Blending Argument into Classroom Culture

In my most recent post, I made the case against finding balance in life, but instead working to bring the ingredients of life together through blending. At the same time as the writing of that post, I found myself in chapter four of Dave Stuart Jr’s These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most.

As I was reading the book a little here, and writing that post a little there, a realization dawned on me: These 6 Things is a blessed picture of blending in the classroom. I think it was a mix of the timing of my post, all my prior experience with argument, but mostly that Dave Stuart Jr. just makes so much stinking sense (seriously, you should get the book), but I will now be using These 6 Things as a lens for how to make it all blend in my classroom. Continue reading “Blending Argument into Classroom Culture”

I Teach Revision on Day 2

When I was setting up my classroom for the 2018-2019 school year, I tweeted a picture of the only decoration I had up at the moment (see the featured image above). Moments later, Melissa-Ann Pero (@bshsmspero) thanks me for posting it, and says she’s going to make herself one.

A bit later on, she tweeted her creation, giving credit to Kelly Gallagher (@KellyGToGo) for RADaR and mentioning me in the process. And in my small Twitter world, the tweet caught fire. At the time of this writing, the post has been liked 305 times and retweeted 118 times!

See here:

Continue reading “I Teach Revision on Day 2”

So You Want to Start a Teacher Blog?

It’s the start of another school year. And for those highly engaged teachers who are out there connecting on social media, building your PLNs, some of you are thinking that it’s time to start (maybe restart) a teacher blog. If that’s you, or someone you know, great! I’m all for it! (Feel free to send me a link to your blog post too).

You have a head full of thoughts and a heart full of teacher gold, and you’re ready to conquer the blogosphere! But before you do, I have a few things I want you to consider, because I have read some–to put it generously–less-than-stellar posts. Some were so bad, I decided that I would never return (….but then I felt bad about thinking that, because we all need to start somewhere, so I opted to take a long break instead). Continue reading “So You Want to Start a Teacher Blog?”

Get Your Students to Write OVER 20,000 Words This Year!

This year, I’m going to get my students to write over 20,000 words! And I’m not even counting the essays they are going to type.

At the start of the year, my students will begin building a Writer’s Notebook. This is a place the will house low-stakes, pressure-free writing, lessons on sentence craft, and a place where they will practice thinking through revision.

Here’s the English teacher math that came up with 20,000+ words:

  • 150 words per page
  • 5 pages of writing a week
  • 15 weeks of writing per semester

Continue reading “Get Your Students to Write OVER 20,000 Words This Year!”

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!”

Why I Almost Quit

In my seventh year of teaching, when I was really hitting my stride as a classroom instructor, I was ready to quit. I didn’t want to. I loved teaching. The best way to put it is that I had hit a crisis. In plainest terms, people experience crisis when their behavior and choice patterns no longer work work for them, requiring some kind of change. Another way to put it is, “What has ‘worked’ up until this point WILL NOT work from here on out.” That was me. I felt stuck in an endless loop that was wearing me down more and more each day.

My crisis centered around guilt. And this was no ordinary guilt, where I found myself going between two sides. This guilt loop had three elements, one for each of my main roles at the time: teacher, spouse, and parent. I had responsibilities for each role, and I wasn’t handling any of them well. Maybe I had people fooled, or maybe they were just being kind to me, but inside I was all tangled up in knots. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next for any of those roles, and felt like I was frantically running from one to the next. That caused a lot of stress, and I was exhausting. I was at quit point. Continue reading “Why I Almost Quit”

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!”