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 Their argument was that with smartphones, the need for actual knowledge is obsolete.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

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

S-U-M-M-E-R is finally here. Yes, I’ve scheduled a few fun things with the family and I plan to spend plenty of afternoons reading in the hammock (Hillbilly Elegy, you’re up next), but I’m also already planning a big ol’ project for the new school year Continue reading

Twelve (very long) weeks ago, I announced that I’d spend this spring semester creating a completed work of fiction to share with the world. Today, I’m back to tell you that…drumroll, please…I have failed.

For the first time in five years of annual 20Time projects, I did not complete my goal. Continue reading

You’ve thought about taking a dance/art/acting/whatever class but know you’ll be nothing but awkward.

You want to start a blog/YouTube channel/TpT shop/whatever but then realize your ideas are all crap.

You wake up early to write a chapter of your book but decide instead to organize your desk, answer emails, and fill out tax return forms.
(Wait, maybe that’s just me?)

Why is it that we don’t do the things we say we want to do? Turns out, there’s an invisible and incredibly powerful monster stalking us. It’s name is Resistance. Continue reading

The month of February was brought to us by the color gray. It’s been a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. As I mentioned last week, the orangey-yellow glow of inspiration has snubbed my current 20Time project, so this week I sought help searching for some sunshine. Continue reading

Those who can’t do, teach. It appears this insulting maxim may actually be true in my case – at least when it comes to this year’s 20Time project. Continue reading

Each spring, I launch a project-based learning experience that encourages students to pursue a project of personal interest. Folks have lots of different ways of managing this (search Genius Hour, 20 Percent Project, or Kevin Brookhouser to learn more), and here are the rules for my version: 1. The project must be something the student […]

After Idaho’s snowiest winter in more than 100 years (yeah, that happened), spring has finally sprung and my passion project is done. This week, I’ll present my 20Time results to students as I model their end-of-project speech assignment, but I thought a few blog friends might also be curious about how things turned out. Continue reading

Just a quick note of thanks to everyone who contributed to my daughter’s fundraising campaign. Back in January, she had the idea to replace two sets of sad, broken books in her middle school classroom with new copies. This week, those books arrived and were delivered to an incredibly grateful classroom. While the politics of […]