developing cards with interesting and meaningful questions/tasks which most of my students seem to appreciate. In addition, many of the questions and tasks require kids to get out of their seats and talk to one another. Most kids like that as well.

I use task cards in many different ways. My favorite way to use them is to laminate the cards and give each student one sheet (which contains four different task cards). I let my kids choose two or three questions/tasks from each card to answer/complete. I often give my kids post-its to write their responses on or dry-erase markers so they can write their answers on the back of the task cards. (Even high school kids LOVE writing on colorful post-its and they LOVE using dry-erase markers!)

I created 28 different task cards. Check them out here:

Download my Positive-Negative Timeline Project (for FREE!) here:

I wrote a description of the project for Teaching Tolerance Magazine. Read my about the project here:

Friday, December 30, 2016

21st Century Skills- Lessons in News Literacy

I believe media literacy, and in particular news literacy has never been more important. Unfortunately, it's rarely included in the curriculum. Not because it isn't important, but because there isn't the time or the staff to teach it.

In the past, I  made a point of incorporating media literacy into my Social Psychology classes with regard to gender bias in the media. In recent years, I've included more "news literacy" into my Civics, Social Studies, and Life Skills courses. Lately, I've noticed a decline in students' ability to discern fact from opinion. I've also noticed a tendency among my students to relentlessly "share" stories on social media with little to no regard to "truth." Many kids don't know how to fact check. I also think many don't think about the ramifications of spreading false or embellished news. 

Over the holiday break, I've spent a great deal of time working on a couple lessons and activities relating to the topic of news literacy. I plan to implement these lessons soon. My students are often brutally honest when my lessons flop! Keeping my fingers crossed these lessons won't flop!

Read more about teens "vulnerability" to fake news here:

Find these lessons and activities here------->

Friday, December 23, 2016

Civil Rights History "Gallery Walk" Activity

This week my Civil Rights History students were wrapping up a unit, therefore I felt it would be a good idea to plan a review activity. We often play Quizlet Live or Kahoot when we're reviewing material, however I thought it would be nice to try something different. Plus, it's always a bonus when I can get the kids out of their seats, moving around.

I often find new ideas for classroom activities online, especially on Instagram and twitter. I learned about gallery walks after reading an article someone shared on twitter. I thought it sounded like a perfect activity for my Civil Rights History class so I created a "Gallery Walk" activity for my students. I implemented it this week and was very pleased with the results. My students were excited and engaged! I was impressed with the quality of small-group discussions among the groups, even among students who are often silent or "reluctant" participants.

SantaLand Diaries Anticipatory Writing Activity

Every year my juniors and seniors read SantaLand Diaries in the days leading up to winter break. This year we tried something new. I asked my students to write up a job description for a SantaLand elf before we began reading. Simple activity and lots of fun! I had a blast grading these assignments!
Click here for my SantaLand Diaries Anticipatory Writing and Word Cloud Activities in my TpT store!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

English 400- Today's "bell-ringer"

I'd like you to take the following online "screener" answering the questions as if you were Todd Anderson or Neil Perry.

When you are finished, email me your results.

Monday, September 19, 2016

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- Events and Lesson Plans

This year, RVHS Pathways Program and Service Learning students are working together to plan a number of projects as part of our commitment to educational outreach and support for women and children victimized by domestic violence in our communities.

In addition to a week-long unit, student-created bulletin boards and a "Wall of Ribbons," students are planning a week-long personal care item drive for Passages, a local shelter serving women and children in several surrounding communities.

Working along with our Varsity Volleyball team this year, the girls will host a "Diggin for Hope" event, Thursday, October 6th during Homecoming. The players will be dressed in purple to honor a former teammate we lost this past summer. T-shirts can be ordered online or the week prior to the game. In addition, Pathways students and Service Learning students will be selling BBQs and baked goods the night of the game to raise money for Hope House, a shelter serving women and children in Sauk County.

Order t-shirts here:
More info on Diggin for Hope:

This summer I spent several hours writing new lessons and updating my Domestic Violence PowerPoint for my Service Learning, Life Skills, and Social Studies students. The week-long unit and two guest speakers we have planned for the week will most certainly be a powerful learning experience for students.

I have numerous resources on the topic of domestic violence on my blog. I encourage educators to search my blog for resources and lessons I've posted over the years. I will include a link to my updated Domestic Violence lessons posted on my TpT site and a link to my Domestic Violence Pinterest Page below.

Domestic Violence PSA Assignment
Find 3 PSAs on the topic of domestic violence on YouTube. Watch. Rate each PSA.
Rating (1-10)
1=Poor, 10=Excellent 

What did you like about your highest rated PSA? Write your answer here

Work alone, with a partner, or in a small group and create a PSA on the topic of domestic violence. How long do you want your PSA to be? Circle.
30 seconds
45 seconds
60 seconds
When will your PSA run? Holidays/Special Events? Time of Day?

Who is your target audience?

What media format?
Television, newspaper/magazine, online, radio
What is the title of your PSA?

What is your message?

“Hook” (How are you going to grab your audience’s attention?) Statistic(s)? Fact(s)? Appeal to emotion?

Where did you find your info/facts/statistics? Write links here:

What is your call to action? (What do you want your audience to do?)

Story Board your PSA

Group member initials and points (Circle: 1=Poor, 10=Excellent)

Domestic Violence PSAs