By far, the top question I’ve been asked this week is how to turn a PDF worksheet into an interactive assignment that can be posted to Google Classroom. I use Adobe InDesign to create most of my PDF handouts and, unfortunately, there’s no converting an Adobe file into a fully editable Google file. Apparently, those software companies don’t want to play nicely.

There are several workarounds, but most are cumbersome or require third-party apps that some school districts block. I’ve always suggested that folks turn the PDF into an JPG image, drop it onto a Google Slides page, and then draw text boxes on top of the image that kids could fill in on the screen.

Amy Almada, problem-solver and teacher tech goddess, just took this process next level by modeling the simple path and teaching us her special “background” trick. Continue reading

Around here, mid-January means prepping for 20Time, a spring semester project-based learning experience designed to bring real-world application to English/language arts classroom skills. Basically, students are given 20 percent of class time for 12 weeks to work on a passion project that they choose and their peers approve. (Click here for a free set of 20Time teaching materials.)

Over winter break, Colleen*, a 20Time first-timer, reached out via email with a few questions. With her permission, I’m sharing our conversation, which might help other folks as they set their plan. Continue reading

Now that I’m on the other side of 40, the value of failure is obvious. Although painful at the time, it’s clear to me that my greatest moments of growth always came after I fell on my face. Continue reading

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

In the Venn diagram of my life, my “Mom” and “English teacher” lives overlapped beautifully this week when my daughter’s middle school hosted a Poetry Night. Venn

Parents were invited to join their tweens for a two-hour dinner and wordsmithery event. After a quick potluck and opening remarks, we were given time to get creative at a dozen different poetry creation stations Continue reading

Yesterday’s EdCamp “unconference” left me with a notebook full of ideas and a brain that needs to marinate awhile to determine which bits of info/tools will be a good match for my classes. In the meantime, let me share one of the coolest things about the day – the event’s structure. Continue reading

This post is part of an occasional series documenting my entry into project-based learning. This semester, my students will participate in a 20Time project, a 12-week experience where they choose a worthwhile project to complete (somewhat) on their own using 20 percent of our class time. You can read more about the path that led […]

This post is part of an occasional series documenting my entry into project-based learning. This semester, my freshmen will participate in a 20Time project, a 12-week experience where they choose a worthwhile project to complete (somewhat) on their own using 20 percent of our class time. You can read more about the path that led […]

How to make my blood boil: Imagine we’ve just had an intensely wonderful class discussion on a weighty topic. I ask you to answer a few reflective questions independently via short answer response. Then, you raise your hand and ask, “How many points is this worth?” “17,000” is my usual response as I flash a […]