MAT Blog

Broaching that age-old question: “Why do we have to learn this?”

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 3, 2014 2:52:23 PM

7550213772_f6cd3f6e5b_h“Why do we have to learn this?” It’s a fair question, it really is, and if we’re confident that what we’re doing has a purpose that transcends “The Test,” it’s probably a question that we should get comfortable with.

This morning we came across a YouTube channel called The School of Life; they have a lot of great videos, but there were two that might come in handy the next time your history or literature students ask you why they are learning about the fall of the Roman empire, or are skeptical about the merits of reading some “dusty old” novel.

While I think both videos make legitimate arguments, they will probably work best as conversation-starters. Enjoy!

What is History for?

What is literature for?

The Reading Playbook, a teachers guide to success


Tags: history teachers, social studies teachers, Literature Teachers,

The Zombie Apocalypse: Using World War Z to Teach Genre, Metaphor, and Creative Writing

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 31, 2014 11:47:37 AM


One of our teacher-buddies shared an awesome zombie lesson plan with us. It was created by Tony Cerullo, and uses Max Brooks’ novel World War Z to help students explore genre, metaphor, and creative writing. Unlike a few of the zombie-themed activities we’ve shared over the past few days, this one is quite a bit more in depth and should take a month to complete. It is recommended for grades 11-12 due to high level literary themes and a fairly substantial work load.

Because this is a substantial project, we figured it would be easier for you to simply download a PDF of the lesson plan and take it with you.

You can download the PDF by clicking here or on the image below.

Zombie_Apocalypse_Lesson_PlanSpooky Story Starters Guide

Tags: zombie lesson plans, Literature Teachers,, Halloween lesson plans

Stream Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” for Free

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 28, 2014 2:24:15 PM

Halloween is upon us and I can’t think of a better time to bust out Edgar Allan Poe’s classic horror tale, “The Pit and the Pendulum.” The story is good on its own, but I think you’re students might also enjoy Ray Harryhausen’s award-winning, stop-motion interpretation of the story. You can watch the short film by clicking on the image below

In addition to the film, I recommend checking out the interactive comic book version of the story.







Spooky Story Starters Guide

Tags: reading teachers, Reading, Literature Teachers,, edgar allan poe

Careers for Characters: A Book Report Alternative for Literature Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jul 9, 2014 9:50:30 AM

book report alternative
Love ‘em or leave ‘em, it’s safe to say that there are only so manybook reports one teacher can take in a lifetime, and our gut tells us that students would eagerly echo this sentiment! In the past, we’ve shared a couple of book report alternatives for literature teachers—having your students use Animoto to create a book trailer, or having them create a text-inspired Podcast—but we’ve also had a lot of luck with Shelly Mattson Gahn’s assignment, “Careers for Characters.” You can find this and a variety of other lessons in Teaching Literature in Middle School: Fiction

Gahn uses this assignment with her eight-grade students, but simple adaptations could make it appropriate for both older and younger students. Here’s how it works.

Careers for Characters: A Book Report Alternative for Literature Teachers

In this assignment, students will select a character from any novel or short story. Based on what they know about their character’s personality, talents, flaws, hobbies and interests, they must find a job for their character and draft a cover letter to apply for the position.

  • To get things rolling, lead a class brainstorming session. Select a character from a work the entire class is familiar with and compile a list of details to include in a model cover letter. Discuss the character’s talents, flaws, hobbies, interests and personality and jot down your students’ ideas on the board.

    Using the ideas your students generate in the brainstorming session, type up a cover letter and distribute copies to the class to use as an example.

  • Once students choose their own character, have them repeat the brainstorming exercise on their own. This will help them better understand and “get into the role” of their character.

  • Next, send your students to Your Free Career Test, a short online questionnaire that asks students questions that relate to career categories. Remind students that they are to assume the role of their character when they are filling out the questionnaire. Keeping this in mind, they should answer the questions based not on their own personalities, but on those of their character.

    Upon completion, your students will receive an assessment that assigns them to a career category and offers a bulleted list of example careers for their character.

    In addition to visiting Your Free Career Test, ask students to investigate the classified sections of local newspapers and websites like CareerBuilder and Monster to select possible job prospects for their characters.
  • In the next step, each student writes a cover letter from the character to the company offering the job. The letter should follow a business letter format and should be typed.

We like this assignment for a variety of reasons: Not only do students find it entertaining, it gives them the opportunity to explore a variety of resources while honing their creative writing skills. Although the career research in this project applies to a fictional character, students can use the same information to investigate their own career aspirations.

Photo credit: martinak15 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Tags: book report alternatives, reading motivation, Literature Teachers,

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