You want to add more current event materials to your classes, but you definitely don’t have the time to dig through the daily paper or online media to find school-appropriate stories that’ll actually get kids talking. That’s where the education staff at The New York Times has your back. I’ve enjoyed their Learning Network materials for years, but just this weekend I learned about a mother lode of goodies they’ve compiled for us.

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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 October lesson ideas.

Since October has now become the “31 Nights of Halloween,” it feels like the right time to fold some spooky goodness to the literary lineup. Up first? A super-creepy Neil Gaiman story! 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

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