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

I need your help with a judgment call. This month, one of my favorite podcasts, Criminal, detailed the compelling case of a real estate agent whose life was nearly destroyed by false online rumors. This episode and the issues it raises would make an excellent supplement to our American Literature students’ study of The Crucible, but I’m hesitant to build those materials because…well…this topic is just so…unsettling. 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

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
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 […]

In my first few years of teaching, I didn’t want to use my sick days. If I woke with a fever, I foolishly believed it was more trouble to pull the day’s sub materials together than to just drive to school and face the day. In the spring of my first year, a ruptured ear drum didn’t even keep me from school. It wasn’t until an allergic reaction to the antibiotic launched an angry, blotchy rash all over my body – and, like an idiot, I still came to work – that the principal’s secretary took one look at me, shook her head, and sent me home. Continue reading

Friend of the blog (and real-life homie) Annette just shared a link to this surprisingly challenging quiz from the folks at Mental Floss where we must determine whether a line comes from our favorite Dark Romantic era writer or a modern “emo” band. Continue reading