When I first started teaching, I remember trying so many different ideas all the time in my classroom. It was exhausting running a new small group scenario or differentiation strategy several times per week, and over my many years of teaching, I’ve come to master a handful of strategies that are versatile and work EVERY time (at least NOW they do!). For me, learning stations are the way to go. I’d say at least once a week, I have my students engaging with content through a learning stations setup and I love it.
Writing the claim. It’s the sentence we hype up, the “one sentence that holds the WHOLE PAPER TOGETHER!!!” No pressure, right?
Well the truth is, there IS a lot of pressure to get this sentence right and a lot of pressure on us to help students write them. My kids want a formula, which I give them, but only as a starting point. The strongest claims exist beyond the “three pronged claim” formula and getting kids to write better statements organically is a seemingly insurmountable task.
It took me a long time to prioritize and understand how important self-care is as a teacher. For the first eight years of my career I burned through hours of grading, planning, rearranging, and constantly making myself available to students. Those eight years were rewarding and I sure learned a lot about my profession, but I also felt (and still feel) the physical and mental health consequences of making y life 100% dedicated to teaching.
Long gone are the days that I stand in front of my class before the start of a novel and go through a three day powerpoint slide. Ten years ago, that was best practice for so many of us. They were lessons I looked forward to, but I fear it’s because I loved being center stage. The trouble with that? Planning lessons so highly teacher-centered just isn’t the way to go! We can do better and I have six solutions today that you can try.
Starting in a new school next year had me all amped up to dig in hard to my classroom decor, but I was able to take a big, deep breath, and focus on what classroom DESIGN really means. It means functionality. It means positive behavior. It means creating a space where my students can learn and be their best selves. What it DOESN’T mean is splurging for every adorable Dollar Spot or “hot steal” that I find while endlessly shopping this summer.
So I set a budget. $100. 24 hours. I resolved to spend my time and hard earned money on my family this summer and not get out of control with projects and cash for my classroom. It’s tempting to think I have to do ALL THE THINGS with a brand, spanking (institutional-looking) new classroom this year, but I don’t have to do that. And neither do you
#MomLife is new to me this year, so this will be my very first Mother’s Day! The journey through motherhood has already (in just five and a half months!) surprised me with a joy that I could never capture in a sentence.
To celebrate, I’d like to share my list of my FAVORITE Fictional Moms. These moms span from childhood picture books to blockbuster hits, from traditional mother figures to nannys and caretakers. Here are my favorite fictional moms and how they exemplify and celebrate the real moms in our lives.
I can't think of a more authentic experience that I've had teaching poetry with my students than through the incredible power of slam poetry. Here in Chicago, we're lucky. The slam poetry scene is strong. We're actually the city that gave birth to the slam poetry movement in the 80s...
When your dad and I found out we that you were a boy, we were not immediately overjoyed. Actually, we were pretty scared. You see, the year that you were born, it was pretty difficult to find a man in our world to admire. Right now, boys and men on the news and in our media culture are not the kind of men we want you to grow up to be.
I love a good, cheesy Valentine’s Day lesson as much as the next teacher, but oftentimes, this holiday falls just as things are revving up during second semester. Instead of setting aside precious classroom time for a goofy Valentine’s activity, here are six activities you could do that will maintain your rigorous standards and still embrace some seasonal fun.
If there is one thing that is constant among generations of teenagers, it is the love of music. And if there’s one thing that English teachers know, it’s that music is the perfect gateway to getting students into poetry. Today, I’d like to share an awesome poetry/music pairing to try in your own classroom: Carl Sandburg's “Chicago” meets Patrick Stump’s “This City is My City”. The Literary Maven has an incredible blog post out about poetry mashups (coming in April!) with lots of suggestions from other ELA teachers, but I wanted to share my mashup here in a bit more detail for you all.