Posted in 10th Grade, Honors, Independent Reading, Uncategorized

Using Goodreads with Independent Reading

I have been struggling with the best way to implement independent reading into my 10th grade classes since I began teaching, and while I believe I am improving on some fronts, I still fail on others.

For the past two years, I have used readings logs for my honors classes. I ask that they read 400 minutes in about a month (to begin). What I found with that (since I don’t require parent signatures) is that many students just make up the time spent reading and never actually pick up the book.

Last semester, I implemented Kelly Gallagher’s reading conference idea, and it went very well (though I still have some improvements to make). Basically, students conference with me on a weekly basis about what they’re reading. I ask them about how many pages read, where they left off, etc. I write down everything in a notebook where I give each student a few pages for the semester (we’re on block schedule, 90 minute classes).

My accomplishment with the reading conferences was that I got to know students a lot better and what they like/don’t like to read. Students were eager (after they realized it wasn’t a witch hunt) to talk about their books and ask for suggestions. It was actually fun!

My failure was that some students’ reading logs didn’t correspond to what they said in their conference (not a surprise), and there was no real way to give them a consequence for it (I don’t like to add a number system to reading independently). Other than they felt pretty embarrassed once they realized I knew.

So, this year, I am going to use Goodreads as a means to have students read about books they may like as well as write reviews (of which I will grade) of the books they read in class. I know I am going to try this with my honors classes–I’m not quite sold on my CP classes yet.

What do I still need to figure out?

  1. A rubric for grading the reviews (and how many I expect in a semester). Right now, I’m thinking a minimum of two.
  2. How to encourage other students to write constructive comments on their peers’ reviews (maybe for a grade?).
  3. How I will know when students write a review. Is there a Share to an E-Mail feature?

So, I still have some things to figure out, but overall, I’m pretty excited about using more technology in the classroom.

Posted in 10th Grade, CNN, Honors, Uncategorized

Teaching with CNN 10

In our current state of Journalism, “Fake News” is thrown around like a water balloon, and unfortunately, our students are falling for it. It is our duty as teachers of high school students to weed out the biased news from the unbiased news. While CNN is constantly under attack from President Trump, CNN 10 has always seemed unbiased to me.

No matter the level, I always begin class with watching ten minutes of news, following with a discussion period on the day’s stories. For my lower level students, I give them a pre-printed handout where they can take notes (and we usually do this together).

CNN Notes

Last year, we took weekly quizzes on those notes. I’m still trying to decide if that’s what I want to continue this year.

CNN Quiz

Posted in 10th Grade, Honors, Social Justice

Charleston Syllabus

I’m not sure how I didn’t know this now existed in print form. After following #Charlestonsyllabus on Twitter since the Charleston massacre, I have been trying to put together a social justice unit in correlation to Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands. 

This morning on Twitter, I saw someone post that the University of Georgia is printing hardback and paperback copies, and I immediately ordered a paperback copy. Needless to say, I will be impatiently awaiting its arrival. 

Here is a great article from the African American Intellectual History Society on why we need the Charleston syllabus. 

If you teach the novel or anything related to social justice, I encourage you to order a copy. If you can’t, however, here’s a link to the list of readings included in the Charleston syllabus. 

As we work through the novel for the first time, I will be creating lesson plans that I will post on this blog. 

Posted in 10th Grade, Honors, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Teaching Social Justice: Part One

Teaching social justice is something I always do in my classes, regardless of what is happening in the news. Classic literature shows us that issues of equality and justice have always existed. From Huck Finn to To Kill a Mockingbird to 1984, issues of race, class, and technology teach us to be more self aware, to think about others, to show empathy.

With the current political climate and the seemingly endless killings

of innocent youth and police officers, it is impossible to ignore the tragedies around us. We have to find ways to reach our students and start conversations about what is happening in the real world, especially with our high school students who will take a college or career pathway very soon.

This year, I want to make sure my students have the opportunity to discuss issues that matter to them and issues they may not know a Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands as my core text, my honors and college prep students will read, write, and discuss issues of social justice as it relates to race, diversity, and equality.

lot about. Using

With about a week and a half left before school begins for teachers in my district, I am starting to plan this unit little by little, still trying to enjoy the last few days of summer vacation. As I plan the unit and add resources, I will share and hopefully receive some comments/ideas/feedback from colleagues and teachers around the world.

Here is my overall plan as it stands right now. Remember, that this is just a rough outline, and I will develop the resources and lesson plans in the coming days.

Discussing Social Justice


Lay that Trumpet in Our Hands


Excerpts from Henrietta Lacks

What are Human Rights?

How Many People Have Been Shot in Your Neighborhood?

Children’s Literature

The Sneetches

Picture Books for Social Justice


Black Lives Matter Photo

Photographs to Teach Social Justice



I am Malala

Blackfish (?)

Emmett Till


Social Justice Music

Sounds of BLM


Social Justice Poetry

Final Assessment

(idea) Choose an area of social justice and write a persuasive essay where you convince your audience (government/president?) that they should create/pass a bill regarding your topic.

20 Time World Issues Research Project

Social Justice Projects

Service Learning Project

10 Activities

Supplemental for Teachers

Beyond Tolerance

Argumentative Writing Helps Students Become Participants in the Real World

The Evolution of Human Rights

Teaching Social Justice

A Lesson About Privilege

Social Justice Project

Social Justice Resources

10 CP Human Rights Worksheets

Teaching about Social Justice

The Long Term Effect of Social Justice Education

NEA Justice


Creating Classrooms for Social Justice