I’m hard on my books. Argue if you want, but a spine is meant to be cracked. Oh, yes, I dog-ear pages (the horror!), underline passages, scribble phrases in the margins that mean nothing to anyone but me.

You already know, books can be a tool to help us figure out this weird world, but I worry many of our teens don’t feel the same. To them, books are a drag, a literal weight in their backpacks offering nothing relevant to their lives except slightly stronger shoulder muscles.

Let’s try to change that. Continue reading

The pandemic is spreading quickly and it looks like my initial two-week Coronavirus lesson plan isn’t going to be enough. Since my brain’s default is worst-case-scenario mode, I’m now expecting all of our schools to cancel in-person instruction for the rest of the spring semester.

Will this actually happen? I have no idea. What does this mean for our students? Again, no idea. I’ve never taught in a 1:1 school and my online learning experience is limited to a couple of dismal professional development courses. Not fun. And, yet, fun is exactly what we need right now. Continue reading

UPDATE: This blog post was written at the beginning of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Obviously, things have changed and many of us need lesson plans beyond just two weeks. If your school has been closed indefinitely, I hope this bundle of 12 free emergency distance learning activities is helpful. Take care of yourself, your family, and your students. Love you! Laura

Brace yourself. It’s coming. If it’s not already in your emailbox, it’ll be here soon – a message from your principal requiring two weeks’ worth of lesson plans that can be accessed remotely in case your school closes as part of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak.

Whether the virus actually shows up on your campus or not, it’s important we all stay calm. I’m the first to acknowledge that it’s annoying to write lesson plans you might not ever use, but it’s also wise and really shouldn’t take too long to pull together. If the ick hits the fan, you’ll be glad you have a plan. Continue reading

Let’s get 2020 started with a free print-and-teach worksheet designed to increase student motivation and help our teens think meaningfully about literature. Continue reading

Marriage is a blessing, proclaims Anne Bradstreet.
Marriage is a curse, warns Lady Mary Chudleigh.
Ladies, take your corners because it’s time to get ready to rum-b-l-e! Continue reading

Today’s drop of brilliance comes from Jess, a fellow bookworm and middle school English teacher. With her permission, I’m sharing a tangible and beautiful way to motivate your kids to keep reading their SSR books. Continue reading

Today’s post comes from a recent email (used with permission, of course) from a member of our community. For privacy, I changed her name.

Hi Laura,
I hope your summer is going well. I’ll be starting my third year as a Freshman English teacher this year. My question, however, has more to do with my students than content area. I have a few students who will be repeating my class this year because they did not turn in work. I was wondering if you had any advice about how to motivate these kids. I know a few of them have things in their personal lives that they are having trouble with. Do you know a way to help them focus on school when they are in the classroom?
Continue reading