Monday, September 29, 2014

Flesh out Characters with Three Analytic Activities

Fall Into Character Analysis

Fall Into Character Analysis
I have always been intrigued by the people that I have met between book covers. Exploring how these fictional beings act and react to the people and the conflicts that they encounter have always fortified my understanding of humans, their passions and their ambitions.

This interest is why so many of my products focus on the character aspect of the elements of literature.  Fall Into Character Analysis adds even more depth to this emphasis.

Three handouts – “Island Odyssey," Fleshing Out Character" and  “It’s a Halloween Party" offer middle and high school students opportunities to reveal their comprehension of the characters they are studying.  Through writing and speaking, they will explore a trio of the basic motivations that propel authors to create dynamic, round individuals.
  1. Who and what determines how characters deal with their thoughts, feelings and emotions?
  2. What factors determine how characters interact with the people they meet and the situations they encounter?
  3. Why do they act and react to these internal and external conflicts in the manner that they do?

Students will show their understanding of character development by choosing specific details to complete each teacher-selected activity. They will select their answers based on the information that they have gathered in their reading.

Teachers should introduce these activities during and after the latter part of the rising action - or when enough information about the characters is present for analysis.

As students complete these assignments, they will exhibit their range of thinking skills from knowledge through evaluation. They will also show their understanding of character development as well as their analytic and critical-thinking oral and writing skills.

Individual and/or small group options will work successfully, although “It’s a

Halloween Party” is better suited to individual responses.  As with all of my activities, the students should share their responses during whole class discussions.
Fleshing Out Character
Download this Language Arts Activity

Don't plan during your personal hours- Download. 
Give yourself the gift of time with these ready for class lessons.

Happy Teaching,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Language Arts Lesson - "Writing: Write Right! Analytic Writing Made Easy"

Writing: Write Right! Analytic Writing Made Easy
Writing has always been a major focus of my middle and high school lessons - second only to teaching my students how develop their higher level thinking skills.  Because of this, I created a number of handouts that summarize my teaching points for this product, Writing: Write Right! Analytic Writing Made Easy

Students are required to bring this packet to class as they will refer to them with pretty much any type of writing- from Daily Openers (Warm-ups) to full-length essays to research papers.   For students just starting to follow the proper essay format, this product will help them to understand the parts of an essay so they can create focused and supported pieces.

Many former students have contacted me from college to tell me that the knowledge they gained from this packet has come in handy in their freshman English classes. They often ask me to send them another copy of the packet.

This Write Right! Analytic Writing Made Easy offers teachers handouts that discuss the basic aspects of writing analytically:
  1. Analytic Writing Made Easy- A 2-page outline, this summarizes the parts of an essay and offers definitions and examples for the crucial and most difficult part of writing an essay- Thesis Statements. It also warns of what to avoid when developing an essay. 
  2. Essay Development Handout- This reveals types of Hooks, Elaboration, Transition devices and Conclusions
  3. Prewriting - Essay Outline- This is the precursor to my Free product,  Language Arts Comprehension Check: Ten Sentence Format This Essay Outline is longer because the Body section shows how to expand details and add paragraphs to develop a full-length essay.
  4.  Essay Format- This handout explains the criteria for typing the paper. It also includes a section on how to correct an essay. With the latter, students show even more ownership of their writing as they earn extra credit. They may choose five weaknesses to revise-grammatical or contextual- but must follow the given format. They earn 1 point for each 3-part correction.
  5. Symbols for Grading Analytical Compositions- I created these to use along with the standard guidelines as they address the majority of student writing errors in my classes.
  6. Self-Assessment Sheet- I find that when students must assess their papers, they actually read the comments and check the areas that the teacher marked instead of just looking at the grade and relegating the paper to the depths of their writing folders.
  7. Analytical Writing Grade Sheet- This rubric highlights 10 factors (up to 10 points for each category) that combine to form the essay's grade- 4 for Content and 6 for Form.

Analytic Writing Made Easy

Prewriting - Essay Outline

Self-Assessment Sheet
 Analytical Writing Grade Sheet

Happy Teaching,

For: Grades 6-12

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Six Additional Activities for Arthur Miller's The Crucible

No matter how much we love our activities for a literature study, sometimes we crave
Comprehension & Writing - Additional Activities for The Crucible
more lessons to engage our high school students. This 14-page packet, "Comprehension & Writing - Additional Activities for The Crucible," offers six more activities you can add to your repertoire.

"Anatomy of a Witch Hunt" - Directions – Each of you is responsible for detailing one of the teacher-assigned topics on this list. Only facts will be accepted. Write your findings in the spaces by your topic. Write one of your facts in the space provided for your topic on the large sheet of paper taped to the wall. When it is your turn to share, if the fact that you chose has been used, select another one. Initialize your fact. Finally, take notes about the other topics in the provided spaces on this sheet. Use the back of this paper, if needed.

"Anatomy of a Witch Hunt""Know Their Roles"
During the Reading
"Know Their Roles" - Directions
Part 1 - As you read and discuss this play, for each of the following characters, explain his/her MAIN ROLE in the plot. After that, copy a quote made by each person (include the page number) that shows his/her beliefs and feelings about the situations that occur. 
Part 2 - Write each name in the Protagonist, Antagonist or Neutral box. Be ready to defend your choices.
"Easy Target-Darts"
 "Easy Target-Darts"

"Easy Target-Darts" -Directions – Consider the people who were accused and convicted of practicing witchcraft. Write each one’s name on the flames of one of the darts. Next, cut out the darts and glue each one to the bull’s-eye target. Place the hardest to convict in the outer circle and move toward the center, with the easiest in the red bulls-eye. Be sure that the point of the dart is in the correct circle. Write your reasons for your choices on the Easy Target-Defenses sheet. You do not have to use all of the darts.
"The Truth or A Lie? That is the Question" - Directions– Before you consider which characters in The Crucible are lying and which are telling the truth, address the following thoughts about lying in the spaces provided.
The Truth or A Lie? That is the Question
 Lies! Lies! Lies!

"Lies! Lies! Lies!" - Directions – Which characters are lying? Why? Choose which of the characters listed here are Lying, Telling the Truth or if you are Not Sure. Write each character’s name in one of the columns, and then briefly state how you arrived at this conclusion. Remember that the characters in the play do not see/hear everything like the reader does. Use the back of the paper if necessary.

"Emotional Fuel – That Was Then" - Directions
Part 1 - The following factors all affect the thinking, speaking and, actions of the people in
Emotional Fuel – That Was Then
The Crucible. Each one propels the plot by fueling the intolerance and hysteria of these times. Choose three of them, as well as a character that is motivated by the issue, and detail how their choice drives the plot.
PART 2 - "Emotional Fuel –This is Now" - Directions: discuss two of the above factors that influence people's thinking, speaking and actions in contemporary times. Give examples from current events that defend your choices.
Part 3 - Could a witch hunt occur in the United States now or are enough safeguards in place to keep this from happening? Support your answer with facts from current events as well as your own interpretations of these situations. Write your explanation on the back of this sheet of paper.

Plus, in the detailed Teacher Notes, I offer a number of lesson suggestions -and the link- for using Arthur Miller's piece that was originally printed in The new Yorker- , “Why I Wrote The Crucible- An Artist’s Answer to Politics".

Engage your high school students and give yourself the gift of time with these six lessons for Arthur Miller's "The Crucible". 

Download this packet from ($5.00)

You can download my original 53-page unit plan for The Crucible from

Happy Teaching, ($19.95).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What If? 3 Writing Prompts

Island Survivor Guide
ELA teachers can never have too many writing prompts. This Middle and High School lesson plan offers 3 new activities for students in grades 6-12 to strengthen their writing, understanding of higher level thinking concepts and speaking skills.

The prompts include:
1. Island Survivor Guide
What if you had to stay on an uninhabited island in the Mamanuca Islands chain for 30 days? This island does have a drinkable water source in its mountainous jungle terrain, but food sources are questionable. State why you will be there, list 10 items that you will take and explain why you have chosen them. 

Headline: “Teenager Wins Multi- Million Dollar Lottery”

2. Headline: “Teenager Wins Multi- Million Dollar Lottery”
What if you won $3,000,000 in a lottery? Although you are under 18 years of age, for this writing exercise, you winnings are legally yours. Write the article from a newspaper reporter’s point of view following the given format. 
Note: Keep the Lead Paragraph under 30 words. Body Paragraphs should be 30-45 words. Write in the Inverted Pyramid format by presenting the most important information first and the least important last. This is normal journalistic style, so if anything needs to be cut for space requirements, it will always be from the end of the article. Your article must fit in the provided spaces, only, and

The Perfect Home
3. The Perfect Home
What if you could choose to live anywhere in this world? Where would it be? Where you live right now? Would it be in the High Sierra Mountains? On a Thailand beach? In Highclere Castle? In a high-rise condo in New York City? Who would live with you - your family- a friend- -two Newfoundland dogs-no one? Why is this place- location and type of house- your ideal? Paint a word picture by describing your idyllic home- the place itself, the location and the people/pets who would share this home with you and your reason(s) for this choice. Use the back of this handout if necessary

As an added bonus, in the detailed Teacher Notes, I present another lesson option: "TRY THIS: use any of these activities during the study of any fiction or non-fiction piece to check students’ reading comprehension. In these lessons, students will write from the point of view of a teacher- assigned or student-selected character."

Three activities=Infinite Possibilities. 

Download these lesson plans for grades 6-12 from 

Happy Teaching,