In Julius Caesar, a soothsayer warns Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.” Caesar ignores the warning and is, in fact, murdered on March 15, called “the Ides” on the Roman calendar. Over time, the date has become associated with doom and momentous events – particularly ones with disastrous effects. The following resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org offer solutions for bringing Julius Caesar to life for all students.
Shakespeare in the elementary school? The Primary Voices article ”Creative Drama through Scaffolded Plays in the Language Arts Classroom“ chronicles how the author first used creative drama in a summer reading program with first graders, and then over the years, developed a much broader understanding of drama as an important teaching tool. She also describes writing “scaffolded” plays with sixth-grade students and illustrates their annual thematic dinner theater.
The ReadWriteThink.org lesson plan ”Book Report Alternative: Characters for Hire! Studying Character in Drama“ asks students to create a resume for one of the characters in a drama. Students select a character from the play to focus on and jot down notes about that character. Next, they search for historical background information and then explore the play again, looking for both direct and implied information about their characters and noting the location of supporting details. Finally, students draft resumes for their characters and search a job listing site for a job for which their character is qualified.
Julius Caesar, with its themes of loyalty, ambition, and deception, still resonates with high school students and remains a favorite text in classrooms everywhere. Through differentiated instruction, the NCTE text Teaching Julius Caesar: A Differentiated Approach offers solutions for bringing the play to life for all students – those with various interests, readiness levels, and learning styles. Discover more by reading the sample chapter.
“An Introduction to Julius Caesar Using Multiple-Perspective Universal Theme Analysis” from ReadWriteThink.org is an introduction to William Shakespeare’s tragic play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, through the study of universal themes using multiple-perspective investigations of betrayal scenarios.
How can students build new connections with the poetic details of Shakespeare’s plays? In this digital movie project, “Connecting Students with Shakespeare’s Poetry: Digital Creations of Close Reading” students explore close reading and thoughtful selection of imagery to create deeper understanding.
What ideas do you have for Julius Caesar in the classroom?
“The African American Read-In (AARI) . . . is built on an ambitious yet confident premise: that a school and community reading event can be an effective way to promote diversity in children’s literature, encourage young people to read, and shine a spotlight on African American authors.”
Join over a million readers as part of the Twenty-Eighth National African American Read-In in February 2017! Learn more about what happens at a Read-In in the English Journal article “The African American Read-In: Celebrating Black Writers and Supporting Youth“. This month, look for posts marked with #AARI17.
The ReadWriteThink.org Text Messages podcast “Celebrating the African American Read-In” provides recommendations of both old and new titles by distinguished African American authors who write for teens. Featured books range from historical novels to contemporary explorations of African American life in both urban and suburban settings.
In the ReadWriteThink.org lesson “Analyzing First-Person Narration in Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind” students explore the different facets of complexity in the compelling first-person narrator in Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind.
The lesson plan “I Have a Dream: Exploring Nonviolence in Young Adult Texts” has students identify how Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of nonviolent conflict-resolution is reinterpreted in modern texts, including a text by Walter Dean Myers and rapper Common.
“Childhood Remembrances: Life and Art Intersect in Nikki Giovanni’s ‘Nikki-Rosa’“, invites students to read Nikki Giovanni’s poem, “Nikki-Rosa,” and then writing about childhood memories of their own.
This lesson from ReadWriteThink.org this lesson gives students an introduction to Jacqueline Woodson’s verse memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming.
Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 is the focus of the lesson plan “Graphing Plot and Character in a Novel“, which invites students to graph the journey of the family while exploring the plot and character development in the novel.
Nikki Giovanni’s poem “The Funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.” is paired with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, taking students on a quest through time to the civil rights movement in the lesson “Entering History: Nikki Giovanni and Martin Luther King Jr.”
Listen as Myers shared how his own experiences as a reader shaped his approach to storytelling.
Tune in to a podcast interview with Nikki Grimes where her writing process and what inspires the characters in her books is shared. Also shared is her philosophy about writing for children and how her life has influenced her writing.
For more ideas, see the ReadWriteThink.org Calendar entry for the African American Read-In which includes more lesson plans, classroom activities, and online resources.
On January 17, the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee conducted the nomination hearing for Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos as the Secretary of Education. Based on DeVos’s performance, hundreds of national and local organizations have organized to support, voice concern, or oppose her nomination. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) agreed to sign with 52 state and national organizations to express “deep concern” over DeVos’s nomination.
The letter was sent on Monday, January 30, to members of the HELP Committee and to the press. A vote is tentatively scheduled in the HELP Committee on Tuesday, January 31, where she is expected to be voted on as the nominee along partisan lines. A vote by the full Senate could happen as early as this week.
Our core beliefs, our mission, and our multitude of position statements regarding what quality education in literacy should contain are in direct opposition to those views presented by the nominee. NCTE’s Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick, the NCTE Executive Committee’s Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee Chair Alfredo Celedón Luján, and the NCTE Presidential Team have all been in contact on this issue over the last few weeks and feel that signing on to this letter is a worthwhile effort for us as an organization.
The letter and those organizations that support it can be found here. I welcome any questions or comments you might have. This letter can be used by you, our members, in ways that will be beneficial to further the causes that we uphold and endorse.
Susan Houser, NCTE President
A number of teachers, authors, and researchers were presented with awards recently during NCTE’s Annual Convention in Atlanta. Here, we feature some of the awards for books, journal articles, and publications.
Fiction: The NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children recognizes fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder. Learn more about Charlotte Huck, the inspiration for the award. This year’s winner is Ghost by Jason Reynolds.
Nonfiction: Look to the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children to find the best nonfiction titles for your students. Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet was this year’s winner. Learn more about teaching with content-rich nonfiction and informational texts.
Poetry: NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13. This year’s winner is Marilyn Nelson. She is the author of many award-winning books. View more about teaching poetry.
These three awards are given at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon. Watch a slideshow of the winners.
Diverse Books: The Alan C. Purves Award for an article in Research in the Teaching of English is presented annually to the author(s) from the previous year’s volume judged as likely to have the greatest impact on educational practice. The 2016 award went to Denise Dávila for the article “#WhoNeedsDiverseBooks?: Preservice Teachers and Religious Neutrality with Children’s Literature“. Dávila’s research examines the sociocultural contexts in which preservice teachers and underrepresented groups of children and families engage with diverse works of children’s literature.
Secondary Classrooms: The Paul and Kate Farmer Writing Award is given for articles in English Journal written by classroom teachers. In the first timely article, “Using Memorials to Build Critical Thinking Skills and Empathy“, Jennifer Ansbach asks students to challenge their views of iconic memorials and guides students through the challenges of creating a memorial that represents all. Her work demonstrates the important role English teachers play in helping students develop empathy.
In the second award-winning article, “Photos as Witness: Teaching Visual Literacy for Research and Social Action“, Kiran Subhani helps students position themselves in both recognition of and creating a call to action using visual literacy. Subhani emphasizes the importance of visual literacy in today’s world as students are bombarded and bombard others with visual images.
Professional Learning: This year the CEL English Leadership Quarterly Best Article Award went to Christina Saidy for “Moving from Them to Us: Making New Arguments about Teaching and Learning via Teacher Inquiry“. By telling one teacher’s story of professional growth, Saidy explores the power of effective teacher inquiry groups.
See the NCTE website for information on all of the awards and a complete list of winners. View the slideshow to see the winners with their awards.
On Thursday, many Americans will be thinking of traditional pilgrims and the Wampanoag people as they sit down for a turkey dinner. Those traditional images, however, are often based more on nostalgic visions of Thanksgiving and life in Plymouth Colony. Choose any of the following resources to explore a wider, historical vision of the first Thanksgiving as you analyze these stories with students.
The ReadWriteThink.org lesson Packing the Pilgrim’s Trunk: Personalizing History in the Elementary Classroom helps students in grades K–2 explore who the Pilgrims were, how they came to North America, and how they adapted and built new lives at Plymouth Colony. Students explore connections between their own life experiences and those of the Pilgrims.
Take a look at the ways that stories develop meaning in relationship to our own experiences with the ReadWriteThink.org lesson Myth and Truth: The First Thanksgiving, which explores the stories and myths surrounding the Wampanoag, the pilgrims, and the “First Thanksgiving”.
Read the English Journal article “A Tale of Two Cemeteries: Gravestones as Community Artifacts“, which describes an activity that uses eighteenth-century gravestones to discuss life in colonial America with students of the twenty-first century.
Read against the traditional images of Thanksgiving and colonial America with the College Composition and Communication article “Plymouth Rock Landed on Us: Malcolm X’s Whiteness Theory as a Basis for Alternative Literacy“.
For additional resources, check the ReadWriteThink calendar entry: America celebrates Thanksgiving Day.