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 […]

Don’t get mad, but I’m starting to think that much of the misery of grading papers lies in the types of assignments we give. Take, for instance, the research paper. Here’s a typical assignment: Choose a person of influence and explain three ways that person improved the world.

This might become an interesting paper if the writer is actually excited about the subject; more often, though, my students don’t care one bit about Sam Walton, Andy Warhol, or Oprah Winfrey. Continue reading

The only way I’ve found for students to really grow as writers is for them to write a lot and get meaningful feedback on their work. The reality, though, is there’s only one of me and 170+ of them, so my time with each student is limited. One way to maximize writing growth is a technique my students have dubbed, “Crazy Essay Week.” Continue reading

`Tis the season for graduation speakers to start preparing remarks as they’ll soon populate podiums across the land, hoping to reach the hearts of our freshest graduates buried under all those layers of polyester. Continue reading

Hey, everyone, I’m a guest writer over at the TpT blog this week. Check it out! Continue reading

Last week’s launch of the NFL season provides a timely and compelling way to excite your students about the tools of argument, beginning with this recent Instagram gem Continue reading

In an earlier post, I confessed that I intentionally ignored Common Core test prep last year as a way to determine whether my regular curriculum was doing the job. Well, the results are finally in…

This week, the state Department of Education released the scores Continue reading

Confession time: I pretty much ignored Common Core test prep last year. Now before the pitchforked mob arrives at my classroom door, allow me to explain. When the CCSS were released a few years ago, I went through the standards line-by-line, making sure my lessons hit every strand. Delighted, I realized I only needed to […]

This post is part of an occasional series documenting my entry into project-based learning. This semester, my students will participate in a 20Time project, a 12-week experience where they choose a worthwhile project to complete (somewhat) on their own using 20 percent of our class time. You can read more about the path that led to […]

How to make my blood boil: Imagine we’ve just had an intensely wonderful class discussion on a weighty topic. I ask you to answer a few reflective questions independently via short answer response. Then, you raise your hand and ask, “How many points is this worth?” “17,000” is my usual response as I flash a […]