Free Resources For New Teachers

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Common Core Standards

Common Core Standards. More »

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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Argumentative vs Persuasive Speaking and Writing

speaking_2Arguing or Persuading???

Check out this discussion thread on English Companion Ning which includes Carol S’s distinction, as well as a list of quality resources to teach this key kind of writing and meet Common Core Standards for English Language Arts.

Reply by Carol  S

Argue = change what the readers THINK
Persuade = change what the readers DO
You can argue that a film is insipid, that the president’s economic plan will improve our nation,  that smoking ought to be allowed in bars, that teenagers are obnoxious twits.  They might change their thinking after reading your paper.You can try to persuade people to shop at Macy’s, vote for this candidate, travel to Maui,  shave their heads. Your goal is to get them to do something.

Thanks, everyone for your great suggestions.  Help spread the word to others who may be struggling with this distinction as they work to design lessons to meet Common Core Standards for ELA.

For those following this thread…I hope you’re including public speaking in your lessons about argumentation and persuasion.  Our students also need to know how to articulate their arguments verbally, and to be critical listeners as well.  You can add simple pre-writing activities that include SPAR (spontaneous arguments) on some of the topics your students are considering for their writing.  Hearing opposing arguments can help them see (hear) reasons others hold different views on topics the students think have only one credible side.  See Link with an introduction to SPAR.  Feel free to adapt to fit your situation.

Book Launch of Novel

Anna with Flowers and Slide     On June 20,  I launched my new novel white cover with names
at the
Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan
If you’d like a copy, use this link.


Angie and Ken, college sophomores committed to earning their degrees, meet at church camp in August, 1963 and experience a strong attraction. Should they listen to their hearts or avoid one another till later? Can they trust God to lead them now? By the end of the week, each must make a decision. What will it be?

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)