Teaching Poetry

Students often resist poetry, in part because as teachers we tend to present our interpretations of poems . . . without helping students discover their own perspectives and views. One of my fundamental beliefs about literature is that there can be “wrong” interpretations (when we misread the text), but there …

Media Literacy

Yesterday I was at Oslo Katedraleskole, visiting Edvin Svela’s class. Edvin had developed a project based on his students’ suggestion that they analyze the biases of a number of news organizations: Fox News, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, etc. In order to compare each news station’s bias, they all focused on …

Read Alouds

Quite frequently, students who aren’t very good readers are mystified by what they are supposed to do when they read. The message they usually get from teachers is limited–when I’ve asked even good readers to explain to me what they do when they read almost always the only thing they …

Multigenre Projects

My friend Cathy Blanchfield introduced me to the multigenre project, a writing assignment that she uses in her high school classes. I’ve found that it also works really well with my college students. I love giving my students the choice of either writing a traditional essay or experimenting with the …

Thematic Units

One element of curriculum design in the U.S. that I find very effective is the thematic unit. In the thematic unit, the teacher selects a theme that s/he feels will be interesting and engaging for the students and designs curriculum around that idea. All activities, reading assignments, and writing focus …

Teaching Grammar in Context

Right now in the U.S., English teachers most commonly teach grammar in the context of writing. Rather than doing isolated units of instruction focused on grammar, teachers weave grammar instruction into actual writing assignments. For example, if you notice that most of your students are using only short, simple sentences, …