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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Haven’t heard of her? You’re not alone. Last week, I came across Susan Glaspell’s short story, “A Jury of Her Peers,” while looking for new works to add to my American literature curriculum. Glaspell, called “American drama’s best-kept secret” by the British press, was a turn-of-the-century powerhouse who packed her easy-to-read story with tons of symbolism and controversy for students to discuss. Continue reading

Please allow me introduce you to Andy Weir’s tasty morsel of a short story called, “The Egg.” The story, part sci fi/part philosophy, is a quick 1,000-word read that might be a good match for your classes this fall. Although not particularly religious, the story centers around a God figure talking to his supernatural child. […]

On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls impersonated a Confederate captain, stole a gunboat, and sailed his family away from enslavement. His great-great-grandson, Michael Boulware Moore, told the story on the Criminal podcast this week – it’s a nail-biter everyone should hear. Continue reading

I’m hard on my books. Argue if you want, but a spine is meant to be cracked. Oh, yes, I dog-ear pages (the horror!), underline passages, scribble phrases in the margins that mean nothing to anyone but me.

You already know, books can be a tool to help us figure out this weird world, but I worry many of our teens don’t feel the same. To them, books are a drag, a literal weight in their backpacks offering nothing relevant to their lives except slightly stronger shoulder muscles.

Let’s try to change that. Continue reading

The pandemic is spreading quickly and it looks like my initial two-week Coronavirus lesson plan isn’t going to be enough. Since my brain’s default is worst-case-scenario mode, I’m now expecting all of our schools to cancel in-person instruction for the rest of the spring semester.

Will this actually happen? I have no idea. What does this mean for our students? Again, no idea. I’ve never taught in a 1:1 school and my online learning experience is limited to a couple of dismal professional development courses. Not fun. And, yet, fun is exactly what we need right now. Continue reading

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

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

You’re a 6’6”, 240-pound high school senior – all muscle. You’re a favorite on the football team, you just won an athletic scholarship to Boston College, and your coach says you’re built for a career in the NFL. There’s just one problem – you’re terrified of being hit. That was comedian Gary Gulman’s teenaged life […]

Note: This is an updated repost.

You’ve wrapped your last major unit and final exams are still a week or so away. You could spend five days on Review Jeopardy (um…no, thanks) or you could grab some of these tried-and-true resources that’ll keep kids focused until finals. Continue reading