Infographics for the Week of October 26th: Halloween Around the World, Costumes by State, and Top Costumes for 2015

These infographics about Halloween are great for analysis of visual text (RI.9-12.7) and especially author’s choice in regard to structure.  Since it’s visual, it’s easier to talk about structure.  So if your students are struggling with CCSS Reading standard 5, infographics may be a great way to enter the conversation.

These can also be a great opportunity to get students prepared to develop and answer inquiry questions for research papers and/or performance assessments.  Since this is the compiled research, they can work backwards to determine the possible research question and then assess how well the creator/author of the infographic answered that question.  This kind of analysis could then be turned into a checklist-of-sorts of how you sufficiently respond to a research question.

These infographics could also be great for practice with inference, with formulating questions, etc.

So, some specific ways for students to interact (individually, in pairs, small groups, etc.) with these infographics might include:

  • What accounts for the differences and similarities among countries in “Halloween around the world”? (inference practice)
  • What do the traditions in different countries reveal about them? (inference practice)
  • What conclusions might we draw based on the top costumes by state in “America’s Favorite Halloween Costumes by State”? What research or inquiry questions could we develop about these states based on the costume? (great opportunity to practice writing these types of questions and perhaps engage students in researching to find the answers) (inference practice, W.9-12.7 if they conduct the research; developing the question is good practice for getting them to meet this standard on their own as well.)
  • How does pop culture help determine what people wear on Halloween? What other factors may influence this? (“Top Costumes”)
  • What research or inquiry question is each infographic seeking to answer? (RI.9-12.2, RI.9-12.7, W.9-12.7)
  • How does the author organize/structure his/her information? Is it effective – why or why not? (RI.9-12.2, RI.9-12.5, RI.9-12-.1)
  • What is the connection/relationship to the information provided ____________ and that provided __________? (RI.9-12.3)
  • Analyze and evaluate: Which of these infographics is the most useful? the most effective? the most dynamic?  (Support with specific textual evidence – RI.9-12.1)

And of course, if these are discussions with specific expectations/roles/teacher modeling – students would likely be hitting speaking & listening standards as well, particularly SL.9-12.1a-d.

halloween around the world

halloween costumes by state




#TechTuesdays; Ted-Ed & Three Interpretations of Walt Whitman

Ted-Ed is an off-shoot of, which gathers (from its own conventions-of-sorts) talks from experts in their field that are often ground-breaking, inspiring, terrifying, eye-opening, etc.

Basically, Ted-Ed is a resource where teachers or students (or anyone) could check out short videos that are paired with multiple choice and open-ended questions, “dig deeper” resources to extend the discussion, and guided/open discussion forums about the lesson.  They can be lessons students navigate on their own (flipped-classroom-style), in computer labs with teacher facilitation or in pairs/small groups, or as a whole class in the classroom.  They could also inspire performance assessment ideas and options moving forward.

Some of these lessons are organized in series.  The one I’m sharing today are from the “Reading Between the Lines” series.

noiseless spider

  • “A Poetic Experiment: Walt Whitman, Interpreted by Three Animators” by Justin Moore
    • Analysis & Evaluation: This Ted-Ed lesson presents three different readings of “The Noiseless Patient Spider” paired with three different animations.   I like this Ted-Ed lesson for so many reasons.  It begs for a comparison/contrast and a discussion about perspective and impact of author’s choices. For discussions and/or assignments of this sort, students could hit RL.9-10.5 & RL.11-12.5 (analyze author’s choices and how they create effects) and/or RL.9-10.7 & RL.11-12.7 (analyze the representation of a subject or key scene in two different artistic mediums or multiple interpretations).  If you simply want to use these three interpretations and the repetition of it to help students understand the poem (the open-ended questions work to this end), then students could hit RL.9-10.2 (determine a theme/central idea and analyze its development). If you want them analyzing the spoken versions separately (or in addition to an animation-interpretation analysis), you could hit the beginning of SL.9-10.3 (evaluate a speaker’s point of view).
    • Performance Assessment Idea: I love (LOVE!) the potential this type of video has for our performance assessments that we can assign in class (so this one could become a model and practice).  Maybe students, in small groups, create a complete interpretation that represent both in voice (how will they read/perform the poem) and in original drawing/art (I would select how many drawings you would want for the assignment).  You could assign perspectives or just allow students to approach it from their own angle (this, I would think, would depend on the level of your students and how much practice/confidence they have in developing their own interpretations.).  While turning it into a video might be hard for some groups (MovieMaker or iMovie would work), completing a Prezi or Powerpoint with voice-over or with the reading/performance of the poem in class would also work.  If students have been analyzing and interpreting poetry and/or text all marking period long, this would make a nice cumulative assignment to assess their interpretation skills (RL.9-12.1 – textual evidence & RL.9-12.2 central ideas) and possibly even their presentation skills (SL.9-12.4-6).
      • What the audience/listeners do during the presentations could also be part of the overall assessment grade.  If we have them complete an analysis of author’s choices (structure) and evaluate those choices’ impacts, students would hit RL.9-12.5 (the “authors” they are evaluating and analyzing would be their other classmates’ projects).
      • To hit the writing requirement (W.9-12.4produce clear and coherent writing appropriate to task/purpose/audience) of the performance assessment rubric, groups could turn in a one-page explanation of their interpretation and how their animations/reading reveal that interpretation. I think your evaluation of how their interpretation is represented (task & purpose) could also factor into this element of the rubric.
      • W.9-12.8 (gather relevant information from multiple sources . . . ) is also at play in performance assessments since they should be researched-based.  This might be a stretch for an assignment of this sort, but quoting the original poem directly and citing the lines directly in the one-page explanation and specifically referencing /quoting other groups projects might help to meet it.  They could also look for some animation-interpretations of poetry as reference-points and compile these in an annotated bibliography they submit.
  • I’m sure there are many more options for this kind of assignment as a performance assessment as well as more options for using this TedEd lesson – but this is the magic of TedEd!

Please note that I’ve only briefly explained the standards listed.  Before developing an assignment that hits these standards, I would review them in more detail.  And remember that these standards are the end-goals and require some interpretation.  We can hit portions of these standards now in order to prepare them to meet them more fully in future assignments.

9-10 standards mentioned in this post:

Reading Literature

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Speaking & Listening

Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 9-10 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)

11-12 standards mentioned in this post:

Reading Literature

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)


(4 is the same as the 9-10 standard)

Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.


Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.

(4-6 are the same as the 9-10 standards)

Introducing . . . Meme Mondays! This Week: Book Censorship

At last year’s in-service, one of the suggestions for the blog was “Meme Mondays,” and so today we roll out the red-carpet for Memes.

To coincide with Banned Books Week, these memes are all about censorship.

censorship students first amendment self censor thought police

A few ways to use memes in your classroom:

  • As warm-ups to start a discussion or concept you’ll be introducing
  • As classroom rules/expectations
  • As discussion starters, enhancers, or “curve-balls”
  • As prompts for writing
  • In a group or paired with another text, as seminar text (the really good memes)
  • As models for memes students will create (based on grammar, literature, authors, current events, etc.) – Mematic is just one free app available for easy meme-making.

Additional resources: