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

I’ve started reading again. After a moment of unpleasant reflection when I publicly admitted I’m an English teacher who doesn’t actually read much, I decided to make a change. The uncomfortable truth is that we give our time to the things that matter most to us. Reading and thinking about books? Yup, that matters to me. Instagram […]

This week, I’m continuing the occasional “How to Write” series with a look at the power of an essay’s conclusion. English teacher friends, here is the three-sentence formula that often turns a B+ essay into an A- in my classroom: Continue reading

As part of my occasional series on how I teach writing, today I’m presenting a mini-lecture that can be used by both middle school and high school English teachers to help our kids understand theme Continue reading

If you teach Fahrenheit 451, you might be interested to know that I just posted three great tools that’ll make your job so much easier. Continue reading

Okay, so I had a crazy idea. I was set this week to introduce my freshmen to the Hero’s Journey, a lecture I’ve given dozens of times over the years, and I thought, What if I don’t actually deliver the lecture and, instead, just let them work through the slide content on their own? Continue reading

It’s official: My SmartBoard is dead. After eight years of faithful service, the board recently gave up the ghost after numerous failed life-support attempts. Since the warranty expired long ago, I was forced to unplug/say goodbye. A replacement board would cost thousands (money my district doesn’t have), so I was left searching for a creative […]

Irony can be tricky (just ask Alanis Morissette), and we might need a little help breaking down what is – and isn’t – ironic to our students. Feel free to grab these mini-lecture slides designed to help your students know the differences between verbal, situational, and dramatic irony. Continue reading

Okay, teacher friends, can you spot all of the errors in these two sentences? Continue reading

All of their stories (and so many others) fit the classic storytelling pattern of a heroic journey, as established by famed scholar Joseph Campbell. Using many of the steps of the heroic journey as chronicled by Campbell, I built a dynamic multimedia presentation to use with our classes. Students will be on the edge of […]