S-U-M-M-E-R is finally here. Yes, I’ve scheduled a few fun things with the family and I plan to spend plenty of afternoons reading in the hammock (Hillbilly Elegy, you’re up next), but I’m also already planning a big ol’ project for the new school year Continue reading

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

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

In my first few years of teaching, I didn’t want to use my sick days. If I woke with a fever, I foolishly believed it was more trouble to pull the day’s sub materials together than to just drive to school and face the day. In the spring of my first year, a ruptured ear drum didn’t even keep me from school. It wasn’t until an allergic reaction to the antibiotic launched an angry, blotchy rash all over my body – and, like an idiot, I still came to work – that the principal’s secretary took one look at me, shook her head, and sent me home. Continue reading

Today’s Q&A post comes from an email this week (used with permission) from Sherrie, an English teacher who is thinking about adding Quarter Trios to her spring semester classes. Quarter Trios is a game-based classroom management tool I use to build community and increase student enthusiasm for our work together. You can learn more about the strategy here.

Hi Laura,
I really want to implement the Quarter Trios, but I have so many questions that I don’t even know where to begin. Here are my most basic questions:
1. What if someone refuses to participate? If I randomly chose the group members and they end up with someone not interested in competing, that can give a bad taste at the very beginning.
2. Unfortunately, we have a lot of cheaters or “just-get-byers” who will take advantage – like, “Oh, we found that grammar mistake, too.”
3. Do they get a handout of the options they have to earn points? Or are they just announced randomly throughout the semester?
4. It does sound like a paperwork nightmare as far as points are concerned. Can all groups turn in, say, a grammar mistake for a point? Or just announce if it is a “first group to post something” gets the point? Continue reading

Today’s post comes from an email I recently received from Tanya, one of our newest English teacher colleagues (used with permission):

Hi there! I’m a first-year teacher and I’ve been a fan of your blog since I started my credential program. Your first day stations activity was a life saver! I was hoping you could give me some advice.  Continue reading

You ready? Day 1 starts soon, so let’s talk about some lesson plan ideas for the first five days of school:

Continue reading