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Realistic Fiction Mini Lesson

2 min read

Book: The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Grade Level: Ninth Grade

Mini Lesson: Before beginning Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, I would first engage in an active read aloud of the first chapter with a ninth grade English class. As we would read the first chapter together, we would write down some key elements occuring in the story (i.e. main characters, theme, geographic location, socio-economic status, events, etc.). Then, I would choose a song that I thought best related to that chapter of the story. After listening to the song, I would ask students to write a paragraph explaining why that song suited chapter one using support from the text. Students would volunteer to share some of their responses and all students would turn in responses as an in-class assignment. I would then ask students which song they would choose for chapter one. After volunteer shared their song choices with concrete explanations, I would inform students that they would be choosing a song and writing a paragraph with contextual support for each chapter. Finally, I would teach students how to use SlideDeck to create a summary in photos of the chapter. That evening, students would go home to read chapter 2, choose a song, write a paragraph explaining why they chose that particular song, and then create a SlideDeck summary of the chapter. Each student would share their slidedeck presentation and teach the class what occurred in the chapter with the use of their photos.


Realistic Fiction Module - Write Choose Both

2 min read

According to the article, Shut My Mouth Wide Open: Realistic Fiction and Social Action by Cynthia A. Tyson, does she feel that fairytales should be taught throughout the curriculum? Why or why not?

In a nut shell, Cynthia A. Tyson does not feel that fairy tales should be taught throughout the curriculum, especially when such themes do not relate to the contemporary societal issues students deal with on a day-to-day basis. While the thematic concepts presented in fairy tales can be a good foundation for early readers while forming conclusions about morals and the like, these thematic concepts do not necessarily transcend to readers as they grow and develop through life.


In the article, Depictions and Gaps: Portrayal of U.S. Poverty in Realistic Fiction Children's Picture Books, why is it that some areas in the books reflect the reality in the United States, but areas such as poverty are misrepresented?

The reason for these areas being reflected as they appear in reality in these children's books is along the lines of the same reasons that Disney did not feature a Black princess until 2009, that Obama was the first president to utter the word, "transgender," or, up until recently, most cast members on TV shows and in movies were predominantly white males. Poverty is often misrepresented because we live in society that opts to hide reality because it is not the ideal. Like most subordinant groups in society, whether these groups be the poor, a minority ethnicity/race, anyone who does not define as heterosexual, women, elderly individuals, their ideas, beliefs, experiences are often misrepresented becauseour pre-conceived dispostions and negative judgements keep us from actively learning about them. When engagement and interraction occurs, connections can be made, differences can be settled, and eyes can be opened.


Collage - Biography Module

1 min read

Here is a biography-collage of my life. It includes some of my photography from my travels, a painting of mine, my beautiful friends, and my amazing family. 



Coming Home from War - Biography Module

2 min read

April 1865

Dear Diary,

Today begins my journey home to Plymouth, Massachusetts. It has been a long and dreadful war, but, by the grace of God, the union has triumphed. I have been fighting in this war for nearly two years. It was a great honor to fight under the instruction of General Ulysses S. Grant during my last battles. Robert E. Lee's surrendering of his army to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse was, undoubtedly, one of the most incredible feelings I have been given the privlege of experiencing. Victory has never sounded so harmonious, felt so rich, or tasted so sweet. Although the war was grueling and days were both long and taxing, we in the Union army fought hard. I am in complete awe that it is finally over. That I may be reunited with my family, once again. That this country may be one, again. I am hopeful that good things are near, that the South will join the North with cooperation and ease. I am hopeful that this battle will have made our country stronger, brighter, and better than ever before. I am eager to tell my dear wife, Julia, and two daughter, Maria and Grace, all about my travels. The future will be bright for America. 


James Loy






Mythology Biopoem

1 min read


Here is my Biopoem for the participation task in the Mythology Module. I chose Athena because she's bad ass. Plain and simple.


1. Greek name: Pallas Athena (more commonly known as Athena) 

2. Four traits of character: Intelligent, victorious, protective, and independent.

3. Relative of: Daughter of Zeus and Metis

4. Lover of: War and knowledge. She admired many of the Greek heroes, but Athena was independent. She rejects sexuality, marriage, and motherhood. 

5. Who feels: Indifference towards men and compassion for the suffering community.

6. Who needs: A spear and shield to protect her in battle

7. Who fears: Not much as a warrior Goddess. Some scholars believe she did not want to be forgotten and that she did not want for her temples to be defiled.

8. Who gives: The olive tree, protection to Athens, and useful tools and instruments such as the plow, the rake, the lyre, and the trumpet.

9. Who would like to see: Victory and right done by the heroes of olympus as well as those who were suffering.

10. Resident of: Mount Olympus

11. Roman Name: Minerva


Mythology Mini Lesson for Grade Three

2 min read

(Sisyphus feat. spinning beach ball of death)

CCSS: English and Language Arts Standards - Reading and Literature: Grade 3
Students will be able to...

Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

I would begin the mini lesson by first introducing mythology and what it means. I might give my students a paraphrased version of Jeff House's definition by stating that mythology is a collection of multicultural stories that include key values, beliefs, and symbols of that culture. To begin the mythology unit, I would start my class with Greek Mythology. First, I would give students background information about ancient Greece, the values of the ancient Greeks, and how the ancient Greeks were Polytheists (meaning they believed in several Gods). Together as a class, we would read together an ancient Greek Myth, such as Prometheus Gives Fire to Man. I would choose students to read a paragraph or so from the reading aloud. During and after the reading, I would stop to ask students questions pertaining to the key elements of Greek mythology. On the board, I would draw two columns, one labeled "Elements of Mythology" and the other, "Elements of Greek Mythology." Students will volunteer by raising a hand and explain a component for either column. Ultimately, we would compare the two columns. For example, a component listed in the Mythology column might be, "Contains a central message or value for that culture/religion," whereas a component in the Greek Mythology column might be "Fate of the protagonist as determined by the Gods is a central theme in Greek mythology." 

Then, I would instruct students to work on another Greek myth in group. Each group would receive a different Greek myth. They would be instructed to read the myths together, then, write the key elements of their myth. Finally, we would come together as a class and each group would present their myth and the key elements. This would meet the CCSS because students will be required to recount myths and determine the central message by explaing the key details that were provided in the text. 


Fables Module - The Fox and the Grapes - Participate

2 min read

  1. Moral of the Story: Often times, people tend to demean and pretend to dislike the things that are far beyond their reach, in actuality.

  2. Key Fable Elements:

  • Moral/lifelong lesson that was taught: "Often times, people tend to demean and pretend to dislike the things that are far beyond their reach, in actuality."

  • Animals: The Fox

  • Setting: Forest with a vine tree containing a bunch of grapes

  • Introduction with animals: "One day... A Fox"

  • Sequencing the Events of the Story: First the Fox sees the beautiful bunch of grapes hanging from the tree, his mouth watered, for he longed for them. Then, he realizes effort will be required to obtain the grapes so he begins to jump to try to catch them. The first jump he fails. The second jump he begins with a running start, but, he still fails. He tries again and again. Finally, he looks to the grapes in disgust and decides the grapes are suddenly not worth it, for they are sour.

  • Conclusion of Story/Moral: The story ends with Fox becoming disgusted by the grapes and belittling their taste or his true desire for them after not being able to obtain them through various attempts.

  1. Questions to Ask Students:


  • What is the lifelong lesson is this Fable? Do you think it is important? Why or why not?

  • Describe Fox's feelings at the end of the fable. Do you think he was right to act the way he did? Why or why not?

  • Can you think of a time when you experienced the lesson in this fable? If so, how did you feel?

  • What are some words of encouragement you would give to the Fox?

  • In this fable, the bunch of grapes were like a goal the Fox wanted to reach and obtain. What is one goal, hope, or dream you have in your life? Will you give up like Fox?


The Lion and The Mouse - Ending ReWrite - Fables Module: Write - Choose One

2 min read

Original Fable: 

The Lion and the Mouse

Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn
some of these days?" The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he lifted up his paw and let him go. Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse.

My Ending ReWrite:

The Lion and the Mouse

 Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse:

"forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: I see you are lonely like I, I think we could make a good team, if you would give me a chance." 

The Lion was in awe of the thought. At first, he thought it was preposterous. "A lion befriending a mouse?" he exclaimed. "A mouse befriending a lion," replied the Mouse, with big eyes and a soft smile.  The Lion pondered the idea for a moment. He was quite alone. Then, he lifted up his paw and let the Mouse go, showing him that same soft smile. Although the Lion, the king of the land, was big and great, he realized the importance of being humble


New moral: "We should never look so high as to miss seeing the things that are around us."



Teaching with Picture Books Throughout the Curriculum - Written Reaction

2 min read

Why does Peggy Agostino Sharp think that picture books can be used to teach various subjects? 


Throughout Sharp's article, Teaching with Picture Books Throughout the Curriculum, she explained her thoughts on the importance of using picture books in the classroom with all age groups. Sharp went into great detail about the versatility of picture books, in that, how they can be utilized in the classroom to touch upon important concepts in other educational subjects. 

The multitude of components that picture books offer helps educators explain to students through a visual lens about various subjects. For instance, Sharp discussed how visual literacy skills are enhanced through teaching with picture books by using books that display the same images that change inversely from beginning to end. She also explained how picture books can increase the comprehension and awareness of identifying literary elements in a story. One example from the text relating to this idea that I found really striking was Leo Lionni's book, Swimmy.  Sharpe described how Lionni displayed the literary element of mood throughout his picture by illustrating some images as "light and airy" when the main character was spending time with friends and others as "dark and somber" when the main character was alone. Another subject that Sharp explained could be taught through utilizing a picture book is mathematics. An example she shared that is an effective tool to teach a young audience about simple numeral operations and sets is the book, Anno's Counting House, by Mitsumasa Anno. In this book, the author has characters move themselves and their belongings from one house to another. Readers must use their counting skills to ensure that nothing and no one was left behind in the previous house. These are just three of the many subjects that can be taught with the help of picture books. Picture books provide readers with a sense of deeper understanding and imaginiation. Picture books give students a foundation in reading that will help them be thoughtful and critical readers throughout their lives.



Old Surfaces

1 min read

There's a storm inside of me

and I can't find shelter

beneath brittle bones.

I've been longing for a safehouse

and a bed that can hold.

Don't let these sheets pull me in.

Every inch of

my anatomy


with What Was and What Could Be

Help me build this body into a home.

I know my old soul is an ancient ruin,

but if you'd pace my cracked-sidewalk-veins long enough,

you would learn that there is beauty in history

that can be found

in every crevice

and corner.

Free my chest cavity of the echoing dull thuds 

and play me your favorite bird song.

I want to fly to far off places with you.