Al Capone Does My Shirts Teaching Ideas

Two Free Bump Games to Use with Al Capone Does My Shirts

Written by Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts tells the story of Moose Flanagan and his family who move to Alcatraz Island where his father has gotten a job. The family wants to live near San Francisco, so Moose’s sister can attend the Esther P. Marinoff School. In this school, “kids have macaroni salad in their hair and wear their clothes inside out and there isn’t a chalkboard or a book in sight.” 

The year is 1935, and Alcatraz is a federal prison housing the meanest criminals. Your students will love reading Al Capone Does My Shirts. Continue Reading

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Teaching the Persuasive Technique – Testimonial

Teaching the Persuasive Technique Testimonial with Commercials

In Part 2 of the series “Teaching the Persuasive Technique – Testimonial,” 2017 Super Bowl commercials are featured. Many stars came out to promote products. Actors, sports figures, and even Bill Nye the Science Guy promote products. With a 30-second spot costing $5 million, many companies went with big celebrities.

Testimonial Definition

Testimonial is when an expert, public figure, or celebrity promotes or supports a product, policy, or political candidate. Sometimes plain folk are used to show the product appeals to ordinary people. Continue Reading

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

Foldable Graphic Organizer to use with Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda by Roald Dahl is a fun book to read. Matilda is a super-genius. She lives with parents who neglect her and are mean. Matilda must take care of herself and even teaches herself to read. She decides that every time her parents are mean, she will get them back with a prank. First, she puts glue in her dad’s hat. Next, she disguises a neighbor’s parrot as a ghost. Then, she dyes her dad’s hair blonde.

When Matilda begins school, her life is both the same and different. Her teacher, Miss Honey, realizes right away how extraordinary Matilda is, but the school’s headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is a tyrant and bully of the worst sort. Continue Reading

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Teaching the Persuasive Technique – Bandwagon

Teaching the Persuasive Technique Bandwagon with Commercials

Last month I created a series of four posts with songs that could be used to teach text structures. Because of the positive comments, I have planned a similar series. This time on persuasive techniques. Each Thursday in March, you can read about one persuasive technique or propaganda device. Posts feature commercial examples for each device. The series includes bandwagon, testimonials, loaded terms, and name calling.  

Bandwagon Definition

This technique encourages the hearer to think that because everyone else does something, you should too or you will be left out. In literature, bandwagon is used to persuade the reader to agree with the argument of the writer. Continue Reading

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Out of the Dust Lesson Plan

Dust Storm Photo

Out of the Dust, written by Karen Hesse, uses verse to tell the story of Billie Jo Kelby’s life on a farm during the Dust Bowl years.  

Lesson Plan/Art Project

Step #1 ~ Observe Photos Continue Reading

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Teaching Problems and Solutions with Songs

Songs for Teaching Problems and Solutions

This post “Teaching Problems and Solutions with Songs” is the final one in a series of four. This link contains a handout with the list of the songs from all four posts as well as some graphic organizers that can be used to evaluate the songs. I want to send out a special thank you to Nancy Davis’s Middle School music class for some great song suggestions! In the comment area below, I would love to hear your suggestions. Remember the songs must be classroom friendly.

Overcomer by Mandisa

Kisha’s battle with cancer inspired Mandisa to write Overcomer. The video includes a number of real life stories including Former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Captain Mark Kelly, Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts and Biggest Loser runner-up Hannah Curlee. Continue Reading

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The Tales of Despereaux Character Trait Cards

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Despereaux is an unusual mouse. He loves reading books and has a huge imagination. One day, he goes to Princess Pea’s room and hears her father playing his guitar and singing. Despereaux talks to Princess Pea because he is so caught up in the music. When Princess Pea picks Despereaux up for a closer look, he falls immediately in love with her. Despereaux’s brother Furlough witnesses the entire exchange. Furlough then runs and tells their father Lester what he has seen. Lester calls a meeting of the Mouse Council. The Council votes to send Despereaux to the dungeon where the rats live for breaking a “Mouse Rule.” The Thread Master ties the mark of death, a red piece of thread, around Despereaux. He is then pushed down the stairs into the dungeon. To learn of Despereaux’s fate read The Tales of Desperaux.

Main Characters


Despereaux is an unusual mouse. Instead of spending his days scrounging for food scraps, he read books and listens to music. Despereaux falls in love with a book about a princess and a knight. Later he meets a real princess and falls instantly in love with her. For this “terrible deed,” he is banished to the dungeon. There Despereaux’s bravery shines through as he courageously battles the scary dungeon rats to keep Princess Pea safe after she is kidnapped. Continue Reading

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