Reflections on Pedagogy

9 Tips for Teaching AP Literature

9 Tips for Teaching AP Literature

Teaching an AP course is incredibly difficult because it comes with the added pressure from students’ desires for college credit, parents wanting their money’s worth from the exam prices, and the administration looking over your shoulder.

10 Essential Writing Workshop Supplies from Amazon

10 Essential Writing Workshop Supplies from Amazon

Running an effective writing workshop can be a challenge on its own, but there are some supplies that can keep the writing process organized and effective for you and your students.  Here, I've compiled a list of my essential writing workshop supplies to get you through the rest of the year!

5 Ways to Show Your Students YOU CARE This Holiday Season

5 Ways to Show Your Students YOU CARE This Holiday Season

One of the things I feel that I don't take enough time to do is show my appreciation for all of my students and recognize their efforts throughout the year.  I find that I spend far more time focusing only on my struggling students rather than recognizing each student's individual journey, success, and growth.

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. 

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.  

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...

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...

The Case for Poetry in Secondary ELA

The Case for Poetry in Secondary ELA

Poetry tends to be polarizing among educators, parents, and students.  The word either makes a person smile or cringe.  But why is poetry so polarizing? 
 

Secondary ELA Book Club: A Menu of Options

Secondary ELA Book Club:  A Menu of Options

The first rule of Book Club is:  you do not talk about Book Club.  The second rule of Book Club is:  you DO NOT talk about Book Club!  Kidding.  The only rule of Book Club is: DO IT...

Acronyms for Literary Analysis: A Comprehensive List of Strategies

Acronyms for Literary Analysis: A Comprehensive List of Strategies

When I set out to write the blog article for this week, I didn’t intend on writing about the various acronyms for literary analysis.  In fact, I didn’t realize there were quite so many acronyms out there...

Releasing Control in Second Semester

Releasing Control in Second Semester

The holiday break is OVER, and it’s time to face the reality that we have 5-6 more months left of school.  So the question is:  How do we get through the next 5 months without getting burnt out? 

3 Annotations for Deeper Reading

3 Annotations for Deeper Reading

Active and purposeful highlighting and annotating is an important skill that can enable greater success in being able to comprehend a text.  Of course, there is an ongoing conversation as to whether or not highlighting in particular detracts from comprehension...

Interactive Notebooks are NOT Just for English Class!—Why They Matter in Every Content Area!

Interactive Notebooks are NOT Just for English Class!—Why They Matter in Every Content Area!

I’ll be the first to admit that when I’ve seen other teachers doing interactive notebooks with their students, I thought of them as more of an “art project” than anything educational.  But then...  

Implementing the Writer's Notebook in the Secondary English Class: 5 Decisions for Success!

Implementing the Writer's Notebook in the Secondary English Class:  5 Decisions for Success!

The Writer's Notebook has become a cornerstone of the ELA classroom as a tool for facilitating the writing process.  The Writer's Notebook not only helps students have a central database for their ideas and drafts, but it also...

From MACRO to MICRO: Using Backwards Design for Lesson Planning in Five Steps

From MACRO to MICRO:  Using Backwards Design for Lesson Planning in Five Steps

Understanding by Design is one of the most fundamental texts and philosophies for planning a lesson and being a teacher.  We all know the importance of planning lessons around the skills objectives and learning targets...