Thursday, July 30, 2015

English Teachers - The Stranger Bundle offers a triple combo learning knockout

The Stranger Unit Plan
Years ago, after I first read the opening paragraph of Albert Camus' The Stranger, I threw the book across the room, almost sideswiping my husband's head as he innocently strolled into the family room. What kind of callous individual would say, "Maman died today.  Or yesterday, maybe. I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: 'Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.'  That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.,"?

How was I ever going to teach this core book in my school's program of studies - to expect my students to read it- when I couldn't even get beyond the first paragraph?

The problem was, Meursault intrigued me.  I couldn't wipe him from my mind. Neither did I want to. I needed to find out what drove a person to be so could, so existential, so I kept reading... and teaching.

Over the decade and a half that I taught this book, sharing my insights with my students and reveling in their analysis of this man, I came not to like Meursault, but to respect him, and, yes, to even admire his strength and honesty to be his own person- to live according to his beliefs and values.

By the time that I had completed the first study of Meursault with my students, he remained a stranger no more.

By the time years of students and I delved into the meaning of existentialism and discussed our interpretations, this philosophy no longer created a muddled puddle in my mind.

By the time years of students and I compared and contrasted Albert Camus-his personality, his beliefs, his values and his life- I understood how he could create characters like Meursault, Sisyphus (The Myth of Sisyphus) and Dr. Bernard Rieux (The Plague).

My unit plan, PowerPoint and Bulletin Board packets are the result of these years of dissecting this complex novel, its author and his philosophies. I have used them as the backbone of this study, tweaked them for what worked and what didn't, and revised them so you, my colleagues, would have a foundation for your  examination, scrutiny and analysis of The Stranger, Albert Camus, and existentialism.

Here are the brief descriptions of this triple combo learning knockout 

The Stranger Unit Plan                  
Aligned with the Common Core principles, this 68-page unit has been detailed and developed for clarity, depth, comprehension and analysis. It includes a table of contents, 40+ handouts, day-by-day lessons with 4 pages of Teacher Notes on Existentialism, Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus” and more. Three types of essay assignments, one class project, nine individual projects, five quizzes and one test (all with an answer key) round out the packet. 


The Stranger Unit Plan

The Stranger Part I Death graphic

The Stranger PowerPoint             
This is a 12-slide PowerPoint on the novel, “The Stranger,” by  Albert Camus, Existentialism, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” and more. I created it to integrate with the introductory and follow-up discussions in my The Stranger Unit Plan. 


The Stranger PowerPoint

The Stranger PowerPoint  Existentialism slide

The Stranger Bulletin Board       
The Stranger - Bulletin Board, was created in conjunction with high school students' study of this existential novel by Albert Camus. The purpose of this product is to offer teachers material for an interactive bulletin board that ties in with both The Stranger Unit Plan  and The Stranger PowerPointThis 17-page packet contains topics such as
Albert Camus
Albert Camus' Writing Style
Existential Theme Topics
Existentialism Means... No Excuses
Existential Beliefs
Existential Thinkers
The Myth of Sisyphus
Camus Quotes


The Stranger Bulletin Board Albert Camus SLide

The Stranger Bulletin Board Albert Camus slide

The Stranger Bundle

All three items - The Stranger Unit Plan, The Stranger PowerPoint and The Stranger Bulletin Board- compose this 98-page bundle. Together, they create a triple combo learning knockout.
Plus, teachers, you can purchase this bundle for the discounted price of $25.00, and enjoy this triple threat in one file.

The Stranger Bundle

Whether this will be your first or fifteenth year teaching The Stranger, these products will lighten your planning load, and will offer your students a plethora of learning activities. 

In fact, here are four totally new ideas that aren't included in any of these products They just came to me as I wrote this post.
  1. Students could create a Pinterest Board on The Stranger, Albert Camus and existentialism, using any of their completed activities as well as pictures of their own making or choosing.
  2. Students could create a journal that Meursault might have done by combining original content that they have written from Meursault's point of view as well as graphics and art that he might have included. Note- students will need to find art that was created prior to the book's first publication in 1942.
  3. Students could make a scrapbook of journalism stories- news, feature, sports, entertainment- from print or online media that tie in/reveal the philosophies and themes in this novel. They may make this using an online publishing program or by copying and pasting items that they wish to include.  Along with each item, they must discuss, in writing,  how this piece connects with the book, its themes and philosophies. 
  4. Students could use the same scrapbook idea explained in idea #3, but instead of journalism stories, they could choose people from today's world who reveal the same values, beliefs and philosophies in their lives, words and actions. Here, they would include direct quotations from the people that they select as well as brief summaries of their actions.
Introduce your students to Meursault, so he will no longer be a stranger.

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day,

Teach It Write - Build Powerful Academic Homes

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Light up your nonfiction studies this fall with H.G. Bissinger's book - Friday Night Lights.

“I can't wait for high school football to start
'Cause Friday Night Lights will get to play a part.
This is the book that students will cheer
When teachers choose it to begin the school year.”
 (adapted from the song, “I’ve Been Waiting All Day For Sunday Night” sung by Carrie Underwood
and set to the tune "I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett.)

Okay, okay, my colleagues. I hear your sighs and know you are rolling your eyes. 

I realize that some of you left your buildings a mere week or two ago.

I realize that most of you are thinking vacation plans and not lesson plans.

I realize that most of you are not ready to witness the zombie-like shuffle of teenagers at 7:20 A.M.

But...but, I know many of you would love to find a page-turning nonfiction read that could roll right into the first literature study of your autumn term. And, I think that when you find a book that will engage your students and match their fall football fervor, you would be very thrilled to obtain some ready to use lessons that would allow you to continue to relax for the rest of your summer.

Friday Night Lights H.G. Bissinger
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger is the perfect match. Let me explain how my scoffing at a book about high school football turned into 14 years of, "Just say 'Yes! to the book" enthusiasm.

One July Saturday in the late '90's, my husband, Tim, and I were driving through Virginia on a clogged Route 95. We were on our way to Hatteras Island's Kinnakeet Shores, a resort area in North Carolina's Outer Banks.

To keep me from groaning about the lines of traffic, Tim began to enthuse over a book about Texas high school football.  Trying to hook my teacher brain, he explained that this book was not just a paean to football, but was a social commentary on how so many towns allow high school football to dominate their whole lives. The author, H.G. Bissinger chose Permian High School's 1988 football season (Odessa, Texas) to focus his study. 

Friday Night Lights Gender Issues
Tim iterated a list of issues developed in the book, such as the special treatment of athletes, athletics over academics, racism,  gender, class, entitlement, etc.  He offered anecdotes about how the black football players were considered equal on the field but separate off of it, and how some of the girls felt that  their sole purpose was to take care of their football players with gifts of food and  pigskin-themed decorated homes. He regaled me with stories about little kids who wore jerseys with their favorite high school and not pro team player, and how athletes weren't expected to accomplish much at all academically.

Yada, Yada, Yada. I was not impressed and fell asleep.

Friday Night Lights Conflict activity
Fast forward to a week later, our last day on the beach. As I lounged on the deck eyeing the ocean for dolphins, my husband's and son's animated conversation about the book, which my son had devoured in two days, wiggled its way into my attention span. Once again, I soon found myself caught on the Football Express. This time, after just a few pages, instead of wanted to get off, I bought a reading round-trip ticket.

Starting right then, and during the 6-hour drive home the next day, I read. After filling the washer with salt and sand encrusted clothes, I read.  As my husband slept and my dog snored, I read.

By the next day, I had finished H.G. Bissinger's iconic classic and was ready to subscribe to the Odessa American newspaper so I, too, could follow the Permian Panthers football season. 

The first thing Monday morning, I explained my desire to teach this book  to an the local HR manager for a national chain bookstore. She contacted whoever she needed to, and within the hour, I was the ecstatic recipient of two class sets of Friday Night Lights-in softcover. Next, I swung by the high school and begged, pleaded and generally pestered the principal until he gave me the thumbs up to teach it that fall.

Friday Night Lights H.G. Bissinger - Unit Plan
The rest of the summer, I developed my Literature - Friday Night Lights Unit Plan. This complete unit plan includes: Common Core standards which you can easily adapt to your state's benchmarks, the grade level and time frame, assessments, and detailed daily plans as well as writing journal openers, essay topics, chapter by chapter discussion questions, a project, a review sheet and a test. Ten analyzing the elements of literature activities go hand in hand with the lessons and follow Bloom's Taxonomy.

Reading this book along with viewing the movie is sure to generate some terrific analytic discussions.

Make a touchdown with your students this fall and Download this 24-page plan Literature - Friday Night Lights Unit Plan, from 

As the July sun continues to warm your body and relax your soul, immerse yourself in the book that spawned a movie and a television series, and then check out the unit plan. Before you know it, you'll catch Bissinger's football fever and will be singing,

“I can't wait for this fall's school term to start
When Friday Night Lights will win my students' hearts.
This is the book that they will certainly cheer,
'Cause it speaks in such depth to all that they hold dear.”

Enjoy a relaxing summer and a Teach It Now Fall,

Need a FREEBIE review product that continues this football theme?  Try

Comprehension Activity: Score With the Literature Super Bowl.

Comprehension Activity - Literature Review