Bishop McDevitt

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Shakespeare's Life

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A brief history of the life of William Shakespeare given by the experts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Includes sections on his early life, his successful years in London, and his enduring legacy.

Material Type: Reading

Remix

Using Details to Determine Theme

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Students often struggle to find theme in literature--one that is not a bumper sticker, a "moral to the story," or anything that could be applied to more than one story.  Understanding what theme is, an implicit argument the author is making, is the first step.  Then it gets more complicated as they realize that there are wrong answers (the ones that don't make sense with the story), there are undeveloped answers (ones that don't get far enough past motif but are on the right track), and there are many possible correct answers that can be explained and supported with the text. This activity uses the Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate strategy in small groups to help students focus on the details of the story and how they contribute to the overall point of the story.  It can be used with any piece of literature you deem appropriate for your students.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Kim Grissom

English Language Arts, Grade 11, Name That Theme

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In this short unit, students will spend three lessons exploring the importance of themes and main ideas in fiction and informational texts.  Now would be a good time to have them take an assessment of their reading and writing skills. They'll explore theme through O. Henry's classic short story  "The Gift of the Magi" and consider how this piece compares to the main idea in the article "The Proven Power of Giving, Not Getting."

Material Type: Unit of Study

Remix

Text Evidence for Analysis

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Whether freshmen or AP seniors, students often forget to back up their statements about texts with evidence for support or to begin with the text when considering answers to literary questions.  The more we ask them to provide textual evidence in discussion, analysis activities, essays, and on tests, the more ingrained this important skill will become.  This lesson was designed for freshmen at the beginning of the year as they begin analyzing literature.  The handout and question refer specifically to the story "Poison" by Roald Dahl, but feel free to remix the lesson to work with another text, older students or nonfiction.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Kim Grissom

The Crucible Unit

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This unit explores multiple themes in both the play The Crucible and real historical contexts in order to deepen our understanding of human nature while sharpening our literary analysis skills. As students read, heavy emphasis is placed on using textual evidence to support character and theme analysis. Students will also work on strengthening research skills. The summative assessment involves analyzing how a common theme can be seen during both the play and the McCarthy trials based on analysis of a variety of sources.

Material Type: Unit of Study

Author: Margaret Murray

Greek and Roman Root Vocabulary

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We all know how important a strong vocabulary is, and let's face it, if a student wasn't an avid reader as they grew up, they probably don't have a varied vocabulary. Plus, memorizing one word at a time on a weekly list that seems to go on forever and ever can be discouraging for students who have little skill in decoding or comprehending. Studying and becoming familar with Greek and Roman roots can help students identify parts they might know in unfamilar words, and this may lead to building stronger access to higher level words more quickly.This module is designed to help the students focus on two to three roots per week through ten to fifteen words. Through the week, they are given tasks to work with the roots and develop a relationship to them so they can access them more readily when reading higher level texts. By working with antonyms, synonyms, and building sentences, students develop the ability to decode faster and comprehend more. Hopefully, this leads to stronger success in, not only the academic world, but the workplace and home life as well.

Material Type: Module

Author: Deborah Maroulis