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 […]

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