Blending Argument into Classroom Culture

In my most recent post, I made the case against finding balance in life, but instead working to bring the ingredients of life together through blending. At the same time as the writing of that post, I found myself in chapter four of Dave Stuart Jr’s These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most.

As I was reading the book a little here, and writing that post a little there, a realization dawned on me: These 6 Things is a blessed picture of blending in the classroom. I think it was a mix of the timing of my post, all my prior experience with argument, but mostly that Dave Stuart Jr. just makes so much stinking sense (seriously, you should get the book), but I will now be using These 6 Things as a lens for how to make it all blend in my classroom. Continue reading “Blending Argument into Classroom Culture”

Think-Pair-Share Is Overrated!

I have only been teaching at the high school level for 13 years, But when I entered the profession, pretty much every classroom had students sitting in rows while the teacher stood up front and lectured, gave direct instruction, read from PowerPoint slides, whatever you want to call it.

The picture is unmistakable: up front the teacher is active and talking while students passively sit and listen in their desks. Almost all classrooms looked like this, and mine was no exception. To get students more engaged, in the 1990s and 2000s, teachers were trained in different strategies, and Think-Pair-Share (TPS) was ubiquitous.

Before I go on, let me just say this: if a teacher only uses direct instruction, and the next instructional strategy he learns how to use TPS, then that teacher should absolutely use it. But if a teacher has several strategies and some skill for engagement, then it’s time to evolve to the next level. Continue reading “Think-Pair-Share Is Overrated!”

5 Ways to Nudge Students to Engage with Outside Reading

My previous post gave 4 factors to persuade teachers to start giving outside reading assignments. I am sure, however, that you still have concerns about your students’ motivation to complete an assignment like this while avoiding the temptation to cut corners and cheat. I share in those concerns.

Over the years, though, I have come up with ways to steer students to complete their outside reading assignment faithfully. I still have to guard against apathy and students who insist on cutting corners instead of doing the work, but I have drastically reduced the amount of energy I spend on keeping watch over this behavior. And I would like to share these tips with you! Continue reading “5 Ways to Nudge Students to Engage with Outside Reading”

Helping You KNOW They Comprehend The Reading

After years of teaching expository text, I have finally stumbled upon a miracle way to assess my students’ ability (or inability) to comprehend a short expository text. It’s not a four step summary, a rhetorical precis, or a well-crafted summary template using They Say/I Say sentence frames. It’s a selected response, multiple choice assessment . . . plus a brief constructed response.

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First thing’s first. I can’t take credit for this. I found it in Jennifer Fletcher’s Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response. It is an incredible book! A revelation!

I taught AP English Language and Composition for 10 years and thought I knew how to teach rhetoric and argumentation. Then I read this book and it filled in so many missing pieces for me. I could go on, and perhaps I will in another post, but let’s get back to the topic at hand. Continue reading “Helping You KNOW They Comprehend The Reading”