Blendspace (TES Teach):  An Easy Way to Bundle Resources for the Classroom

Blendspace (TES Teach):  An Easy Way to Bundle Resources for the Classroom

Blendspace.com (now known as TES Teach) is an online tool through the education curriculum company TES.com.  It is a tool that is used for collecting and bundling information for a multitude of uses.

The Worst Essay of Your LIFE: A Unique Approach to Assessing Writing at the Beginning of the School Year

The Worst Essay of Your LIFE: A Unique Approach to Assessing Writing at the Beginning of the School Year

The beginning of the school year is an important time to assess the writing skill levels of new students in our English classes.  One way to do this is to assign a diagnostic essay in order to "diagnose" each student's writing level.

LiveBinders in the Classroom

LiveBinders in the Classroom

LiveBinders.com is a website that enables the user to create virtual three-ring binders of digital files including, but not limited to, YouTube videos, Google docs, DropBox files, images, websites, text files, and much more!

Support for Struggling Writers: How Essay Interviews can HELP!

Support for Struggling Writers:  How Essay Interviews can HELP!

The term “struggling” writer really applies to every single human being.  We have all struggled with writing at some point and will continue to struggle moving forward.  The difference between successful writers and unsuccessful writers (“success” being defined as students who turn in completed essays that convey meaning effectively versus those who do not) lies in being able to work through frustration.  

FIVE Apps to Support Struggling Writers

FIVE Apps to Support Struggling Writers

Oftentimes when people grimace at the thought of “English class,” it’s because of their haunting memories of failed writing assignments.  

Four Simple, yet EFFECTIVE, Reflection Questions for the End of the School Year

Four Simple, yet EFFECTIVE, Reflection Questions for the End of the School Year

I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time working in meaningful reflection at the end of the school year.  And meaningful reflection during the school year is nearly impossible.  As soon as I finish one unit, we are immediately onto the next and then the next and then the next.

The Essay Shaping Sheet:  Friend or Foe?

The Essay Shaping Sheet:  Friend or Foe?

Essay shaping sheets are essentially templates for writing that guide students through the writing process.  A shaping sheet can be as small as a sentence template or as large as an entire paragraph or even essay.  But are these tools helpful, or do they ultimately hinder student development?  Well, the million-dollar answer to this question is… it depends.

Three High-Interest Writing Assignments to Motivate Struggling Writers

Three High-Interest Writing Assignments to Motivate Struggling Writers

Motivating struggling writers can be quite a challenge.  With struggling writers, it is important to create high-interest assignments that students will want to work on, assignments that they will want to put forth the effort on in order to succeed.  If struggling students are bored with a writing topic, they won’t be as invested in it and won’t want to put the time and effort in to make it the best it can be. 

The Most Important Essay for High School Seniors: The Personal Philosophy Statement

The Most Important Essay for High School Seniors: The Personal Philosophy Statement

Teaching high school seniors makes for an interesting group of students because they've mostly already passed their standardized tests and know their next steps in life-- college, work, military, etc.

10 Songs for the END of the School Year to Inspire Reflection

10 Songs for the END of the School Year to Inspire Reflection

I can't believe that another school year is almost over!  Are you looking for super quick and easy reflective prompts to wrap up the end of the year?  Here is a list of TEN songs along with prompts to inspire reflective writing.

Playing Devil’s Advocate:  A Game for Practicing Argument Skills in Secondary ELA

Playing Devil’s Advocate:  A Game for Practicing Argument Skills in Secondary ELA

An essential skill for secondary English Language Arts is the practice of argumentation.  Some writers view all modes of writing as arguments; thus, rhetorical skills are key to crafting persuasive messages for targeted audiences.

5 Pixar Short Films to Use in Secondary ELA

5 Pixar Short Films to Use in Secondary ELA

Pixar short films made their debut in the early 1980's as Disney made the transition into computer animation technology.  Appearing as introductions to to feature films, Disney Pixar shorts have become some of the most highly anticipated aspects of feature film releases.

Grading Essays: A Strategy that Reflects Writing as a Process

Grading Essays:  A Strategy that Reflects Writing as a Process

Writing is a process.  It is recursive.  No piece of writing is ever "final."  Something can always be better.  I often feel this way whenever I read back over my own old essays and inevitably find a sentence that could be better, a paragraph that could be stronger, or a word that could be more precise.  

Poetry for Writing Workshop in Grades 6-12: 10+ Devices & Poems to Model Them ALL!

Poetry for Writing Workshop in Grades 6-12:  10+ Devices & Poems to Model Them ALL!

You may find yourself in agreement with Frost's famous quote when it comes to teaching poetry in the secondary classroom. However, love it or hate it, poetry can play a helpful role in teaching students how to write! Famous poems can serve as mentor texts for students and showcase key literary and rhetorical devices in action.

Beyond the Test: 10 Innovative Ways to Assess Secondary Students

Beyond the Test:  10 Innovative Ways to Assess Secondary Students

Are your students moaning and groaning over taking another test or writing another essay? While these are tried and true methods for assessing many skills, I have been on a mission to find more innovative, unique ways of assessing student growth and learning.

15 Computer Games to Target the Common Core in Secondary ELA

15 Computer Games to Target the Common Core in Secondary ELA

“Can you please tell my son to stop playing video games?”

I’ve heard this desperate plea from parent after parent during parent teacher conferences for the past several years.  “All he wants to do is play video games and not study,” they say in desperation.  

A Philosophy for Assessing Writing: Aim for Improvement, not Perfection

A Philosophy for Assessing Writing:  Aim for Improvement, not Perfection

Over the past 10+ years of teaching high school, my philosophy for writing instruction has changed greatly.  It has been a decade of experimentation and adaptation; a decade dedicated to finding what works and trying out new methodologies...

20 Great Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA

20 Great Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA

One of the best ways to teach students how to integrate literary and rhetorical devices into their writing is to imitate the style of great writers.  

Here are 20 Great Literary Quotes to use as Mentor Sentences in Secondary ELA...

The Writer's Notebook in Secondary ELA: Introduction & FREE Guide

The Writer's Notebook in Secondary ELA:  Introduction & FREE Guide

The Writer’s Notebook is the heart of the English classroom. It is the place that holds a student’s reflections on literature and life...

Setting up & Assessing Book Club in Secondary ELA: FOUR FREE GUIDES FOR SUCCESS!

Setting up & Assessing Book Club in Secondary ELA:  FOUR FREE GUIDES FOR SUCCESS!

Book club is now considered to be one of the “best practices” in English Language Arts.  Book clubs differ from traditional literary circles in that they are less teacher-directed.  The students take on the responsibility of selecting their roles, making their assignments, keeping track of their reading, and much more.