As an ELA teacher, I do a lot of reading. During the school year I try to read as much Young Adult Lit as possible so I can share it with my 8th graders, but during the summer I read more adult titles and I try to squeeze in at least one professional title. Last [...]
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Volume is its own goal. The more we read and write, the better we read and write. That doesn't mean volume alone leads to excellence. It doesn't. But progress without volume is almost impossible. Last winter, I was privileged to attend the regional ELA teacher's conference in Missouri called Write to Learn. Two of the [...]
In years past, I assigned the following essay topic to some of my junior high students: Can your voice make a difference? I've read dozens of essays by students on this topic, and many seem to agree, that alone, one cannot impart change, but together things can be accomplished. Some students cited community efforts led by [...]
"Appositive?” “What is an appositive?” “Is that even a word?” These were snippets of conversations overheard in a teacher’s book study at Liverpool High School, a large, suburban school north of Syracuse, NY. The assembled teachers, from a variety of disciplines including World Languages, English, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics and Special Education, comprise a group studying [...]
Teachers are forever reminding their students that what’s going on in their classrooms will be ‘important to know in high school and college’ - but how many students actually believe them? I remember one student who replied to me when I said that: “Yeah, that’s what they say every year. And it’s never really true [...]
Six-word memoirs are not a new thing. A simple Google search will bring up Smith magazine and their six-word memoir site that all began in 2006. If you search Pinterest, you'll find dozens of ways to use six-word memoirs with kids of all ages. That is all I did to piece together something that I [...]
If you’re looking for a new approach to teaching writing, you’ve got to try teaching with hyperdocs. What are hyperdocs? According to their creators, Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis, hyperdocs are “a transformative, interactive, personalized engaging too to help facilitate student creativity and collaboration” (The Hyperdoc Handbook). And I can testify that hyperdocs [...]
I absolutely hate assigning a letter grade to student writing; it's depressing. Not because my students are bad writers because they aren't. It's that I hate to see all the mini-lessons, and drafting, revising, editing, conversations, and growing as writers reduced to one letter. A percentage in the grade book. As soon as that grade is [...]
To relearn is to "learn something again, as after having forgotten or neglected it," and after the five-seven weeks of summer break, students may have a fair amount of forgetting. That means teachers will begin each school year focused on student relearning. The German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus was a pioneer in the study of memory and learning which led to his discovery [...]
Using the term “bootcamp” to describe a teaching experience suggests something perhaps not so pleasant—what’s the classroom equivalent of crawling through mud under barbed wire? But teaching a focused bootcamp can be a lot of fun, and it’s actually a nice break from the norm. Students gain a great deal by an intense focus on difficult [...]