Years ago, a friend told me that starting a blog is like adopting a baby dinosaur. Sure, everyone wants a baby dinosaur. I mean, think of the cuteness. The trouble, of course, is that a baby dinosaur grows bigger (and bigger!) and the not-as-cute critter still needs to be fed and the poop still needs […]

Our ELA Facebook friend Heather Nicole Teraila just posted the results of a super-cute characterization activity her students completed on The Outsiders Continue reading

bulletinboardrandazzoEach morning, I post a fresh sheet of “tearable puns” on the bulletin board outside my classroom door, and as the day unfolds a wide variety of kids (some of them are my actual students, but many more are unknown to me) swing by the board to help themselves to a daily chuckle. Continue reading

One thing that surprised me during last spring’s testing season was the heavy use of computer-voice instructions and listening passages on our state’s Common Core-style exam, the SBAC. I hadn’t really taught listening as a specific skill set, yet my students’ scores told me that they needed help there – badly. Continue reading

I’m not even a minute into my right-after-lunch sophomore class when it starts – the quiet tee-hee of laughter among a handful of students, clearly the cool kids enjoying an inside joke.

“Okay, okay, let’s go,” I say, directing attention back to my vocab warm-up on the whiteboard.

Soft snickering continues. Undaunted, I launch my introduction of the word “tenuous.”

“Tenuous, an adjective, means really thin or insubstantial. If something’s tenuous, it’s definitely in need of strengthening.” Like my hold on this class, I think. Continue reading

My school’s hallways are abuzz this week with the creepy clown ridiculousness that’s sweeping America and now, it seems, the U.K.

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I often have students who rely too heavily on the thesaurus as they craft their essays, resulting in overwrought sentences that block, rather than illuminate, the writer’s meaning. Using a little humor, I built a mini-lesson to help students see what happens when one abuses the thesaurus. This handout, which can be completed as a […]