Persuasive Techniques

We are studying propaganda/ persuasive techniques this week. So far, we’ve learned about bandwagon, snob appeal, testimonial, and transfer. Tomorrow, I plan on reviewing these techniques before adding a few more on Thursday. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to find some of these commercials on YouTube. I felt like it should have been easier. The Internet should have had them all there in a nice, neat place for me to search and click. Now it will. I hope these can be of use to you if you teach these techniques as well.

NOTE: I didn’t really find and classify these. I am pretty much stealing them from other people who did for the sake of compiling them in one place.


Snob Appeal

(This one almost caused me to spew Diet Coke all over my computer screen! It’s funny!)





Filed under Lesson Ideas, Persuasive Text

What are YOU teaching and learning these days?

I don’t know if this will work, but I really hope it will. I spent about 4 hours today writing about my teaching for National Boards. I planned on coming home and writing an entry detailing all I’ve learned about Socratic Seminars this year, but I was sick of it after 4 sentences. I will finish soon, but for now, I’m tired of talking about what I’m doing.

So I’m wondering, what are YOU teaching? What are YOU learning? About your students? About instructional strategies? Curriculum? School politics? Life? Everything?

I know you’re out there, readers. My blog stats promise me you are there reading or at least clicking on this entry. Don’t be shy.

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Theme and Symbolism

We are just wrapping up a study of theme and symbolism. To help students, better understand, I used a Pixar short.

When the students came in, their warm up was to brainstorm questions to ask themselves to help determine the theme or the meaning of symbols. We held a class discussion and created an anchor chart with our tips for each theme and symbol.

Then, we watched La Luna, which has sadly been pulled from YouTube in the past few days. I had hoped to post a link.

After viewing, students discussed the questions on the anchor chart with their partners. Then we discussed as a whole class. Finally, students wrote a response stating the theme and the meaning of the symbol (hats) in the short and validating their responses by citing evidence.

(The next day, we added the answers in blue on the charts as a review.)

Then, we read a vignette from The House on Mango Street, discussed the same questions, and wrote the same response determining theme and the meaning of the symbols and validating responses by citing evidence.

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Filed under Elements of Literature, Lesson Ideas

Livening up Literature Studies

We just finished reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I’ve had a wonderful time, and the kids have really loved it. They clapped when we finished reading it, and they asked if we could read another book next. (Yes, but we are going to study persuasive text first.) Still, towards the end, our discussions were starting to fall a little flat. My first thought was “Ugh, I need to just fly through the last 25 pages and get out of this book and onto something new!”  But then I realized, it wasn’t the book. It was my teaching. My lessons were great lessons, but our structure was too repetitive. Read, partner talk, whole class talk, parter talk, whole class talk, etc. etc. etc., write.

So, last week, we did our reading. Then I divided the class into groups and assigned each group a literary element or an important quote. I gave them some guiding questions to discuss and asked them to create a poster showing what they learn through their discussions. I gave them 15 minutes to do this, which allowed me enough time to visit each group and make sure they were getting what I needed them to.

Then, they hung their posters on the wall around the room, and we did a gallery walk. Kids traveled with their groups from poster to poster, reading and discussing their classmates’ work, and taking notes. When they were done, they all sat back down and individually responded to prompts about the theme and symbolism. They did a really great job!  Their spelling isn’t perfect, and I could have insisted they refine their ideas a little more, but I thought it was more meaningful to validate the growth they were showing rather than insisting on perfection. And their artwork is incomplete. I did only give them 15 minutes. If this were a graded assignment, I’d have given more time. I do think it’s important to let students express creativity and take pride in their work. That just wasn’t my goal this day.


Filed under Book Studies, Elements of Literature, Lesson Ideas, Student Engagement

A Lesson Before Yelling

Today, I was walking across our outdoor K-8 campus towards the cafeteria. One of my students veered off the sidewalk looking like he was about to traipse across the little kids’ playground. An internal conflict started in my mind.

Oh no, he’s not supposed to do that. I should yell at him to stop. But I’m on my lunch, and it’s Friday, and I’m tired. And I really don’t care that much which route he takes to get to lunch, even though I know I’m supposed to. A good teacher would tell him to move. If another teacher saw me just watching  him do that, she’d hate me for it. I should probably say something. But I just don’t want to, so I won’t.

As soon as I’d made the decision, I saw the young man pick up a little kid’s jacket that had fallen to the ground off of a wall by the playground. He shook it off and set it neatly on the wall, then returned to the sidewalk. I continued towards the cafeteria, and he proceeded to hold the door open for me, smile, and greet me by name.

I’m teaching theme right now, so you can infer your own theme from this story. I know I rant and rave and preach and pray through this soapbox of a blog all of the time. When I was 19, I took a career aptitude test, and it said I should be a preacher/clergy-woman. Some things never change.


Filed under Classroom Management


One of my favorite student projects these days is Fakebook! As the title suggests, students create a faux facebook page for a character, an author, a historical figure, a scientist, whomever. I love this assignment for so many reasons. It’s obviously engaging. Students love technology, and then the play on social networking? Instant motivation and engagement. Because of that, students tend to naturally differentiate this assignment. If nothing else, they practice their skills with plot and characters. But those who can tend to take this much deeper.

Check out a student’s Fakebook for Maya Angelou. She created this after working in a literature circle studying I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She did her own research on Angelou’s life and accomplishments to make the connections seen here. I was especially pleased to see that she’s studied the connection to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. because we’ve been studying him quite a bit this year.

If you choose to use Fakebook, here are some quick tips:
1. Students have to select a name, add a friend, update a status, and input profile information first. You cannot save until you do.

2. After this, have students save frequently. Computers and the Internet are unreliable.

3. Make sure students copy down their URLs in PERFECT HANDWRITING. Even my students with the best penmanship have mistaken an x for a X, a U for a V, an s for an S or a 5. If you don’t correctly record your URL, you’ll lose the work.

4.  Play the tutorial video for your students, but also watch it several times yourself.

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Filed under Book Studies, Common Core, Differentiation, Lesson Ideas, Student Engagement

Relationships are what heroes and teachers are made of.

More and more these days, schools are full of danger and tragedy. But a friend of mine recently challenged me to focus on the beauty in the world rather than the evil. This article does just that.  Teacher Ryan Heber talked down a 16 year old student-gunman in his California school, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now. Could there be a more powerful testament to the importance of developing relationships with students? Seeing them as little humans rather than test scores, cute stories, annoyances, or chores?

“David Heber wasn’t surprised that his son played a key role in diffusing the situation, saying Ryan Heber makes a point of getting to know his students — including the suspected gunman — on a personal level.”

Then, the article goes on to state the Heber doesn’t want to be known as a hero, only as a teacher. Maybe it’s the language arts teacher in me, but what does that tell you? He considers the courage he showed to be all a part of his job. And maybe to him, teacher is a label that carries more honor than a hero.

What a challenge! Would we have that kind of relationship with our students if we ever found ourselves in such a tragic situation?  There’s no way to know, and of course, there are countless other factors. Still, it’s a challenging thought. I really admire this man. This hero. This Teacher.


Filed under Classroom Management