I hate name games. Painfully awkward, these games have never magically connected me to people just because they’ve repeated, “Her name’s Laura and she likes llamas.” Nope. Not happening around here, people. For the first day of school, I usually start with a one-minute welcome and intro. of my background, have students make name cards they […]

When Norman Ollestad was 11 years old, he was the sole survivor of a Cessna airplane crash in the mountains north of Los Angeles. Last week, one of my freshmen finished Ollestad’s memoir, Crazy for the Storm, and was so enthusiastic during our SSR book talk that I felt compelled to research Ollestad and find […]

The Supreme Court is in the news today, as Judge Neil Gorsuch was officially announced last night as the president’s nominee to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. Looking to emphasize the importance of the court in my students’ lives, I launched a discussion last week about the upcoming changes to the bench and what rights […]

Fast forward to next Friday, mere hours before our two-week winter vacation begins. What are many teachers throughout the school doing? Pressing “play” on their DVDs, white-knuckling it to the 3:00 bell. You know it’s true. Last year, when my fourth period freshmen arrived, they bragged that they’d spent the morning watching Elf and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and then they asked which movie I was going to show. Sorry, kids, I’m not that teacher. Continue reading

Since we’re early in our novel study, I asked my freshmen to work in their Trio Teams to find a line from ch. 4 that they found interesting or meaningful. When Team 5, the International Bureau of Brains (IBB = their first name initials put together), shared the line above, my classroom exploded with a […]

Is it just me or does the spring semester always zoom by twice as quickly as the fall? We just finished fall finals and the new semester officially launches Tuesday. In Room H-9, that means we’ll soon be enjoying Greek mythology, The Odyssey, some Shakespeare, and – my new favorite – 20Time! Monday No students […]

We’re reaching the official end of the fall semester this week, so the title of this post is definitely misleading. It’s more like: What Tests I’m Proctoring This Week. My two-hour exam will cover M.U.G. Shots, literary terms, vocabulary from Words on Wednesday, poetry terms and analysis of a poem, analogies, and a short argument […]