Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Our Best Lessons

Actual lessons... In fact, BEST lessons... Tried and true, shared by master teachers.

I am truly honored to have been asked to be part of this project - with fourteen other master teachers. What constitutes "master?" I'm not sure. I do feel fortunate to be classified with these other teachers who love to share ideas with peers - no matter how long each has been teaching. It's the passion that came out of these lessons that makes this book exciting to share with you. Brian Sztabnik reached out to middle school, high school, and even college professors, asking for our BEST lesson - lessons that we love to teach.
Best Lesson Series
Steal these ideas, make them your own, and then share with us what you've modified to work for you.

Anyone can try a chapter for free! You can then grab a copy for yourself or a coworker. These are literature lessons, and I'm excited to try the fourteen other lessons myself, now that I've read them.

Here are the chapters, who the lessons were intended for, and my brief thoughts...

My thoughts on if I’ll be using and/or adapting...
Ruth Arsenault
Visual Literacy & reading all kinds of “text”

I want to adapt this one.
Susan Barber
The American Dream - photography & stories

I can adapt this one - will see where it can best fit.
Laura Bradley
Thinking icons

I can fit this in next quarter!
Brianna Crowley
Symbolism & Characterization

I will be adapting this one - when we read The Outsiders!
Gerard Dawson
Ignite Talks

Would be fun and valuable to try!
Todd Finley
Multi-Draft Reading

This lesson would be tough for my kids - I could probably adapt it, however.
Joy Kirr
Student-Generated Questions

Um… ;) I’ll be using AS IS!
Jori Krulder
Demystifying Poetry

We can use portions of this prior to Poetry Month.
Shanna Peeples
Visual Literacy

We could use pieces of this - the text is definitely high school level.
Amy Rasmussen

This lesson made me really THINK. Lots of resources that could be adapted for M.S.
Dan Ryder
Literary 3 x 3

Once students learn how this goes, it can be used with any text!
Joshua Stock
Poetry Challenge


I might be able to cover half of these lessons / poems - the kids will love it!
Dave Stuart, Jr.
“When Novels Start with Bathroom Scenes”

We could do this in M.S. - without reading the entire All Quiet On the Western Front… Deep lessons.
Brian Sztabnik
Think Like a Poet

Can be adapted for M.S. - I wonder if they could handle “Ulysses” …?
Heather Wolpert-Gawron
Excitement Graph


We’ve actually used this in a lesson or two - anyone can adapt this lesson to fit his/her students.

As Dave Stuart Jr. says near the end of his chapter, the lessons are completed in a "very non-razzle-dazzle fashion." These lessons aren't about the technology. They aren't even really about the text that is shared in the chapters. They are about getting kids to learn HOW to learn. Teachers step aside and help students learn from each other. If you teach middle school ELA or high school English, take a stab at these lessons. I'm sure I'll be writing more blog posts about how these lessons went with the scholars in room 239!

A huge thank you to Brian Sztabnik for putting this all together. Brian loves sharing other teachers' ideas - on his Talks with Teachers podcast, and now through this book. Of course thank you to Todd FinleyDave Stuart Jr.Susan BarberJori KrulderDan RyderHeather Wolpert-GawronJosh StockLaura BradleyAmy RasmussenShanna PeeplesBrianna CrowleyGerard Dawson, and Ruth Arseneault, as well, for sharing their BEST literature lessons.

More posts about this book from the authors:
     Laura Bradley          Shanna Peeples          Brian Sztabnik

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