Monday, May 15, 2023

Sleepy Hollow Lesson - Context Clues and Literary Terms

 This is a lesson that provides context clues practice along with literary term identification.  If you have ever seen the Disney movie The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, though you might only remember the second half as "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", then you know Bing Crosby is laying out all sorts of high-end vocabulary words for this cartoon.

The story works well with a short story unit or with American Literature.  The lesson works well for practicing context clues and literary term identification.  That means no matter your grade level, this may be right for you.

First of all, let's talk about showing the video in class.  I'm sure you are familiar with Disney's relentless pursuit of copyright violations.

So is it legal to show a Disney movie in class?  The answer is yes, with a 'but'.

Here is the legal copyright information:

(1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;

What does this mean?  It means you CAN show a video in class as long as:

1. it is in a classroom or room specifically designated for class in face-to-face teaching,

2. it is used as a part of the curriculum and teaches what is consistently taught in the course,

3. it is a legally obtained copy.

Don't believe me?  Read the actual law here.

Those of you old school might remember that we were told no video can be shown in the classroom unless PPR rights were obtained (which meant a $20 video suddenly cost you $99), but that was never the case.  Fair Use kicks in with ANY movie.

The problem for teachers comes in when teachers pop in a video as a day off rather than as a part of the lesson.  You guys here are all EXTREME teachers and I know you don't do amateurish hacks like that.

Your district may have beefed up the rules for their own purposes, so you may want to check with them or just beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission.

Go back and look at #1 - this only applies to face-to-face teaching.  There are rulings about virtual teaching, but they are different and if this is you, then I encourage you to find that out.

So, with it being literature, vocabulary, and terms, this checks all the boxes for #2.

That brings us to #3 - the legal copy.  Purchase the DVD. This does NOT apply to streaming Netflix or Disney+ since they have in their end-user agreement that you agreed to when purchasing the subscription, wording that prevents use for classrooms for whatever reason.

The portion of the movie that we would watch is 25 minutes long, which means you are only using 37% of the total run-time of the actual movie (the first 63% being the Mr. Toad segment).

I guess you could skip the video portion and go straight to the lesson, though I think it would be harder to do in the class.

The lesson can be found here:

I tried out the lesson platform on Quizizz rather than the basic quiz platform.  It is nice.  Think of it as merging Google Slides and Quizizz together.  Turns out I didn't really need it for this particular lesson, but it didn't hurt.  I do know a lesson that I will want to use it for in the future, though.

Last thing - two of the questions are poll and they do not count toward the grade (if you wish to take this for a grade).  The polls ask students to make predictions/guesses on the story. One of them is to make a guess on what they think the actual story says when it comes to who Katrina picked at the end of the party.  That is not given in the movie.  The correct answer is - Brom.  She is never really interested in Ichabod and merely uses him the entire story to make Brom fight harder for her.

Speaking of the original text, you may wish to pair this up with it.  Here is an abridged copy of the original story: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Found Among the Papers of the Late Diedrich Knickerbocker

And, if you wish, here is a transcript of all that is said during the movie.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

It's That Time of Year Again - State Test Time!!!!

Do you have a state mandated reading comprehension test for your course?  At this point you have done everything you can do to increase their ability to read, now it is time to supercharge their test taking ability!

There is no charge for this activity, just download it from the Extreme English Teacher Teachers-Pay-Teachers store.  If you like it, I would appreciate a positive review.  Those really do help!

Standardized reading tests are a joke, if you ask me.  We are requiring students to spend an hour and a half to two hours focusing on boring reading passages. What this activity does well is to give students the ability to focus a little longer to get another passage in before their brain fries from your oh-so-wonderful state test.  The methods in there were honed in my classroom and I consistently had my non-motivated non-readers score higher than expected on the NC English II EOC and the NCFE for English IV (my scores were in the blue repeatedly, if you are a fellow NC teacher and knows what that means).  The method works! 

If you used it, let me know in the comments and again - positive reviews on Teachers-Pay-Teachers are ALWAYS APPRECIATED!

Monday, May 1, 2023


I don't remember where I found this, but I was cleaning out my folders and ran across this image of gun shot onomatopoeias.  I imagine it might be a fun image to use in explaining the literary term 'onomatopoeia' or for a creative writing class.

Going to the tumblr site on the first panel shows this guy James Chapman has a couple of "in other languages" cartoons like this.  Check it out!

Also, while writing this post on an onomatopoeia, a memory of a video game commercial from the '90s resurfaced.  I think the message of the commercial is "Don't be an English nerd, play video games instead," but I might be wrong.  :)