Sunday, March 26, 2023


Are your students ready for the AP exams? It's just a few weeks until they begin in May. Click here for the complete schedule of exams.

The English Literature and Composition Exam is May 3rd, 
and 
The English Language and Composition Exam is May 9th.

To help prepare my students for the AP exams, I began reviewing weeks before the tests to help them learn more efficient ways to:
  • analyze poetry,
  • write critical essays to be sure they understood the archetypes in literature,
  • keep a reading reaction journal as they read the suggested literature, 
  • practice writing timed essays in 40 minutes,
  • and practice advanced grammar and sentence analysis.

I'm sure you have many helpful lessons designed to prepare your students for the exams, but I would like to share some of the ones I used with my advanced English classes. 

I have a few resources that you might use to prepare your students for the English exams. Take a look at the products below and see if any of them would save you time. I have included a FREE resource that will serve as a great warm-up writing activity.

1) Poetry Analysis

When students have a limited amount of time to analyze poetry on the English Literature and Composition exam, they need a mnemonic device to help them with memory and retention. You might have created one of your own. I devised this method to help students who have trouble remembering all the elements of poetry. My students loved it and used it on the test. I hope it helps your students as much as it helped mine. 



A unique way to analyze poetry and prepare for the AP Literature Exam of use in advanced English courses both in high school and college.

2) Writing Critical Essays

Archetypes in Literature Critical Essay

This is the critical essay on literary archetypes that I assigned as a final exam for students in my Advanced Placement classes. It can be used in any literature class as a review of archetypes in literature. It includes a prewriting assignment and the rubric I used to grade the papers.



3) Literary Analysis

If students keep a reading reaction journal, it will help them retain and analyze what they have read. Teachers can use the journal to evaluate whether or not students are doing a close reading of assigned literary works.

You probably already have a system in place, but if you need another tool, here's the one I used with my students. It is especially useful as a study device for AP students to use while reading advanced literary selections.

Keeping a Reading Reaction Journal

4) Writing Timed Critical Essays

Help your students prepare for the critical essays they will write on the English Language and Composition exam. Let them practice writing at least one timed essay each week as they prepare for the exams. If your students need more instruction, I have a helpful tip sheet in my store.


A Tip Sheet to Practice Writing a Timed Essay in 4o Minutes.




5) Advanced Sentence Analysis

Let students practice analyzing long and difficult sentences similar to those they may find on the English Language and Composition Exam.


In my book, Simple Steps to Sentence Sense, I present eight simple steps. If students follow them in order, it is easy to analyze an English sentence. 


The Advanced Sentence Analysis Step in the Simple Steps to Sentence Sense series assumes that students understand Steps 1-8 and then condenses the eight steps into four. This method of sentence analysis is quicker and is especially helpful for college-bound students and students in Advanced Placement classes.


The four steps are:


Advanced Step 1 - Scan the entire sentence first to find all phrases. (Prepositional, Participial, Gerund, Infinitive, and Appositive)

Advanced Step 2 - Scan the entire sentence to identify the core of all clauses. The easiest way to do this is to find all the verbs first and then identify the subjects and complements that go with them. Determine if the clauses are independent or dependent. 

Advanced Step 3 - Find all the modifiers. (Adjectives and Adverbs)

Advanced Step 4 - Classify the sentence. (Simple, Compound, Complex, or Compound/Complex)


If your students need more help with this, you will find the Advanced Step Unit here. It has notes, practice exercises, and answers.



The best of luck to everyone who is taking the exams. 



This is a great time to stock up on any resources you may need. TPT is having a sale May 28th and 29th. Most teacher/authors will have their resources on sale. 

Everything in my store including all money-saving bundles will be 25% off if you enter the code FORYOU23 at checkout.

As promised, here's a free activity my students enjoyed.





Thanks for reading,

Charlene

Here are some interesting blog posts from my teacher friends at The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marking Cooperative. I think you will find them helpful.




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Sunday, February 19, 2023

Choosing the Point of View in Fiction

CHOOSING THE POINT OF VIEW IN FICTION MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE


When your students first learn to write fiction, it’s important they think through the goals they have set for their story plan. One of the first decisions a writer must make when planning a new story is to choose from which point of view the story will be told. The point of view is the vantage point from which the reader views a story.


Although classic fiction and experimental fiction are often written in other points of view, such as the second-person, third-person objective, and third-person omniscient, your students will be more successful if they limit their choices to first person and third-person limited when first learning to write fiction. 


Most writers of modern fiction choose to write in first-person POV or third-person limited POV, so we will discuss these two. (Limited means entering the thoughts of only one character per scene, chapter, or novel.) Sometimes, we see the story through the eyes and thoughts of only one main character, but it is possible to include the points of view of several different characters.


•  First person POV uses the pronouns (I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours)
       *We can only read the thoughts of the first-person narrator. If the story is written in first person, a character cannot describe himself/herself. Sometimes writers use the “looking in the mirror” trick, or they will have another character describe the narrator. 


•  Third person POV uses the pronouns (he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, it, its, itself, they, them, their, theirs, and themselves)


Note the difference between these two examples of the same scene written in two different points of view.


Brief Incident for Scene 1
Mandy and Jane, roommates, are planning to paint the living room in the apartment they share. It was Mandy’s idea to paint the room, but it was Jane’s idea that the two of them could do it without any professional help. It’s Monday morning, and the two are ready to paint.

Scene 1
Viewpoint 1 – First Person, Mandy
   I examined the room and began to feel doubts. It was bigger than I thought, with lots of windows to paint around. “This looks like a pretty big job for just the two of us,” I told Jane.
   I was hoping she would agree, so we could hire a professional painter. But Jane is nothing like me. She has always been the do-it-yourself type.
   “Oh, this is easy,” Jane said as she picked up a clean paint roller. “Hand me that paint can. Let’s get this project started.”


Viewpoint 2 – First Person, Jane
   I saw Mandy sizing up the room, and I knew she was having doubts. She’s always been one to look for trouble and take the easy way out. Spending money on a painter is not in my budget. Somehow, I need to make her see that we can do this job by ourselves. Besides, we already bought all the paint and supplies.

   “It’s not too late to call a painter,” Mandy said. “Painting this room looks like a big job to me.”

   “Oh, this is easy,” I said and picked up a clean paint roller. “Hand me that paint can. Let’s get this project started.”



Viewpoint 3– Third Person, Mandy


   Mandy examined the room and began to feel doubtful. It was bigger than she thought, with lots of windows to paint around. “This looks like a pretty big job for just the two of us,” she told Jane. 
   She was hoping Jane would agree, so they could hire a professional painter. But Jane was nothing like her. Jane had always been the do-it-yourself type.
   “Oh, this is easy,” Jane said as she picked up a clean paint roller. “Hand me that paint can. Let’s get this project started.”



Viewpoint 4 – Third Person, Jane


   Jane saw Mandy sizing up the room and knew her roommate was having doubts. Mandy had always been one to look for trouble and take the easy way out. 
    Spending money on a painter is not in my budget, Jane thought. Somehow, she needed to make Mandy see that they could do this job by themselves. 
   “It’s not too late to call a painter,” Mandy said. “Painting this room looks like a big job to me.”
   “Oh, this is easy,” Jane said, ”and besides, we already bought all the paint and supplies.” She picked up a clean paint roller. “Hand me that paint can. Let’s get this project started.” 



After discussing the examples above, you can present your students with several other passages. Let them decide the point of view and from which character’s viewpoint it is told. You can write your own examples or take excerpts from the fiction they have read in class.


Here’s an example:


She stood at the door of the conference room as all eyes turned toward her and wondered if she was dressed appropriately for the occasion. Earlier that day, she had chosen a black jacket, a red pencil skirt, and her favorite heels to wear to the interview. As quickly as she could, she took the chair farthest from the man who was staring at her with a cold look in his eyes.


Name the Point of View. (First Person or Third-Person Limited) 


From which character’s POV is the scene written? 

Another exercise is to have students write scenes of their own and choose the POV and which character’s viewpoint they will use.

Here’s another example: 


Instructions: Write a brief scene of your own with two characters. (One wishes to get takeout for dinner. One wishes to cook at home.) Choose the point-of-view and the character from whose POV you will tell the story.


Knowing how to identify the point of view in the fiction that they read and write will enrich your students' experiences with literature.


If you would like to teach this concept with a no-prep resource that I used with my own students, you will find it here. It is available as a print, Google Drive™, or Easel™ activity.





If you would like to read more blog posts by my teacher friends at The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative, you will find their posts below.


Thanks for reading,

Charlene




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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Valentine's Day Letters Are Special

pink hearts

One of the early February projects in my English classes was to discuss how meaningful a handwritten letter can be. Students were encouraged to choose someone who had made a difference in their lives and write a letter to them expressing their gratitude.


Writing notes and letters will give your students the opportunity to express their gratitude to parents, teachers, and friends. To help students narrow their focus, we discussed how even one kind or helpful act can often make a big difference in someone’s life. I asked for examples, and students were happy to describe them.


“My mom goes to every one of my softball games, and she gives team members rides to practice.”


“My friend, Pat, sat up with me all night when my cat was sick, and went with me to the vet the next morning.”


“My dad left work and drove all the way home to get the science project that I forgot to take to school.”


After the students had decided who their audience would be and what they would say, we reviewed the best practices for capitalization and punctuation when composing a friendly letter. I gave them a template to follow.


Next, they wrote a first draft on notebook paper. After proofreading their letters and making any necessary corrections, they chose a sheet of Valentine's Day stationery on which to write their final draft. I provided printed sheets of decorated paper. 


Click here for a free packet of stationery your students can use for their final draft.


It was their choice if they wished to deliver the letter to its intended recipient, or mail it to them.


I usually bought envelopes at the dollar store and showed them how to fold the letter into thirds and insert the letter. If they planned to mail it, I put an example of a properly addressed envelope on the whiteboard. Mailing the letter was not a requirement, and they had to provide their own stamp.


My students felt good about this assignment, and participated eagerly.


Here’s another assignment your students will enjoy.


Valentine's Day candy  sentence patterns


Teach your students to rewrite sentences without changing their meaning to achieve sentence variety. At the same time, they will be reminded of things that are associated with Valentine's Day. Click here.


I hope your Valentine’s Day is special, and you spend it with people you love.  


Thanks for reading,


Visit my TPT store for more no-prep resources. 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Charlene-Tess



Connect with me for freebies and tips.

www.simplestepstosentencesense.com

http://www.facebook.com/booksbycharlenetess 

http://pinterest.com/charlenetess 

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/fLKrg 


Here are some interesting blog posts from my teacher friends at The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperate. I hope you enjoy them.







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Sunday, November 20, 2022

Tis the Season

cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows


December is almost here. It was always the shortest month in the school year for me, so I felt it necessary to accomplish as much as possible in the two and a half or three weeks of instruction available while, at the same time, celebrating the spirit of the season with my students.

 

Since learning to achieve sentence variety is a skill that all good writers must master, we worked on varying sentence patterns. Because I wanted to celebrate the spirit of the Christmas season, the sentences I put in the sentence combining exercises all had Christmas and winter holiday themes.

 

Although there is nothing wrong with sentences that begin with the subject followed by the verb, the writing becomes monotonous if a writer repeats this pattern in sentence after sentence. Most grammar checker apps will flag this writing weakness. Since ELA teachers are the official "grammar checkers" for their students, they will be watching for this also.

 

The best way to achieve sentence variety, is to move phrases and clauses to the beginning of some of the sentences or locate them in different positions to avoid the repetitive subject-verb pattern.

 

 

Here’s what I mean.

 

Original subject-verb pattern:


All my gifts sat under the tree waiting for me to open them.  

 

Revised:

 

Under the tree, sat all my gifts waiting for me to open them. 

 

Here’s another example:

 

Original subject-verb pattern:


Many people send Christmas Cards to friends and relatives a few weeks before Christmas.

 

Revised:


A few weeks before Christmas, many people send Christmas Cards to friends and relatives.

 

 

Original subject-verb pattern.


My mother insisted that we write our thank-you notes before we could play with our toys.

 

Revised:


Before we could play with our toys, my mother insisted that we write our thank-you notes.

 

You can create an exercises like these for your students to practice varying sentence patterns. The more practice they have, the better their writing will become. Here’s a free one you can print or use in Easel.

 

Here’s a FREE resource for you to use.


A teacher with a pencil in her mouth.

 

I have seven more sentence patterns resources that are ready to use and include the answers. You can purchase them separately or buy them in a bundle and save 20% on the individual resources. One of them is Thanksgiving themed and another is for Christmas. I hope you will find them helpful. You will find the bundle here.

 

Sentence Pattern Worksheets Bundle by Charlene Tess



I hope you have a happy, healthy, and restful winter break. I will celebrate with my husband, daughters, and grandsons. We will eat entirely too much and play board games after dinner. I look forward to both.


Here are some interesting blog posts from my teacher friends at The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperate. I hope you enjoy them.

The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative

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Sunday, October 16, 2022

Writing Activities for Fall and Halloween



Halloween and things associated with the fall season present an opportunity for students to complete some enjoyable writing activities. Here are some examples you might want to try.

 

1. Song Lyrics 


One of my students’ favorite activities was to convert the lyrics of familiar Christmas songs to fit the themes of Halloween. After they finished their songs, those who were outgoing sang their songs to the class. Other students preferred to read their lyrics to the class or give their song to another student who was happy to perform it. Everyone had fun as they laughed and sang along.

 

Here’s an example of a Halloween song set to the tune of “Jingle Bells:”

 

Dashing through the streets 

In a costume made for play, 

Over the curbs we go 

Laughing all the way. 

 

Ghosts and goblins shriek 

Making spirits rise 

What fun it is to trick or treat 

A neighbor’s house tonight. 

 

Oh, Halloween, Halloween, 

My favorite time of year. 

Oh, what fun it is to laugh and scream in fear.

 

Since kids are so creative, their songs were fun to write and even more fun to sing. You could do this with any familiar song. It would not have to be a Christmas song.


 

2. Sentence Combining Exercises

 

Here’s another idea. Your students might enjoy a Halloween Sentence Combining Activity. 

 

Students would combine a basic kernel of sentences into one sentence that is more interesting. 


Here’s an example:


Instructions: 

Read the kernel of basic sentences below. Combine each cluster into one well-written sentence. You may move the information into any order that you wish. Do not leave out any vital information presented in the original sentences. 

 

Basic Sentence Cluster:

 

 We carved a pumpkin. 

 The pumpkin was orange. 

 The eyes and mouth of the pumpkin were triangles. 

 We made a jack-o-lantern.

 

Combined:

We carved triangular eyes and a mouth on an orange pumpkin and created a jack-o-lantern.

or

We carved a jack-o-lantern with triangular eyes and a mouth from an orange pumpkin. 


3. Take Photos with One's Mind


The fall season is a perfect time for students to create photographs with words instead of a camera. The assignment I gave them was to walk around in a scenic area or attend a fall festival or visit a department store that was decorated for the season and take snapshots of what they see. Then their assignment was to write a descriptive paragraph or two and describe the scene using vivid words.


If students do not have a camera or a phone, they can take notes as they walk around and then write a descriptive paragraph or two to describe the scene using vivid words.


If possible, display the photos and let the class compare them to the descriptions as the students read their assignments aloud.


Here are two photos you may want to use.




 

If you would like a no-prep lesson with examples and suggested songs, you will find it in my TpT store here.



 

If you would like a no-prep lesson with sentence-combining activities, you will find it in my store here.




I hope these will give you some great ideas for the fall season. They worked well in my classroom, and my students enjoyed them.


Here are some blog posts from my friends who are members of the Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative. Their posts always have great tips and ideas.


Thanks for reading,

Charlene

 


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