RIP Powerpoint Lectures

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RIP Powerpoint Lectures

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.

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How to Build a QR Code Classroom Management System

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How to Build a QR Code Classroom Management System

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

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My 9 Favorite Fictional Moms {and one real one, too!}

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My 9 Favorite Fictional Moms {and one real one, too!}

#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.

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Slam Poetry 101:  An Introduction

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Slam Poetry 101: An Introduction

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...

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An Open Letter to My 8-Week Old Son

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An Open Letter to My 8-Week Old Son

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.

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6 No Fluff Lesson Ideas for Valentine's Day

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6 No Fluff Lesson Ideas for Valentine's Day

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.

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Poetry Mashup

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Poetry Mashup

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.

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Why We Travel With Our Baby

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Why We Travel With Our Baby

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.

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A Cell Phone Policy that Actually WORKS!

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A Cell Phone Policy that Actually WORKS!

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.

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Six Ways to Create Warmth in your December Classroom (and still take care of business!)

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Six Ways to Create Warmth in your December Classroom (and still take care of business!)

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.

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Project Based Learning in the Secondary ELA Classroom

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Project Based Learning in the Secondary ELA Classroom

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.

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EASY Grading with Macros in Google Docs

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EASY Grading with Macros in Google Docs

Macros are little shortcuts that you give to your computer.  When you’re inside a Google doc, simply click “Tools” and then “Preferences”.  Here, you’ll see the macros shortcuts that are already set up.  For example, when you type ( C ) without spaces, your computer will automatically change it to the copyright symbol © .  We want to make these shortcuts work for us as graders!

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Back to School:  Tech Talk Week!

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Back to School: Tech Talk Week!

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.  

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6 Ways to Use Snapchat in the Classroom

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6 Ways to Use Snapchat in the 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 :-)

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Secrets of an English Teacher:  I Don't Have a Classroom Library

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Secrets of an English Teacher: I Don't Have a Classroom Library

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.

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Go Back to School with Mud and Ink Teaching: Live Events, Giveaways and MORE!

Are you ready for Back to School season?!  

It's already here, so if you're feeling overwhelmed and underprepared, focus on what's most important - professional development and thinking about curriculum.  Here's what Mud and Ink has for YOU this August!

July 30 - August 5:  Tech Talk Week

The teachers of The Secondary Series are so excited to bring you a week of shows all dedicated to technology in the classroom.  From July 30 - August 5th, tune in from 7:00pm CST - 7:30pm CST for one whole week of great content!  Our shows will resemble a TedTalk - quick, focused tutorials and idea-focused solutions for you to take into your classroom right away.   We're going to have SO MUCH FUN (obviously) chatting with you LIVE!  During the week, we will be offering certificates for PD credit (tune in for more info on that) and chances to enter our giveaway of $100 to Teachers Pay Teachers!  The first live show starts Sunday June 30th at 7pm CST!

Join our Secondary Series group on Facebook to have access to shows

Respond to our Event for reminders and updates

Check out our Calendar for more detailed information

Adventurous Teaching Academy:  GRAND OPENING!

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As I've been working with teachers over the last ten years, I've started to notice that like-minded teachers not only like to be together in community, but inspire one another and encourage one another to be more and more courageous in their teaching every single day.  So, this summer, I've developed the Adventurous Teaching Academy: a place for teachers who like to be challenged and want to try new things in their classrooms can come together,  take courses online, make new friends, and find inspiration to keep moving forward as an #adventurousteacher.  Sadly, many teachers are so burnt out already they're just looking to copy a worksheet.  But I know that's not you.  You are an #adventurousteacher, and I invite you to find out exactly how special that is and how we're going to make a huge difference in the lives of all our students this year.  

August 1st - 15th:  ELA LIVE!

Another group of incredibly hard working teachers have been collaborating all summer long on another live series for you - this time, each and every show is content focused for ELA teachers!  Join broadcasters each night as they share their ELA expertise on Facebook Live from their individual channels.  For a sneak peek at the lineup, check below!  I'm excited to kick things off on August 1st sharing all about Project Based Learning in the ELA Classroom.  



Aug. 1st at 9 pm EST
"Project Based Learning for Secondary English Classrooms" with Mud & Ink Teaching

Aug. 2nd at 9 pm EST
"Strategies for Writing Commentary for Literary Analysis" with Bespoke ELA

Aug. 3rd at 9 pm EST
"Ideas and Strategies to Incorporate Choice Reading" with Doc Cop

Aug. 4th at 9 pm EST
"Pinpoint the Source of Most Reading Problems in Five Minutes" with Reading Simplified

Aug. 5th at 9 pm EST
"How to Teach Students to Elaborate on their Thinking" with English, Oh My! 

Aug. 6th at 9 pm EST
"How to Run a Book Club" with The Reading and Writing Haven

Aug. 7th at 9 pm EST
"Encourage Independent Reading in Reluctant Learners" with Samson's Shoppe

Aug. 8th at 9 pm EST
"Using Showcase Projects to Increase Engagement" with Spark Creativity

Aug. 9th at 4 pm EST
"How to Publish Student Writing Online and Create E-Portfolios" with Amanda Write Now

Aug. 10th at 9 pm EST
"5 Hidden Gems (books!) that Both Teachers and Students will Love with 2 Lifelong Teachers

Aug. 11th at 9 pm EST
"Starting on the Right Track with Struggling Secondary (Dependent) Learners" with Secondary Urban Legends

Aug. 12th at 9 pm EST
"Back to School Digital Escape Room" with Lit with Lyns

Aug. 13th at 9 pm EST
"Conferring with Student Writers" with Wild Child Designs

Aug. 14th at 9 pm EST
"Giving Meaningful Feedback to Writers" with Read it. Write it. Learn It. 

Aug. 15th at 9 pm EST
"Grammar Manipulations: Holding Language" with Language Arts Classroom

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How to Work with Words Without a Workbook

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How to Work with Words Without a Workbook

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.

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The Pinterest Perfect Classroom:  What's Missing?

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The Pinterest Perfect Classroom: What's Missing?

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.

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The Senior Sendoff:  6 Ways to Say Goodbye to Seniors

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The Senior Sendoff: 6 Ways to Say Goodbye to Seniors

If I'm being honest, I'm equal parts filled with embarrassment (this song was my JAM!) and truly sweet nostalgia.  Sometimes it's hard to remember what it felt like to be in high school.  This song and music video bring me back to that ultra vulnerable moment when we were all desperately trying to hold on to our high school days and pretend like we weren't shi*%ing our pants thinking about college (or lack of college plans!).

If you want to make this year special for your seniors, I've rounded up some great ideas, products, and projects that just might do the trick.  Let us know in the comments below what YOUR favorite Senior Sendoff idea is!

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How to Design a Poetry Unit that Doesn't SUCK

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How to Design a Poetry Unit that Doesn't SUCK

Have you ever done a Google search for "poetry ideas" to teach in your high school English classroom?  Let me spoil those search results for you - THEY'RE LAME!  Poetry, especially at the high school level, it too important to be treated as a coloring activity, or worse, ignored completely.

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