Monthly Archives: March 2013

Post Reading Strategy: Somebodoy-Wanted-But-So Chart

Post Reading Strategy: Somebodoy-Wanted-But-So Chart

Source: Teaching as Leadership website

Link: (pages 75-76)

The Somebody-Wanted-But-So chart is a post reading technique to get students to think about the main plot points of a text. Students fill out the four-column chart as shown below. The “Somebody” column is where the character is identified. Followed by the “Wanted” category, where students describe what the character wanted in a story; this doesn’t have to be a tangible item or permission to do something, it could be an internal conflict or even something that the character may not realize that they want. Next, the “But” column is to be filled out according to what the student thinks is holding the character back from what they desire. Finally, the “So” category is completed by discussing the consequences or next move for the character. It isn’t included in the description of the activity from the link, but I would have my students find evidence (quotes) from the text as well as including a short (2-3) sentence explanation for what they wrote.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

I think this is a post-reading version of a KWL chart. I like this activity because it can be applied to the simplest or most complex texts. It can be used simply to summarize events and consequences or to analyze intricate character thoughts/motivations/desires. They will be reviewing the events of the text as well as thinking about what they mean, how they fit together, and how they progress to the next event. Students applying this strategy to more complex literature may be able to breakdown more “between the lines” types of desires/motivations that aren’t stated outright in the text. They will get practice using text to support their claims which is a requirement of the CCSS and is also a large component of AP essay writing. Another useful thing about this activity is that it is continuous. Students can go track a character and their desires all the way through a novel. They could use this as a character study or even as an outline for a paper/essay of some sort. This could also be used as a during reading activity.

Here is an example chart I made based on Lord of the Flies       —     SWBS



During Reading Strategy: Haiku/Limerick Collection

During Reading Strategy: Haiku/Limerick Collection

Source: 103 Things to Do Before/During/After Reading from The English Teacher’s Handbook by Jim Burke


Haiku/Limerick Collection: Choose one character in the work to follow. Write a haiku or limerick that is related to that character for each chapter/section/important event. (The original directions just say “create one about a character,” but I wanted to take it a bit further to make it more like a character study. I think it’d be a more interesting and creative way for students to interact with a text as opposed to just writing an analytical essay. This would fit best with a longer novel with clearly defined chapters or sections because it makes it easy to designate how many poems are required. If a chapter/section is longer than others or includes multiple events that are important for the character they have chosen more poems would be required.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2d Use precise language, domain-specific vocabulary, and techniques such as metaphor, simile, and analogy to manage the complexity of the topic.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

I think this approach will work in a variety of ways for a variety of things. I think students will have to think critically about the characters and what’s happening to them in order to represent that creatively through poetry. Students will also gain a better understanding of “domain-specific techniques such as metaphor, simile, and analogy” when they are using these conventions themselves to convey an idea or feeling. Along with the critical analysis they’ll be doing, they will gain valuable writing experience. Since haikus and limericks are very short, structured poems, students will have to think carefully about their choice of vocabulary, which is also in line with CCSS.

What to do when no one raises their hand…

What to do when no one raises their hand….



Thought this was a cool way to pick someone instead of the whole popsicle sticks bit. Plus you can randomly group students and it has a “rate their answers” feature you could use for discussions.

Pre-Reading Strategy: Brainstorming Map

Title/Name of Strategy: Pre-Reading Brainstorming Map
Source: Study Guides and Strategies website []
Link: [] gave me the idea to make a map
[] a Google search helped me find this map maker

  • Brainstorming Map “Write down the most important word or short phrase (in my case the title, Black Boy) in a circle/bubble in the center. Post other important concepts (in this case, ideas that the students think of that will be related to the book based on the title) Think about the relation of outside items to the center item, add other key words and phrases (or questions). Combine concepts to expand your map, talk about how the concepts are related and discuss/ask questions.” I thought this would be a good activity to do on a computer to incorporate technology, so I used a search engine to find a map-maker. You could do this on a SmartBoard or on a computer that is connected to a projector. If these aren’t available, just a regular overhead or chalkboard would work and students would copy it down and add to it instead of having an online copy to edit. This activity also has an added bonus; you can start this as a pre-reading activity and expand it, answer the questions, expand words/phrases, and add more ideas to make this a during reading activity. For a post-reading activity, students could use this as a sort of outline for an extended definition or culminating paper or essay.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1: Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
    • The text it’s self is mentioned in the CCSS “ELA & Literacy in History/Social Studies Science, and Technical Subjects – Appendix B: Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks” Page 12, under Informational Texts: English Language Arts for 11th Grade and up.


  • This strategy would be useful in engaging student learning because it helps students to activate their prior knowledge of the history of racial injustice in our country in order to begin thinking about a novel they will read. They will already have a scene set in their head before they begin reading the novel so they should be able to connect ideas from the text to what they already know about the situation the author lives in. Students will be coming up with ideas themselves to add to the thinking map. They will be coming to the computer or going to the board/SmartBoard to add a bubble representing their question or idea. Students will get a chance to voice their opinion and talk with other students about their connections to the text.




Here is an quick example I made to show how it would look. Students can make an account and make their own bubble maps and save them so they can add to them as they go through the book.






Materials Review 3 for 11th grade/English III

Materials Review 3 for 11th grade/English III

I would use this as a introductory activity to a Shakespeare text or unit for an 11th grade English III class. (The Common Core State Standards require that students study one Shakespeare play each year of high school.) This activity helps to achieve the following Common Core State Standards:

  1. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1b: Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
  2. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  3. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.


I would use this in a way to “break the ice” for students before delving into what is dreaded by high school and college students alike – Shakespeare. This activity is a simple game where students would use their own knowledge to figure out whether the line is from a Shakespearean play or a modern rap song. I would have the class do this all together so they can use not only their knowledge but learn from their classmates as well. By making this a class activity, there only needs to be access to one computer and the class will be practicing communication and discussion skills to come to a consensus together. Students will be activating their prior knowledge of language and the Elizabethan time period to analyze the words to correctly categorize the snippets of text. I think this is a fun and engaging activity for students to do before they start with Shakespeare to show them that they can actually understand the text. Millions of high school kids all over the country listen to rap music with complex lyrics, double entendres, sexual innuendo, metaphor and figurative language (all of these are also conventions of Shakespeare’s work) every day, so I think this is a way to use something they’re familiar with to scaffold their learning and build their confidence up before starting on something more difficult. 

As a result of this activity, students should…..

  • Know: that they can understand Shakespeare’s work just as easily as they can the music they listen to on their own time
  • Understand: the similarities between the music and art that they see/listen to and that of Shakespeare, that Shakespeare’s work isn’t indecipherable jabber but has a relevance even to today’s world
  • Do: work together as a class to discuss the elements of the language and democratically come to an agreement, think of Shakespeare like something they are already familiar with, be more familiar with the style of Shakespearean language

Materials Review 2 for 11th grade/English III

Materials Review 2 for 11th grade/English III

  • Maggie Dillon
  • YouTube.Com
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream”

I would use this video in a unit on Southern Literature for an 11th grade English III class. This video helps to achieve the following Common Core State Standards:

  1. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.5: Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
  2. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.3:Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.

Students will benefit from this video because it is crucial to view things as they were intended; plays are meant to be watched on stage, speeches are meant to be listened to from an audience. Listening to Dr. King speak his own words is imperative because he himself conveys so much more power and meaning than simply reading the words ever could. Along with more aesthetic reasons, children learn by example. Seeing someone, especially as amazing a speaker as Dr. King, speak professionally teaches them how to do so their selves. Speaking and being able to clearly communicate your meaning is an important skill every person should have and that is not a skill most people are just born with – it must be taught to the great majority of us. Along with practice, the best way to learn speaking skills is to see good examples to model after. As well as gaining valuable public speaking information, students will be analyzing the “effectiveness of structure…including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging” and the “word choice, points of emphasis, and tone” throughout the work.

As a result of implementing this material, Students should…..

  • Know: more about the civil rights movement and the stance of Dr. King & his followers regarding the status of black Americans during the 60s, that Dr. King is an appropriate model for speaking and delivering speeches
  • Understand: how word choice, tone, and delivery affect the over all message and reception of that message by the audience (on paper or out loud), how a good speech seamlessly flows from one topic to the next by finding similarities or differences between the two
  • Do: be able to pick out specific features of a speech that make it particularly effective, meaningful, or poignant, more clearly and beautifully transition from one topic to the next in their writing

Materials Review 1 for 11th grade/English III

I would use this in my unit on Southern Literature for an 11th grade English III class. This media resource helps to achieve the following Common Core State Standards:

  1. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7:Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in a different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem. 
  2. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphic, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings. reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

In order to facilitate learning, I’d distribute the link to this collection to my students on a day we can be in a computer lab. Each student would be allowed to peruse the albums about the Civil War, looking at the pictures and reading the information that goes along with them. As they go along, I’d like students to journal about their findings; facts, reactions to the photos, questions, links, other information they found, and other initial responses they may have as they go through the collections. While doing this, students are getting more writing practice, learning about a time in American History (11th Grade is American Literature and US History) which will be valuable to their upcoming experiences with the texts in the Southern Literature unit. I would use this collection of materials in my class because I think it’d be a nice introductory activity to the Civil War portion of the Southern Literature unit. Students would be able to get a feel for what the time period was like, how people lived, what the war was like, how the economy was, the state of the American people and countless other insights to the setting of the literary works we will be exploring.
As a result of implementing this material, Students should…..

  • Know: More facts about the Civil War, how people lived, dressed, ate, fought, traveled, communicated, and any other general facts/information about the time period.
  • Understand: How the Civil War period differs from our own time, how physical and political environment of the time period may have influenced the writers and texts we will read
  • Do: Apply this knowledge to better understand the literature we read in class, write a one page summary about what they learned and their reactions to this information.



“Making Reading Relevant for Adolescents” 3-2-1 Summary

Thomas Bean’s “Making Reading Relevant for Adolescents.” 


  • 3 Main ideas that positively and lastingly impact student learning.

  1. “Recreational reading can help adolescents achieve in school but teachers must provide students with books that address the curriculum and meet their needs and interests.”
               When teachers show students that books aren’t a torture device they open up a life long skill and hopefully hobby. When students start to explore reading on their own time they probably don’t realize that they’re still learning and growing. They can bring ideas they read about into the classroom across disciplines. Besides finding a new interest, students are building knowledge and skills they can use in and out of the school setting. As they read, they get faster, learn new words, getting better at comprehension, are exposed to many ideas and perspectives, and even get a more natural sense for spelling and grammar which will help with writing skills.
  2. “Time spent reading correlates with academic success, vocabulary development, standardized test performance, attitudes towards additional reading and the development of a world knowledge.”
    This quote reiterates a lot of what I said above. Basically, when kids develop a love for reading, they’re doing everyone a favor. Teachers will see better results in school work and test scores, students will be learning many new things and possibly new gaining new interests, and the world gains more knowledgable and responsible citizens. 

  3. “Quite time for extended reading and time for talking about books are both crucial elements in incorporating young adult novels into the classroom.”
                     I think many teachers make the mistake of not giving students reading time in class. I know it takes up a lot of valuable class time, but how can we expect kids to want to read if they never have time to do so? Many kids have responsibilities after school like ball practice, cleaning and other chores, taking care of family members, jobs, volunteer work, and of course homework. With schedules like that it’s very plausible to think that a kid doesn’t have much time for reading, and if they did, they’d probably just want to spend it with friends or simply relaxing. In a class that is so focused around reading, students deserve at least one day during the week to read in class for a half hour or so. 


  • 2 specific points that are critical to establishing positive student engagement on the learning process.

  1. “Students said that time to read and captivating material that reflected and suited their interests were important elements for motivating them to read, but that they did not view the classroom as a source of good reading materials.”
               I think this is a big problem! A class centered around reading and writing and kids don’t think they can find good books from classrooms? It’s always been my plan to have a class bookshelf with many options to choose from. Though I believe the classics are very important, I definitely believe that YA literature has a significant place in the classroom. The classics are classics for a reason but it isn’t because they’re easy for a fifteen year old to relate to. Students an see parallels to their own lives through YA lit that they usually cannot find in texts that may be hundreds of years old so, naturally these books would be a little more interesting or at least easier to understand. So many teachers are frustrated by the feeling that their students never really “get it” and I believe that’s because often times they simply don’t get it. How can we ask 9th graders to have an in-depth discussion about Shakespearean sonnets if they can’t understand the language much less what’s actually happening in the text.
  2. “Literature response journals give students a foundation for discussing novels that are connected to content area concepts or are a part of a sustained reading program.”
    I am a huge fan of student journals. It gives kids time to interact with the ideas they’re absorbing and record them before they’ve heard anyone else’s opinions. When I was in school, I often had 9286543 things going on in my head at any given time, which could make focusing a difficult task. When I had time to write down my thoughts and reactions about what I was reading or doing it made that a much easier thing to do. I could flesh out my ideas more on paper. It always seemed like as soon as I started writing, ideas would come flooding through my brain faster than I could write them down. 
  • 1 most important aspect that surprised me related to teaching and learning.

  1. “Recreational reading among adolescents is in decline with serious consequences for the development of a literate citizenry.”
                This is such a shocking fact to me because I’ve always been such an avid reader. From the time I learned to read, I’ve blazed through just about anything I could get my hands on, in or out of school. Reading is such an easy pleasure and I’ve never really understand anyone who couldn’t enjoy a good book or magazine. 

FQR Reading Strategy

I chose the FQR method to review for this post. (

Basically students are given (or create their own) FQR chart to fill out as they read.

F – Facts. Students record the facts from what they’re reading. It should be explained to them that every single fact in a text isn’t important enough to record. For example, you wouldn’t write down “The sky is blue.” as a fact because it’s common knowledge that doesn’t need analyzing.

Q – Questions. Next, students record questions they have pertaining to these facts. This could be anything from why, when, and how, to things of deeper significance, like questioning meanings or symbols or the validity of the facts they’ve written down.

R – Response. Finally, students write down their own reactions to the F & Q columns. They could give answers to the questions they asked or emotional responses the facts/questions elicited, how they came to terms with the F/Q, or a variety of other options.

I believe this strategy would be easily implemented in my future English class as well as across other disciplines and grade levels. Students are interacting with the text in at least 3 ways and are made to do more than just blindly swallow any information they’re given. Students are allowed to focus on what they believe is important about a text justify those opinions. This could be a great discussion starting tool. You could have students fill out this chart then switch with a partner and discuss why they agree/disagree with the facts they believed to be important.

Teaching for Understanding

What does it mean to be literate in your discipline?