All students speak: Two-minute rotating partner shareout

English is a discussion-based class.  I want students to interact with what we read and, ultimately, to craft their own interpretations.   The class of my dreams involves discussion, debate, questioning, the great back-and-forth that leaves everyone leaning forward in their seat, their eyes completely alive.

But in almost every class, some students learn to lean back, allowing someone else to grapple with a particular concept or tricky passage.  It’s easier, safer to listen.  Truth be told, I’m like this too.

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Teaching analytical writing: Getting students to care

In my teaching career, I’ve learned so much about teaching writing—but little of that knowledge came from an educational book. Most of what I’ve learned has been through hard-won experience, through assignments and techniques that bombed and then through tweaking and tweaking until I finally created something successful.

And so much of what I’ve learned about writing has boiled down to this:  students must care deeply about what they’re writing.

Caring deeply is relatively easy with a creative piece or poetry or memoir.  But with analytical writing, it’s harder.  When I started teaching analytical writing, I chose assignments that allowed students to use a highly-structured five-paragraph essay format with prompts like, “Write about three significant symbols in Lord of the Flies” or “Analyze the three most important film elements that the director uses in Of Mice and Men.”  Yes, these essays were well-organized, but students rarely cared deeply about them.
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Welcome to Rigorous Lit

Welcome to Rigorous Lit, a space for English teachers who want to challenge their students to become sharp thinkers, strong writers, eloquent speakers and passionate readers.  Stop back by for teaching inspiration, intelligent conversation, master teacher interviews and anything else that helps you be the best teacher you can be.

Here’s to that classroom magic.