"November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year," said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frostbitten garden.

"That's the reason I was born in it," observed Jo pensively, quite unconscious of the blot on her nose.

"If something very pleasant should happen now, we should think it a delightful month," said Beth, who took a hopeful view of everything, even November.

from Chapter 15: Little Women, by Lousia May Alcott.


November becomes a delight for students this week as we join in celebrating the birthdays of two favorite American novelists ~

Madeleine L’Engle Camp and Louisa May Alcott both born on November 29th


Madeleine L’Engle writes in her Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech, “in boarding school I grabbed Invincible Louisa the moment it came into the library because Louisa May Alcott had the same birthday I have, and the same ambitions.” 




EDSITEment has developed a  new lesson based on Madeleine’s Newbery Award winning novel, A Wrinkle in Time – the boardgame.

This lesson invites students to reconfigure Meg’s journey into a board game where, as in the novel itself, Meg’s progress is either thwarted or advanced by aspects of her emotional responses to situations, her changing sense of self, and her physical and intellectual experiences.


Beyond its mystical aspects, A Wrinkle in Time, can be read as the archetypal journey of a young hero undergoing coming-of-age trials. On her quest, Meg gains insight into what it means to be a friend, a sister, a daughter and a young adult involved in the difficult work required to become a fully realized human being.  To complete her mission and return home, Meg must forge her character and offer herself up as a sacrifice to save others she loves from harm. 


Louisa May


“Little Woman,” NEH Humanities magazine article: HUMANITIES, November/December 2009 Volume 30, Number 6

In this article, John Matteson writes of the “devilish duitiful daughter” as “an irrepressible tomboy in her youth, Louisa had “never liked girls or [known]many” other than her three siblings: her older sister, Anna, and her younger sisters, Lizzie and May. She saw only a faint possibility that the “plays and experiences” that the four of them had shared would interest a popular audience.”  Fortunately for us, Louisa ended up penning these family escapades into her classic, Little Women.


The NEH-funded award winning documentary Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women broadcast on EDSITEment reviewed Amercian Masters contains much background material on the author and her life.  Teachers can find a lesson plan for secondary teachers to accompany the documentary at the film's website.  More insight can be gleaned listening to NPR interview with Alcott scholar, Harriet Reisen, who speaks on Alcott: 'Not The Little Woman You Thought She Was.'    Treat students to Secrets & Surprises about Louisa May ~ Did you know....





Annual Convention Banner



NCTE Annual Convention


This week NCTE is celebrating its 100th anniversary conference in the city of its birth - Chicago, "The City of Big Shoulders." See our EDSITEment Lesson on the Carl Sandburg’s 1916 “Chicago” one of the best known poems of 20th century American literature :Carl Sandburg's "Chicago": Bringing a Great City Alive and our Launchpad designed to guide students through EDSITEment selected Internet resources to experience the city that Sandburg documented in his poetry.  Conference goers were blessed with mild November temperatures which made for comfortable walking between downtown hotels where the conference is traditionally housed whenever it comes back to its hometown. 


Here's the opening words from the Welcome from Keith Gilyard, 2011 Program Chair:"The founders of the National Council of Teachers of English acted with passion for language teaching, with care for our nation’s general student body, and with resolve to expand educational opportunities when they formed the Council in Chicago on December 2, 1911."


I was honored to Chair the following session last evening with two gifted educators who hail from Chicago: Professor of Poetry from DePaul University and past NEH Project Director, Eric Selinger and Director of Curriculum for Chicago City Public Schools and past Summer Scholar, Eileen Murphy. 





Eileen has just published a book through NCTE entitled, 360 Degrees of Text: Using Poetry to Teach Close Reading and Powerful Writing.  She shared her approach to teaching critical literacy where students investigate texts through a full spectrum of learning modalities, then led session particpants through an exercise inphysical performance poetry.  


Both presenters and audience members spoke to the profound impact the NEH Summer Programs have had on their teaching, writing and their lives. Here's the current lineup of NEH Summer Programs for School Teachers Seminars and Institutes and Landmark Workshops for the upcoming summer 2012 - note the deadline for applications is March 1, 2012.


The session highlighted rich resources available through EDSITEment to teachers of Poetry and Literature including World Poetry.  Here is a sample listing of Lesson Plans and Selected websites:


Featured Lessons



Featured Websites

Thanksgiving DayAlthough Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated for over 200 years, the fourth   Thursday of November didn’t become the official Thanksgiving Day until   1941, when Franklin Roosevelt signed the holiday into Federal law for the first time. Up until that time, the date had been in flux.


Find additional information on Thanksgiving, including how a letter writing campaign played a pivotal role in that federal law and classroom-ready lesson plans, on the ReadWriteThink calendar. You might even start a letter-writing campaign of your own with the Letter Generator.


Find other  timely ReadWriteThink calendar entries, new lesson plans, and classroom materials below.


New Resources

From the Calendar

  • November 13: It’s Bullying Awareness Week! Students create a poster to enter into a poster contest that educates others about issues surrounding bullying. (For grades 1–12)

  • November 15: The Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805. Students look at Kenneth Holder's paintings of the Lewis and Clark trail and transform their notes into a descriptive paragraph as if they were a   member of the expedition. (For grades 7–12)

  • November 18: Mickey Mouse appeared in his first animated feature. Students create a short, humorous story with at least one action character, and then use the Comic Creator to make a flipbook. (For grades 3–8)

  • November 19: Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863. Students practice the Pre-AP strategy called SOAPSTone, identifying important parts of the Gettysburg Address and comparing it with John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech. (For grades 7–12)

  • November 20: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was published in 1974. Students are introduced to a Silverstein verse and asked for their impressions. They then draw that they imagine when they read one of his lines and then write a line or two to continue the passage. (For grades 1–12)

  • November 21: It’s World Hello Day! Students study a letter written by a famous author to determine purpose, and words and phrases that make the letter meaningful. They can use the Letter Generator to write their own letter promoting peace. (For grades 5–12)

  • November 24: America celebrates Thanksgiving Day. After reading the book Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving, students read the letter Hale sent to Lincoln and brainstorm a list of ways to make their community better. (For grades 5–12)

  • November 28: Poet William Blake was born in 1757. As a class, students brainstorm abstract concepts and personify that concept through a drawing or story told about the character who personifies that concept. (For grades 5–12)

  • November 29:  Louisa May Alcott was born in 1832. Students brainstorm important events and people that might serve as the beginning of an interesting piece of writing. They then use the Bio-Cube to plan their writing and write an essay about a memorable person. (For grades 7–12)

  • November 30: Jonathan Swift was born in 1667. Students explore satire and parody in television and film, advertising, and journalism and create a display that highlights their findings. (For grades 9–12)

  • Next month, find lesson plans and activities on Rosa Parks, David Macauley, Pearl Harbor, Snowflake Bentley, Emily Dickinson, and more!

Discuss These Topics with Other Teachers


If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.


—Traci Gardner

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