Category Archives: Unit 2

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.

[Re]Imagining Content-Area Literacy

Reimagining_MaggieDillon  (Word Document)

Reimagining_MaggieDillon (PDF File)


This is my graphic organizer for the first two chapters of our text. (Activity 1A from Unit 2.)


Teaching for Understanding

What does it mean to be literate in your discipline?