Common Core is in love with argumentation. Thumb through the CCSS and you’ll see that wily little Argument knocked out Informative and Narrative to grab the writing top spot. Really, though, a case can be made that all writing is argumentative. Writers write because they want to prove that they’re right, right? Informative writing tries […]

Maybe it’s the former journalist in me (in third grade, I knew I’d be Lois Lane when I grew up), but I’m hooked by narrative non-fiction. Tell me that a story really happened and I’m with you ‘til the very last page. So when Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken winked at me as I tore away the Christmas […]

On my campus, teachers are not supposed to host class holiday parties. Like Bob Cratchit earning each and every pence, we’re told to hold the line until the 3:00 bell on that final pre-vacation day. Rather Scroogish, no? I say, let’s live a little! As long as we tie our class parties to a Common […]

I just finished grading my first batch of ninth-grade essays (farewell, summer – it was fun) and Stephen King is on my mind. No, not because the papers were a horror show, but because King’s memoir, On Writing, speaks to what my kids need.

Honors freshmen tend to overwrite. They use 12 words when three will do the job. They think dropping words like “contrapositive” into a thesis makes them sound smart. They think I won’t realize a clichéd idea wrapped in a pretty word package is still a cliché. Oh, silly freshmen, they don’t know me at all – yet. Continue reading

As every English teacher knows, dystopian young adult literature is on fire. Hunger Games. The Maze Runner. Divergent. Matched. Uglies. Unwind. Even older titles, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (1985) and Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993), have recently been turned into films, as producers have chosen to strike while the dystopian box office iron is […]

We need our students to write regularly for a variety of purposes on different topics, but don’t want to hear the groans that usually accompany such tasks. Luke Neff provides the solution. Neff, a former humanities teacher with a background in graphic design, Continue reading

Way back in elementary school, we all made acrostic poems. These were the go-to move for teachers who needed us to make something (anything!) for Mother’s or Father’s Day. You remember. The result was always a rather cheesy poem, something like: Continue reading

When you’re not feeling well, the last thing you want to do is pull together a sub plan. This year, be prepared for the inevitable bout of flu (or need for a mental health day – oh, I’ve been there) by keeping a lesson on hand that’s truly evergreen and will work with all of […]

The final tardy bell hasn’t yet sounded, but your students are already in their seats, binders open, jotting down your beginning-of-class lecture materials from the board. Too good to be true? This is my every day.

Here’s how it works: Continue reading