Learn what my messed up teeth (and a great podcast episode) taught me about why I judge other people and how we can bring that lesson to our students:

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I know it’s vacation for a lot of my teacher-friends, so I’ll just set this here for you to explore when you’re ready. One of my go-to tools to take a class through a short story or dialogue-heavy chapter of a novel? Readers’ Theater! Here are the details about how to run the show: Click […]

Are you a middle school person or a high school person? Today, I’m talking about my student teaching days, back when I taught 6th grade in the morning and 11th grade in the afternoon. Pretty quickly, I knew which path I was going to take.

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This week, I’m focusing on English teacher Kim and her middle school struggle:

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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 […]

“Hey Ms. R., that was pretty good…for a school movie.”
Yes, The Twilight Zone, that 60-year-old black-and-white TV show, earns what I call high praise from teenagers.

Before we get to my all-time favorite episodes to use as teaching tools, here are seven reasons to bring The Twilight Zone to your classroom:

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Note: This is an updated repost featuring some of my favorite end-of-October lesson ideas.

Since Halloween’s on a Saturday this year, it feels right to fill the whole week leading up to Oct. 31 with spooky literary goodness. Up first? A super-creepy Neil Gaiman story suggested a few weeks ago by friends over in the 2ndaryELA Facebook Group.

If you don’t know Gaiman’s “Click Clack the Rattlebag,” lower the lights and get ready for a fun, scary ride. Gaiman shares it with us here:

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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 (new item just posted this weekend!)
Built with the interests of teens in mind, I folded 365 factoids into this set of 12 month-at-a-glance calendars with the aim of hooking students’ attention and maybe even inspiring them to want to learn more Continue reading

By far, the top question I’ve been asked this week is how to turn a PDF worksheet into an interactive assignment that can be posted to Google Classroom. I use Adobe InDesign to create most of my PDF handouts and, unfortunately, there’s no converting an Adobe file into a fully editable Google file. Apparently, those software companies don’t want to play nicely.

There are several workarounds, but most are cumbersome or require third-party apps that some school districts block. I’ve always suggested that folks turn the PDF into an JPG image, drop it onto a Google Slides page, and then draw text boxes on top of the image that kids could fill in on the screen.

Amy Almada, problem-solver and teacher tech goddess, just took this process next level by modeling the simple path and teaching us her special “background” trick. Continue reading