I Remember When Teachers Were Allowed to Teach Their Passions

There are few things that I enjoy more than getting students to question, analyze, write about, discuss, and, ultimately, clarify their own views on complicated questions.  It reminds me of my own history teachers in high school and how they communicated their passions to us students.  In one class, we were supposed to study American history [...]

Literature Circles in Middle School: Assignments & Assessment

Over the course of three articles, I have talked about doing Literature Circles with my 8th-grade students. For a list of the novels we used, check here. To read about the procedures I put in place for my students, check here. And for an explanation of how I used mini-lessons both as a full class [...]

Encouraging Conversation About Teen Suicide

We’re just a few weeks into the new school year, and already communities are mourning the tragic deaths of students by suicide. From the public outcry of Daniel Fitzpatrick’s parents to the private grief of classmates, teen suicide plagues the school community. How do we talk to our students about the devastating realities of depression [...]

Why I’m Quitting After Only Two Weeks of a New School Year

This year would have been my fourteenth year in the secondary classroom, but it won’t be after this week. With a brand new crop of freshly oriented students ready for the year ahead, I will be leaving them for a full-time professorship at the college level. On one hand, it’s a great opportunity – I’ve [...]

Classroom Organization: When “Q” was the Only Beautiful Thing in the Room

It is summer, and most elementary classroom walls have been laid bare for repainting or for cleaning. Their empty exposure reminds me of a classroom from an earlier age, from my own elementary school. At the risk of dating myself, from grade 3 on up I could count on one singular decorative element....the cursive alphabet that hung over the [...]