Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Family of Writers

It's interesting about big family gatherings. At first, I'm hesitant to want to get all the kids ready and go. I guess it's the unknowing of what I'm in for, and I think, "I haven't seen most of these guys in a year. What will we talk about?"

The cool thing I realized tonight is I love my family. We share so many similar passions. There are two bloggers/writers in the family besides me, and the word "blog" is not a four letter word to them. They get it and they enjoy it. Besides writers, I also have several educators in my family, and I can connect with them on an entirely different level since becoming a teacher myself.

I would like to pass on the writings of my family. If you enjoy reading my blog you might also enjoy reading theirs as well.

My uncle, Ed Wyrick, is a recently retired high school counselor and published author, who has overcome personal struggles, while also maintaining a phenomenal career. He documents his journey to healthy living through his website and blog called, "My Reclaimed Life." which can be found at Check it out. He has some great advice!

My cousin, Julianne Wyrick, is a freelance writer, finishing her master's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. She loves to research and write on nutrition and food science. She has a true passion for science, and is even thinking of applying her knowledge to the classroom one day. She would make an excellent teacher. Check out her website at She has links to her work, which is excellent.

Insights that I'm constantly discovering about my family is their desire to achieve, their desire to learn, and their desire to share their discoveries with others knowing that we are all apart of life's journey together. I feel happy and proud to share my own discoveries along with them.

The Wisdom of Our Elders: 5 Lessons That I've Learned

I love listening to the elderly. I believe there is so much we can learn by just spending time with them.

Over the past year, my family and I have spent every Saturday morning enjoying breakfast with my 93 year old grandfather (my mother's father). He is still extremely healthy and independent. This Christmas I also spent time with my 90 year old grandmother (my father's mother). She's lived alone for many years, and is voraciously independent. I admire both of my grandparents, because in their 90's they are still vibrant and strong. The following is a few of the lessons I've learned from them.

Lesson One: They both have a strong commitment to God, and put their faith as a top priority. My grandparents still go to church every week. My grandfather still goes to a weekly Bible study. My grandmother told me this week, "I know the one Sunday I wake up and think, 'Oh, it's just too hard. I don't want to go.' That is the day it will all be over. You've got to get up and keep moving. The day you stop is the day it's all over." How many of us already think that? How easy is it for any of us to get lazy, and keep God from being our central focus.

Lesson Two: They always put family first, even if it meant sacrificing their own desires or needs. Throughout their lives, my grandparents made choices so their families stayed together. It doesn't mean that either spouse was always happy about the decisions, but they did the hard work, and it always worked out. Also, they both took care of their spouses who both needed great care until they passed on. Neither one of them allowed their spouses to be placed in a retirement home. I admire them for their demonstrations of love and commitment even when it wasn't easy.

Lesson Three: They never slow down. Both of my grandparents have always been known as "busy bees". After my grandfather retired as an airline pilot, he went straight into a second career as a cattle farmer. In his sixties, he was out in the pasture for hours everyday. He didn't sit around doing crossword puzzles. He was active. My grandmother is still known for her impeccable house keeping skills. My father says that he always remembers her with a dust rag in her hand hopping around the house cleaning with fury. Today, she continues to walk straight as an arrow, full of vibrant energy.

Lesson Four: They care about what they eat. My grandfather drinks a lot of water. He hates soda, and will offer great insights into how bad it is for you. He's always been pretty aware of his sugar intake more than anything. He doesn't worry about the fat count as much as the sugar count. On the other hand, my grandmother loves sugar, but she stays away from soda and alcohol. All in all, they've always eaten healthy meals with plenty of fresh veggies. My grandmother still plants her own garden, and eats her own vegetables.

Lesson Five: They are mentally strong and face their fears. My grandfather is a very scheduled routine person. Every Saturday, he took my grandmother to the local Waffle House for breakfast. My grandmother took her last breathe one Saturday morning over breakfast. The very next Saturday, my grandfather returned to the restaurant alone. I believe he did this as a test of will power. He had to keep going.

My grandmother continues to live on the tobacco farm that belonged to my great grandfather in North Carolina. She lives alone on the farm. She is not afraid. She'll say, "I just pray for God to protect me when I go to sleep at night, and I don't worry about it."

In closing, I would encourage anyone to speak with a relative or neighbor who has lived to their 90th year. Both of my grandparents have lived through trials as well as joys. But, they keep going strong. What a great example for all of us!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Teachers: Stay Passionate. Stand Strong. Never Apologize.

All great educators have critics, fellow educators who want to bring them down, which can be difficult. I believe education is one of the most rewarding yet toughest professions, because you truly have to put your full heart into it to be successful. But, any time you put your full heart into something, there is the possibility of being let down by others.

The following are three ways to be strong despite critics:

1. Stay Passionate: Do what it takes to stay passionate about education. Reach out through social media, call an old friend or mentor, read, and reflect. Focus on the positive, and those who are there for you, and want you to succeed. Create a personal mission statement, and stand by it.

2. Stand Strong: I believe that it is human nature to want to fit in. No one wants to be an outsider. However, never worry about fitting in if it means you have to compromise on your values, principles, or work ethic. Don't lower your standards. Don't hold back to please others. Bring your best everyday.

3. Never Apologize: I was raised in the south, and as a result I was brought up to be kind. I was raised not to stand out, or be too forward. This can be good and bad. Of course, I want to be humble, and I want to be kind, but not to the point of weakness. I would suggest that all educators stand by their work, and never feel bad or apologize for bringing your best to the classroom.

Additional Reading for Staying Strong:

In the book, Real Talk for Real Teachers, Rafe Esquith has a chapter entitled, "Haters". I loved reading this book, and Esquith's advice always sets me at ease. Although I believe that most teachers truly mean well, and I would not consider them "haters", I do believe some teachers can be hurtful without even realizing it.

The following is an excerpt from Esqiuth's book. It is worth the read.

I am sorry to raise the issue, but it's an important one, and something all good young teachers will likely encounter. We live in as Don Henley sang in "The Heart of the Matter," in a "graceless age." Time and time again, when I meet outstanding teachers, they relate a tale about a coworker who was mean to them simply because they were doing a good job. Jealousy is an ugly emotion that often leads to unprofessional and cruel behavior.

Hate can arise from the simplest of issues. One of our school's teachers was on maternity leave, so a substitute was brought in to finish the last several months of the year. She was outstanding. One could not ask more from a replacement. Rather than simply going through the motions, this woman wanted the class to finish strong. She began a book club during their lunch hour to help her students discover a love of reading. She was bothering no one. She simply stayed in her room during the lunch hour reading with children who voluntarily joined the activity.

A few teachers who taught in the same grade approached her and asked why she did not come to the teacher's lounge and join them for lunch. She said that she would love to, but she had started a lunch time book club that had picked up steam and significantly helped some of her students. This information was greeted with an infamous question:

"What are trying to do--make us look bad?"

Any good teacher has winced upon hearing this. Of course the substitute was doing nothing of the kind. But it depressed her to have fellow teachers frown upon her effort. The majority of the staff admired her work, and some teachers began similar clubs. Still she told me she felt uneasy every time she passed this small group of colleagues infected with the green eyed monster.

It can and probably will happen to you. When it does. It hurts. No amount of advice can take away the pain if you are a sensitive person. Ironically, that sensitivity is a blessing and a curse. It drives you to do more for your students because you care deeply about them, but it provides little armor against tactless comments.

Try not to take it personally. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person slinging the arrows. Your school is not unique. I have had the privilege to speak with teachers from all over the world and the story never changes. From Bangkok to Taipei to Rio to Main Street, U.S.A., every school has mediocre individuals who tear down rather than build up.

Equith's Last Thoughts For Consideration...

  • Never forget the words of an extraordinary teacher named Jeanne Delp. She once observed: "When what you are reminds other of what they are not, hostility results."
  • If you come up with a new idea or do something different in a school, someone will be unhappy with you. Your class could be discovering the cure for cancer and a hater will criticize you for it.
  • Good teachers do not hate extraordinary educators. They emulate and collaborate with them.
  • When feeling down about a colleague's unprofessional behavior, take solace in the fact that many teachers in your school are fabulous human beings. A couple of bad apples can make a person forget the fact that the majority of educators make the human race look good.
  • Always remember that you do not have the power to make anyone look bad. Bad teachers look bad all by themselves. They don't need your help.
  • As difficult as it may be at times, take the high road when dealing with a hater. If necessary read chapter 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird and watch Atticus Finch handle the wheelchair bound Mrs. Dubose. She is hell on wheels (literally), but Atticus treats her with respect and dignity. Being polite to disagreeable people is a strong message to model for your students.
I am planning to reread Esquith's book over the break. I suggest that all new teachers take heart, stand by their work, and continue to strive for excellence.

Teachers: Create Some Spark Before a Long Break

"Welcome to the Starlucks Cafe! The best cafe in town!" I exclaim to my students as we begin our poetry recitation.

The room was dimly lit with Christmas lights, tablecloths on the desks, lit candles (fake ones from the dollar store), sparkly confetti around the table, plates, napkins, and cups. I walk around to each student filling their cups with warm cocoa and topping it with mounds of whipped cream and chocolate syrup. "Wow! Mrs. Farmer, that looks so professional! I just want to take a picture of it!" says one student with a bright smile on her face. I smile back with delight as I pass the bakery items around for all to enjoy at the Starlucks cafe.

Then, I offer a quick lesson on poetry recitation. We discuss the importance of eye contact, voice, and movement. I allow them to pick from a handful of props, so that they might feel more playful with the poem. I section off a part of the room as the official stage, and then called my first student to the floor.

The students adorned themselves with various props, and recited their poems with great flair. They worked even harder when our Principal came in for a visit. The students showed off their tremendous talents to him by acting out their poems, using different accents for fun, and not using their notes. What a great connection between the principal and the students. That was awesome to watch!

At the end of the day, I felt very content that my students were able to do something fun with poetry, but also learn. Ninety percent of my seventy-six students knew their poems word for word, including title and author. My hope is that will never forget their special poem, and that a lasting memory was created, and that all my students will be pumped about returning back to school in January.

Now, I would like to reflect on a few things that any teacher should keep in mind before delving into a classroom activity like this one:

1. Time, Extra Effort, and Planning are Required: The majority of my students come from low income families in a rural area. There is no local McDonalds or Starbucks. The fact they got cocoa with whipped topping, and chocolate syrup was magical to them. That is one of the main reasons it is so rewarding for me to conduct enriching activities with my students. It's new, different, and exciting for them. However, it does cost money and I don't always feel that I should ask the parents to chip in on the items needed. My advice would be to create a budget, always be on the look out for sale items, shop around, and know that the Dollar Tree has almost everything a teacher needs for a dollar! Also, give jobs to the students. Have them help with decorations around the room. Take 5-7 minutes of class to get them to do odd jobs in preparation for the big event. It gives them ownership of the project, especially middle grades. They want to feel that they are contributing.

2. It's Worth the Time and Effort Required: First, I believe that lessons like the poetry cafe demonstrates to our students that they matter. Anyone can show a Christmas movie and hand out candy, but does that show that their learning is of essential importance? We can make learning fun, and accomplish learning goals before a break. Additionally, I believe that planning these types of lessons teaches my own children how important it is to serve others. I have three children ages ten and under. They willingly help me with my lessons, shop for my students with me, often for two or three hours after school. But, they hardly ever complain. They support me and what I do. I know they will look back at these times, and understand what it means to work hard and serve others. Finally, it gives students a reason to come to school. A wonderful teacher told me yesterday, that two or three students explained to her that they weren't planning on coming to school, even though she was giving a test. They decided to come to school because they wanted to be apart of the poetry cafe! Wow, that was so great to hear, and I told her she should do something cool next time. Wouldn't it be great if teachers all took turns creating magical days in the classroom. Students would never want to stop coming!

So, teachers, sprinkle in some magic on those last days before the break. It will make the time off that much sweeter!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Importance of the Writing Process for Bloggers be or not to be...that is the question. Over the past few months I've developed a bad case of blogger burn out. This burn out led me to begin reading more personal blogs of other educators to get a little perspective. I concluded the following:

1. Bloggers Tend To Scream-- As I read many of the posts, I felt the emotions of the writers just jump off the page right at me. It literally felt like they were screaming at me. Now, reflecting, I know that I do that too at times. But, when do I do that? Well, often when I haven't spent the time to develop my ideas, or have someone else read them. Writing is a process, and that process takes patience. (Pre-write, draft, revise, edit) These are the recursive stages of the writing process. Once, that is done, and done well, it's time to press publish.

2. Bloggers Risk Becoming EgoCentric- I believe in today's world of social media, it is hard not too fall into the trap of, "Look at me! I'm awesome, and I've got something awesome to say!" I do think it's important to have a voice, but I think bloggers just need to be careful. It goes back to the writing process again. If we want to produce quality work--then we must revise and edit. Bloggers don't need to post everyday, or every week for that matter for their voice to be heard. Blogging too much can create noise. It loses something- like it's just not special anymore.

3. Keep It Simple: When I wrote a blog post for The Nerdy Book Club, I had to keep it within 800 words. The editor sent the post back to me at least twice for suggestions on how to improve the post. It took extra time, but it was well worth the effort. The best writers know that they must seek out editors who will take a critical view of their work, and offer solid suggestions for improvement. Creating quality content with fewer words is an excellent goal.

As a writer, I don't want to give up on writing. However, I do believe that I need to get back to my roots. It's time to slow down, and follow my own advice.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ELA Teachers: Students Fighting the Mid Year Blahs? Fire Up Your Readers Again!

The beginning is so great, isn't it? Your students look up at you with wonderment, their eyes sparkling with all that might lie ahead. You are so excited to bring your best everyday, too, knowing that you are ready to change lives and create readers! But, now, as Christmas draws near, you look out at your students to see only dull, lifeless faces, painfully grabbing their novels for personal reading time. Yes,  there are still a few that look to you with hopeful eyes, and that offers some inspiration, but you know deep inside that something has to change. It's time to step outside the box.

I set out to create a reading and writing community within my classes this year. It started out great, and many of my students have already read 30 books or more.  For some, the fire ignited and they are reading for pleasure for the first time ever. Awesome! But, many still see it as a chore, which bothers me.

Now, I am a big believer that it is never too late for change. So, I've been thinking, and here's what I've decided.

First, there is no silver bullet: Just offering time to read is not enough to create a classroom of readers. Making the students write reading responses, book reviews, etc. will not create readers either. In fact, sometimes, it does the exact opposite, because it can cause reading to be a chore. Who enjoys chores? Not me. We have to mix it up. Instead of a book review this week, I'm having my students bring in one item (drawing, picture, or thing) that connects to what they are currently reading. We are going to go to the media center, sit on the floor, and share with each other. I may have to change this every week. I don't know. But, I do know for kids to stay excited about reading, repetition has to go!

Secondly, students need to show off what they are reading: I saw this post, and loved it! Check it out at

I loved the idea of taking pictures of the kids with their books and posting them on bulletin boards. I'm going to do this, because I think it will be exciting to them to see it in the halls, in my classroom, and on my teacher website. I believe it could create a sense of identity, and something to talk about.

Integrate technology: I created a wiki for for summer reading program, and I would like to do that again. It helps to faciliate an online discussion about what students are reading. Students can post when they like, and I can respond when time permits. I am going to do that again. I will also create a classroom blog where the students can write and upload their book reviews. They can add pictures or book trailer videos. I'm going to research into Skype, and see if we can't have some authors visit us in the classroom via the Smartboard. I believe we have cameras. My first contact will be Mike Lupica, author of Million Dollar Throw or Karen Hesse, author of the novel, Out of the Dust. Why did I not think of this before?

Sometimes, in our desperate attempts to get students to learn, I think we forget that learning is supposed to be fun. We've got to put ourselves in the shoes of our students. We must keep asking ourselves, how can we connect the content with students in ways that will be memorable?

Wishing all ELA teachers a happy journey as we embark on the second half of the school year. Remember, it's never too late!

~It is never too late to be what you might have been.~

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Always Striving For Personal Excellence

The title of my blog is Teacher Excellence: Passion, Planning, and Perseverance.

I got the three P's last year, while researching a lesson for my "Dream It and Achieve It" Unit. I was watching a video by Homer Hickam, author of The Rocket Boys. The video inspired me, and rung true to my own passion as an educator.

In this post, I will revisit the 3 P's, knowing that sometimes, we all need a little reminder on what it means to be excellent.

Check it out....

Passion: The definition of passion changes daily for me I think. I do believe education is absolutely my element. I do love it, maybe too much at times, because it can interfere with a balanced family life. I'm still striving for excellence in this area, but I know that it is all about setting priorities and being proactive in the right ways.

Check out this video on being in your element...

Don't Let Your Laddar Lean Against The Wrong Wall...
As a person seeking excellence, I must make sure my priorities are straight, and my personal mission statement is the focus. For me, God and family come first. But, do I always demonstrate that in the actions I take? Not always. Sometimes, I put work ahead of family, which is understandable, but cannot be a habit or I risk pushing my family away.

Check out the following video, which illustrates the importance of character and trust...

Planning: This element of excellence is an absolute necessity for the field of education as well as home life, but it can be difficult. Personally, I struggled with organization for years. As a result, I commit myself at work to spend the extra time needed to make sure that I'm on top of things. However, at home, I can easily get distracted by various projects, and things like grocery shopping falls off the to do list. However, unless I want my family to eat peanut butter everyday, I must plan accordingly.

The following video is a different perspective. It highlights the hum drum reality of daily life, and how we can choose to react to it. Hopefully, we all look for the positives in our daily routines.

Personally, I still love the Covey organizing system as far as planning goes. It just works for me...

Perseverance: I don't believe anyone can make it in education if he/she doesn't have the strong commitment to persevere passed the difficult days. But, the same can be true for marriage and family. Everyday will not be a blissful experience. Our students can be challenging as well as our spouses and children. It's just the way it is. People of excellence know that, are willing to face those challenges, and make the most of it, knowing that life isn't all "sunshine and rainbows," as Rocky is quoted as saying. However, although difficult, the joys override the trials every time. The best things in life never come easily.

Clips for women who need to stay focused and persevere:
Lead Your Home
7 Secrets of a Confidant Woman by Joyce Meyer

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Writing the Formal Research Paper

Over the next couple of weeks, my students will be working on formal research papers that will support the reading of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

This is usually a fairly difficult task, especially for 6th grade teachers, because many of our students have never done formal research.

This is what I have ready for tomorrow.

Standards: W.6.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources.
EQ: How to write an effective research paper?

Beginning with something funny....

One of my fellow English teachers showed me this video, and I thought it might be a way to lighten the mood as we continue with the research process.

Serious and slightly boring video on the steps of the research process.

Prezi on the steps of the research process

The students will take notes on the processes, and then we will return to the media center for more research time and note taking surrounding the various topics of World War II, The Holocaust, and Anne Frank.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Publication: Bring It to Life

My middle grades students and I decided to write a book as a project for this unit. I'm so thrilled about it, and I think it will be really great.

My last class had a few extra minutes today, so we decided to brainstorm the outline of the book, and this is what we came up with...

The theme will be grit/perseverance. (The demonstration of stubborn courage, bravery, and tenacity).

The main sections/chapters of the book will include:

  1. Family
  • overcoming death of a family member
  • jail time of a parent/sibling
  • fights/disagreements
  • divorce
     2. Friends
  • rejections of friends
  • fights
  • breaking promises
  • having each other's backs
    3. School
  • teacher and student relationships
  • overcoming disabilities
  • struggling with grades
 4.  Sports
  • Striking out
  • injuries
  • getting hurt, but getting up again
The book will include short stories based off these themes. The students will be writing daily. The goal is to have a completed draft by March.

I think this could make for a great book, and we are all excited about it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rising Up From Hate: Equality for All

Tomorrow, I will begin a new unit entitled, "Rising Up From Hate: Equality for All". My students will compare and contrast the Holocaust with the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement. I will do this through the use of two books, The Diary of Anne Frank and Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.

My students have a goal to write and publish a book from this unit. I believe that this would be very easily accomplished, because the unit relies on self reflection and discovery. Therefore, a collection of essays and poetry with this theme could make for an excellent read.

I will begin the unit with Anne Frank, and work in Claudette Colvin later in the unit.

Ok...on with the lesson.

I will introduce the lesson with writing and discussion.

The students will have to write for 5 minutes responding to the unit title, "Rising Up From Hate: Equality for All".

Once they have completed their writing, we will have a classroom discussion on their responses to the prompt.

I will then give every student a copy of the Diary of Anne Frank, along with a KWL chart entitled, The Holocaust.

The students will take a few minutes filling in what they already know about The Holocaust or Anti Semitism.
Then we will read a biography of Anne's life and watch a couple of clips from the following source. They will fill in the KWL chart as we read, listen, and discuss.
Finally, we will read the introduction to the novel, The Diary of Anne Frank, together as a class. We will also review the chapters, and observations such as vocabulary usage by Anne.
The students will also begin a formal research paper based off either World War II, The Holocaust, Anne Frank, and Jewish traditions this week along with the reading of the novel.
I can't wait to begin the unit tomorrow!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Christian Educators: To God Be The Glory

I've always been a person who remembers dreams vividly. Sometimes, I hate it, but it's also helped me to guide decisions and be reflective.

A few nights ago was the one year anniversary of my grandmother's passing. That night my grandmother appeared in my dream, and what she told me has stayed with me for several days.

In the dream I was sitting in a booth in a small diner. Across from me sat an elderly man that I'd never met before. As I sat there, I noticed my grandmother walk in with the strength and confidence that she always exuded before her disabilities  stopped her. There she was head held high, and strolled straight behind the cafe counter. She picked up a sundae glass, and created a marvelous confection with ice cream, soda, and whipped cream. During this time, I sat watching her, wondering what she would do next. Then, she sauntered over to my table, looked at the old man in front of me, and said, "Move over."

The old man quickly obliged, knowing there would be no point in arguing. My grandmother sat directly in front of me in the booth, and began to spoon a bit of ice cream to her mouth, but stopped and said frankly, "We are very proud of the courage you've shown in working with the children, but just make sure you are doing it to honor God."

The dream ended.

Anyone reading this can probably understand why that shook me up a bit. But, isn't it the truth. It is so easy to start working for the validation of others, to be recognized by those we admire. I know I'm guilty of that. But, that is false, and will only lead to disappointment.

Today, I want to offer thanks to my grandmother.

"Thank you, Grandmom, for reminding me the purpose of my life's work. That no matter what I do it will always be for the glory of God alone."

Colossians 3:17
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Making Myself Clear....

Yesterday, I received a very nasty comment on a particular post from an "anonymous" blogger. It was actually quite horrifying to me, so I quickly removed my blog site.

Now, I have no idea why that happened, but it led me to reflect on a few things about myself as an educator.

First, yes, I am passionate about my ideas and desire for change: I would never want to offend an educator who has spent years in the field. The hard work and dedication exhibited by so many teachers leaves me in awe, and I myself was unsure that I had what it took for many years. On the other hand, I am here now. I did make it. And as such, I want to be the teacher to others that I never had in my adolescent years.

Secondly, I want to encourage and be a voice for other teachers who want to make it in education: It is not easy to become a teacher. The news is always screaming for better educators- educators who want to make a difference, but then they make it almost impossible to get certified. There are so many hoops to jump through. It is hard enough as a eighteen year old, but nearly impossible for a thirty something. It took great sacrifice on the part of my family. As a result, I want to be the mentor teacher that I never had during my graduate program. I want to take the time, and show budding teachers that-yes, it's difficult-but you can do it--you can be a teacher of excellence!

Thirdly, I do have an expectation of excellence: I learned this from the school of hard knocks. There have been times in my life when I demonstrated work that was less than excellent. I was just going through the motions. Then, one day a dear friend knocked me in the teeth--figuratively speaking--and woke me up. Although, upset at the time, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Sometimes, we all need a little kick to remind us, "Hey, get in the game or get out."

Finally, my hope is that any educator reading this blog knows that I am open to ideas of others. That I do believe that we are all apart of this educational journey together, and that most of us are doing our best with the gifts that we are given.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Teachers: How To Keep The Fire Burning

Teachers: Keep The Fire Burning

It's interesting starting a new career in your thirties, especially education. There are positives and negatives, but overall I believe I'm a better educator because of it. In fact, I often fall into conversations with other parents that leads them to say, "Are you sure you are a teacher? You don't sound like the ones I know." I usually respond by stating, "Well, honestly, I'm not sure I've drunk the teacher Kool-Aid yet."

Side Note: (My definition of "teacher Kool-Aid" is educators who believe that they are victims of their students behaviors. They tend to blame failures in the classroom on the children, their parents, and the administrators. Kind of a glass half empty philosophy. These feelings spill over into the classroom. The students and parents are deeply affected in negative ways as a result.)

I know I may have just struck a nerve. So let me explain...

Growing up I got very burnt by the system. The wound was deep, and kept me from pursuing a career in education for many years. In fact, I believe that if I'd had a teacher, a dear teacher that believed in my capabilities, and woke me up, it may have been different.

Now, I know that I can't change the system, but I can absolutely change what happens in my classroom.

As a teacher, I have a purpose, and that purpose is to be an advocate for each of my student's learning. To look each one of them straight in the eye, and see who they are through and through. For each one of my students to know..yes...I do matter...someone is watching me...I'm not invisible.

I'm sure many new teachers can relate to this desire. New teachers are on fire! But, many also quit teaching by their fifth year. Why is that?

Well, honestly, I think sadly many new teachers end up drinking the Kool-Aid.

So, how can new teachers stay passionate and keep their fire going? Here are 5 ideas.

1. Stay Passionate Despite Obstacles: Staying passionate is a choice, and that choice takes commitment. New teachers often hear the following, "Yeah, you're passionate now, but give it a few years. It'll wear off." What a terrible message for new teachers! But, isn't this same message heard so often in life. "'re newly married. How sweet! Just give it a few years. All that lovey dovey stuff will wear off." "Ahhh...what a sweet little baby. She is adorable! But, ohhh..just wait until she's three. It all changes." Why do people do this?

2. Be Courageous: Voice Your Ideas: There will be teachers who don't want to hear your new ideas or may see you as a threat. Although difficult at times, I would encourage all teachers to be strong and voice their new ideas. Change is a good thing. Share!

3. Find Outlets Outside of School: It is difficult for any school to meet all the needs of a new teacher, but so what? We can't sit and whine about it. Teachers must find alternative learning sources and outlets. I have found blogging to be a great tool for reflecting, learning, and researching. Yes, it may be a bit of a time investment, but it is a worthy one. Twitter is another great source for learning. It allows new teachers to connect with other teachers outside of school with similar interests and passions.

4. Close Your Doors and Teach:  New teachers must keep account of their feelings. Each day changes, and each day creates different challenges. It is ok to just shut out everything, and concentrate on the students. Make the day great for them.

5. Create a Mission Statement: What is your purpose? Why are you teaching? This may change over the years. Why not revisit this every year? We must know our true purpose in being educators. Rededicate yourself to what really matters in the classroom.

Above all, I think we, as educators seeking excellence, must know that anything worth doing well, will have its challenges just as with everything worth commiting to in life. However, we must believe that we can rise above negative behaviors, stay strong, and do what it takes to keep the fire burning strong!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ELA Teachers: How Many Strands Are You Teaching?

For English Language Arts educators, the common core comprises of four main strands: reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language. Over the last year or so, since the implementation of the standards, I've overheard many teachers argue that the speaking and listening strand is not important or as important as the other strands.

Many language teachers are avid readers and passionate writers. The thought of lounging on a cushy, warm sofa, drinking tea by the fire, with their favorite book in hand offers comfort to their souls. Or sitting outside on their favorite lounge chair, notebook in hand, scribbling verses of poetry as the sun rises, all while sipping a hot cup of coffee, sounds serendipitous. On the other hand, many language teachers don't yearn to stand in front of an audience, palms sweaty, voices quivering, mouths drying to deliver a speech. As a result, many ELA are not passionate about this particular strand within the Common Core.

Many elements of language comprise of solitary tasks. Reading is an introverted task in many ways. As readers, we quietly hold our books, with our heads buried in them. We look up on occasion to share our discoveries, with little thought on our presentation of those ideas. Furthermore, as writers, we may do the same, we write by ourselves and then share our discoveries via Blogger or some other form of social media, never having to face a real audience of our peers. Therefore, many ELA teachers believe sharing and open classroom discussion is evidence enough of mastery in the speaking and listening strand.

However, I believe that many ELA teachers need to change that mindset, if we are going to prepare our students for college and career. ELA teachers have a special opportunity to use this strand to create leaders for tomorrow. The following TED Talk illustrates the point of body language and how our own body language changes how we view ourselves, and how others view us.

This is the type of knowledge that should be taught within the speaking and listening strand.

I feel lucky in a sense, that my undergraduate (Speech Communications) and graduate degree (English/Reading) hit on all elements of language. I've been trained to understand the importance of each strand. I've also witnessed first hand how important presentation is in all aspects of business. Students today must master all four to succeed in tomorrow's workforce.

For all ELA teachers, who passionately read and write, but have not been trained in public speaking, I would urge you to take a course, put yourself out there, and master the skills that must be taught in the classroom today.

As ELA educators, we are all more passionate about certain strands than others, but we must understand that each strand is of equal importance if we want students who truly are college and career ready.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

New Teachers: 5 Insights of Successful Classroom Management

Classroom management. One of the toughest areas to get your head around as a new teacher. However, it is vital for success in the classroom.

There are so many educational experts out there, with different views and philosophies on how classroom culture should be created. However, in my experience, I believe that it's important for new teachers to stick to the basics.

The most important outcome of any classroom should be student achievement. Students must be able to produce quality work. So, it is up to individual teachers on how best to navigate that and make it happen in their classrooms.

Now, I'm not claiming to have all the answers to a complex problem. However, as a new teacher, the following helped me to be successful in the area of classroom management.

So, if you are a new teacher and currently struggling with classroom management, I offer the following insights.

1. Never Think You Are Above The Wisdom of Harry Wong: The book, The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher offers tried and true techniques for new teachers. I was never asked to buy this book by a professor or principal. I bought it, because I thought Wong offered clear cut techniques that I could apply to the classroom immediately. Those first few days in the classroom scared me to death! I was teaching in a classroom with many at risk kids who weren't that nice. I had to be ready to face that. The techniques in Wong's book gave me confidence, and they worked.

2. Stick To The Fundamentals: New teachers need to stick to the basics. Although innovative classrooms are great, many new teachers get confused between just having fun and structured learning in innovative ways. Ron Clark, the founder of The Ron Clark Academy states that new teachers often make this mistake. In his book, The Excellent 11, Clark tells of one young teacher who dressed in costume almost daily, creating fun in a variety of ways. However, this new teacher was confused by the fact that her students were not performing well on her exams. Clark states although he loves to jump on tables, and add fun to his classroom, he always makes sure that learning is the main objective. It is important to ask, "How will this lesson make an impact on student achievement?"

3. SLANT is Effective: I love Rafe Esquith, the author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire and Real Talk for Real Teachers. He offers great wisdom for all educators. However, I do believe he can send a confusing message to new teachers. He often makes fun of using techniques such as SLANT. SLANT is a command that a teacher gives at the beginning of class meaning sit up, lean forward, answer questions when asked, nod for understanding, and track speaker. Esquith laughs at this technique as being silly, and that it is not applicable to the real world. However, I believe his argument sends a message to the inexperienced teacher that relaxed behaviors are acceptable. For Esquith, who has been teaching for decades, it may be silly. However, for new teachers, who are just hanging on for dear life, it works.

The following is a link to a talk Esquith gave to principals. He discusses the issue of SLANT around the ninth minute of the video. Now, again, I agree with most of Esquith's beliefs, but for the new teacher, SLANT is effective.

The following is a link from Teaching Channel. The teacher discusses her use of SLANT in the classroom.

4. Don't Reinvent the Wheel: I love the books, The First Days of School by Harry Wong and Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov. I believe these two books are must reads for new teachers. They saved me from a what could have been a horrible first year of teaching. I believe that by using their techniques, and not flying by the seat of my pants, I created a safe learning environment for my students. As a result, I am now able to include lessons that are interactive. I'm able to grow from it and truly understand what it means to be an effective, innovative teacher.

5. Don't Get A Chip On Your Shoulder: Teaching can be difficult, and very personal. It's hard to accept criticisms. But, new teachers must put their personal hurts aside, and make the changes needed for success if they want to be successful in the classroom. The fundamental question for all new teachers is, "How bad do you want it?"

Hopefully, this post has been helpful. Although, I feel pretty confident in the area of classroom management, I often go back and reread The First Days of School and Teach Like A Champion. They feel like old friends who helped me through the most difficult of days in the classroom.

Wishing all new teachers success in the days to come. Know that if you are struggling now, it doesn't have to stay that way. You have the power to make a difference. Relax and implement the changes that will make you a success in the classroom in the days ahead.

“The single greatest effect on student achievement is not race, it is not poverty — it is the effectiveness of the teacher.” ~~ Harry K. Wong

Friday, November 15, 2013

Teachers: Laughter is the Best Medicine

Why Laughter Can Be The Best Medicine...

Over the past few weeks, my students and I've been focused on writing. We've been working hard, and I've pushed them to their limits. However, this also means I've spent the last two weekends grading essays, and I'm looking forward to another round tomorrow.

Although necessary for achievement, all this hard work leaves me feeling a bit stressed when trying to balance all my different hats, and also wanting to be my best in all ways.

So, what can teachers seeking excellence do when we've reached our breaking point?

Sometimes, the usual tricks are enough. For me that is exercise, prayer, inspirational quotes, or reading. I did all that this week, but still got the blahs! I just couldn't shake my funk.

So, finally I decided to just laugh!

Sources of laughter included:

1. Letting my guard down: In an attempt to be the best teacher I can be, sometimes I forget that it's ok to just be me. I'm actually a pretty fun loving person. I love to joke around and I love to laugh. So, I decided to relax a little. I mean really do teachers have to be so serious all the time!

2. Watched a funny clip: I decided to watch some funny clips. The following comedian cracks me up! He's pretty clean (material wise) and he makes me laugh until my sides hurt!

3. Joke around with some colleagues: I love my fellow teachers, because it's so easy to joke around with them! Help a fellow teacher out and make them laugh. Everyone will reap the benefits.

Yes, there is time for serious, focused rigor, but take a break and laugh with a colleague, watch a funny clip, or read a funny story. It makes the entire journey better!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Grapes of Wrath and Out of the Dust: Compare and Contrast

My students are currently finishing an essay on the theme of courage from the previous lesson. On Friday, I am planning a lesson comparing and contrasting the book, The Grapes of Wrath, with their current novel, Out of the Dust.

What is interesting about this to me is that Steinbeck, the author of The Grapes of Wrath, wrote the book while it was happening, unlike Karen Hesse, who researched for the writing of the book. I would like my students to compare and contrast the tone, mood, rhetoric of the two stories. How do they approach the introduction of their novels? How are they similar? How are they different? Which of the novels offers the most imagery?

Each student will read the first chapter from the Grapes of Wrath first. I will give them a list of questions to answer similar to the ones above.

Then, we will read the first chapter of Out of the Dust as a class.

The students will compare/contrast using a Venn Diagram. They will also look up any unknown vocabulary from the chapters, and write the definitions in their vocabulary notebooks.

We will discuss as a class.

Finally, I show the class the beginning of the movie, The Grapes of Wrath, and we will compare the beginning scenes to chapter one.
                                                           What a powerful film!

                                                           Clip: Two for cent candy

         There is a bit more finalizing for this lesson. However, it is a good start for Friday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Writing, Speaking, and Listening: Developing Champions For Tomorrow

Right now, I am in a producing mindset. Although, I want my students to learn in fun, innovative ways, most of all, I want them to produce.

However, I want what they produce to be quality work. I was reading the following article last night, and it really hit home with me.

Check it out at:

The article argued that young professionals do not know how to write well, or have the ability to develop arguments in their writing. They don't know how to support what they are saying with textual evidence or research. The article blames colleges for not teaching proper writing skills. But, guess what? Colleges blame high schools. High schools blame middle schools. Middle schools blame elementary schools. Elementary schools blame parents. Blame. Blame. Blame.

This problem of illiteracy hits me to the core, because I feel strongly about all forms of communication whether it be speaking, listening, or writing. Strong speaking and writing skills are imperative for success in the workforce today. This awareness brings to mind the importance of the common core. Now, I know that I am new to teaching, and many educators debate on the relevance of the common core standards, but as someone who worked in the writing and communications field I believe the standards are right on the money. They are written to develop critical thinking in students, and hold them to a high standard.

So, what does this mean for my class? Well, it means we are getting down to business. Students are going to learn what it means to think critically. They are going to learn how to produce academic writing, and guess what... the word "you" is not used in academic writing. My students are going to learn how to research sources, determine a valid source from an invalid one, and learn how to back up their arguments with evidence. My students will learn the process of debate, and how to argue their points effectively in front of an audience of their peers. They will learn how to counter an argument from valid sources. They will learn poise, confidence, and proper grammar usage. I believe this is what the Common Core is meant to do, and this is what will create a quality student body and workforce in the future.

The worst thing that can happen is for our students to graduate high school with straight A's only to land in a remedial English class their freshman year in college. We cannot let mediocrity reign. We cannot blame the students for their inabilities. We are here to teach them. The responsibility lies on us, despite whatever is going on in the student's home, we have to do our best with what we are given.

It's time to create champion learners, and leaders of tomorrow. It is time to produce results.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lesson: What Does It Mean To Have Courage?

Courage- mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
CCRL.6.9: Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.

CCRL.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

CC RI.6.3: Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (through examples)

EQ: What does it mean to have courage?

Today, my students will attempt to answer that question through the use of the text, Out of the Dust, and a letter written by a soldier to his sons back home.

  • Bellringer: Students will answer the prompt: What does it mean to have courage?
  • We will then discuss our answers which will lead us into the reading of Out of the Dust pages 65-85.
  • Billie Joe, the protagonist in the novel, Out of the Dust, faces the loss of her mother and baby brother due to severe burns. Billie Joe was partially responsible for the burns due to an accidental kitchen fire. She becomes severely depressed, but must find a way to be courageous. While Billie Joe, faces her problems at home, the country is also headed toward war. The depression is getting worse, and tensions are mounting across the country. Soon, the country will face another great war. Billie Joe is at a crossroads.
Following the reading...
  • Students will read about an another person who demonstrated courage, although this person was real, not fiction. Students will read a letter from a father and soldier who sent a Christmas letter home to his sons during World War II. In the letter, the father explains the reasons for war, and what it means to have courage.  
  • Students will compare and contrast both using a Venn Diagram the experiences of Billie Joe and the soldier. Students will write an essay using textual evidence to demonstrate how they both demonstrated courage and in what ways? How did their decisions affect their loved ones?

The Letter From The Soldier Comes From The Following Link:
Each student will read and annotate the letter individually.
The following is a clip of FDR's D Day Prayer. The students have become better acquainted with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the president during the times of the novel, Out of the Dust. I thought it might be good for them to hear his voice. It is a powerful message of courage as well.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

English Teachers: 5 Reasons to Start a Book Club

This year I wanted to have a club. My first instinct was to have a drama club. I think it would be so thrilling for students to act in a play, and perform it. Ideas like drama clubs is what is often missing from middle schools today. However, I did worry a little that taking on a large project like a drama club might be too much for a first year teacher.

So, I decided to go in a smaller direction, and begin a book club. Currently, we meet during lunch once a week in the media center. I have ten members, and we sit around one large table (family style) to eat and discuss our book. Right now, we are reading, Treasure Hunters, by James Patterson. Although they love the book, I think the students love the time together even more. They even asked if we could meet twice a week instead of only once.

This leads me to my own top five reasons to begin a book club today.

1. It's Relaxing: Having a book club is less stressful than you may think. It doesn't have to have a structured curriculum. Just find a book that you love and share it with your students. This is one time that you don't have to worry about the Common Core or differentiation. It's just about the enjoyment of a book with your students.

2. Developing Relationships: We spend the first ten minutes of our meal together talking about certain topics. It may be about their favorite genre or book series, but it also might be what they love about Thanksgiving. We discussed Thanksgiving and Christmas this week. The students told me about their favorite traditions and what these family gatherings mean to them. That was so great!

3. You Can Leave A Child Behind: This might seem a little mean, but one nice thing about a club is if a student stops coming for whatever reason, you don't have to let them back in. There are plenty of other students that would like the opportunity.

4. Make It What You Want: The word "club" can sound intimidating to a teacher. "Club" sounds like commitment and time. Two resources that are highly coveted by a teacher. But, a club doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. You have the power to put as little or as much into it as you want. Students won't really mind either way. They are just happy to be apart of something. As long as you are positive and energetic about it, they will be too.

5. Develops That "Sweet Spot": One of my mentor teachers that I had during my student teaching would often tell me the importance of defining a sweet spot in your day, that time you can just be there and enjoy your teaching. Well, honestly, I enjoy most of what I do as a teacher. However, the book club is that sweet spot for me in many ways. It is so nice to enjoy a meal together with my students, discuss elements of their lives, and connect with a book. As an English teacher, it doesn't get much sweeter than that!

So, if you've been wavering on whether or not to begin a book club, I would say jump in and go for it. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Middle Grades: Understanding Point of View Part II

 CCRL.6.6: Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker of the text.
CCRL.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

EQ: How to determine the point of view of a text, and the author's purpose for writing the text?

Today, the students have created a chart with the elements for three different point of views in literature: first person, second person, third person (third person limited and third person omniscient) from the previous lesson. We will use this chart to help with the lesson today.

  • Pre-selected narratives written by the students will be delivered. I told my students that I was going to read the narratives tonight and choose the three strongest ones to be shared with the class. 
  • The audience will have to figure out what point if view the story was written from. The student who wrote the narrative must tell the class why he/she chose that point of view and the purpose behind it.

  • Next- We will work through the following texts together. They will have to read and annotate the stories first.

  • Then, each student will be given a handout that must be filled in throughout our lesson on point of view, pronouns, author's purpose, and textual evidence to support their ideas.
Find the handout at the following link:

Texts will include:
  • "I Am Alone" by Cochise
Background: The man we know as Cochise was a leader of the Chiricahua Apaches, one of the four main Apache groups. The Apaches, who frequently were raiders of sheep, cattle, and horses, became the concern of the Americans when, after the end of the Mexican war in 1848, they took control of their homelands in Arizona and New Mexico. As the ever-advancing whites increasingly moved into Apache territory, a series of "wars" between the settlers and the various Apache groups broke out around 1860 and did not end until the capture in 1886 of the great Chiricahua leader Geronimo.
                                                                                       ~The Norton Anthology: American Literature


by Cochise, Chief of the Apache Nation
     This for a very long time has been the home of my people; they came from the darkness, few in numbers and feeble. We were a hunting people, living on the animals that we could kill. We came to these mountains about us; no one lived here, and so we took them for our home and country. Here we grew from the first feeble band to be a great people, and covered the whole country as the clouds cover the mountains. Many people came to our country. First, the Spanish, with their horses and their iron shirts, their long knives and guns, great wonders to my simple people. We fought some, but they never tried to drive us from our homes in these mountains. After many years the Spanish soldiers were driven away, and the Mexican ruled the land. With these little wars came, but we were now a strong people, and we did not fear them. At last in my youth came the white man, your people. Under the counsels of my grandfather, who had for a very long time been the head of the Apaches, they were received with friendship. Soon their numbers increased and many passed through my country to the great waters of the setting sun.
     Your soldiers came, and their strong houses were all through my country. I received favors from your people and did all that I could in return and we lived at peace. At last your soldiers did me a very great wrong, and I and my whole people went to war with them. At first we were successful and your soldiers were driven away and your people killed and we again possessed our land. Soon many soldiers came from the north and from the west, and my people were driven to the mountain hiding places; but these did not protect us, and soon my people were flying from one mountain to another, driven by the soldiers, even as the wind is now driving the clouds. I have fought long and as best I could against you. I have destroyed many of your people, but where I have destroyed one white man many have come in his place; but where an Indian has been killed, there has been none to come in his place, so that the great people that welcomed you with acts of kindness to this land are now but a feeble band that fly before your soldiers as the deer before the hunter, and must all perish if this war continues.


     I have come to you, not from any love for you or for your great father in Washington, or from any regard for his or your wishes, but as a conquered chief, to try to save the few people that still remain to me. I am the last of my family, a family that for very many years have been the leaders of this people, and on me depends their future, whether they shall utterly vanish from the land or that a small remnant remain for a few years to see the sun rise over these mountains, their home. I here pledge my word, a word that has never been broken, that if your great father will set aside a part of my own country, where I and my little band can live, we will remain at peace with your people forever. If from his abundance he will give food for my women and children, whose protectors his soldiers have killed, with blankets to cover their nakedness, I will receive them with gratitude. If not, I will do my best to feed and clothe them, in peace with the white man. I have spoken.
  •  "Advice for Little Girls" by Mark Twain

"Advice To Little Girls"
by Mark Twain
Good little girls ought not to make mouths at their teachers for every trifling offense. This retaliation should only be resorted to under peculiarly aggravated circumstances.
If you have nothing but a rag-doll stuffed with sawdust, while one of your more fortunate little playmates has a costly China one, you should treat her with a show of kindness nevertheless. And you ought not to attempt to make a forcible swap with her unless your conscience would justify you in it, and you know you are able to do it.
You ought never to take your little brother's "chewing-gum" away from him by main force; it is better to rope him in with the promise of the first two dollars and a half you find floating down the river on a grindstone. In the artless simplicity natural to this time of life, he will regard it as a perfectly fair transaction. In all ages of the world this eminently plausible fiction has lured the obtuse infant to financial ruin and disaster.
If at any time you find it necessary to correct your brother, do not correct him with mud--never, on any account, throw mud at him, because it will spoil his clothes. It is better to scald him a little, for then you obtain desirable results. You secure his immediate attention to the lessons you are inculcating, and at the same time your hot water will have a tendency to move impurities from his person, and possibly the skin, in spots.
If your mother tells you to do a thing, it is wrong to reply that you won't. It is better and more becoming to intimate that you will do as she bids you, and then afterward act quietly in the matter according to the dictates of your best judgment.
You should ever bear in mind that it is to your kind parents that you are indebted for your food, and for the privilege of staying home from school when you let on that you are sick. Therefore you ought to respect their little prejudices, and humor their little whims, and put up with their little foibles until they get to crowding you too much.
Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged. You ought never to "sass" old people unless they "sass" you first.

  •  An excerpt from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

And when the party entered the assembly room it consisted only of five all together, – Mr. Bingley, his two sisters, the husband of the eldest, and another young man.
Mr. Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners. His sisters were fine women, with an air of decided fashion. His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a-year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.
Mr. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with all the principal people in the room; he was lively and unreserved, danced every dance, was angry that the ball closed so early, and talked of giving one himself at Netherfield. Such amiable qualities must speak for themselves. What a contrast between him and his friend! Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley, declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again. Amongst the most violent against him was Mrs. Bennet, whose dislike of his general behaviour was sharpened into particular resentment by his having slighted one of her daughters.

 Hopefully, the students will gain a true understanding of point of view, and why it is important in understanding a text.