I can’t draw, but this 90-second tutorial makes me feel like I can: Continue reading

Friend of the blog (and real-life homie) Annette just shared a link to this surprisingly challenging quiz from the folks at Mental Floss where we must determine whether a line comes from our favorite Dark Romantic era writer or a modern “emo” band. Continue reading

Today’s Q&A post comes from an email this week (used with permission) from Sherrie, an English teacher who is thinking about adding Quarter Trios to her spring semester classes. Quarter Trios is a game-based classroom management tool I use to build community and increase student enthusiasm for our work together. You can learn more about the strategy here.

Hi Laura,
I really want to implement the Quarter Trios, but I have so many questions that I don’t even know where to begin. Here are my most basic questions:
1. What if someone refuses to participate? If I randomly chose the group members and they end up with someone not interested in competing, that can give a bad taste at the very beginning.
2. Unfortunately, we have a lot of cheaters or “just-get-byers” who will take advantage – like, “Oh, we found that grammar mistake, too.”
3. Do they get a handout of the options they have to earn points? Or are they just announced randomly throughout the semester?
4. It does sound like a paperwork nightmare as far as points are concerned. Can all groups turn in, say, a grammar mistake for a point? Or just announce if it is a “first group to post something” gets the point? Continue reading

In this first week of the new year, it’s wise to pause and look back at the previous year as we figure out what we want to accomplish next. Around here, January means prep for 20Time, a passion project that’ll carry us through the spring semester. (More about 20Time2019 will be posted later this month. Working on some plans, y’all…)

Today, I’m sharing a handy organizer created by a bunch of humanity-loving Hungarians that could help us – and possibly our students – accomplish significant goals. Continue reading

Many of us will present “The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry’s tale of gift giving and self-sacrifice in December, and friend of the blog Kate McCook just shared a link to a 15-minute film that beautifully modernizes the classic short story. “I came across this lovely short film set during the Greek economic crisis,” she emailed this week. “I’m thinking of showing it to my class for a little treat and exposure to world culture.” Thanks, Kate, for sharing the good stuff – this one’s definitely going into my rotation, too. Continue reading

Note: This is an updated repost.

A few years ago, I shared my P.E. department colleagues’ inspired use of stations on the day before we left for Thanksgiving break. Here’s that old video, in case you missed it:

Last year, I adapted their idea and brought the same holiday fun to our English/Language Arts classes. Here’s how! Continue reading

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

In 7th grade, my friend Sarah plugged her older brother’s copy of A Nightmare on Elm Street into the VCR at a sleepover and I haven’t been okay since. Scary movies? Nope. No, thank you. I’m such a chicken, I shut my eyes during commercials for horror flicks. I mean, you heard the new Halloween movie opens this weekend, right? Count me o-u-t.

Books, though, are different. Somehow, the images in my mind aren’t as gory as those on the screen and good short stories don’t rely on cheap jump-scares; instead, there are heavy things to actually think about and I suppose that’s my favorite kind of terrifying. Continue reading