Does Competition Have a Place in the Classroom?


Tis the season of the testing, falalala la la la laaaa. (yes, sing it to the tune). Let’s face it, testing is real. We can all sit on our high horses and say what we want about state testing, common core testing, or whatever brand of testing you happen to give… but it is a fact of life. With testing comes a certain sense of competition. The question, however, is whether or not competition has a place in the classroom. Continue reading

The Importance of an Audience


Can I get your attention please. Please… everyone… attention please. If you find yourself repeating something along these lines often, then odds are, your audience isn’t all that into you, or more accurately, what you have to say.

Students, believe it or not, have the same issue. I truly believe that students want to write. The problem, they don’t always want to write about what you want them to write about. How can we really know what level our students are writing on if they don’t really care about what they are writing?

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Choral Reading for Poetry in Middle Grades

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I teach 7th grade English. Let’s be honest for a moment about 7th graders. They can be a persnickety bunch. They are starting to develop personalities, or changing I should say. They think they are grown up, but don’t yet want to be grown up all the time. Continue reading

The FAILure movement…

FAIL. It’s a word that among most of the population has a very negative connotation. People get defensive when the word is used, and often, rightfully so.

Now, there is a movement about FAIL. Many say that FAIL stands for First Attempt in Learning. I take issue with this in some ways.  Continue reading

Using “Fakebook” to teach Point of View

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So, a few months ago I stumbled upon Fakebook. Fakebook is a tool put out by that allows students to create what looks a lot like a Facebook page.

I used this while the class read The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. I assigned one of the three major characters to each student, and they were tasked with creating a Fakebook page for their assigned character. Continue reading

Vocabulary… Teaching versus Giving


Vocabulary lists. These are the things that students often hate more than anything else, and perhaps there is some justification for that. We have all been guilty of giving the dreaded list at some point in our careers. In fact, I still give a list, I just treat it differently than I did before.

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@Newsela and @InsertLearning, a Powerful Combination

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PLEASE NOTE: DOCENTEDU IS NOW CALLED INSERT LEARNING. Look for an updated post soon on how to make use of this powerful tool.

In the past, I have written about both, Newsela and DocentEDU. At the time, I suppose one could say my vision was still developing regarding how to best utilize each tool. I have spent some time tinkering, playing, and trying to break them. I am happy to say, that not only have I found the perfect combination of each, I have utterly failed to break either… and I’m pretty good at breaking stuff.

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Google Newspaper Archive, a Primary Source Paradise

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Have you ever struggled with finding good primary source material for students? As an English teacher, I teach a lot of literature. I have always taught a good bit of non-fiction as well, but the reality is, there are times I wish I could teach more of it.

With the advent of Common Core, or College Career Readiness Standards, or whatever catchy name your state has given them, non-fiction text has probably become a much larger part of the expectations.  History teachers are expected to pick up a significant share of that load, through the reading of primary source materials.

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A Great Pairing: Google Chrome and DocentEDU

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As you have undoubtedly figured out, Google Chrome is incredibly flexible and powerful, especially when paired with the right extensions.  The quest for going paperless appears daunting at first. Many teachers are reluctant, as they don’t know how to get good resources for their paperless classrooms. At first, it was a task to gather resources, and make it usable in a classroom setting. Not any longer. DocentEDU has made this task relatively painless, and for that, we thank them. After a brief discussion on Twitter last night with someone who has never heard of DocentEDU, I decided it was time to share the greatness of it.

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