Flipped Lesson – Allegory of the Cave

Flipped Lesson – Allegory of the Cave

— Read on englishtechie.com/2014/03/05/flipped-lesson-allegory-of-the-cave/

This is still one of my favorite lessons. Want to flip some lessons for next year? Watch this space during the summer for all of the tips and tricks to flipping your classroom one learning/lesson/unit at a time.


9/11 – addressing difficult things

Last year South Anchorage High School teachers began the tradition of teaching a common text on the same day. This year they will do it again with texts about 9/11, starting with this old blog post of mine that I shared.

September 11th was a current event and now it’s a moment in history; most high school students weren’t even alive in 2001. This is also a very personal event for most of us. We have a personal connection to what happened because it changed the world around us and changed how we view the world.

I taught the events of 9/11 through my personal story (my dad worked in the South tower and, at the time the building collapsed we still had not heard from him) and through poetry.

And then we went to stories that have been written down. I read “The Names” by Billy Collins and I told them it makes me think of everyone I’ve lost, that echoes of people are everywhere. Next came “Prayer for the Dead,” by Stuart Kestenbaum. His line, “…if you discover some piece of your own writing, or an old photograph, you may remember that it was you and even if it was once you, it’s not you now…”  because that’s the reason I have them write an autobiography over the course of the year, so they can look back and see themselves as freshmen in high school. And the last poem, “Five Years Later,” by Tony Gloegger, addresses survivor’s remorse and the pain all of us go through when forced to tell about or relive something traumatic.

I love how new-to-South teacher Ken Hemenway added to the ideas and discussion.

I was attending graduate school in Boston on September 11 and went to New York to visit a girl I was dating in Hoboken, NJ, Friday through Sunday of that week. I have very vivid memories of the smoke, smell, and utter bewilderment of the whole situation from a personal perspective. Needless to say it was surreal and I’ll never forget the numerous places where people had put up papers, pleading for information regarding their lost, loved ones.

I attended Boston College with a young man by the name of Welles Crowther. He played lacrosse and our paths crossed being I was also playing hockey at the time and the student athlete population was a close knit community.
He lost his life on September 11th and I put a link for a short ESPN video presentation entitled “9/11 The Man in the Red Bandanna.” I’m not sure if anyone would like to use this, but I think it may compliment some of the great material shared above.
I’m eager to see how this looks in classes on Monday and will be visiting a teacher to see it in action.
How do you teach 9/11 as an English/language arts teacher? How do you teach other difficult topics and current events like Ferguson, Charlottesville, Syrian refugees, etc. so your students build empathy and cultural literacy?

This is my seven year-old’s drawing of September 11th, some sort of pirate airplane attack – that is how he created context. I don’t know what prompted him to draw it for me but I have it hanging in my office as a reminder of the importance of teaching kids about difficult topics.

Resume the Prezi Way

I was randomly exploring Prezi yesterday and found they amazing Prezi on what they call a “Prezume.” Basically, it is a nice combination of a visual and traditional resume and I wish I’d had seen it before assigning resumes in my Digital Composition class.

So here’s the one I’ve started:

Flipped lesson – Drive, Grit & Success – creating an Outlier?

In the same vein as my flipped lesson for Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, this is a flipped lesson for AP Language students on Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers, Daniel Pink’s Drive, and Angela Duckworth’s work on the importance of developing grit in students. This incorporates the standard WSQ assignment, class discussions (both in class and online), thesis statement building, rhetorical analysis, mind maps (for organizing ideas), reflective writing, formal argument writing, public speaking, and Socratic seminar.

 What is success and how do we find it?

1) WSQ – Rhetorical Modes – read and annotate “How to Read Like a Writer” by Mike Bunn
2) online discussion on Drive video
3) Grit survey
4) WSQ (in-class) – Grit TED talk
5) reflective essay on Grit (using the question from the WSQ)
6) analysis and annotation on chapter of Outliers
7) coaching group on assigned chapter
8) read selection of Drive in class – discussion on the argument and content
9) informal presentation on the chapter of Outliers
10) WSQ & discussion – de Botton TED talk on kinder definition of success
11) read two reviews of Outliers – rhetorical précis for each – how valid and relevant is the criticism?
12) another selection from Drive – read and discuss
13) Mind Map of ideas from all of the sources
14) 4 square discussion – develop a thesis statement
15) question writing for seminar – What is success and how do we find it?
16) seminar
17) argument essay – begin from the class-developed thesis statement

This was created with some collaboration with my friend Amy Habberstad.



Flipped Lesson – Allegory of the Cave

I’m working on creating more flipped lessons, rather than just blended, for my English classes.

Using Jackie Gerstein’s fantastic and concise explanation of flipped lessons as my guide, I brainstorm all possible work on a sheet of paper, so I can scribble, cross out, draw arrows, etc. in the margins. I center her graphic in the middle, using it as a graphic organizer for my planning.

Here’s what it looks like for Plato’s Allegory of the Cave:Image

As a result, my sequencing looks like this:

  1. WSQ – modeled in class & turned in on paper – “Socrates, Plato, Aristotle” (EE)
  2. How-to annotate instruction – modeled in class with “Allegory of the Cave” (EE)
  3. WSQ on TED talk “Pursuit of Ignorance” – due in LMS (Edmodo, Moodle, etc.) (CE)
  4. Students read and annotate – color coded text features – questions in the margins to explain why information was highlighted (EE)
  5. WSQ on “Socratic Method” video – due in LMS (Edmodo, Moodle, etc.) (CE)
  6. small group coaching – answering questions and clarifying the text (MM)
  7. draw the cave – mind map techniques (MM)
  8. write seminar questions in class – can be answered in the text and out of the text – answers help everyone deepen understanding (MM)
  9. Socratic Seminar (DA)
  10. Reflective essay (DA)

This is a lesson for 10th grade honors world literature that will take place at the very beginning of the year, hence the increased modeling taking place in class. Of course, it would be great for me to make some videos of these annotation and WSQ lessons that can be stored online for new students or students who forget what to do.

This lesson meets Common Core state standards: 

  • RI. 9-10.1: Cite textual evidence
  • RI. 9-10.2: Analyze central idea; summarize
  • RI. 9-10.4: Meanings of words
  • RI. 9-10.6: Author’s point of view and purpose
  • RI. 9-10.7: Accounts in different mediums
  • RI. 9-10.8: Evaluate argument and claims
  • RL.9-10.1: Cite textual evidence
  • RL.9-10.2: Analyze theme; summarize
  • RL.9-10.3: Analyze complex characters
  • RL.9-10.4: Meanings of words
  • RL.9-10.5: Structure of a text
  • RL.9-10.9: Recognize author’s source material
  • RL.9-10.10: Read and comprehend at high end of 9/10 text complexity