Monday, November 28, 2022

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

On September 21st, 1897, The Sun ran this letter to the editor and its famous response:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

So as the anniversary of this printing comes forward next week, you may wish to incorporate it into your classroom.  If nothing else, expose the kids to this bit of American culture.  Use it in journalism class to discuss the responsibility of the newspaper.  Just give the class the original letter and let them respond to it before showing the editor's response (could be a great way to teach audience). Use it for a reading comprehension practice (I have one here you may use: Reading Comprehension Practice).  Use it to spark a letter writing exercise and then write letters to editors of your newspapers.

Anyone else use this letter in their class?  If so, how?

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Writing Wednesday: Random Dialogues

Today's creative writing assignment will be a Random Dialogue.  Here is how we will do it:

First, on your paper or computer, write down four numbers between 1 - 10.  They can be the same numbers. 

Got them?  Now, scroll down below the picture and you will find that your first number will be the first character.  The second number will be the second character.  The third will be the setting and the fourth will be the subject of the dialogue.

First Number - Character number one
  1. a mom
  2. a kid
  3. an alien
  4. a dog
  5. a rich man
  6. a grocery store owner
  7. a soldier
  8. a baby
  9. a superhero
  10. a vampire
Second Number - Character number two
  1. a dad
  2. a teenager
  3. the President of the United States
  4. a cat
  5. a poor woman
  6. a cowboy
  7. a spy
  8. a wizard
  9. a super villain
  10. a werewolf
Third Number - Setting
  1. morning at the beach
  2. in a grocery store
  3. in the White House
  4. on a city building rooftop
  5. nighttime in a graveyard
  6. on a golf course
  7. by the pool in winter
  8. in a school classroom
  9. in a fast food restaurant
  10. Christmastime in a house
Fourth Number - Dialogue Subject
  1. how much something costs
  2. the latest video game
  3. deciding on where to go for a date (not necessarily with each other)
  4. politics
  5. a dream the first character had last night
  6. what to have for the next meal
  7. character two is not happy about something character one did
  8. character one is excited about something that just happened
  9. a sporting event
  10. a movie they just watched

Now, you decide if they are arguing, being silly, serious, discussing, fighting, happy, etc.  Oh, and you had ten minutes, so no time to think ready...  GO!

O.K., was it any good? awful? just plain silly?  If you typed it, feel free to cut and paste it into the comments section.  You can always do this, no matter when it is you find this blog post.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, November 4, 2022

Change Your Students' Responses to Text Using the Three Book Approach

One thing that inhibits student discussion at all levels is the fear that they did not come to the correct answer.  We, as English teachers, know that there is simultaneously a correct response and a validation of practically all responses, but students have a difficult time compressing that information in to trust that they can give their thoughts and epiphanies on a reading passage.

In my AP class, we do this first week, when we take "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and break it apart using as many different literary criticism as possible.  In my regular inclusion English IV class, we use this in our first book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when we discuss the chapter where Father hits Christopher.

I draw this on the board, stopping to explain before drawing the next image:

Once I draw BOOK 1, I say this is the author and the book he wanted to write.  It is what was in his head as he envisioned the plot, characters, setting, etc.

Then I draw BOOK 2 and explain that this is the book that was written.  We all know that the ideas in our head does not always come out clearly in our writing.  Plus, this has undergone revision, editing, advice from trusted readers, publisher mandates, and many other things that changed the original idea.

I wrap up with BOOK 3 - this is the book we read in our head.  Everyone in the classroom read the same text, but because we all have different life experiences, different relationships with parents, friends, neighbors, different cultural backgrounds, and different environments in which we read (some of us were distracted, others hyper focused) - all these things lead to different feelings, different interpretations, different focuses.  In the "Woods" poem, our experience with snow and nature and possible previous interactions with Robert Frost impact out reading.  In Curious our relationship with our own father (or lack thereof) and our connection to someone on the spectrum will determine if we can forgive Father after this.  All these reactions are legitimate and part of the reading process.

It's why some people can (wrongly) enjoy the Star Wars sequel movies - they don't have the same baggage I bring with me to the movies.

Of course, just because we have certain reactions to characters and situations that differ from everyone, that doesn't dismiss the intention of the author and that can lead to a discussion of whether or not Shakespeare was successful in his intent to create an intense scene or Twain's ability to get his point across.

This discussion carries through my entire year and we often reference that third book.  It has increased participation in class discussions tremendously for me.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Shameless Plug - Curious Incident of the Dog Chapter-by-Chapter Breakdown and Unit Bundle Pack

Currently on the Extreme English Teacher Store!

There is no book that I have found that generates student interest than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. You know the students I teach - seniors who have given up on the thought of enjoying a book, struggling with reading, generally ready to be done with school to start a life that will never ask you to find the symbolism in that chapter - yet, this book has them reading ahead on their own time, jumping into class discussion, and getting passionate in class.  If you don't know why you should be teaching this book, read this and come back.  I'll wait.

What I have done is to break down this book chapter-by-chapter.  This is not a book summary. This is a guide to how to teach it.  Each chapter has my what-to-look for moments, what to emphasize, a heads up on what may throw off a student, how long it takes to read it aloud, which chapters work best read aloud, and along the way, I throw in fourteen activities - some in class, some for students to do on their own.  The students will immerse themselves into the games that Christopher plays, find the constellation he looks at, make predictions, read parts, and learn a quite a bit about how to treat others who are different.

It is exactly how I have taught this book for years, tweaking and adding along the way.  If you teach high school kids, especially ones who do not believe reading can be an enjoyable experience, YOU NEED TO TEACH THIS BOOK!  And this guide will help you to do it.

And, in case you want the whole deal, you can get the Unit pack that includes:

  • Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (with the 14 activities)
  • Pre-Reading Activity
  • Questions for every chapter
  • Tests (both paper and online)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Spider-Man Unmasked!

Here is a great creative writing prompt to get kids pushing their thoughts a bit.  You do not need to be a comic book fan to participate (although if you are, there is that much more interest in it).  All you need is the ability to think divergently.

Show students this cover:

Now, supposing that everything shown on the cover is true for the story inside, how could this happen and Peter Parker still keep his identity secret?  We have these characters on the cover:

  • Dr. Octopus - his four extra mechanical arms are just as strong as Spider-Man and allows him to reach far away.
  • Peter Parker - the true identity of Spider-Man.  He has the strength, speed, and agility of a spider and has a nifty spider-sense that warns him of danger (which didn't help as the cover shows).
  • Four random police officers
  • Betty Brant - she is a secretary for the newspaper The Daily Bugle and Peter Parker's girlfriend at the time of this comic.
  • J. Jonah Jameson - a newspaper editor who hates Spider-Man with a passion.
Let students write out how Peter Parker is able to keep his identity secret even though seven people clearly see him unmasked.  Give prizes to the most creative and the closest to the original.

So what is the real story?

Peter Parker has a cold, so he has lost all his spider powers.  Doc Ock, however, wants revenge on Spider-Man.  He notices that the Daily Bugle seems to get all the press on Spider-Man, so he breaks into their building, tells the editor, J. Jonah Jameson, that he will print a challenge to Spider-Man to meet him at a certain location.  He then kidnaps Jameson's secretary to insure that it gets done.  Peter Parker, fearful for his girlfriend's safety, dons his Spidey suit and goes after Doc Ock, even though he doesn't have his powers anymore.  Doc Ock beats him easily and unmasks him.  When he sees it is a teenager, he exclaims that the real Spider-Man is too scared to fight him and sent this kid in his place.  Figuring that was why Spider-Man's punches were so weak and why he was so easily beaten, Doc Ock throws Peter to the ground and leaves.  Betty and Jameson both think that Peter is quite the hero, albeit rather stupid, and the police, after toying with what to charge Peter with, finally leave them alone.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Active / Passive Voice with Macbeth

 Here's a freebie for you - 

Active and passive voice are concepts that, to students, sound much more difficult to grasp than they really should be.  Usually it just takes a quick practice to click it in their head.

Since we are reading Macbeth right now, I created a practice centering around that story.  The example sentences are original, but the format of this practice is not.  I forgot where I originally got this practice.

Here it is free for the taking. If you like it, just hit FILE then MAKE A COPY.

While we are on free stuff and Macbeth, here is a Blooket on Macbeth vocabulary words if you want it:

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

There Art Thou Happy

One of my least favorite Shakespeare plays is Romeo and Juliet.  The last year that I taught the play I swore that the next time I did, I was going to start in Act V with Romeo stepping over Paris's body and reaching for the poison.

However, a former colleague of mine had a killer lesson idea for Act III scene iii.  Romeo is whining about how awful his life is and the Friar, speaking for us, I guess, has had enough of it.  He lists off a few things that Romeo should be grateful for and ends with this line:

A pack of blessings lights upon thy back: Happiness courts thee in her best array; but, like a misbehav'd and sullen wench, thou pout'st upon they fortune and thy love.  Take heed, for such die miserable.
 Not wanting her students to "die miserable", she has them as a homework assignment, list out their "pack of blessings".  Puts a bit of a positive spin to her class.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Need Another White Board? (Updated)

 So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I moved schools and with the move comes adjusting to a new classroom.  This is both exciting and frustrating as I had a gloriously huge room before.  When I got to my new space, I noticed a big problem.  See if you can spot it:

OK, I guess the title of the post is a slight giveaway.  Yep, No white board on the front wall.  I do have one on the side wall, so I could make the class go lengthwise, but now I have no screen on the front wall.  I really need to have both available.  So what to do?

I thought about asking for one to be installed, and I probably will eventually, but since I am new, I didn't think that was the best first option.  Even if they were agreeable, doubtful I would be able to get it before school started.

I looked into buying a white board, but HOLY COW!  Those things are expensive!  A 5' by 4' board will cost you at least $200.  A good size one can go over a thousand!

I looked into using chalkboard paint, but wasn't sure that was allowed and also didn't see anything immediately on the quality of it.  I might still pursue that on the other side of the TV.  Eventually.

Looking at chalkboard paint made me start looking at making a white board.  I knew there was white board paint out there, but when I started looking at that, I found that both Home Depot and Lowes sell 8' by 4' white board panels for $20.

But how good could they be?  Well, a quick look at the comments told me that people were VERY happy with the quality of the project.  In fact, the big complaint was that they splintered if you cut them to size, but as I wasn't cutting them, I was fine with it.  By the way, if you do cut one,  just put a strip of tape front and back over the area to be cut and it helps to prevent splintering - or, even better, just ask the good people at Home Depot to cut it for you.  They usually cut the first two cuts for free, but even if you have to pay, it is not much per cut).

My biggest concern was over ghosting.  If I erased material on the board, I expect it to erase.  In order to prevent ghosting, I waxed the board with ordinary car wax (Turtle Wax, to be exact, mainly because that is what I remember my dad using to wax his car).  I went with the paste because it seemed like a better way to go.  I waxed the board twice.  I read that this really does wonders to make the board erase better.  The guy who wrote it said that at some point after six months, he noticed the board was getting a little harder to erase, so he waxed it again and it lasted another six months.

So, how to mount it?  Well, I read varying methods.  My biggest problem was that I didn't know anything about the construction on the wall I was going to put it on.  It was some sort of drywall, though it seemed thicker and a harder than the drywall in my house.  I didn't know what was behind it and when I tried to use a stud finder, that was giving off all sorts of odd readings.

I went with two methods to keep up the board.  The first was double-sided mounting tape.  I found some at Walmart rated to hold up to 30 pounds.  The board itself only weighs 18.  So I bought a couple of rolls of that.  I put it on the back of the board and let it sit overnight to bond. 

Then I bought some mirror mounting clips (you, know, the small clear plastic things that hold a mirror to the wall?).  I drew a line three feet up from the floor and screwed in about four of those clips along it using the white plastic dry-wall anchors that come with the clips.

Do I need the clips?  Probably not, but between the clips and the mounting tape, I don't see this going anywhere anytime soon. 

I recruited my son to help me take off the cover of the backside mounting tape and slide the board into the mirror clips.  Then we pressed the board against the wall to make the mounting tape do its job.

Now came the truth time - does it write and erase?  See for yourself!

Do you have to be DIY savvy to pull this off?  I don't think so.  The only tools I used was a drill and a level.  The drill I used was nothing more than a glorified electric screwdriver.  You do want use of a truck, though.  That 8' x 4' panel is not going to fit in the back of your Honda Accord.

So, how much did it cost?

8' x 4' White Board Panel - $20

Some rolls of mounting tape - $24

Turtle Wax - $4

Mirror clips - $3

Total - $51

Is it is worth spending $51 to get a white board where I want it?  It is to me.  Make it cheaper by screwing the board directly into the wall to avoid the extra expense of mounting tape.  I just didn't want to see the screws in the board and was a bit paranoid about what I would be drilling into. 

The only drawback is that it is not magnetic and I do not have a marker tray (though I am seriously considering building one this weekend).

If, after some time, I notice that the board is not worth it, I'll be glad to edit this post as a fail.  If you are finding this well after the post was written and there are no updates, write a comment or shoot me an email at and I'll be glad to tell you to go for it or not!


Important to know - use Expo markers on this board.  They will erase, but the knock off marker I used had to be scrubbed off.

Also, I gave in and added a wooden tray.  The tray cost me more than I thought it would because the thin piece of lattice that I used as the "guard rail" to keep the markers from rolling off was $1.28 per foot, not for the board itself.  Still, I do like this look better than the mirror clips at the bottom.

The bottom board was $6 and the lattice board cost me $9.  The three right angle supports under it cost less than $3 for the lot of them.  Add in the finish nails to secure the lattice board to the bottom board, and you put in another $18 to the project.  In hindsight, I would have chosen a different type of "guard rail" board to save money.

*Update* - Two months in and it is still working great!  No problems with ghosting or writing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Few Changes

Big changes in my life coming up - I just changed schools!  With that comes the excitement of new possibilities and the pain of having to switch all my programs.  With that in mind,  let me give you some advice - 

  • Create a separate email address for all your subscriptions.  Thankfully I had started doing that a while back, but it was still a pain to have to switch all of my subscriptions away from my school email address.  While I had already put Kahoot!, Blooket, Socrative, etc. under a different email address, I started this blog  under my school account.  Once they deactivated my school account, I lost a majority of the images on this blog.
  • Be prepared to not be able to easily switch your Google Drive.  More on this later, but if you find yourself in a need right away, let me suggest the website  It will let you move your drive from one cloud to the other.  I'll do a whole post on that later.
The other change is my course schedule.  I now find myself teaching Honors English II (never taught that as an honors class before), Honors English IV (never taught that as an honors class before), and AP Literature and Composition (never taught any AP before).  I will still keep this blog aimed primarily at teaching kids who struggle in English, but we may see a few things I'm working on for the Honors and AP popping up here and there.  I am swamped with trying to get these new courses taken care of (especially the AP one), so new blog posts will probably be a bit sporadic than normal this year.  Bear with me!

Thankfully, Jeff Goldblum is here to keep me from feeling overwhelmed!

Here's hoping everyone is having a great summer!

Monday, July 11, 2022

The Zipf Mystery

 It's summer and here is an interesting (if you are an English teacher, that is) video on the frequency of words.  The video is long, but the first few minutes is what will grab your attention the most.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

PowerPoint Games

 We are here at the end of the year and I've not updated this blog in a few weeks due to research paper grading and a few life things that just get in the way of other life things.  However, I ran across this site full of PowerPoint games that can be fun reviews and give a little variety of the same old online quizzes all the time.

As my students are taking a teacher-made exam today, I was going going to have screenshots of them all posted here for you, but when I got to school this morning, I found that my overpowered IT Internet filter categorizes this as a game site and has it blocked.  I will refrain from going on a rant about how I feel about the school Internet filter and my IT department in general, but this pretty much sums it up:

I guess I should be thankful for all the woes that my Zscaler saves me from.  Wouldn't want me to get distracted by games, Spotify, or anything of interest on the web.

Anyway, you don't need my screenshots - just check it out for yourselves.  These are probably not games you want to use regularly, but work well for an old fashion test review or just something a little different.

If you know of a game dump like this elsewhere, please share it in the comments (even if you are finding this post 5 years after posting)!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Meta Maus

 I'm looking at the possibility of teaching 11th grade next year, which is American Lit here in NC, and I immediately wanted to teach Maus.  I remember liking it very much when I read it last (years and years ago - I'm old), but could not put my hands on a copy here at school.  My wife, wonderful person that she is, found vol.1 and vol. 2 and picked them up for me when we were at the beach.

I was excited and even more so when I realized that I had only ever read the first volume.  The second volume - WOW! but there is so much on that front that I will save it for another time.  Anyway, as I was reading through and trying to find some background information to add to my pool to teach from, I learned there was a quite extensive behind the scenes book done by the author on the whole project called Meta Maus.

It is a large book that has a DVD-R with recordings and stuff too.  I immediately went to try and buy it thinking if I was lucky, it might run around $50.  Boy was I wrong.  Let's try $389.99 on

I did find some cheaper, but the cheapest English version I could find was around $149, which is too much for me.  I tried finding online versions, anything I could to get it affordably, but to no avail until I saw it on a textbook site for $32.  I must have gotten the last one, because I was going to put the link here for you, but it no longer exists - however, Amazon is currently selling a used one for $40 that they were not when I was looking the first time.

What is the point?  If you have not read Maus yet, DO IT.  If you teach Maus and want to get more behind the scenes from the author, then bide you time and keep looking until you find a use copy that is affordable.  It is easily worth $40.

And, just because the author mentioned it in Meta Maus, for your viewing pleasure, here is a website that showcases cats that look like Hitler.

If you teach Maus, I would love to talk to you about it.  Either reply or shoot me an email at extremeenglishteacher @!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Senior Skip Day

 Ah!  That magical time is upon us (may have already come and gone for you) when all the seniors disappear leaving your classroom lonely and quiet!  It's the most wonderful time of the year and my second favorite holiday (right after Free Comic Book Day which is coming soon!).

I always have about two or three seniors that show up on these days and since it is during research paper time, we just use it to work on the paper.  One thing I do do with them is a Kahoot! I made just about this special day.  I'll be glad to share it with you here:

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

CCG Buzz


A while back, I showed you a classroom buzzer website called Cosmo Buzz. I like it and the guy who created it is super helpful.  Unfortunately, my school Internet filter (placed on my computer for my safety by the all powerful IT department in my district) doesn't like it.

My DLC shared with us a different site called CCG Buzz.

Start by going here: and enter in your game name.

This will generate a game code that students will need to enter.  Students then go to and enter the code and their name.  They can also enter a team name along with their actual name if that fits your purposes.

They just hit the big circle on their screen.  Red is unbuzzed and green shows buzzed in.Once you open it up for buzzes, it lists the names of your students in order that they buzzed in.

It's nice and simple.  You can keep track of points if you are keeping score.  You may also want to vary it up a bit since the same three kids will constantly buzz in as fast as they can by doing it the radio station way - I'm taking buzzer buzzer 5 this time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Thesis Statement

My class is in full research paper mode and my class is about to work on their thesis statement today.

I have, for the past several years, relied on this video, which is not mine, to help my regular ed students to understand what it is all about.  Thought I would share it with you.

I also pair it with this worksheet I made using the concepts of the video.  

Happy research paper writing, folks!

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Can Your Students Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?


This activity is not mine, but rather came from the big, juicy, delicious braaaiiiinnnnnssssss of Rob Bowman & Molly Fleming Schauer.  To my knowledge, it is an activity they willingly shared.  The person I got it from got it from another person. I could not find it on Teacher-Pay-Teachers either.  If you know these individuals or know that they sell this activity, let me know, please, so I can take it down.

I did modify it slightly to fit my classroom needs.

The idea is to get your students to write a paragraph on how to survive the zombie apocalypse.  The student is able to take one person they know with them, two objects from their house, and declare a destination where they are headed to survive.  The students must explain why that person will help them survive and what is it about those two objects that will help them survive.  The location also needs to be thought out and explained how it will help the student survive longer than their classmates.

At this point, the students should then get into groups of three or so and decide which paragraph has the best chance of survival.  Give that student some prize.  The group will then clean up the paragraph, fix the grammar errors, and fix the holes in the survival plan.  Each group will then either present their paragraph to you, the class, or some crack panel of judges you assembled from asking other teachers or admin staff (it's a good lesson to do while being observed and make the ap a part of the judge crew).

I have two versions of it.  The first is closest to the original and is designed for AP Lang (fun practice in arguing a point).

The second link is for a regular ed class.  You can use either one for an honors class.  The regular ed one just extends the time allowed to compose the paragraph and gives more guidance to the number of sentences needed for each section.  I know there are differing opinions on guided writing, so if you don't like it, remove that text box.  Personally, my students need the extra guidance.  

This is great to help students understand giving supporting details.  The genius of it is that it will work on almost all age groups.  The original was designed for AP Language and Composition.  However, I mention the idea to my 6th grade daughter (who is not into zombies in the slightest) and she got excited about figuring out who and what she would take.  The she started texting her friends who all got into and tried to be the one who came up with a better solution.  I somehow became the judge when they couldn't decide if something was "doable" or not.  These sixth graders were spending their time thinking out the situation and supporting their assertions like champs.  I may be a bit biased, but I do think my daughter came up with the best location - a high school. Her thought - easy to block off hallways to prevent zombies from getting in, plenty of room, food supplies in the cafeteria, and medical supplies already in the nurse's office.

I can't wait to try it out on my seniors.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Add Some Old Scottish Words to Your Vocabulary!

 This is one of those images I found on the phone and sent to my email so I wouldn't forget it and have, of course, forgotten the source!  But it is too good to go to waste, so here are some Scottish words to add in your class for all of you who are British literature teachers!

Now, I've heard and used eejit before (not in my class, of course - well, not out loud, at least) and I am certainly going to have to add Wheesht! into my repertoire.  

It's Spring Break for me, so see you next week!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Plato: The Republic

One of the text books approved by the College Board for AP Language and Composition is Jay Henrichs's Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us about the Art of Persuasion.  You can get your own copy here.

In the second chapter ("2. Set Your Goals: Cicero's Lightbulb"), he mentions a 1974 National Lampoon issue that has a parody of Plato's Republic. That set me down a rabbit hole to find it.  Surely it had to be somewhere on the World Wide Web, right?

After some digging, I finally found The Internet Archive's download of the ENTIRE run of National Lampoon.  I didn't particularly want the entire run, but it was an all of nothing thing.  So I spent the 6 hours downloading this file so that I could get a total of 6 pages of comic.  The issue it appears in is their Stupid Issue.

Once I read the parody mentioned, I was rather disappointed.  I figured I might find some use for in my class, but I just might not be high-brow enough for the humor.  Maybe if I liked Plato more.  

So I figured that somewhere out there, there was someone who was using this book for their AP Lang class and they were curious about the comic.  So, to that end, here is only the comic:

And here is where you can download the entire run if you are so inclined:

Whichever you decide to do, have fun with it!  And if you find a way to make use of that in your class, I would certainly like to hear it!  That was a lot of work for nothing!  :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Medusa Exam

Here's something for a little fun for you and your students in mythology.

Read my thrilling background prose here, or scroll down to take a quiz yourself and/or have a quick assignment for your students.

Several years ago, I stumbled upon the Medusa exam, a national exam for students of Greek and Roman mythology.  I was sad to see that the date of the exam was in February or March, which didn't fit the time frame for my block schedule.  So I noticed that they had several previous exams for free downloads on their web page and I used those in my class.  We said that every question answered correctly meant a gorgon was slain and they competed on the various exams to see who could kill the most gorgons, with the winners getting their name on my wall for all posterity and the not-so-winners getting inducted into the Gorgon Preservation Society.

It appears that the National Mythology Exams has swallowed the Medusa Exam like Cronus taking care of his children (too soon?), so you can go there to sign up your class.  It looks like they now make it so the test can be taken at any time during the year, so that is something I'll be looking into for my class.  And while they do have recent years as review material, they do not go back as far as they use when I discovered them in the mid-2000s.

So, since I have a student TA this year and not enough to keep him busy, I decided now was the time to start putting those old quizzes in a digital format.  So I pulled out the 4th annual test (2000) put him to work on Quizizz.  They are all multiple choice questions (50 in total), so it was an easy (yet time consuming) task.

Want to take the quiz yourself and see how you would do?  I have one open just for you that will stay open until March 21st.

Feel free to talk trash to the other teachers in the comments section!

Want to use it as a fun mythology activity in your class? (useful if you are teaching The Odyssey, a mythology class, or just have students who are Percy Jackson buff)?  Here it is:

Friday, February 25, 2022

Lord of the Flies Lesson Plan

 A friend of mine shared this with me this morning so I thought I would pass it along.  It is going to be my new lesson plan for Lord of the Flies this year!

The comic comes from The Jenkins Comics blog.

If you don't teach this book, consider it.  It is a great book to get struggling and reluctant readers into, though you will need to probably skip a chapter here or there to keep them from losing focus.  The symbolism is over the top, so many of them get that "A-ha!" moment when they finally understand what symbolism is all about.  Plus, the characters of Jack, Ralph, and Piggy resonant with the students. 

While you are at it, if you teach Lord of the Flies, try out my interactive survival game at the EET Store.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Quick Reading Aloud Tip

 Reading aloud is an important modeling tool for teaching non-readers how good readers read.  When it comes to reading dialogue, you may want to avoid reading different voices if the character is a different gender or race than you as it could be seen as mocking, stereotypical, or insensitive.

So does that mean it you can't differentiate between voices?  Of course not.  

One trick is the direction in which you read.  For instance, I was just reading today the dialogue between Christopher and Mrs. Alexander in the park in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  When Christopher spoke, I looked to the left.  When Mrs. Alexander spoke, I looked to the right side of the classroom.  When neither of them spoke, I aimed my voice right down the middle of the class.  It is a nifty trick for giving a difference between voices and I do not have to point out that I am doing that with the kids. 

It's a small thing with big results.

If you have any reading aloud tips, please share them int he comments!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Teaching Inference with "The Chaser" by John Collier

John Collier has an excellent short story for teaching inference to high school students.  It is called, "The Chaser."

You can get a copy of it here:

If you've never read the story, do so now.  It won't take you long.  I'll wait.

For lower reading level classes, I like to put groups in teams and let them read it together and figure out why  the glove cleaner does.  The story is short (the version I found above has it in three pages, but the hard copy of the one I use in class is one page front and back) which is important to me.  I need my works short so we can focus on the matter at hand.

The story itself is fun. Now, when you or I read the story, we immediately see how this old man is setting up the younger man.  We understand that this "love" he will experience can only be solved with the "glove cleaner", but the students don't.  Especially 9th and 10th graders.  They struggle. 

So I let them try and figure it out as a competition.  The first group to figure it out gets a prize (homework passes or team points).  The second group gets a little less. The third group a little less.

I also have hints that they can buy with their team points (but you can maybe use something else if you aren't playing a game in your class).

How long will it take?  Well, it depends on how good your students are.  I always have a homework assignment that they should work on while waiting for the other teams to finish.  It usually takes about 30 minutes total, but I've had it last for over 45 minutes before.