Monday, May 2, 2016


No matter our jobs, careers, titles or the letters at the end of our names-we earned what we are by learning from teachers. Colleagues and friends still leading classrooms, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Every day, but especially during Teacher Appreciation Days, I celebrate you.

Although I have said it before, two of my Teacher Appreciation Day posts share how much I love and support teachers and teaching. In light of all educators do and face, let me reiterate ...

“Teaching creates all other professions,” (Unknown). How true this is! None of us knows how to do everything. That’s why we rely on the knowledge and skills of others.

The air conditioning and heating repairman saves us from sweltering on a sweaty August day or freezing in a single digit December when our home units shudder to a halt.

The chef who creates a sumptuous dinner for us at our favorite restaurant offers us from cooking every night.

The mechanic keeps our cars running.

The doctors and nurses bring us peace of mind and body when we- and those whom we love- are ailing.

Pro-athletes’ knowledge and understanding of their sport thrill us, musicians evoke our emotions and thespians move us from laughter to tears.

We trust that police forces will protect us and fire personnel will save our homes from severe damage.

We rely on those in the intelligence and counterintelligence fields to keep criminals and terrorism at bay.

The military is full of men and women who ensure our country’s safety and keep us strong.

Lifeguards prevent us from downing in bodies of water while pilots and air traffic controllers make guarantee that we don’t fall from the sky.

Those in the field of finance safeguard our money and farmers’ and ranchers’ products fill our larders while writers and artists in all fields creative nourish our minds and spirits.

The list of those who give our lives substance and value is endless, dependant on our wants and needs. How did all of these people learn their craft?  Teachers taught them what they needed to know.

In appreciation for all that teachers can do and choose to do, and do, and do, here is an alphabetic listing of just a few of the people who enable us to enjoy  lives that are healthier, happier, safer and enriched.
Athletes; Air conditioning and Heating service people; Air Traffic Controllers; Artists; Architects; Accountants; Administrative Assistants; Auto Mechanics
Bookeepers; Bakers; Butchers
Chefs; Caterers; Counselors; Clergy; Computer engineers, analysts an programmers; Curriculum designers; Construction managers and workers; Chauffeurs
Doctors; Dentists; Dairy farmers; Dieticians; Database administrators
Engineers; Electricians; Estheticians; Epidemiologists; Exterminators (insects and rodents)
Fire personnel; Financial advisors; Farmers
Geologists; Gynecologists; Geneticists;
Historians; Home designers; House decorators; Hair stylists; Human resources specialist;
Intelligence and counter-intelligence personnel; Internists; Information Security Analysts; Insurance agents
Judges; Journalists; Janitors; Jewelers; Jockeys
Keyboard operators;  Kiln builders and operators; Kitchen supervisors
Lifeguards; Lawyers; Laboratory technicians
Musicians; Military men and women; Mathematicians; Meteorologists; Marketing researchers and analysts; Manicurists; Maintenance workers 
Nurses; Nutritionists
Obstetricians; Ophthalmologists; Opticians; Occupational Therapists
Pilots; Police; Professors; Physicists; Psychologists, Psychiatrists; Physical Therapists; Physician Assistants; Pharmacists; Plumber; Paramedics; Principals
Quality Control personnel; Quilters
Ranchers; Respiratory Therapists; Real Estate agents; Receptionists; Restaurant servers
Software developers; Scientists; Social Workers; Statisticians; Speech Therapists
Thespians; Teachers; Technology specialists; Taxi drivers
Urologists; Underwriters; Upholsters; Utility workers
Veterinarians; Vacuum Cleaner service people; Van drivers
Writers; Web developers
X-Ray Technicians
Yacht designers and builders

And the list goes on, and on and on.

What do all of these professions and careers have in common?  They include people who do what they do because teachers taught them how to read, write, add and subtract, think, analyze, and do.

Jacques Barzun, a French-born American historian, educator and teacher trainer said, “Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.”

Teachers Appreciation  celebrations –be they a Day or a Week-remind us to thank teachers for all that they can do, and all that they choose to do, so that we can successfully do what we do. What a terrific tradition. 

Without educators, we all might as well be living under rocks, grubbing for our food, fending off our enemies in games of Who Has the Biggest Stick, and waiting for some smarter person to discover fire while we die young.

During my school days, my peers and I always understood, even if we didn’t always like the journey or the guide, that our teachers would lead us down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City.  Our treasure, and theirs, was the light in our eyes when we got it.


  • You create your magic every time you share your knowledge, abilities and skills with your students and peers.
  • You create joyful, inspiring and safe classrooms for all of your charges - especially for those who might not experience such pleasures in their personal worlds.
  • You teach us to live up to our potentials, to follow our dreams, and to strive to make this world a better place.

We need your magic- and we always will.

In your honor, Teachers pay Teachers is holding a Teacher Appreciation Sale on May 3rd-4th. Stop in and browse. Give yourself the gift of time with a few lessons and activities.
May Teacher Appreciation Sale

Thank you, teachers! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Create a calm classroom oasis in the chaotic testing month of May

April showers might bring Mayflowers, as the old pun states, but in today's classrooms, May blossoms with  a garden variety of testing, from Advanced Placement to End of Year, or Standards of Learning exams, or whatever name your. school district calls its tests.  Oh, yes, Make-Up Test Days also add rain on teachers' lesson plans, blurring their day's goals.  To add to the question, "How do we keep students on-task and working until the  'School's out for the summer" bell rings, most teachers are required to give-you know this to be true- a final exam!

With an individual novel study, teachers can guarantee that they are offering calm learning oases that will keep students on task as well as wanting to learn. This plan also requires them to be responsible for their assigned work. Best of all, it leaves the chaos out in the hall behind the closed classroom door.

Literary Analysis-MAKING the MOST of TIME  succeeds during those weeks when classes meet fewer times or have a number of scheduled interruptions to learning, such as extended testing periods. It is perfect for May because each day, many students may be absent due to testing, making teaching to the whole group difficult. In my district, the country-wide A.P. exams take up the first two weeks of May. On the day following the last exam, the state's Standards of Learning exams begin. They last until the end of the month and are followed by make-up days, which are crucial for seniors need another chance to pass, a graduation requirement. Teaching becomes catch as catch can for five weeks, creating stress for teachers and students. MAKING the MOST OF TIME keeps students on the Learning Train.

Here are a few suggestions that expand on the How to teach part of the Teacher Notes, the first page after the product cover. The Who, What, When, Where are self-explanatory. Teachers can read them and adjust the goals to their students' skills and abilities.

1. Hand out these packets a week or so before the testing schedule starts.  Not only will this give students the opportunity to choose the book they want to read for this project, and to start reading, but also it allows teachers time to ensure that every student understands the criteria, requirements and time table for this project before they start missing class because of scheduled tests.
2. Explain the parameters for the required books.  My first requirement is that they be novels or narrative nonfiction, like Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. No How-To books, biographies, autobiographies, series of essays, memoirs or collection of poems are allowed.  Also, I set a minimum length of around 200 pages. Zora Neale Hurston's, Their Eyes Were Watching God is required for seniors and it's 184 ,pages, so I set the minimum page limit around there.
3. To keep the choices simple, for a class of 25 students, I select four each of 7-8 novels from the school's book room that I would love the kids to read but didn't have a chance to teach during the year.  To not infringe on my colleagues' literary territories and their grade levels, though, I keep to the level(s) that I am teaching that year- freshman, sophomores, juniors, seniors. I limit my selection to four of each title as I didn't want more than than that number of students to read the same novel.
4. If any of the students  are truly apathetic about the choices, teachers may allow them to choose the novel they would rather read, with parental permission, of course. Although  I really try to enthuse students about those that I chose,  my main objective is to try to turn those students I haven't reached, yet into literature lovers. As James Patterson said,

5. The last four bullet points under this section of the Teacher Notes  depend on each teacher's school testing calendar, how many of the assignments in this packet teachers want to include, and the skills and abilities of their students as well as the responsibility for independent work their students practice..
These next few images reveal the student directions, the first pages of the various activities and the project rubric.

Pages 3, 4 and 5 detail the directions.  It works well if teachers read these aloud while students follow, pausing for questions, answers, clarification when necessary.

Student Direction (3)Student Direction (4)

Student Directions (5)
Page 6 is where students jot down the notes they took while reading.

Notes Handout (6)

Page 7 and 8 show the Plot Chart and activity
Plot Chart (7)Plot Activity (8)

Page 9, 10 and 11 are for students' Quote Journals.  Because all of the pages follow the same format, I included only page 9.
Quote Journals (9)

Page 12 is for the Theme segment of this project.
Theme Activity (12)

Page 13 is the all-important Grading Rubric.
Rubric (13)

The key element to the beauty of this unit is that students create their schedules for completing the work after the teacher sets the Due Date. The May calendar that each teacher hands out to the class should show that every day the class will either read for half of the period, or work on the packets for half of the period. The other half of the period the whole class will either work on a facet of writing or will be divided into groups to discuss various aspects of the chosen novels. For the latter activity, the groups should be comprised of students who have each read a different novel. suggestion: change the groups every day so students encounter a wide range of viewpoints and analytic thought.

Each student designs his/her own schedule for the first half of the period, showing whether he/she will be reading or working on packet assignments.  Teachers choose the second half of the period activity, depending on how many students are present that day, and how many are absent due to testing.

By managing their class time wisely, students will only have to complete the typing and compilation of the required activities at home right before the final packets are due. They should bind all of the components of their packet together in some way - a folder with pockets is best.

Teaching time won’t be interrupted and chaotic because of testing, when this unit plan becomes students' May learning keystone. Its effectiveness stems from dual factors - students hold the ownership for what they are learning and when they are learning. 

More details to aid you as you make May bloom with reading, writing and thinking are included in the course description or this unit. ($)

And you, my teacher friends, will appreciate the fact that your students are challenging themselves intellectually with these substantive activities as they increase their reading comprehension, and their higher level thinking and writing skills with and no loss of learning continuity. 

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every May Day,

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Great Sites! Enjoy A Double Hit of Teaching Propositions

Sometimes, usually on rainy Thursdays - like today,  I can spend hours skimming through my favorite Internet sites for next week's teaching inspiration and find nothing to turn my rain-induced mental frown upside down.

Other times, my surfing strikes my Enthusiasm Jackpot Bell. One of the items that makes my Creative Muse clunk me on my brain and exclaim, "Need inspiration? Check these out for ideas!" isn't even in the Lesson Up! category...until now.

But before I get to it, I just have to talk about this huge Home Run  Planning Double,

Inspiration Ball #1 - Simply Novel's 2016 Spring Catalog.
This catalog is 22 pages of ELA teacher-planning nirvana. Kristen Bowers has long been recognized for her excellent secondary ELA material on her Simply Novel website and in her TpT store Simply Novel Secondary Solutions.    She created this catalog to showcase the abundance of awesome products offered by other ELA Sellers in their TpT stores..Pre-K-2 teachers should browse the
incredible offerings on pages 4-6; Grades 2-5 teachers will find fantastic material on pages 7-10; pages 11-13 offer exciting lessons to those who lead Grades 3-6; teachers in the Grades 6-12 range will sigh blissfully as they peruse pages 3, and pages 14-19; educators whose concentration is Grades 9-12 will find pages 20 & 21 the equivalent of a teacher candy store, and Special Ed teachers' eyes will glow when they see page 12. 

Every product links to its own page in the teacher seller's TpT store. If you want to check out a Seller's complete Store, each ad has a store link for that, too.  Finally, you will find a Seller Index on page 22..

As if this isn't enough to bring out the sunshine, a lucky teacher will win a Flash Drive  full of  ELA plans. Check out the information on the top of page 16, and then click on the Red Arrow in the ad for this cornucopia of Freebies.This offer ends on 7/1/2016.
Simply Novel Freebies Flash Drive
Inspiration Ball #1 - Amazing Geologist Photographic Bonanza
All of these images are from Amazing Geologist photos

Yesterday, a friend put this picture on Facebook. It knocked the breath out of me, and then followed that reaction by constantly pinging my brain with teaching ideas. The first brain flash I had was to make it my Screen Saver, so I did. My second was to wonder if Chris McCandless from Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer) would have trekked off to Alaska if he came upon this magnificence, Would Meursault from Albert Camus' The Stranger have held onto his existential, "The world is random, chaotic and absurd," views if he gazed upon this design? Those are just two thoughts that I'd mention to my students as I shared these images during their reading.
Paria Mountains

And then I clicked onto this incredible picture by Ruth Hager offering a close-up of some petrified wood in the Crystal Forest, a part of the Petrified Forest National Park. Now, I'd love Chico's to create one of their flowing-sleeved ponchos with this design.   But what item of clothing would Janie from Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God want using this colorful motif? I can't even imagine what kind of firestorm would occur if a character from The Crucible (Arthur Miller) showed up in Salem strutting this colorful skirt.
Petrified Forest National Park
This Elephant Rock formation in New Zealand makes my mind conjure up a mythological  story for its existence, Was this elephant turned into a rock for defying the GREAT PACHYDERM?
and, I wonder if this rockin' breakfast plate is a relic from  a volcanic eruption, and was discovered by a future geologist searching for the Great American Lost Diner.
Any of the multitude of, "WOW!" photos in this link could be used as 
  1. Mental stretches for Warm-Up or Closure time
  2. Story Starters
  3. Poetry Generators
  4. Descriptive writing topics
  5. What If ?writings. For example how would a Setting, Plot or a Character from a novel be affected if the author had included the actual place or object in one of the pictures in the novel students were reading? Maybe the picture would set a different Tone/atmosphere, or the location/object would be a major Symbol or the basis for the Theme.
  6. Inspiration for a personal essay for college applications, or
  7. Stimulus for a song, or a movie or a play or a painting.
Surely, this smoky quartz from the Haramosh Mountains in Pakistan conjures up images of a futuristic city in a dystopian novel, (imagine it without the hand).
Take a moment and flip through these images, and let them spark your Lesson Idea Muse or jumpstart a brainstorming session with your colleagues. Hopefully  these images will offer you some terrific lesson ideas for the following weeks.

To truly save your weekends for the rest of your school year, be sure to check out Kristen Bower's Simply Novel Spring Catalog. Just go to Simply Novel and click on the blue-backed ELA Products Galore *Brand New Catalog* picture like the one I shared in this post.

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day,

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Add Spring to Students' Learning with this Quartet of Activities

My goodness I have been away for awhile!  Maybe Punxutawney Phil saw his shadow, but my Writing Muse didn't. She has been hibernating sense the beginning of February.

While she snoozed, I spent the time revising product covers which led to updating some of my activities. Why the cover makeovers? A former teaching colleague and still a good friend started a store on TpT, and I love, love, love his frames and graphics.  DO check out Keith Naquin's store  Here is a collage of a few of his awesome products.
Keith Naquin

Now that Spring has Sprung and the enticements of sunshine and warm breezes are creating havoc with students' attention spans, some fresh activities will bring pull them back to the classroom and the love for learning you all create.

Here are a quartet of ideas to wash away winter's cobwebs, dust  and musty atmosphere from  their brains. 

Geoffrey Chaucer knew that people liked to make pilgrimages in April.  Students will enjoy a trip to Chaucer's Middle Ages, too where they will meet some fascinating people. This 51-page unit plan for The Canterbury Tales includes all of the material from my various products for Geoffrey Chaucer’s masterfully satirical piece depicting the people and society of the Middle Ages, plus added activities, projects and material offering teachers and students multiple ways to study this text. A five-page satire section offers information on satire, as well as vocabulary that is prevalent in satiric works, both written and visual. A fun closure activity invites the class to view The Knight’s Tale movie and then, to compare and contrast it to Chaucer’s work.Check out the Product description and Preview on ($)

April is National Poetry Month.  It is the perfect month for teachers and students to take an excursion on the Lesson-Up Express. This posting offers two tickets:
Option 1. A Literary Connections Tour:
This ticket offers students the chance to find poems, poets and lyrics that fit the themes of any novel or narrative non-fiction book that they are studying. To complete this trip, students will work individually or in teacher-chosen groups to analyze a poem.
Option 2. A Poetry Camp Trip
If students choose this ticket, they will create five original poems from the types written on the cover of this offering and/or types they choose with the teacher’s approval. After they have composed the poems, they will put them in a literary magazine that they created, and will illustrate each one with original or found images.
3.(Required) Poetry Performance Buffet:
All students will present either the results of their Literary Connections Tour or two poems from their Poetry Camp Trip at the Poetry Performance Buffet at the end of the month. See the download for complete details on how to manage this aspect of the project.
Find more information in the Product Description and see the ticket for the Poetry Performance Buffet in the Preview on ($). April will be the coolest, not the cruelest month with this packet.

With this activity, "Write Right! Time for Spring Cleaning," students will spring clean their writing homes. This posting focuses on three aspects of writing:
1. Writing Hang-Ups
2. Making Sense out of Scents, and

3. Musty Memories 
Although each seems like a separate entity from the others, it is not. Students need to expel the roadblocks that stymie their chances for writing success before they can mine their hearts and minds for ideas where they can incorporate sensory imagery. 

And finally, who couldn't use a road trip- even if it is a mental one?  Send your students on one with, "Character Analysis Activity - Road Trip Time".  This language arts lesson for Middle and High School students, allows students to live vicariously through the character that they select. These characters may be from:
1. The teacher's pre-made list using stories they have studied in class
2. The student's choice from stories they have studied in class, or
3. Students' choices from their independent reading.

The teacher chooses when this activity will enhance lesson content and will develop reading comprehension as well as writing and higher level thinking skills. Students are to complete all three of the Teacher Required Components - 
1. Travel Agent Survey - See handout
2. Road Trip Itinerary- See handout
3. Character’s Road Trip Journal- See requirements
as well as one Student Component Choice- See explanations
1. Facebook Road Trip Fan Page
2. Road Trip Tweets
3. Road Trip Scrapbook
4. Road Trip Slide Show
5. Student’s Idea
Note: helpful links for free templates, etc. are given for both the Character's Road Trip Journal and for the Student Component Choices. Check it out on

I bet on spring Friday's or rainy Mondays you could use an, "AHHH, I needed that moment," while students take a road trip with a literary character. This quartet will entice students to learn and keep them on task, giving you a fresh spring in your step.

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day,

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Melt February lethargy with mesmerizing activities

Are your students sinking into hibernation mode like the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, does when he sees his shadow?

Is their attention and motivation yawning them into the recesses of their minds for another six weeks of sleep?

Has your Planning Muse become a victim of the February Fickle Flu, that insidious malady where your creativity mirrors the frigid one day, balmy the next weather?

Fret no further. These lessons will have you covered, no matter the weather- meteorological or personal. With each activity in this post, I suggest how you might use the individual lessons throughout the month.

Comprehension Activity - Score With the Literature Super Bowl

Writing Activities - FABULOUS FIVE PACKET $

Here are the Fabulous Five activities and ideas for incorporating them into your plans.
Teaching Ideas for the activities
1. Then and Now Prewriting Activity
Use this as a Warm-up at the beginning of the month.Have each student use this information for writing a personal narrative about him/herself later in the month. or,
Follow the suggestion above, but ask students to complete the activity, and later in the month-a personal narrative as one of the characters in the story you are currently studying would do. 
2. Playing With Color Worksheet

On twelve days of February, have students complete one of the activities on this sheet for a Closure activity. Give them about 5 minutes to do this.  After they complete the last activity on the 12th day, explain that they now must write a poem that shows as many aspects of their color as they can.  In the poem, they must use as much information from this worksheet that they need to in order to paint a vivid word picture about this color.3. Brain Bumps: Twenty Writing Suggestions to End Idea Vacuums
February has 20 class days, if  president's Day is a school holiday in your district.  Brain Bumps offers 20 activities, but many, many more writing possibilities as many of the numbered suggestions offers multiple writing ideas. Ask students to choose any one of the ideas as a Twenty-Minute Writing Warm-up topic each day.  Do have students  date each entry and include the topic number, and letter, if necessary, such as 12F.  A good length requirement is 250 words.  For MArch, APril, May and June Warm-ups, ask students to re-visit these entries and then expand on them.  They may choose to stick with one for a few days to fully develop the topic.
4. This is What I’m Hungry For!: Thirty Discussion/Writing Topics for Literature

Choose one of these ideas each day as  the focus for part/all of the discussion for the story that the students is studying.  Some of these ideas are better for individual work, while others work well if the students are in pairs or groups up to four students. 
5. Friend or Foe?

This is a  great topic to hook students attention for a review of the story and to evolve into a lively discussion. Students need to include details from the story that they must analyze to complete the work. It hits on four main core areas-reading, writing, critical thinking and speaking/listening.

SUPER BOWL - February 7th
Comprehension Activity: Score With the Literature Super Bowl  FREE
Use this prior to the Super Bowl on February 7th to tap into the Football Fever that tamper with students' on-task behavior, or use it after the finale by offering it as a review activity for a literature study and as closure to six months of pro-football.
Comprehension Activity - Score With the Literature Super Bowl

VALENTINE'S DAY - February 14th
All three of these activities offer students a chance to use Valentine's Day as the theme  for an in-depth  study of  a character or characters from the story they are currently studying or those that they have read as a class assignment previously.   Choose one for each student to complete individually or in pairs, or divide students into pairs and give each pair one of the activities, repeating the activities as needed. Note: the activity, LOVE NOTES includes 6 activities, so you have a total of 8 ideas to incorporate into your lessons.  Be sure to set aside time for students to share their completed projects. To really get into the Valentine's Day spirit, and to make sure that all of your students are remembered on this day, if your districts allows, have a Presentation Party. Have students sign up to bring in decorations like red and white lights, red paper placemats, other paper products, food, drinks, etc. This should be voluntary as some students might not have any money to spare on extras.  A few days before the event, set up a table with red and white construction paper, as well as any glitter, glue etc. for students who would like to make decorations.

Valentine's Day Comprehension Activity: You Sent What??? Cards $


Valentine's Day Comprehension Activity: You Sent What??? Cards

Valentine's Day Comprehension Activity: Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match $

LOVE NOTES - 6 ELA Activities to show, “I love you,” or “I love you not”


President's Day Comprehension & Writing Activity: Hail to the Chief $
This is another project that ties the characters from books students are studying to the real world. Here, students choose a character from the piece that they are reading together, or from one that they have read independent does this project fit into today's headlines-but it is cross-cultural, especially with Government or Civics classes. Maybe students could earn Extra Credit if they share their projects in their Government or Civics classes.  How do you fit this project in with all of the others in this now filled with lessons month? Introduce it on February 1st, and have it due on February 29th- Leap Year Day. Students would work on it as a Home Assignment or in  class, only if all other class work is completed.
President's Day ELA and Government Activity: Hail to the Chief

As a final tactic to rouse your Planning Muse from its  desire to burrow under a pile of quilts, here is a February calendar that shows how to coordinate these ideas with those you already devised. Other than hooking in these activities, the agenda items are general so you can adapt this calendar to meet your plans and your students' needs.
February 2016 ELA Activities Calendar

You will see that not including the quick Closure Activity, I follow the Rule of Three teaching concept to coordinate lessons and activities with students' attention spans...but more on that in another blog.

All too often, February is a forgotten month, or one to just get through.  I hope that these activities will make it a Fun and Fabulous month in your classroom.

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day.

Teach It Write - Build Powerful Academic Homes

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's time for 'The Academic Awards for Literature'!

This morning, I was reading The Washington Post's  Book section and saw that The Martian by Andy Weir, The Revenant by Michael Punke and Brooklyn by Colm Toibin all made the top paperback book sales for last week. Why did these titles ring an, "Aha!" bell in my not-quite-caffeinated-enough brain? Because  just this past week, I read their titles on the Academy Award nominations list for Best Motion Picture of 2015.

Other books turned into movies that made the nominations list in that same category as well as others -some in multiple categories- are The Big Short by Michael Lewis, Room by Emma Donahue, Carol - based on The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff, Trumbo by Bruce Cook, 45 Years - based on In Another Country by David Constantine, and Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

Although many of these books will never be read in the secondary classrooms, some might. The point is- without the original books, these movies never would have been made. This thought made me wonder, "What about literary awards since so many films begin with an already published fiction or non-fiction piece?" 

literature analysis
Students would select their choices for The Academic Awards for Literature  from books they either studied as a class or read independently. It doesn't matter if the book they choose has never been made into a film. They have read enough novels and narrative nonfiction and viewed enough movies to form opinions as to which ones earn the label of the Best.

Would they vote for Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins? The Stranger  by Albert Camus? One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey? The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald, or one of many other solid choices? 

For this activity, teachers build on the Academy Awards nominations chatter to hook Middle and High School students' interest as they write about their reading. The Academic Awards for Literature absorbs students’ interest and motivates them to combine their opinions with facts and details from books as they create their awards and defend their choices.
                                          Literature Analysis Student Directions p.2
The categories for the awards are based on the elements of literature - Characters, Settings, Plot/Conflicts, Symbols, themes and Point of View.

To complete this lesson, students are required to
1. write the category title and their choice for the Best in that category in the given spaces on the certificate.
2. explain and support each choice in a paragraph on the awards certificate, following the points under Writing Criteria. 
3. make sure that their writing specifically addresses the criteria for each category. 
4. defend one or more of their selections during a class discussion.

Literature Analysis Student Directions p.3
Literary Analysis Student Directions p.4

The criteria for Fiction and Non-fiction offers students points to ponder about each element of literature as they consider how to explain the who, what, where, when and why behind their choices.

Example: Characters (Types of characters are in the parentheses): Does the character grow and change (dynamic), show different sides to his/her personality (round), stay one-dimensional in his/her personality (flat) or show no mental/emotional and/or spiritual growth (static)? Is the character: major, minor, the protagonist or the antagonist? Are the characters believable and or sympathetic? Do you care what happens to them?

Literary Analysis p.6

After they choose their recipients for each award students are to fill in the certificates. Here are six of the twenty categories
•Best Fictional Female Character
•Best Fictional Male Character
•Best Supporting Fictional Female Character
•Best Supporting Fictional Male Character
•Best Non- Fictional Female Character
•Best Non-Fictional Male Character
In their explanatory paragraphs, students must state the award recipient as well as the title and author of the text. To defend their choices, the explanations must include three examples along with supporting details that justify each choice and that add clarity to the reasoning behind it.
The Teacher Notes page lists the Common Core Standards that pertain to this activity as well as the Bloom's Taxonomy terms students will utilize. 
Literary Analysis teacher Notes p.5

For another engaging activity for books that have been turned into movies, try - ($1.25)
Literature and Movie Analysis Activity

These lessons mesh reading, writing and viewing into activities that are guaranteed to ignite lively discussions where students support their opinions with facts and details. Who knows- someday one of their book choices might be turned into a movie, and they will hear their choice  introduced during the 20_ _ Academy Awards  with the words, "And the winner is...".

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day Every Day.