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

My year-long project to post mini-lessons three times a week on YouTube is now complete! To keep things tidy and hopefully make things easier for folks to find, I’ve condensed the series to this one blog post and deleted the weekly update posts. Click any of the images below to be taken to the appropriate playlist. 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

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

Working with middle school writers at our library this summer, I’ve found a few storytelling tools that are too awesome not to share. Continue reading

A few years back, I noticed something weird – kids sometimes, maybe even often, learned more when I did less. One unexpected side effect of our spring semester 20Time experience was that I saw kids taking more ownership of information when they were the ones doing the research. This started me thinking about, and changing, how I present all sorts of material. Continue reading

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

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 […]

Many of us will present “The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry’s tale of gift giving and self-sacrifice in December, and friend of the blog Kate McCook just shared a link to a 15-minute film that beautifully modernizes the classic short story. “I came across this lovely short film set during the Greek economic crisis,” she emailed this week. “I’m thinking of showing it to my class for a little treat and exposure to world culture.” Thanks, Kate, for sharing the good stuff – this one’s definitely going into my rotation, too. Continue reading