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

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

Today’s post comes from an email I received from a fellow English teacher. I’m sharing our conversation with her permission and honoring her request to change her name for privacy.

Hi Laura,
I’m a second-year English teacher, and I just got dragged into the inevitable “Why is school even important?” fight with my students. Their argument was that with smartphones, the need for actual knowledge is obsolete. This attitude drives me crazy; I know I probably shouldn’t have fallen for that one, but I couldn’t resist. However, I don’t really feel like I made a good impact on those students, and I came away from it feeling pretty frustrated. Do you have any tips for dealing with the “too cool for school” attitude? I’m at a loss with how to deal with these kids. Nothing I try really seems to work with them.
Cassie Continue reading

Around here, mid-January means prepping for 20Time, a spring semester project-based learning experience designed to bring real-world application to English/language arts classroom skills. Basically, students are given 20 percent of class time for 12 weeks to work on a passion project that they choose and their peers approve. (Click here for a free set of 20Time teaching materials.)

Over winter break, Colleen*, a 20Time first-timer, reached out via email with a few questions. With her permission, I’m sharing our conversation, which might help other folks as they set their plan. Continue reading

I know it’s only July, and I also know you’re probably already thinking about the fall. Today, let’s talk about a routine that helps successfully launch class Continue reading

Apparently, June turned into Student Teacher Month here on the blog, so let’s wrap this topic by sharing a few remaining bits of wisdom. These are things I wish I’d know when I was starting my student teaching assignment: Continue reading

Last week’s chat with incoming student teacher Heath started me thinking about my own teacher training experience. Today, I’m chatting about my student teaching assignment (yes, all those many, many years ago) and sharing a bit of unconventional advice for our newest crop of student teachers: Continue reading