Monday, November 20, 2023

Gotta Catch Them All (Emily Dickinson Poems, of Course!)


As we go toward the end of the year, we may find ourselves with some awkward pacing.  You can't always test on the last day (and that provides some headaches when students are absent and now have to wait until January to be tested on material they have forgotten) and you don't want to start something new just to have a two week interlude.

Here's a lesson that can be in about half a period.  It's fun and it is content relevant.

If I were teaching American Lit, I would just do this when I get to Emily Dickinson.  But as a British Lit teacher and an AP Lit teacher, we still talk about meter, iambic pentameter, and the effect these have on the poetry.  This especially works well after trying to teach a Shakespeare play if you focused any on how iambic pentameter works.

This presentation has students read three Emily Dickinson poems.  Feel free to go into whatever detail about Emily Dickinson's life you would like to add (she had a killer cake recipe and if done her way is coated with brandy and lasts quite a long time!).  Have the kids experience the poetry and get their thoughts.  They are short and different from what many kids are used to, so can be quite fun for discussions.

Then hit them with the common meter lesson.  This will seem boring until they get to the next slide - 

 I've taught this to standard and inclusion kids and they really perk up to this part.  Once you explain to them that all the above poems can be read to this song because of common meter, they are awed.  You are the cool teacher!

Want more cool points as a teacher?  Break out the karaoke machine and have the kids sing the poem into the microphone.

I provided slides to encourage the re-reading of the poems Pokemon-style.  Then we hit them with a few more songs they may be familiar with to wrap it up.  This can take you anywhere between 15 minutes to 30 minutes (maybe more) depending on how conversation goes.

Have fun with it!  

Friday, November 17, 2023

Freebie - Macbeth Background Slides

 When we read Macbeth, I like to make it as immersive as possible.  We have the fog machine for all the witch scenes, sound effects students, etc.  I am still looking for an affordable lightning and thunder strobe, but none fit the bill (either in what I want from it or the price).  I also need to get my hands on a few items for students to wear or have on their desk while reading (like a crown for whoever is king at the time, etc.).

One thing I do is to have images on our screen to help set the mood.  None of the images are mine, but if you like them, each slide has a link to where the image came from. You can get the slides for free here:

I would love to here what you do to make that Scottish play work in your classroom!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Image Quiz

 Today's my birthday, so in the spirit of the hobbits, I'll give you a gift!

Don't get too excited, it's a small one, but I think it is something you haven't seen.  I am always on the lookout for alternative online quizzes to compete with Kahoot and Blooket.  This isn't on their level, but is very different, which gives it a nice twist.  Introducing Image Quiz!

The idea behind this is the old adage a picture is worth a thousand words.  I teach a mythology class, so I took an image of the Egyptian death journey that we study in class.  Then I uploaded the image and picked areas on the image to label.  It was super easy to do so.  When students bring up the image, they select START and it will start to give them the labels and they click on the part of the image that reflects that label.  For example, if it says Ammut, they will click the part of the image that has Ammut in it.  

If you want to give it a test run, try my Death Journey one:

This isn't perfect.   While it is a competition for speed, it is not as easy to figure out a clear winner as the top scores list only goes by number correct and not time, so your students may get a faster time than what is on the Top Scores page, but not be listed in the top scores.  Also, tying an image into English isn't as easy as biology or some other lesser course.  :)  However, when you have an image that could be labeled, say a character chart or something, then it serves as something different than what every other teacher in your school is using.  I use this for this one activity only and the students get a kick out of it.   

Give it a shot, and if you create on that could be useful to English classes (or various English electives), then post a link for us in the comments!