Three Poetry Final Projects for National Poetry Month

By Sharon Kunde

Marianne Moore argued that good poetry fashions “imaginary gardens with real toads in them”: worlds created of words in which toadlike reality crouches and springs on us, eliciting clenched hands, dilated eyes, “hair that can rise/if it must” (24, 5-6). Like good poetry, good pedagogy invites students into the world of ideas and allows them to create useful, authentic experiences and artifacts with those ideas.

While poems are easy to integrate into units on longer prose works, I strongly recommend devoting an entire unit (or more!) to poetry. In honor of National Poetry Month, here are some suggestions for final projects around which you can build an engaging poetry unit.

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Connecting with Students During a Crazy School Year

By Pete Barnes

Connecting with students on a personal level is always challenging for busy teachers, but this pandemic year has been especially difficult for getting to know students and their families. No matter what teaching models our schools are using, we must continue to work extra hard this school year to know students as people. Whether it is exposing our own quirks and personal passions, setting up class time for students to share, or finding ways to make students feel like individuals, teachers must make efforts to connect. The extra time is well-spent, as students who feel accepted and valued are far more likely to learn. Here are some strategies that work for me, with possible modifications for remote and hybrid learning scenarios:

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Given a choice, some students will choose to write poetry.

This post is excerpted from the book Creating Confident Writers: For High School, College, and Life by Troy Hicks and Andy Schoenborn (W. W. Norton, June 2020).

Perhaps one of our most important jobs as writing teachers is to help our writers understand that literacy is much more than reading, researching, and academic writing. For many students, the only real changes they see in their ELA and composition courses over the years are that the mechanical demands become stricter (with specific attention to MLA, APA, or other style guides) and the papers get longer. It is an unfortunate reality that turns many of those same students away from writing or, worse yet, forces them to see school-based prose as the only kind of writing that counts.

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Using EdTech to Increase Student Motivation

By Ian Kelleher

It is so easy to fall for the siren call of a new piece of EdTech. Someone shares a link and you think, “WOW! I’ve got to use that!” While this new program might be a welcome novelty for your students, they won’t necessarily be reaping all the benefits that EdTech has to offer if the technology is not being used strategically.

Instead of trying to work the newest, shiniest EdTech into your lesson plans, effective online teaching calls for a small, well curated list of tools that work for your students, your subject, your community, and your personal voice as a teacher. Remember: you are aiming for a tool belt, not a tool chest or a basement of tools.

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Rethinking deadline-based-learning in the pandemic

By David Nurenberg

A student turns in a paper two weeks late—do you accept it? A student fails a major test—do you let her re-take it?  Do you deduct points? Are there a certain number of “chances,” but then no more?

Do our answers to any of these questions change amidst a pandemic?

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23 Books that Teach K-12 Students about Mental Health

By Kasey Short

With the unprecedented stressors faced by students over the past year—from the COVID-19 pandemic to the police violence perpetrated against members of the Black community—it’s no wonder that many teachers are looking to raise greater awareness of mental hygiene among their students. The more students read books that address mental health, the more we can reduce the stigma that surrounds suffering from and seeking help for mental illnesses. The below books provide examples of characters that experience complex feelings, counter stereotypes surrounding mental illness, show the humanity behind a diagnosis, and provide concrete examples of children who are navigating their own mental health or the mental health of someone they love. 

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5 Ways to Use Digital Storytelling with Your Students

By Kyleen Gray

If slews of Google Document essays and hours of Zoom oral presentations are feeling less and less bearable–you are not alone! As many North Americans approach the one-year mark of pandemic-induced school closures, remote learning fatigue is very real. Whether you’re teaching online, in a hybrid classroom, or in-person but behind masks, the time has never been better to introduce a fun and digital-friendly presentation format into your classroom.

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The Carousel Method: A Cure for Zoom Silence

By David Nurenberg

Since remote learning began, we’ve all had moments when we’ve asked a question of our class, only to be met with a grid of faces—or black boxes—that is utterly silent. Whether you’re trying to generate a discussion or assess learning, the hardest part can often be simply drawing the students out of their shells.

Of course, this dilemma predates remote learning, and teachers have developed many tools for shaking a class out of that stupor and making sure that all students, and not just the avid hand-raisers, get involved in an activity. One of my favorites is the Carousel: it gets every student engaged and cooperatively thinking about an idea. The pace is quick enough to keep them active, and both you and your students can assess knowledge or assemble understanding quickly and thoroughly. Fortunately, all parts of this activity can translate easily to an online environment.

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Strategies for Engaging All Students during Hybrid Instruction

By Miriam Plotinsky

Most of us like to imagine that we are effective multitaskers, but research into human cognition says otherwise. The truth is, it is nearly impossible to do more than one thing well at a time, but people often expect it to happen anyway. As when children attempt the classic challenge of rubbing their bellies while patting the tops of their heads, at least one of those tasks is usually lacking in proficient execution.

With the move to hybrid instruction well underway in schools across the country, teachers are concerned about how to serve multiple populations in different places: to simultaneously and equitably teach students in the classroom and students working from home. While it might not be realistic to assume that every teacher can become an absolute hybrid aficionado, certain strategies help to ensure that all students, whether they join class from home or from school, get the attention they deserve.

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Teaching Young Learners About Slavery, Part II


By Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell

This week, K-12Talk presents the second of a two-part excerpt from a forthcoming book by social studies educators Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell, Social Studies for a Better World: An Anti-Oppressive Approach for Elementary Educators, part of the Norton Series on Equity and Social Justice in Education. In this second excerpt, the authors provide creative solutions for teaching the painful history of slavery to young learners without reproducing trauma.

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