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Common Core Standards

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2009 Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to Anna J. Small Roseboro, the California Association of Teachers of English 2009 Distinguished Service Award winner. In our profession, so much is required in order to be everything our students deserve. The demands are great; this is no career for the uncommitted. Teaching well takes diligence, knowledge, passion, energy, flexibility, and skill. More »

Books written by Anna

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New Teacher Resources

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Organizing a Week of Speeches

Speaking - Female

Speaking and Listening in CCSS

Consider the two sides of communication: the SPEAKER and the LISTENER as you continue to massage your assignments and scheduling.

Because critical listening and useful commenting are skills of equal value to speaking well, I ask students to provide written feedback to each speaker.  To make is more efficient, we use a five day cycle with each student required to sign up to speak on date s/he prefers and to provide specific feedback on the days s/he does not speak.

I provide the same feedback chart I use for grading and each students focuses on just one feature each of the four days in the cycle.  The feedback sheets are collected, reviewed by me, stapled and returned to the speaker at the end of the round of speeches.

As an additional incentive to prepare and present well, I ask students to do three things on the day they present their speech in class.

  • by midnight of the day before they give their speech in class, submit their written outline of the speech
  • the day of their speech, sign-up on the board indicating the speaking order they prefer. (Usually one-five) Some students like to speak and get it over; others like to observe what others do before they speak.
  • by midnight the day they give their speech in class, submit a self-evaluation along with the letter grade they believe they earned on the specific speech. If their grade is the same as mine, I raise their their 1/2 step.  C+ becomes B-; B- becomes B; B+ becomes A-, etc.

I do not look at their self-evaluation or grade until after I’ve completed the grading and do not lower their grade if theirs is lower than mine.

A portion of each prepared speech grade is

Here’s a chart to help organize such a week.

Book Launch and Birthday Celebration

white cover with namesOn Zion’s Hill

My first book of Historical Fiction is due for release June 20, 2015 during Book Launch and Birthday Party at Baker Book House, 2768 East Paris, Grand Rapids, Michigan between 2 and 4 p.m.  Come meet the author, hear readings and music from the book, have books signed, and share birthday cake.


Angie and Ken who have just completed their first year of college, are committed to earning their degrees without the distraction of dating, but when they meet on Zion’s Hill, at their church camp meeting that August of 1963, they experience a strong attraction. During that week of camp, each is torn.  They reflect on funny, frank and fanciful experiences of their youth that helped shaped them into the goal driven college students they are today. Should they listen to their hearts? Must they avoid one another to reach the goal of finishing college? Can they trust that it is God leading them to one another now? Funny, frank and fanciful experiences of their youth will influence their choices. By the end of the week, each must make a decision. What will it be? (Pre-order in Kindle or Print Copy)

Susan J. Osborn, the illustrator and I taught in California together for years and she collaborated with me to create the colored pencil cover design and pen and pen and ink graphics for the inside.  See her other work at Osborn Art.

Revisions that Improve Writing

Writing Draft -2How Do I Make It Better?

” Students sometimes wonder how they can make a well written early draft even better. If you teach them specific steps they can take to improve their writing themselves, you will have taught a skill they can use for life. Consider using alliteration to help them recall the tasks that can be done in any order. During revision, encourage students to apply the Five E’s.


  •  Expand – develop what is written to make ideas clearer and more interesting without being repetitive. Add more information to show rather than tell. Use carefully chosen examples from literature (any reading and viewing), life (personal experiences and observations), and lessons learned in other content area courses. This may require research to find credible sources and experts to add weight to their arguments.

  • Explain  – clarify what is written by using various reasons based on experiences and observations and lessons learned in other courses. “This is important because…”

  • Exchange and rearrange – what words can be substituted that will make the writing clearer, more interesting, more precise? Consider using more active verbs instead of passive ones with forms of the verb “to be”; more concrete nouns, more words that have the positive or negative connotations to create the desired mood in your reader. Think about ways words, sentences, paragraphs can be rearranged to make the ideas unfold more smoothly, making the thoughts less unambiguous, more interesting, and more inviting to consider. What does audience need to know before making a decision? This is why skillful informative writing is important.

  • Expunge - get rid of distracting or weak words, phrases, and sentences that cloud writing that clouds and prevents ideas from shining through, glowing with authority as the writing informs, convinces, persuades, and even entertains.”

  • Enliven – -use active verbs instead of passive verbs  Use concrete nouns rather than abstract ones. Where appropriate, inject  fresh and sensory images to help read experience the ideas/concepts/feelings in your writing.

*Excerpt from TEACHING WRITING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL: Common Core and More (2013)

Shakespeare’s Birthday

Happy 451st 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 451th!

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:


POETRY Notebook – Product and Performance

Check ListPoetry Notebook


Looking for a way to engage students to create a POETRY-Notebook that showcases their learning about poetry and other English Language Arts skills and completing a product/performance assignment that reflects your instruction to meet COMMON CORE STANDARDS.  This poetry notebook assignment combines research, analysis based on strategies you’re teaching, such as Poetry T.I.M.E., and allows for student choice about a poet, poems they write as patterns and as original compositions, and those they choose to recite on celebration day!

I invite you to see in my books (on right) with strategies for teaching POETRY T.I.M.E..  Chapter 7 is “Taking T.I.M.E for Poetry” and Chapter 8 is “Versing Life Together” You’ll like this approach particularly because there is a timeline with due dates for sections of the assignment to be submitted for grading early, so you’ll not be overwhelmed with pounds of notebooks and hours of grading at the end of the unit. Missed the link? Here it is again: POETRY NOTEBOOK

Slides to Poetry TIME Introduction