Today’s post comes from an email I received this week from a high school English teacher. I’m sharing our conversation with her permission, though I changed her name for privacy.

Hi Laura,
Next Monday, my school district is set to return with a hybrid learning model – “A” Cohort in person on Mondays and Wednesdays, “B” Cohort in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and everyone online with Virtual Learning on Fridays with Canvas.

I was wondering if you have any advice or material regarding Canvas, Virtual Learning, safety protocols, COVID – basically anything that might help me help my students as we face these new challenges.

Thank you in advance,
Kathleen Continue reading

My year-long project to post mini-lessons three times a week on YouTube is now complete! To keep things tidy and hopefully make things easier for folks to find, I’ve condensed the series to this one blog post and deleted the weekly update posts. Click any of the images below to be taken to the appropriate playlist. Continue reading

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

Note: This is an updated repost.

Across the globe, folks will celebrate Earth Day next Sunday (April 22) with lots of community clean-up and educational events. Let’s bring some of that spirit to our classrooms with a high-interest, easy-to-deliver lesson that’ll get teens thinking about the world outside themselves. Continue reading

What if every teacher had the right tools to do this job?
What if we all had a hard drive full of current, relevant, rigorous lessons?
What if we were treated like professionals and not expected to dig into our own (meager) paychecks to supply those tools? Continue reading

Confession time: I’m Facebook dumb. I’ve never really understood social media. All that liking and tagging and following leaves me as confused as my grandpa at Starbucks.

All I want is a black cup of coffee. I mean, all I want is share cool ideas and resources with my English teacher friends. Continue reading

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 […]

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

As English teachers, it’s our duty to train the next generation of Grammar Police, arming our young people with the tools they need to correct and serve. Continue reading

`Tis the season for graduation speakers to start preparing remarks as they’ll soon populate podiums across the land, hoping to reach the hearts of our freshest graduates buried under all those layers of polyester. Continue reading