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Analyzing and Evaluating Arguments

foundational Sep 19, 2016

No matter what track they're on, all high school students are expected to master the art of argumentative writing before they get that coveted diploma.  As English Language Arts teachers, well, teaching this skill is our specialty.  But the content I'll share in this post also plays nicely with other content areas as well, so long as you're charged with teaching writing.

Soooo everybody gets a trophy! Yaaassss.

If students are going to write their own argument, they need to analyze and evaluate arguments written by others first.  

By analyzing the arguments of others, our students will gain better perspective of what it means to argue logically, fairly, and credibly; they'll learn by observing both example and non-example.  This has a tremendous real-world takeaway because with these skills, our learners can effectively evaluate those arguments which undoubtedly exist all around them in the modern...

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The All-Powerful Art of Summarizing

foundational Sep 14, 2016

The art of summarizing is a lot harder than it sounds, but it's an essential part of the note-taking process...

Being able to effectively summarize information will help students expeditiously unpack their research to the reader.  

To this end, I'd like to share a few useful activities for teaching summary-writing with your scholars.

Tweet Your Summary

One way I manage to teach the art of conciseness is through a one-sentence summary-writing activity I developed, fashioned after my love for Twitter.  In 30 words or less (as opposed to 140 characters), students are asked to capture the essence of an article's main idea.  It really requires them to think critically about the content and creatively about expression.

(PostScript: the "News & Trends" mini-articles at the start of Upfront magazine are a great resource for this activity.)

Catalog Your Summaries

Another one of my favorite ways to practice summary writing...

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Lending a 'Hand': Using Lenses to Narrow Essay Focus

Quarter 1 has a lot to do with getting your students acquainted with global issues, filling the "blank slate"--so to speak—with those basics that’ll lay the groundwork for deeper research later.

While it’s true you simply can’t cover every contemporary and/or controversial issue out there, you do have the Quarter 1 obligation of helping students feel comfortable with (and even excited about!) these issues before they’re expected to write (at length) about them.  After all, a General Paper student's worst nightmare is not recognizing the wide variety of issues presented on the exam, and an AP Seminar or AICE Global Perspectives student’s worst nightmare is not being able to find a research question in time for through-course deadlines. Therefore, the better we are at teaching them about research range, the better off they’ll be when it comes time to perform.

What better way to open up exploration than getting...

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Growing & Razing an Argument

Uncategorized Aug 18, 2016

When they first arrive on our doorstep, our students are convinced that they're masters of argumentation:

For a humorous way to show your students what an argument ISN'T, check out Monty Python's Argument Clinic! It's a good one!

So confident they are (I say this in love), that when we tell them we're going to write argumentative essays this year, they challenge our very intelligence and purpose altogether:

"'Persuasive,' Miss, you mean persuasive essays.  We learned those in middle school." which the next student replies: "Yeah, we already learned this in middle school, Miss.  Why do we have to do it again?!"

...before the final student jumps in: "I love arguing!  Last year, I made Sally cry during our debate.  It was awwwesome!"

Don't get me wrong...our writers certainly DO have an argumentative foundation somewhere in there by the time they reach us, but they still have a long way to go before they...

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Understanding Perspectives

foundational Aug 09, 2016

I originally wrote this post when I was pioneering several brand new, advanced-level curriculums being made available to high school students: AP Seminar, AS Level Global Perspectives & Research, and AS Level English General Paper.  And though I will mention these course names during the course of this post, it shouldn't be off-putting if you're not teaching these!  Rather, the content found in this blog is applicable to virtually *any* teacher of writing, as it shares some of the most important foundational insights you'll need to teach students the basics of writing!  But instead of omitting them, I wanted to maintain my mention of these courses since so many teachers of these courses rely on this post for guidance!  Thanks, and happy reading!

Teacher: "Ok, teams, for your research, you'll need to examine the issue through multiple perspectives.  Mmm-kay?"

Student (during the presentation of research): "When I did my research from the...

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10 Great Ideas for the First 5 Days of School

21st century tools Aug 08, 2016

August finishes out a season of rest and respite for the teachers of the world and invites a period of rejuvenation to follow.  It's a time when spirits are high, and a fresh whiteboard is waiting for us to color it with our trade.  It's also the time we begin our ceaseless search for new ideas and innovative approaches to shake up last year's material.

So to help you on your quest for a fresh start, I've put together an edgy little guidebook for you, which will hopefully inspire you to 'edovate'!

By clicking on the image above, you'll get instant access to this super awesome guidebook in your inbox, AND you'll officially be part of my mailing list 'VibeTribe'...those awesome people who'll get access to many, many more resources like this to come!

You in?!


I can't wait to navigate this brave, new, 21st-century world of education with edovative idea at a time.

Happy Trailblazin',


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