228. Introduction to Poetry: Billy Collins

Reactions to Dead Poets Society are mixed.  Some romanticize it--people did when it came out.  I was learning to be a teacher when the movie came out and suddenly everyone wanted to teach kids to rebel and stand on desks.  More recently, I listened to a podcast where the hosts described the film as a... Continue Reading →


222. The Magic of Technology: Aneta Brodski

Several years ago, I stumbled upon a YouTube thread where a deaf woman in her twenties was signing/discussing.... I don't know.  I don't sign.  There were no subtitles.  Whatever she was passionately putting out into the world was not for me. It was a bit of a revelation, because I think of everything being for... Continue Reading →

219. Beam 10: Ronald Johnson

Is it cheating to steal part of a post from another teacher and just stick it into my post? The Poetry Foundation published a piece by Eric Selinger titled "Ten Poems I like to Teach".  Some of the poems are familiar, and others are not.  At the very least, it provoked a lively comments section.... Continue Reading →


210. I started Early – Took my Dog -: Emily Dickinson

What do you do with texts that may or may not be sexual?I'm not talking about handling clearly sexual material, like a Judy Blume book or a racy poem. This is more about innuendo, and not clear innuendo but what a reading might interpret from the text.For example, a very good professor I had at... Continue Reading →


206: Paradise Lost: Book II: John Milton

Common Core a bit overwhelming? One afternoon, I was going to do the hard work of going through my ELA Common Core standards line by line and pulling out the recurring verbs--dull stuff--when I figured that, in this computer age, there must be a better way.   And it hit me: Wordle. Like Xerox, a... Continue Reading →


196. This Merit hath the worst: Emily Dickinson

I have no idea what this poem means. But. That's. Okay. We are in the middle of a unit on merit vs. entitlement. That's the theme. I'm having students look at data about themselves, reflect on their role in their success and basically trying to empower them. We're reading the short story of "Ender's Game"... Continue Reading →


Memorizing Poems

I don't remember memorizing more than two lines of a poem. And I did it poorly. I'm never sure if it's "Two paths diverge in a wood" or "Two roads...." Of course, both are kind of wrong, one more than an other: It's "Two roads diverged in a yellow woods." For my graduate class on... Continue Reading →


Someone Is Writing a Poem: Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich is not someone who I read. She IS someone I have always liked. Here is one example of how Rich made her way into my life. After ten years at it, the folks who put together those "Best American Poetry" books asked Harold Bloom to put together an anthology of the anthologies. At... Continue Reading →


Darling’s Law of Useful Implimentation of Programs and Assessment

No, it's not a poem, but middle school language arts teachers might see a bit of truth in this: A new rule of thumb for busy teachers: Darling's Law: If coordinators and administrators are overwhelmed trying to make programs work, it can be assumed that teachers trying to make said programs work in the classroom... Continue Reading →


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