High School English by ae98A1i


									High School English
 Curriculum Guide

      Keith Brasel
      English 720
       Dr. Cooks
Research Articles
Research Article #1
Robinson, William S. “Towards a Theory of Error.” TETYC (September 1998): 50-59

Summary: William Robinson draws upon past research to produce a new taxonomy of
sentence level errors that are intended to help teachers deal more effectively with the
errors of basic writers. He draws on an article written by Hull and Bartholomae in which
they lay out five categories of error. Robinson adopts them and simplifies them for the
sake of the teacher to produce four straightforward rules for understanding the sources of
error in student writing: Knowledge errors: the student isn’t aware of a rule; Dialect
errors: dialects impact writing, and the more distant the dialect, the greater the potential
for error in transferring speech to writing; Process errors: the process of writing takes
away from the students attention to his own writing, and ‘distracts’ him to the point
where he makes mistakes or forgets rules; Developmental errors: students, as they move
into more difficult and unfamiliar writing assignments try for a kind of writing they can’t
yet command and they begin to make new errors. To deal with these errors, Robinson
prescribes writing, lots of it. He discounts the usefulness of exercises, and encourages
teachers to have their students practice their writing with real writing assignments.

Literacy Aspect: Robinson says this: “When weak students begin to write papers that are
academic in nature, [they are] tacitly recognizing the phenomenon of discourse
communities, [and are] trying in their writing to join this new community.” Students will
produce a certain ‘brand’ error as they begin writing for new audiences. As teachers, we
can be aware of our students’ recognition of certain discourse communities and their
attempts at addressing them by the types of errors they produce.

Significance: Robinson, the father of English 657 here at SF State, is a grammar god. His
work with error is very useful to the high school teacher because he is very good at
drawing up frameworks that allow the teacher to 1) recognize the errors that need to be
recognized 2) skip the errors that can’t be defeated just yet and 3) correct the error by
finding its source in the student’s writing. Often teachers find themselves not knowing
what or how much to mark on student papers, contributing to the very low student
appreciation of teacher comments. We spend too much time correcting stuff the student
may well ignore. Robinson demonstrates how to target specific errors in student writing
that will lead to their growth in writing.

Research Article #2
Berger, Joan. “A Systematic Approach to Grammar Instruction.” Voices From the
Middle. (2001): 38-44

Summary: Over the course of 7th and 8th grade, Berger institutes a schedule for grammar
instruction that incorporates one new concept each month. With the help of her
colleagues, she creates many worksheets students use to identify and correct the grammar
point of the month. She does not believe in teaching grammar and punctuation separately,
but makes the students incorporate their new found grammar lessons into their writing.
There is a grammar requirement for every paper. For her, grammar instruction must be
meaningful, that if grammar is included in readings and writing assignments, students
will learn more than from the occasional error correction.

Literacy Aspect: When reading or writing, students are underlining adjective clauses,
digging out absolutes and appositives, and marking conjunctions. This forces students to
think within the dual hemispheres of content and form. They are immersed in a sort of
metawriting, where they are making conscious decisions about their sentence structures
while writing them, or reading a piece twice to identify a part of speech. They learn
writing conventions by seeing them in their work and the work of others.

Significance: Being something of a grammar man myself, this piece is of great interest to
me. One of the bigger problems confronting English teachers today is how to teach
grammar. No one wants to go on diagramming sentences anymore or go through the rote
motions of comp book exercises. Grammar by itself is intrinsically boring, but grammar
in context can serve to illuminate sentence structures students may find useful, even
beneficial. In her article, Berger left three copies of handouts she uses for student writing
assignments that will come in very useful for me when I go to design my own.
Incorporating grammar into writing is crucial for the structures to stick with the student.
The schedule she implemented can be transferred to any grade level. She builds on
simple structures to arrive at the more complex ones later in the year. The result is a very
useful grammar regimen that can be implemented in any English classroom.

Research Article #3
Dobie, Ann B., Harriet Maher, Connie McDonald, and Kathleen O’Shaugnessy. “Who,
What, Where, When of Writing Rituals.” The Quarterly (2002): 18-25.

Summary: This article details ‘writing rituals’ of various writers, both professional and
student. It emphasizes the need for beginning writers to find a certain place, time, or
frame of mind with which they can begin writing. The authors point out that writing is an
intrinsically anxiety producing activity, one that often results in stress, writers block or
procrastination. Their article’s purpose is to highlight the integral role writing rituals play
with all writers, regardless of age, proficiency or background. They describe a number of
“rituals”, which include everything from staring out the window to clutching lucky
talismans or stuffed animals before setting down to write. The importance of these rituals,
is to comfort the mind, and to produce a hypnogogic state, “a condition of drowsiness
usually experienced before sleep… an open, receptive mental state… daydreaming.”
They go on to recommend ways that teachers can help create an ambience in the
classroom conducive to writing, and to encourage teachers to forgive the irrational habits
of students before they write.

Literacy Aspect: This article attempts to broaden the average English teacher’s
knowledge of the psychology behind writing, asks them to consider the conditions
conducive to writing, and encourages them to make writing a regular habit for their
students. It doesn’t necessarily expand the literacy of students, but introduces teachers to
how a certain psychological state, the fertile hypnogogic state, can influence student
writing for the best.
Significance: Often times teachers only assign writing to test, assess, or punish their
students. This only adds to the anxiety of an already anxiety ridden process. This article
is important in that it stresses the need for familiarity with writing to strengthen the skills
of students. By practicing writing at certain times of the day, or in certain places, students
gain confidence, find solace in a routine, and lose some of the pressure that is usually
associated with writing. Such an approach can’t be stressed enough. So many times, I’ve
seen my sister, friends, classmates – not to mention myself – lose it over a writing
assignment. Writing is a challenging thing, and we all cope with it in different ways. It’s
important that the teacher understand ways to help students not only cope, but succeed in
the mental task of writing.

Research Article #4
Earthen, Elise Ann. “Teaching Shakespeare through Performance.” MLA (1999): 277-85
Summary: A composition teacher at SFState, Earthman goes into detail about how she
approaches Shakespeare in a class of diverse, multi-cultural non-English majors, which,
basically, is what most high school classes are. She recommends that finding as many
extratextual connections to Shakespeare – contemporary events, books, movies – so that
the student has not necessarily knowledge of the time and place of the play, but of the
situations, characters and values it expresses. These elements, after all, are timeless.
Students aren’t expected to perform the play. That would involve too much difficult
dialogue. Instead, they concentrate on how they would direct one particular scene, so that
they “concentrate on developing an understanding of the plot, the characters, and the
themes of the play.” Students then present their scene to the class. Earthman wants her
students to walk away from this with the understanding that drama is by its nature open to
interpretation, and to make competent interpreters out of her class.

Literacy Aspect: Getting Shakespeare across to students who are uninterested in
literature in the first place is a difficult task, but Earthman has some good strategies for
doing it, namely treating the play as theater and as drama. She’s less interested in the
language and critical aspects of Shakespeare than in the story itself. This is what she’s
trying to get across to her students. It makes for good literacy building skills because
students are presented with Shakespeare not as literature, but as melo-drama – TV fodder
– something they can all identify with. They are taught how to remove it from its
encrusted pedestal and enjoy it as something fresh, by looking at it as potential directors
and interpreters.

Significance: Shakespeare can be arcane, unintelligible and flat out boring for kids who
don’t care much for literature, much less plays that are 500 years old. There are very few
high school kids who get excited at the prospect of reading Shakespeare. In this respect,
Earthman’s strategies for getting it across are invaluable. Teachers often place too much
importance on the language itself; they get caught up in the poetry of Shakespeare to the
detriment of the story. The stories of Shakespeare are timeless, whereas the language is
dated. Students who are not as interested in English will benefit from a concentration on
the stories, on interpreting them, connecting them to contemporary events and books
more than they will benefit from learning sixteenth century vocabulary.

Research Article #5
Smoot, Scott W. “An Experiment in Teaching Grammar in Context.” Voices from the
Middle. (2001): 23-32

Summary: An English teacher at a middle school decides that he’s going to implement a
new strategy for his Language Arts class. He calls it a “grammar in context” experiment.
He planned to teach short lessons on what he calls “little grammar”: sentence structure,
punctuation, and usage – a big subject. Still, his plan was to teach kids grammatical
structures to build a conceptual framework for what Smoot calls “big grammar”: rhetoric,
essay structure, perspective. He thought that by teaching them how verbal phrases and
appositives modify and strengthen a clause, he could then draw parallels between the way
sentences and paragraphs build upon each other in an essay. He drew heavily from
Constance Weaver’s Teaching Grammar in Context. He tells of some early successes
with his students in the field of “little grammar” but then gets bogged down in it. His
students can’t seem to move past the issues of sentence level grammar to the bigger
rhetorical picture. His experiment is essentially a failure. The idea of teaching sentence
level grammar to understand rhetoric turns out not to be a very good one he admits. He
never got around to the larger issues he wanted to discuss – he got bogged down in “little

Literacy Aspect: This teacher wanted sentence level grammar to help illuminate
composition strategies, namely those found in historical texts. He wanted to use grammar
as a bridge to understanding primary and secondary historical texts. He only required his
English students to bring a notebook and their history textbook to class. Nothing else.
They read historical accounts of colonists coming to the new world, speeches by Ben
Franklin and Lincoln among others. Still, the bridge he was hoping to build between
sentence grammar and rhetoric never really materialized, and he was caught between
them. It seems that grammar doesn’t inform history as well as he thought.

Significance: Teachers sometimes like to get creative with grammar, hoping that some
rules of grammar will apply to other larger schemes of writing – that the micro world of
grammar will somehow apply to the macro world of rhetoric. They are related, but you
don’t have to necessarily understand one first to understand the other. This article proves
grammar doesn’t necessarily translate well into history, math or other disciplines. I feel
grammar is best used when it’s taught to improve writing. One other mistake this teacher
made was that he used the linguistic names for certain grammatical structures like
participles (where “ed or ing endings” would do). This is a good document that shows
how easy it is to get bogged down in grammar and lose focus in other aspects of class.

Lesson Plan Critiques
Lesson Plan Critique #1
Summary: Over the course of three to four class sessions, students re-tell a fairy tale or
story from a different character’s point of view. The objective is to help them see more
than one perspective and to improve their narrative writing. Students are divided up into
groups of 3-4 and are to choose a fairy tale or story (something commonly known), one
story per group. Then, each student in the group picks the point of view of one of the
characters in the story to serve as the basis for their own. Each story is a minimum of two
pages, double spaced and typed. When the stories are complete, the group will compile
them into a book with a cover page and illustrations. Assess the students on the basis of
creativity in retelling the story, the cohesiveness of the new viewpoint, and the accuracy
of the character’s perspective.

+/- Points: From a literacy perspective, the concept of this lesson plan is great. Asking
kids to step into the mind of a supporting character is a fun activity. It’s the basis of Tom
Stoppard’s famous book Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. This book is a great
ancillary to Hamlet, and this activity is a great culminating experience for such a unit.
Students don’t get to do nearly enough creative writing in school, and this sort of
assignment can really open doors for them and make English class a lot more fun.
Students get to utilize their imaginations here, as opposed to their critical faculties. Some
negative points are that kids, even though they’re in groups, do nothing together but stitch
the book together. To make it more challenging, each student’s two page story could flow
into the other one, making it a true group project, and the product more of a uniform
whole rather than a compilation.

Adapting it: Like I said above, this activity would work great after reading Hamlet and
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. If there’s not enough time to read both, the class
could watch the movie version of R&G Are Dead instead. I’d give the groups less class
time to work on their story, however. They don’t need 3 to 4 days to work on this when
most of it can be done outside of class. This activity is also great for working in grammar
points. Because narrative writing is so descriptive, structures like absolutes and
appositives and verbal phrases can easily be worked into the student’s writing. I’d require
that students use a certain number of each in their stories. Plus, when they were done, I’d
have groups read them aloud to the class. If not for Hamlet, this activity could be used for
any other major text to offset the tiresomeness of the inevitable essay. I can use it for the
Odyssey next year when I’m teaching my freshmen.
Lesson Plan Critique #2
Summary: Specifically designed for the Great Gatsby, this lesson plan is a visual
assignment that asks students to draw up a map of Gatsby’s world, complete with
character’s houses, landmarks and symbols. In groups of 2-3, students sketch out on a
piece of butcher paper a rough draft of their map, paying special attention to the
description of places in the book. The rough draft must be approved before the group is
given the poster board to begin their map. Students draw their map as colorfully as
possible, being sure to include labels of each landmark and a legend of symbols. Maps
are then hung on the class wall.

+/- Points: Gatsby is rife with symbolism, and a visual assignment complements the
book’s vast imagery. Fitzgerald’s descriptions of West Egg are vivid, and his setting of
the novel is central to understanding its characters. What better way to approach this than
with a student created map of West Egg? The plan’s insistence that the map be faithful to
the descriptions is good in that it forces the student to visualize the map not according to
his own imagination, but to the details in the book. Some negative aspects are 1) the artsy
students will be doing most of the work here. The project could easily be overtaken by
one individual. 2) She doesn’t ask the students to include any of the quotes describing
these places on the map. 3) This can take up a lot of class time as it has no real homework

Adapting it: The map works well for visualizing the setting of The Great Gatsby. I’d use
it as a “through” exercise, somewhere near the beginning of the unit, thus establishing a
visual reference the class can later look over as we move through. For my purposes, I’d
require that the map not only include faithful descriptions, but key quotes from the book
describing each place. I’d also make the legend something a bit more special. I’d have the
students draw in symbols from the book throughout the map. The explanation for those
can come in the legend, where they draw a little icon for the symbol and include a brief
description of its significance in the story.
Lesson Plan Critique #3
Summary: “Often, today’s high school students struggle with daily school work because
they have not clearly established short and long term goals. This lesson will help them to
develop personal goals that will bring greater focus to their daily lives.” So you see the
purpose of this lesson plan. Now the procedure. Students read a motivational handout
designed to outline how to set and meet goals. The class then discusses the handout in
preparation for an essay assignment. The teacher provides a rubric for the assignment and
students begin to outline their goals using the paper. The rubric asks for three short term
goals and one long term goal and a quote or saying citing a principle or idea that the
student will use to achieve his/her goals.

+/- Points: Some students are slackers, perfectly content, even proud, that they have no
goals. Some people are goal oriented, others simply aren’t. I can see a few students
sluffing off on this assignment. Its “motivational” nature is a bit cheesy, and some kids
will probably write whatever comes to mind just to complete the assignment. The
handout is probably the weakest part of the lesson, which is significant, considering the
whole plan is based on it. The handout is called the 7 C’s of success. It’s vague, general,
and rather uninspiring. It reads like a corporate mission statement or one of those
motivational posters they hang on the wall of HR departments. A positive aspect of the
lesson is that, if altered a bit from the general sphere of “life goals”, it can be used for
setting specific classroom goals – creating a document of onus the teacher can refer back
to like a contract if the student were to slip.

Adapting it: I would use this lesson as a beginning of the year map to success type of
thing. In class, I’d have students write down their goals for the upcoming year both for
this class and for their outside lives. I’d require two goals for the classroom, areas that
they think they need improvement in (for instance spelling, writing, and learning to enjoy
reading, public speaking….) and 1 larger goal for the year. I’ll keep these papers until
June when they’ll be brought again to mark improvement, or to see if anyone has met
their goals. I’d also require that the classroom goals be concrete, like “get an A on a
paper” or “finish a novel” rather than “do well in class”. I would pass out the
recommended handout only if there’s extra paper in the copy machine that day.

Lesson Plan Critique #4
Summary: This lesson plan is intended to build student vocabulary through a game-like
activity. The class divides up into four groups, with 4-6 students in each group. Each
group member receives a 3x5 card with a brand new, unknown word and its definition,
one word per group per round. Within the group, the students decide who will give the
correct definition while the rest give phony definitions. It is up to the other groups to
listen to each definition and then choose the right one. Points are awarded to the groups
that guess right.

+/- Points: This lesson plan seems like it can be fun. Vocabulary is a tricky thing to teach
to students, and rarely do teachers go beyond the standard vocab list and quiz. Vocab
games are a diverting alternative to the norm. This one is really a game of bluffing. One
would have to use completely new words for this game so students don’t clean up and the
game doesn’t get too easy. Also, it’d be preferable if the words contained strong Latin
roots, so students who have no clue what the words mean exactly can deduce some sort
of meaning and tell the best definition from the bogus ones. One negative point is that
students can come up with some really bogus definitions that might be really funny, and
there’s a danger that this can get out of hand or – worse yet – the funny definition sticks
in the minds of some students rather than the real one by merit of it being memorable.

Adapting it: I’d make few changes in adapting this lesson. I’d be sure to pick some good
words and not leave it up to the students to choose the vocabulary. If the game goes well,
however, and students enjoy it, I’ll let the groups choose the words as a strategy. I’d
choose words with strong clues to their meanings by virtue of their roots so students can
deduce it’s meaning. Also, I’d award extra credit as an incentive for kids to actually play
the game and take it seriously. After the game is over, I’d hand out a list of the words
used in the game with their correct definitions for the students to study for an eventual
quiz. This game is really a just a good way of introducing words, not learning them.
Lesson Plan Critique #5:
Summary: This lesson is intended to help students remember various figures they meet
as they study mythology and The Odyssey freshman year. Students write short, five line
poems about five figures they’ve met in their reading. The first line of the poem is the
name of the figure; the second is about a central event or action; the third tells when it
occurred, the fourth where it happened and the fifth explains why. If necessary, the
student can skip one line if there’s no mention of where, when or why. Students should
be able to complete about three poems per period.

+/- Points: Honestly, I don’t see anything really wrong with this lesson plan. These little
poems serve like great little pneumonic devices for remembering the myriad gods,
goddesses, heros, monsters and villains. There is, however, room for improvement. These
poems can be put into a class book, with a poem per page plus illustrations of the figure’s
attributes. The poem is a little spare just by itself, but still, it will help students create a
more distinct memory of a particular mythological figure.
Adapting it: Since I’ll be teaching freshman English next year, and since we’ll be
reading Greek mythology and the Odyssey, I’ll be using this lesson plan. Towards the
end of the unit, I’ll give an identification quiz on the many figures we ran across in our
myths, as these gods and goddesses serve as the basis for a number of words and
concepts we use today. I’ll make each student in the class responsible for 3 figures. We’ll
spend one period writing poems about our respective figures. I’ll collect those poems and
then compile them into a small study manual for the upcoming quiz. Each student will get
a copy to keep for reference. In lieu of making it a study aid, I would have the student
include an illustration with his poem that describes the god or goddess and his/her
attributes. I’d then hang those on the wall for open house.
Lesson Plans
Lesson Plan #1
Objective: Students will learn about the English Sonnet. We will go over the form of the
sonnet (iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme) and then each student will write their own.
Materials: Chalkboard/whiteboard, copies of Shakespeare’s sonnets “When in disgrace
with Fortune and men’s eyes” and “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”, and a CD
player with a copy of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”
Procedure: 1) Pass out copies of Shakespeare Sonnets to class. Read “When in
disgrace…” silently and then, with the help of a few students, outloud. 6 mins.
2) Introduce meter and rhyme scheme. On the board, define iambic pentameter, and
diagram the typical sonnet’s rhyme scheme. Draw an iambic foot, unstressed/stressed on
the board and teach students how to mark each (˘/΄). Reread “When in disgrace…”
marking the poem as we go. 12 mins.
3) Rhyme scheme – elicit from the class the rhyme scheme of the poem. What lines
rhyme? Show them how to diagram rhyme scheme. ABAB CDCD etc. 5 mins.
4) Pass out the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” and play the song. Students will
hopefully hear the iambs in the lyrics. Discuss it briefly. 8 mins.
5) Read and mark “Shall I compare thee…” Students will mark the poem while it is read
aloud. 8 mins.
6) With their copies of Shakepeare’s sonnets and the formula for writing one, students
will begin to write their own in class and finish the rest for homework.
Assessment: Students will receive credit for their completed sonnet and their copies of
the sonnets we diagrammed in class. Hopefully, the students will have learned how to 1)
recognize a sonnet by its meter and rhyme scheme 2) learned iambic pentameter and 3)
how to write their own sonnets.
Literacy Aspect: Sonnets, especially Shakespeare’s, can be viewed as outdated and
cliché, with no relevance to today’s contemporary poetry. Hopefully the Beatles example
will serve to show how the sonnet survives, even if it’s not written down in traditional
form. Iambic verse with alternating rhyme schemes can be found everywhere, from rock
to hip hop to commercial jingles, and continue to be used by poets and lyricists to this

Lesson Plan #2
Objective: Build student’s organizational skills and reinforce the structure of an essay by
demonstrating organization and structure in other media. Students will be able to find and
isolate the main idea of the speaker/artists argument using a critical eye/ear.
Materials: Television/VCR combo, CD player, newspaper and copies of Andy Rooney
and Blackalicious’s “Deceit”. Also include transcripts for students to follow along with.
Procedure: 1) Briefly review the structure of the essay with students, drawing on their
own experience of writing. On the board, draw a skeletal outline of an essay along with a
bubble cluster to refresh their minds of organization strategies. 5 mins.
2) Explain the activity to the students. “We’ll be looking for a main point – the central
idea in music, tv etc….” Underlying principle here is that the critical essay doesn’t have
an arbitrary structure, that it’s how people naturally take information in best, that it exists
outside the English class.
Play “Deceit”, asking them to listen for the rapper’s main point or idea. 7 mins.
3) Gather initial responses to the song (like it, dislike it?) and then quickly move on to
what they thought the thesis was. Ask them to write down the rapper’s thesis (if they
haven’t already) as they heard it in the song. Expect differing answers and draw on any
opinions they might have. HAND OUT A TRANSCRIPT of the song and replay the
music, this time asking the students to read along as they listen, to help discern the thesis
by underlining the supporting comments the rapper might use in the song. 10 mins.
4) Did our answers change? Did you notice something you didn’t hear in the song? FIND
THE CLASS CONSENSUS FOR THE THESIS. Draw out different opinions; find the
majority opinion. 5 mins.
5) ON THE BOARD: Divide the board down the middle. On the LEFT HAND SIDE
write “THESIS” and write the class’ answer for the thesis as taken from the transcript,
verbatim. Below it, in outline form, ask the class to find and supply the rapper’s support
to fill in the outline. Gather as much ‘support’ as possible, and see if the class can help
sort it out on the outline. 12 mins.
5) On the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the board, we’ll transform the rappers lyrics into
complete sentences. Each student on his own piece of paper copies down the left hand
column. Then, on his own, he’ll transform the rap lyrics into his own complete sentences,
forming a viable outline for a potential essay. 15-20 mins.
6) If there’s time left, begin Andy Rooney, repeating the same steps as above. If not, the
lesson can carry over into the next day.
Assessment: Students are given points for underlining the support on the “Deceit”
transcript. They’ll be assessed by the quality of work they put into transforming the lyrics
into an outline with complete sentences. Their transformed outline must have a thesis, 3
topic sentences with 1 supporting sentence for each and one concluding sentence.
Literacy Aspect: Students learn the structure of an essay by observing it in Hip Hop
music and a Television editorial. They find the written essay’s elements in non-written
sources, and hopefully learn the sequence of those important elements (ie intro, topic
sentences, support, body, conclusion.)

Lesson Plan #3
Objective: Students will learn the qualities of myths by writing their own. The class will
have read or will be reading some greek myths along with some other creation myths
from different cultures. Students will explain one natural phenomenon by writing a myth.
Materials: Construction paper, white copy paper, pens, markers.
Procedure: 1) The class has read or is reading Greek myths. Open up a small discussion,
asking the students about some of their cultural myths, or myths they regard as
influential. 10 mins
2) Tell the class that today they will be writing their own myths, which can be loosely
based off of myths they know, or can be completely made up. Hand out a blank “book” to
each student. (the book is made of 81/2 x11 paper folded in half with one piece of
construction paper for the cover. The book can be anywhere from 6 to 10 pages). Pass out
pens and markers.
3) For their own myths, students can adopt greek heros or gods. They can rename them if
they want. Their myth must explain one natural phenomenon that is heretofore
unexplained by science, ie the creation of the universe, love, the emergence of life on this
planet, what happens when we die, etc. Their myth must include one hero, one god, one
‘regular guy’ and one symbolic object (a weapon, mirror, flower, etc).
They must fill their book with one paragraph per page. Illustrations are welcome too. 5
4) Allow students the rest of the period to work on it. If they don’t finish, they can take it
home for homework, but it should be completed within one day.
Assessment: Students are graded on the quality of work put into their book, including
writing (clear, interesting, generally free of mistakes) and illustrations (appropriate for
the myth, adds to the story but doesn’t tell the story). Their myth should explain 1 natural
phenomenon that has not yet been explained by science and should use the prescribed
amount of heros and gods.
Literacy Aspect: Students are challenged to apply myths to their own world, updating
ancient myths to explain what is still unexplainable. Hopefully, the idea of myth will
jump out at them as a valid means for creating meaning out of something that is
inherently enigmatic. They will empathize with ancient peoples who knew even less
about how the world works than we do and realize that not everything around us today
has a scientific explanation.

Lesson Plan #4
Objective: Students (freshmen) practice finding the topic sentence of a jumbled
paragraph. Students will see what exactly constitutes a topic sentence and what kind of
chaos can ensue in a paragraph without one.
Materials: Transparencies of increasingly difficult paragraph jumbles, [A paragraph
jumble is a paragraph whose sentences have been reordered randomly. Each sentence has
a consecutive number attached to it to identify it. For instance: (1) It felt scratchy. (2) He
had a sore throat. (3) The boy was getting sick. Correct order is 3,2,1.] overhead
projector, and overhead pens.
Procedure: 1) Place an easy paragraph jumble on the overhead. Ask the students to find
the read the paragraph. Does it make sense? Can anyone find the topic sentence? Have
the students call out the correct order of sentences.
2) Having done the first paragraph, the teacher can now, if he/she wishes, put the students
into teams and make a game out of this, where points are awarded to the teams that buzz
in first with the correct order of sentences. Or students can stay as they are.
3) Place increasingly difficult paragraphs up on the overhead as the class progresses. A
more difficult paragraph would be one that is longer, a bit more complicated, and has a
more complex organizational pattern.
4) This game can last the whole period, or it can be cut short. If cut short, have the kids
work on paragraphs by providing a topic sentence with a blank space in it like: “The most
extreme example of a ___________ I’ve ever seen was ____________.” Then have
students complete the paragraph. Or, do the reverse. Provide some supporting evidence
and have the students write a topic sentence for it.
Assessment: Award points according to which teams win the game. 10 pts for 1st, 7 for
second, etc. Collect the paragraphs and assign credit for complete, logically written
Literacy Aspect: This lesson builds logic and organizational skills. Students are faced
with chaotic paragraphs to which they must assign some order. It takes analytical skills to
isolate the main point out of a jumble of similar sentences, qualify them, and arrange
them in order.

Lesson Plan #5
Objective: Students hold a literary mock trial. Students will take on a character from a
book, and play that character in a courtroom where he/she is on trial for something
related to the book. Students will have to know the book inside and out to role play a
character, and to stand up against the scrutiny of the attorneys, who will also be played by
Materials: A gavel, a jury box, a witness box, desks for the defence and prosecution.
Procedure: 1) Divide the class in half. Ideally, there should be 15 students in a group.
(This is done so every student can have a role. Each group will put on its own mocktrial)
Within the fifteen students, there is a judge, a defendant, a defense attorney, two
prosecutors, and 10 witnesses, all characters from the book. The other group acts as the
jury until its their turn.
2) The teacher decides what the main character is on trial for. For instance, if the book
the class is reading is Catcher in the Rye, the trial can be a hearing on whether Holden is
sane or not. If the class is reading Hamlet, Hamlet can be tried to see whether or not he’s
crazy. Lots of possibilities.
3) The Prosecutors and defense must recruit witnesses to build their case. Each witness
must be with either the prosecution or defense. Each side begins with an opening
argument. Then the prosecution calls its first witness and the trial begins. It’s up to the
jury to decide the outcome. They do so with a secret vote after the trial.
4) The trial for each group is to last a maximum of two class periods. In that time, they
must call and cross examine the witnesses in an effort to prove their case. The witnesses
must know their character by heart, and must be familiar with all the times their character
appears in the book.
Assessment: Students are graded on their fidelity to their characters, on the veracity of
their testimony, and the effort they put forth in playing the role. The prosecution and
defense are graded on the merits of their arguments. The prosecution and defense must
lay out (in a maximum of 3 pages) their argument and how they plan to advance it. Each
witness must write his/her own deposition, where they give their pre-trial testimony,
basically writing what stance they think their character would take, citing textual support
(maximum of 2 pages).
Literacy Aspect: Mock trials are fun to put on. They’re very useful because they often
elevate issues within the text to matters of ‘justice’. Themes are argued over, characters
are discredited. The classroom becomes a real center for debate, and moves the questions
posed by the book outside of a simply literary arena, to a moral arena where there is
much more room for emotional disputation.

Resource #1

Gray, James and Robert Benson. Sentence and Paragraph Modeling. Bay Area Writing
Project, No. 17
       A tiny little book that’s really more of a pamphlet, Sentence and Paragraph
Modeling is a fantastic resource for using grammar for teaching students how to write
better. It details how to teach appositives, absolutes and verbal phrases to students, how
to get them to incorporate it into their writing, and how to show them that it pays to know
grammar. It’s heavy on modeling. It basically instructs students on how to write like
professionals by mimicking the grammatical structures professionals typically use. In the
second half of the book, Benson dissects the paragraph, and shows that there are really
three kinds of paragraphs in the world: coordinate, subordinate and mixed. I won’t
explain what they mean, but I will say that it makes formulating good paragraphs a heck
of a lot easier for students. In general, this book has two excellent strategies for teaching
some of the most difficult material English teachers have to teach.
       All too often, grammar is taught as an end in itself, like knowing the difference
between a preposition and a conjunction, or a verbal and an appositive is going to come
into use at any point in life. Teachers have historically bungled the teaching of grammar
by failing to make it relevant to writing. This book does that. It shows how grammatical
structures can better writing overnite, but more importantly, it shows how to use them.
This is where other comp books fail. This book makes a knowledge of grammar into an
asset, and for the first time, provides a clear benefit to knowing your appositives: write
like a professional by getting more said with fewer words.

Resource #2
The New Yorker Magazine
       The New Yorker is one of the best journalistic magazines in the country, with
some of the best writers in the nation contributing to it. While it focuses primarily on
New York, with its “around town” section, it still has some of the most in depth articles
on public figures and current events around. The writing is engaging and the stories are
always informative. It’s a bi-weekly magazine that also features outstanding fiction. It
always has a short story in the back along with a small host of poems. It’s a great
resource for reading material for juniors and seniors.
       It’s never too early to get acquainted with good writing. I’m ready to tap The New
Yorker for not only news articles, but short stories and poems when I begin teaching next
year. The short stories are always good, and can serve as excellent examples of how to
write provocative narratives for students. The news articles are edifying and informative.
Students can delve into a particular figure or issue. Articles can serve as the subtext for
many a classroom debate. (The cartoons can be funny too.)

Resource #3
        ERIC is a giant online database full of lesson plans, research, news, and advice.
Perhaps one of the largest and most well known of its kind, ERIC is accessed by teachers
all over the world for innovative new approaches to lessons. Lesson plans are available
for every discipline, and can be searched a number of different ways. There is no
shortage of lesson plans on ERIC, and one can be found for just about any classroom
        I found a few of the lesson plans I critiqued on ERIC. I was surprised by how
thorough a site it is. Its archives are immense, and I’m sure I’ll be turning to ERIC for
new and useful ideas as I progress through my student teaching.

Resource #4
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Palace of the Legion of Honor
        Two of the largest art museums in the Bay Area, Moma and the Legion exhibit
modern art and pre-modern art respectively. The museums occupy locations at either end
of the spectrum: Moma is downtown on third street while the Legion is way off in the
Richmond District, right near Land’s End. Their gift shops have lots of excellent books as
well as photographic slides of the art for sale. One can find works by such artists as
Picasso, Monet, Rodin, El Greco, Rauschenberg and others.
        Art, for what its worth, can be a valuable asset for an English classroom. Works
of art can serve as writing prompts. Having a collection of paintings on slides can add a
whole new visual dimension to English that has been traditionally absent. Art can also
help describe the time period of a particular novel, moreso than some written historical
accounts. Art is a major part of our history that is often overlooked. My experience is that
students often are intrigued by some of these forms and pictures which they’ve seen
before, been touched by, but never really investigated. I also feel that writing and
painting are closely related. After all, they both aim to produce affecting pictures.

Resource #5
MLA Handbook for Writers
       The MLA, or Modern Language Association, periodically puts out a handbook
detailing the writing of research papers, grammar and punctuation. It gives explicit
examples of how to cite sources, how to use quotation marks, and how to formulate a
research paper, among other things. It has a section on style and mechanics, and has easy
to follow instructions for writers who are struggling with syntax and/or style.
       High school should prepare students for college, and there’s no better way to do
that than by introducing the research paper and all its trappings. Students should become
familiarized with the MLA as early as possible, so they might see that there’s a standard
protocol for citing quotes, for using quotation marks, and for, say, including margins in a
paper. The MLA Handbook is something that every writer needs, whether experienced or
a novice, because there are just too many rules to remember. Students should become
acquainted with the rules and expectations of writing by at least their junior year, so that
their papers begin to acquire all the exactness of a college paper.

To top