My FREE Online Course: Why You Should Sign Up Today!

ELA teachers, when it comes to writing instruction, I have found no other method, tool, or program that has as much impact as The Writer’s Notebook. Yes, there are great strategies around every corner, many of which you and I are currently using in your classroom. But how would you like to amplify their effect, taking them further than you thought possible?

Here were my top pain points as a writing teacher:

  • Students would learn a writing lesson, but they were not applying it in their writing
  • Students were not transferring writing lessons from one assignment to the next
  • Students didn’t keep their learning organized, which made recall a challenge
  • I never felt like they were writing enough

==> I’M SURE YOUR STORY’S GREAT, BUT I WANT TO SIGN UP FOR THE COURSE RIGHT NOW!! <==

Before I really figured how to use The Writer’s Notebook with my students, my students weren’t retaining my writing lessons at a level that I found satisfying as a teacher. I worked really hard to create engaging lessons that held their interest, assuming that this method would have lasting impact on their writing habits. Although I did find there was incremental improvement in my impact on student achievement, I was still left unsatisfied.  Continue reading “My FREE Online Course: Why You Should Sign Up Today!”

Feeling Vulnerable and Optimistic, and I Need Your Help!

How do you spend your vacation? Is it reading up on how to be a better teacher? Discovering the glorious opportunities for professional development on Twitter? Oh, wait, it has to be shop-talking the cover art, title, and tag line of your half-baked podcast, right? Just me? Probably.

My mind has been a flurry of teaching and platform-building ideas, even though I know I am supposed to be unplugging, like one of the new members of my PLN (@MrPStrunk) posted about just the other day. Hey, I did river rafting with the family, a carnival, The Discovery Museum a couple of times, walks, board games, and more. I just had too much to look forward to, too many things on my mind, about the upcoming school year to completely unplug.

Okay. I’m going to take a BIG risk (for me) here. I’m going to be vulnerable and share with you something that has been on me teacher-heart for more than a few years. But I’m nervous. I don’t want to be rejected, yet I need good feedback from great people. So, please read on! This could potentially be a help to you, your colleagues, and other teachers out there!

Continue reading “Feeling Vulnerable and Optimistic, and I Need Your Help!”

4 Signs Your Development as a Teacher May Be Delayed

Yep. That’s me. Coming from behind. The Professional Development (PD) that I have been offered over the course of my career has been marked by a few hits and many misses. I would like to blame the principal, the site, the district, lawmakers, or anyone but me. In fact, I used to blame them. A lot.

Overtime I began to see that the my lack of development wasn’t my school’s or district’s problem, it was something that I needed to take ownership for. I was an adult who knew how to do learning on his own. But there’s good news! Things are better, and I’m getting caught up. And there has never been a better time for a teacher like me to get answers to the burning questions they have.

Continue reading “4 Signs Your Development as a Teacher May Be Delayed”

Professional Development: Are You Waiting on Your District?

When I first entered the teaching, I was awash in professional development. It seemed like there was no shortage of money to request training either. Then the housing market crashed, the cash flow slowed to a trickle, and professional development was scaled far, far back. My state’s governor at the time lifted the professional development hours requirement in order to maintain keep one’s credential cleared. And poof, it was pretty much gone.

If I was going to sit and wait for my district to bring the learning to me, then I was going to do quite a bit of waiting. That wasn’t going to be good for me. It definitely wouldn’t be good for my students. What’s a teacher to do?  Continue reading “Professional Development: Are You Waiting on Your District?”

Whatever It Takes – Give Me A Break!

If you have been reading through the week, we have been exploring a quote I read in a book for educators. It goes, “Whatever it takes–that’s the job of the teacher.” At the start of the week, we accepted that challenge. But now that we’re at the end of the week, I have to say that these kind of statements just make me mad.

I challenged the students with this on Thursday. Now I have a challenge for those educators who have moved on from the classroom because in my experience, they are the ones delivering these calls to action.

I know your intentions are good, and you are there for student success. I just want you to know that it has the potential to come across as critical and sometimes undeserved. All I really want to say is that it is very difficult to sit in a seminar, or a faculty meeting, and hear a former classroom teacher challenge all those who are still in the classroom with, “Are you doing whatever it takes?”  Continue reading “Whatever It Takes – Give Me A Break!”

Whatever It Takes

From a book I am reading, by writer’s I highly respect, comes this statement, “Whatever it takes — that’s the job of a teacher.”

A statement like this sets off alarms in my head, but for this Monday, I want to do something that I ask of my students. When they first read a text, I ask my students to read “with the grain.” That means they are going to accept it as true, agree with the author, and see what’s there. Later they are asked to read against the grain, which we will do later this week. For now, let’s go with it.  Continue reading “Whatever It Takes”

Welcome!

If you’re reading this, and its the top post, you’re on the ground floor of this project. This is the quiet launch of Make Them Master It, a space for strengthening teachers to help their students do more. Too often, the onus of student learning is put on the teacher instead of the learner.

In just over a decade of teaching, I have only seen this problem get worse — teachers do more and more of the work, while students become less and less responsible for their own learning. More and more students do the minimum (sometimes less) and expect the maximum.

Well, I’ve had enough! Over the years I have developed some instructional strategies that encourage students to do more of the heavy lifting. I would like to begin sharing those with you.  If you join me, together we can turn the tide. Together we can get more from our students. Together we can Make Them Master It!

What do you say?