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.
I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “Oh now that you have a baby you won’t ever leave the house!” While leaving the house certainly takes a lot more thinking, planning, and packing, my husband and I made a decision long before our little man was born -- we were having a baby because we wanted to have a travel companion.
Every school and every teacher has a different philosophy with student cell phones, but with classroom management as a whole. Whether you are on the FORBIDDEN end of the spectrum or on the “do what you want, it’s your grade” end, I just might have a solution that will help in your classroom.
There’s a lot more to teaching in the month of December than just cute holiday sentiments. This time of year is challenging for so many reasons; from the looming horror of final exams to the downright awful cold weather (remember, Chicago girl here!), December is a teaching challenge of focus, measuring learning from the entire semester, and finding ways to authentically remember the heart of the season in our classrooms.
When teachers hear the term PBL (Project/Problem Based Learning), too many envision a science or math classroom. STEM focused courses are not the only courses where PBL is both important AND successful. Taking real world, authentic problems and putting them in the hands of students to investigate and solve belongs in EVERY discipline! Today, we'll take a look at how PBL can take shape in the English Language Arts classroom.
It's time to head back to school with The Secondary Series! We are so excited to share a whole entire week of broadcasting with you all. This Back to School: Tech Talk Week series will focus entirely on edtech tips and tricks for any secondary educator to bring back into his or her classroom.
I’m a teacher in my 30s, so I’m by no means a “Snapchat native”. I actually grew up with card catalogs, Dewey Decimals, and World Book Encyclopedias, so no excuses here teachers! You can learn ANYTHING! And before you write off Snapchat thinking social media does not belong in the classroom, try to see if there’s value here for your classroom, no matter how intimidating it might feel! Plus, you'll probably have a lot of fun along the way :-)
It’s true. I confess: I am a high school English teacher and I do not have an operational classroom library. Do I have a classroom full of books and do I grab whatever I can at Goodwill and garage sales? Heck yes. But do I have a check out system, or even an organized system in which I’ve read every book on the shelf and make a point to recommend titles to each of my 125 students every other week? Nope. I don’t.
In order for our students to succeed across subject areas, we must all acknowledge the critical importance of vocabulary instruction. There are so many best practices out there, so many specialists, and so many approaches, it can feel daunting to choose a streamlined and effective strategy for your classroom. No matter your favorite method or style, I have a thoughtful yet efficient strategy for you to try in your class this year.
As I’m writing this, you’ve probably already pinned 100 new ideas for your back to school decor on Pinterest. You very well might be simultaneously stalking a corner of the Target Dollar Spot. Maybe you’re even wish-listing things for your classroom on Amazon. And if you’re not doing one of these two things, you’re almost certainly scrolling through Instagram with major “Insta-classroom envy” every other post you see.