When I first started teaching persuasive writing, I got really bored of the typical persuasive writing topics. The kids hated them; I got bored grading essays. Enter the alien report. This is absolutely my all-time favorite writing unit that I teach with my students. It gets them out of their writing “shell,” cleverly introduces the persuasive writing genre, and, most importantly, lets me find the joy of grading essays again.
This is a complete unit, divided into nine steps:
This unit is perfect for grades 7-10, and it calls on prior knowledge of the five-paragraph essay and possibly MLA formatting.
This is a print and teach unit — no need to to anything else!
When people ask you what you do, do you say “I teach,” or do you say “I am a teacher?” Because there is a significant distinction between teaching and being a teacher. Teaching is fleeting, lasts for the moment or the span of a lesson. Teaching involves assessing, methodology, adaptation, and a certain set of skills.
Being a teacher, on the other hand, is so much more than that.
I like efficiency. I like to make sure that I am as efficient as possible. A few years ago, I established the number system and cut back on a lot of problems I found myself dealing with in the classroom and saved myself some much-needed time.
I recently discussed the ideas of advertising and persuasion with my 10th grade English students. “Be wary,” I told them, “because everyone wants to sell you something.” Isn’t that the truth, though? And isn’t it true that we teachers are trying to sell something, too? A lesson or a unit or perhaps even good manners?
The year was 2002, and I was green. It was my first year as a real teacher, in my own classroom, and I was in charge of 90 hormonally-charged eighth grade students. Teaching grammar and reading and sentence fluency was often difficult when I had to combat students who couldn’t stop touching each other or putting on makeup in the middle of a lesson. I had three two-period block classes each day, and I often struggled to keep them entertained for 90 minutes at a stretch.
It was just a few years ago that I was 100 percent certain that I didn’t want to teach any more. Teaching had taken over my life; I had no time for my family, and most importantly, I had no time for my own basic needs. I was tired and grumpy all of the time, and I found no joy in teaching any more.