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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English teachers! Keep your high school students engaged in class right up to the last day of school. Links to all of the items mentioned in this video are listed below.

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Life is hard. Plans fall apart. People disappoint you. And yet… My latest obsession – Wondery’s Imagined Life podcast – details the struggles people faced before they became famous and it always leaves me hopeful. Part biography/part mystery, the program is a fun distraction with a guessing game quality. It’s also a helluva great example […]

“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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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