UPDATE: This blog post was written at the beginning of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Obviously, things have changed and many of us need lesson plans beyond just two weeks. If your school has been closed indefinitely, I hope this bundle of 12 free emergency distance learning activities is helpful. Take care of yourself, your family, and your students. Love you! Laura

Brace yourself. It’s coming. If it’s not already in your emailbox, it’ll be here soon – a message from your principal requiring two weeks’ worth of lesson plans that can be accessed remotely in case your school closes as part of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak.

Whether the virus actually shows up on your campus or not, it’s important we all stay calm. I’m the first to acknowledge that it’s annoying to write lesson plans you might not ever use, but it’s also wise and really shouldn’t take too long to pull together. If the ick hits the fan, you’ll be glad you have a plan. Continue reading

Today’s post comes from an email I received from a fellow English teacher. I’m sharing our conversation with her permission and honoring her request to change her name for privacy.

Hi Laura,
I’m a second-year English teacher, and I just got dragged into the inevitable “Why is school even important?” fight with my students. Their argument was that with smartphones, the need for actual knowledge is obsolete. This attitude drives me crazy; I know I probably shouldn’t have fallen for that one, but I couldn’t resist. However, I don’t really feel like I made a good impact on those students, and I came away from it feeling pretty frustrated. Do you have any tips for dealing with the “too cool for school” attitude? I’m at a loss with how to deal with these kids. Nothing I try really seems to work with them.
Cassie Continue reading

If you’ve used podcast episodes in your classroom, you know that the kids love them. You also know that it’s really, really hard to find one that’s not too short/too long, isn’t riddled with swear words, and will actually hold our students’ attention.

This week, I’m happy to share a nugget of curriculum gold that I found over at Sidedoor, a podcast produced by the Smithsonian Institute. Continue reading

Today’s post comes from an email I received this week from a fellow English teacher. I am sharing our conversation with her permission and honoring her request to change her name for privacy.

Hi Laura,
I love your blog! I tried your Quarter Trios with my classes last year, and they LOVED it! Because I think you have such a positive, energetic attitude toward teaching and students, I wanted to ask your advice on the hot topic of conversation in my department right now – whether or not to assign summer reading. Continue reading

Around here, mid-January means prepping for 20Time, a spring semester project-based learning experience designed to bring real-world application to English/language arts classroom skills. Basically, students are given 20 percent of class time for 12 weeks to work on a passion project that they choose and their peers approve. (Click here for a free set of 20Time teaching materials.)

Over winter break, Colleen*, a 20Time first-timer, reached out via email with a few questions. With her permission, I’m sharing our conversation, which might help other folks as they set their plan. Continue reading

Let’s get 2020 started with a free print-and-teach worksheet designed to increase student motivation and help our teens think meaningfully about literature. Continue reading

Marriage is a blessing, proclaims Anne Bradstreet.
Marriage is a curse, warns Lady Mary Chudleigh.
Ladies, take your corners because it’s time to get ready to rum-b-l-e! Continue reading

Kids are wise to my ways, and I’m working to stay a step ahead of them with this all-new set of Quarter Trio brain teaser questions. Yup! Volume #5 has arrived.

Ready to quiz yourself? Let’s go! Continue reading

Today’s drop of brilliance comes from Jess, a fellow bookworm and middle school English teacher. With her permission, I’m sharing a tangible and beautiful way to motivate your kids to keep reading their SSR books. Continue reading

Today’s post comes from a recent email (used with permission, of course) from a member of our community. For privacy, I changed her name.

Hi Laura,
I hope your summer is going well. I’ll be starting my third year as a Freshman English teacher this year. My question, however, has more to do with my students than content area. I have a few students who will be repeating my class this year because they did not turn in work. I was wondering if you had any advice about how to motivate these kids. I know a few of them have things in their personal lives that they are having trouble with. Do you know a way to help them focus on school when they are in the classroom?
Continue reading