I have been working on this blog post for almost a week now and each post I start ends before it really begins. I have lots of ideas spinning in my head, but can’t find the words to share them with you. Tonight as I was procrastating and really stuck with what to write, I came across Kylene Beer’s words of wisdom on Facebook – “Write that book, that poem, that blog post or song that is inside you. Stop delaying. Life is too short. Write it – if even only for yourself.”
So today, I give you something simple: my new favorite resource that we have used this year for mentor texts and the research paper. If you have never spent time on The Learning Network, I encourage you to take time this summer to check out this resource. It not only has activities for students to participate in, but also has lesson plan after lesson plan for teachers. There is even a seven unit writing curriculum for middle school and high school English classes to use.
My Favorite Parts of The Learning Network:
We gave our students choice from some of these prompts to use to guide their argumentative research this spring. Each prompt links to a short blurb giving background on the question that is posed to the students. The blurb also includes discussion questions to push the students to dig deeper and think more critically about the prompt from different perspectives. Within each blurb is a link to a longer NYT article that the students can read to start their research on the topic. (EX: Should There Still Be Snow Days?)
We have used these pictures to teach our students the difference between evidence and inferences. Students are asked to annotate the pictures and write down what they notice in the picture and then are asked to make inferences based on what they see. Then they create captions for the pictures based on their observations and inferences. Students can also comment on the pictures each week at TLN and on Thursdays they reveal the background of the photo, the article it comes from, and the original caption.
Just like the above resource, The Learning Network posts graphs to use with students to teach them how to analyze evidence in chart/graph format and then make inferences about what they observe. These are short simple activities that lead to critical thinking and discussions about current events happening in our country.
In this section you will find a lesson overview, a warm up activity, an article for the students to read, questions and writing prompts for students to respond to, and enrichment activities for students to dig deeper on the topic. If you are a fan of Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week, bookmark this link to add new articles to your list.
As you take time this summer to reflect and add new texts to your English class, bookmark The Learning Network as this one you will want to return to over and over again throughout the year. What resources have you found that must be shared with other English teachers? Please share in the comments.
Melissa Sethna lives and teaches with her husband in Mundelein, IL. In a normal school year, she is so busy coaching teachers and planning professional development (along with co-teaching her English class). This year she fell in love with Brene Brown podcasts, Studio Sweat on Demand spin workouts, coaching high school diving, and watching her own sons swim and play high school waterpolo. You can follow her on Goodreads and Twitter @msethna23.