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    Thoughts to Share with Students

    Children’s Books Teach Us All We sometimes think children’s book are only for children. But there is wisdom to be gleaned for us all. Invite your students to bring in their favorite children’s

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    Prepare in the Fall for Spring Assessments

    Practice Debates ⇒Argumentative Essays Meeting Common Core State Standards is not the only reason to have students learn to think about claims, reasons, counter-aguments, and evidence.  The four major assessments

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    Maximizing Meetings and Maintaining Morale

    Department chairs regularly seek for ways to use meeting time more efficiently and to keep up the spirits of their department members.  Attached are ideas planned for the “Learning to

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    Students Starters Enhance Teaching

    Student Starters Now is a good time to plan on releasing more responsibility for learning to your students. The first quarter/semester is when you model reading and writing strategies, making, connections,

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Poetry is…

Poetry is Someone Saying Something to Someone

Poetry is written
to be understood!

“Poetry is literature designed to convey a vivid and imaginative sense of experience, especially by the use of condensed language chosen for its sound and suggestive power, as well as for its meaning and by the use of such literary techniques as structured meter, natural cadences, rhyme or metaphor.”

Houghton-Mifflin College Dictionary. 1986.

Keep in mind: There always is an audience. Use clues from the poem to determine who could be speaking to whom.


PoetryIs-Diagram (1)

Poetry Is Diagram



Shakespeare’s Birthday


Happy 452nd  Birthday, Will!

April 23rd is the day many celebrate the birth of William Shakespeare, one of the more widely read dramatists of all times.This year is his 452nd!

Prepare your students to understand Elizabethan society a little better.

Have a go with your students and have them take a Humours Quiz  to determine their own basic personality traits, then see how they’d rate characters in the plays you have them study.  Teens in the US will have fun with this quiz written in British English by our colleagues at TeachIt in the UK.

I also include one my students’ favorite pictures of Shakespeare – with the earring which suggests how “hip” William Shakespeare still is today.  See Words and Phrases from Shakespeare.  

Also see SHAKESPEARE OUT LOUD AND IN COLOR.  Students get a kick out of trying the Lazy Sonnets.  Invite them to write a lazy sonnet about whatever text you happen to be studying now. See samples written about “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner“!

For the Bards’ birthday, you may want to create your own birthday sonnet, or invite your students to write an record one like this:


April is Poetry Month 2016

How are you going to celebrate in 2016?


“What you learn through reading and writing poetry will stay with you throughout your life,” Michelle Obama said in a statement about a national initiative to support the study of poetry. “It will spark your imagination and broaden your horizons and even help your performance in the classroom.”

Introduce POETRY MONTH  this year by sharing Billy Collin’s poem, “INTRODUCING POETRY” or by  reading Naoshi Koriyama’s  poem  an”Unfolding Budand showing a video clip of budding flowers to remind students that it sometimes takes T.I.M.E. for their understanding of a poem to blossom. Then, play the video once or twice again and invite students write their own poetic response to viewing these lovely flowers.  Your students may see the images as symbolic of relationships, historical or current events, characters in literature or people they know.  Consider writing along with the class and then share your poem with your students.  Click here for links to April is Poetry Month page on this site.

Poetry and the Common Core: Poetry Foundation Exemplars for All Grades

Here are websites suggested by other educators:

There also is a Digital Write-Able  It offers you a space online to write a poem that you can put in your pocket.

Tom Worthen Smithfield says, “There are thousands of free poetry lesson plans available at Poetic Power . The website allows you to select your grade range and desired category for teaching. This is a great resource for teaching students how to write and create poetry.”

Cynthia Roberson  recommends The NY Times Learning Network –Poetry Pairings – Pair a poem to NY Times News Article.  What a great way to teach poetry and non-fiction reading at the same time!

First Lady, Michelle Obama launched The National Student Poets program  created by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, of which the first lady is honorary chair, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a partnership with nonprofit group, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Even if you’ve never taught poetry before, teach high school or college, the resources here on this website and ideas in my books TEACHING MIDDLE SCHOOL LANGUAGE ARTS: Incorporating Twenty-First Century Literacies (2010) and TEACHING READING IN MIDDLE SCHOOLS: Common Core and More (2013) or TEACHING WRITING IN MIDDLE SCHOOL: Common Core and More (2013)can help you prepare your students to participate actively in local, state, and national program supporting student poets.  See particularly “Taking T.I.M.E. to Teach Poetry” and “Versing Life Together”.

Search the Language Arts Resources Tab where you’ll find ideas for poetry projects, poetry notebooks, patterning and performing poetry, writing meaty personal essays about poems, and also ways to grade students’ original poems.

Celebrating Collaboration with Art, Music, Dance and Dramatic Readings from On Zion’s Hill

Celebrating My Recent Novel: ON ZION’S HILL

Anna at Bishop's 2016


To celebrate Black History Month, The Bishop’s School hosted a collaborative event with art, music dance and dramatic readings from On Zion’s Hill, a novel by former chair of the Bishop’s English Department, Anna J.  Small Roseboro.

On Zion’s Hill is a nostalgic journey back to the camp where Anna met her husband 50 years ago.  Her fictional characters, Ken and Angie, meet at the camp and struggle with choosing the right course for their relationship.
In addition to explaining what’s fact and what’s fiction in her book, Anna invited guests to read passages, bringing the scenes to life before the audience. Participating readers were Head of Upper School Bill Goss, Spanish teacher Mary Jane Sutherland, Chaplain Brian Fidler, along with several alumni and current students.
The book’s illustrator, Susan J. Osborn, was another speaker at the event. Susan is a former faculty member of the Bishop’s Visual Arts Department. She explained the illustration process from start to finish, showing the cover in its various stages.
There was also a musical component. The Bishop’s Singers performed “This Little Light of Mine,” and Samantha Webster ’16 sang “How Great Thou Art” and “God of Our Fathers.”

Another performance included students in the dance class that Cresence Birder ’07 teaches. Their graceful and whimsical piece was called “On the Hill Top.”

If you missed this February event, watch the video here.

From http://www.bishops.com/page/News-Detail?pk=839555&fromId=168135



National African American Read-In 2016

Reading Together Anywhere

African American Read-In

My book is recommended this year for the The National African American Read-In

Recommended Reading AfAm Read-InSponsored by the Black Caucus of NCTE and NCTE

In February 2016, you may hold an African American
Read-In event any day of the month
 February 1-Friday, February 29, 2016

Schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. Hosting a Read-In can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers.

  More information and reading lists at this link.



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