After two decades of teaching high school English, I’ve known many principals. I’ve come to think of them as the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Today’s video is a message from the heart, the things I always wanted to say but never did because, well, I didn’t want to lose my job. Learn more […]

A global pandemic, a cross-country move, an identity crisis…yeah, it’s been a weird year. Everything’s upside-down and inside-out right now. Seemed like a good time to fire up the YouTube channel again: Let’s talk! What topics should I cover? What’re you struggling with? How can I help? I’ll do my best to turn your questions […]

Today’s post is a question I received yesterday from a customer over at my shop.

Hello Laura,
I recently gave my students the one-question-quizzer style of quiz (Note to reader – You can learn more about this method here: https://laurarandazzo.com/2014/06/23/hold-their-feet-to-the-fire/), and usually this method seems to work well. Unfortunately, during one of the quizzers, I had a student answer the question incorrectly though he claimed to have read the story.

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Looking for free/inexpensive materials that’ll bring life to drab classroom walls and bulletin boards? (Yes, I’m assuming we’ll have some sort of physical space to share with students this fall.) Let’s get scrolling… 1. This Day in Arts & Letters How about a digital poster that changes every day? This collection of 366 fun facts […]

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 Their argument was that with smartphones, the need for actual knowledge is obsolete.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

Today’s post comes from a recent email (used with permission) from a fellow English teacher. For privacy, I changed her name.

Hi Laura,
First, thank you, as always, for your thoughtful, realistic approach to education. I am deeply grateful! Next, a few questions for you. It sounds like you are free to create and use your own curriculum. Is that the case? Are you and the other English teachers expected to cover the same content? To have the same number/type of assessments?

Also, my department chair insists on following up every single chunk of reading with what he calls “focus” questions, the bulk of which involve reading comprehension questions, all of which are approached in the exact same way – context, lead-in, quote, sometimes analysis. Thus, let’s say for The Catcher in the Rye, he expects kids to answer 10-15 focus questions after every chapter. Am I right in despising this approach to curriculum and thinking he is out of touch with how to approach curriculum in a meaningful way? I know I’m asking you to weigh in on something here that has no remedy; I’m just wondering if I’m the one who’s out of touch!
Thanks,
Carly
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This one’s for Nikki, Rose, Marc, and all of the other teachers out there who have agreed to take on the (hopefully rewarding) task of mentoring a student teacher. Continue reading

The calendar isn’t lying to us; it really is time to update the syllabus and get into that back-to-school frame of mind. You might be curious how I run the show, so here’s a copy of my course outline along with an episode from my classroom management series discussing the eight words that comprise my classroom rules. Continue reading

Confession time: I’m Facebook dumb. I’ve never really understood social media. All that liking and tagging and following leaves me as confused as my grandpa at Starbucks.

All I want is a black cup of coffee. I mean, all I want is share cool ideas and resources with my English teacher friends. Continue reading

I’m not even a minute into my right-after-lunch sophomore class when it starts – the quiet tee-hee of laughter among a handful of students, clearly the cool kids enjoying an inside joke.

“Okay, okay, let’s go,” I say, directing attention back to my vocab warm-up on the whiteboard.

Soft snickering continues. Undaunted, I launch my introduction of the word “tenuous.”

“Tenuous, an adjective, means really thin or insubstantial. If something’s tenuous, it’s definitely in need of strengthening.” Like my hold on this class, I think. Continue reading