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

I need your help with a judgment call. This month, one of my favorite podcasts, Criminal, detailed the compelling case of a real estate agent whose life was nearly destroyed by false online rumors. This episode and the issues it raises would make an excellent supplement to our American Literature students’ study of The Crucible, but I’m hesitant to build those materials because…well…this topic is just so…unsettling. Continue reading

A while back, I wrote the following post for the TeachersPayTeachers blog. I’m sharing it here, too, as a repost for new subscribers and anyone who may have missed it the first time around.

The month of March has been officially proclaimed Women’s History Month. While I appreciate the gesture, this declaration won’t have an impact on my classroom. Highlight women’s voices and achievements during the month of March? Nah. I’d rather do that all throughout the year. Continue reading

As part of my occasional series on how I teach writing, today I’m presenting a mini-lecture that can be used by both middle school and high school English teachers to help our kids understand theme Continue reading

Want to amuse and motivate your kids? Let’s build a Famous Failures bulletin board! Continue reading

New(ish) teacher Kelli was wondering this week how to help her middle schoolers slow down and gather their thoughts before writing. Our email conversation led me to build this free set of tools that’ll hopefully help all English teachers. Continue reading

Do yourself a favor and allow this master storyteller to tell you about his senior prom. Hasan Minhaj, you may know him from The Daily Show, takes us back to 2003, when he was a Muslim teen growing up in mostly white Davis, California. No spoilers here, but I promise his story is one that’ll get your kids talking. Continue reading

If you want to use TEDTalks in your classroom but aren’t sure how to make them work, help has arrived! Continue reading

When Norman Ollestad was 11 years old, he was the sole survivor of a Cessna airplane crash in the mountains north of Los Angeles. Last week, one of my freshmen finished Ollestad’s memoir, Crazy for the Storm, and was so enthusiastic during our SSR book talk that I felt compelled to research Ollestad and find […]

Last week, Stanford researchers released a “bleak” report showing that more than 80 percent of students can’t determine the difference between real and fake news. (Alas, it seems this is something adults struggle with, as well.)

The severity of students’ lack of media literacy was shocking to the study’s authors who were “taken aback by students’ lack of preparation…Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite.”

What to do about this? I’m going to start by Continue reading