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

Today’s post comes from a recent email (used with permission) from a fellow English teacher. For privacy, I changed her name.

Hi Laura,
First, thank you, as always, for your thoughtful, realistic approach to education. I am deeply grateful! Next, a few questions for you. It sounds like you are free to create and use your own curriculum. Is that the case? Are you and the other English teachers expected to cover the same content? To have the same number/type of assessments?

Also, my department chair insists on following up every single chunk of reading with what he calls “focus” questions, the bulk of which involve reading comprehension questions, all of which are approached in the exact same way – context, lead-in, quote, sometimes analysis. Thus, let’s say for The Catcher in the Rye, he expects kids to answer 10-15 focus questions after every chapter. Am I right in despising this approach to curriculum and thinking he is out of touch with how to approach curriculum in a meaningful way? I know I’m asking you to weigh in on something here that has no remedy; I’m just wondering if I’m the one who’s out of touch!
Thanks,
Carly
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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

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

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Apparently, it’s turned into the Summer of Video around here, so let’s keep the momentum rolling. This week, I’m talking about TeachersPayTeachers.com, a tool that can restore our free time, make us more thoughtful about our classroom practices, and connect us to an international network of teacher friends. Continue reading

Some of us aren’t even on summer vacation yet and folks are already talking about planning for next year. I know, I know… Still, two emails arrived this week asking which teacher planner I use, so here’s a quick video to explain how I save a fistful of cash each year. And if you’re not ready to think about any of this until August, I’m cool with that, too. Continue reading

Note: This is an updated repost featuring some of my favorite end-of-the-year lesson ideas.

You’ve wrapped your last major unit and final exams are still a week away. You could spend five days playing Review Jeopardy (uh…no, thanks) or you could grab some of these tried-and-true resources that’ll keep kids focused until finals. Continue reading

Today’s post starts in the kitchen. Like most normal people, I hate doing dishes. It’s gross and I’ve fought (and failed) for years to convince my husband and kids that their definition of “clean” is slacking…I mean, lacking. Hey, the job isn’t done until you’ve also wiped down the stove top, amIright? Continue reading

(While I’m spending spring break finishing my 20Time2018 project, here’s an updated repost sharing ideas and tools to celebrate the upcoming National Poetry Month in April. Enjoy!)

Of course we should fold in some extra poetry lessons to celebrate April as National Poetry Month, but who has the time? With state testing and AP exam prep, this month is a bullet train, whipping by with scary speed. But what if we slowed that roll just a bit? April’s also supposed to signal warmth and new growth, the perfect time to dig some rhyme. I know we all have a lot to do, but here are a few easy options to help our English teacher tribe add more poetic voices to our curriculum. 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