Starting Up is NOT My Favorite

As a teacher, setting up the year has to be one of the worst parts of the job. I mean it. I don’t like it. At. All.

I like that point in the year when things are already moving. I think it would be nice if I could have some sort of assistant, maybe a clone, who started up the year for me, and then right when everything was running smoothly, I come in and get to the part of teaching I like most.

Think about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk into your classroom and . . .

  • The seating charts were made,
  • The grade books were set up with a few assignments entered,
  • You already know all your students’ names, and
  • The students already know all your quirky procedures?

Continue reading “Starting Up is NOT My Favorite”

Tired in My Bones

Yesterday was the first day of school. I was ready. It went very well. My students had a good time. Even though it was good, I’m tired. So tired.

I even had quite a bit of coffee. It didn’t matter. I’m. Just. Tired.

I wanted to have something more profound to say. Something insightful. Something inspiring.

All that comes to mind is, “I’m tired in my bones.”

How about you? How did the first day of school in Fall 2017 go? Share in the comment section below.

My Top 3 Apps to Get Through the Whole School Year

If you’re anything like me, daily organization is a challenge. Additionally, I am also challenged with consistency–being able to stick with something for an entire year. I tend to get excited about an idea I want to put into my classroom right away. I am full of enthusiasm when I launch the idea, but then it eventually falls out of focus. It usually ends with the next big exciting idea that comes along, and the cycle starts all over again.

Thankfully, I have found a few FREE mobile apps that have really been a remarkable help at keeping me organized and focused through an entire school year. Apps I can trust to really help me, deliver long-term, broad use, and are user-friendly.

Now, I wouldn’t describe myself as a technophile teacher. You won’t walk into my classroom and see blinking tech hanging off my body with my students pointing their phones at me as part of a lesson. But the easy-to-use tech I’m about to tell you about can be downloaded to your mobile phone and easily integrated into the flow of your day. 

Continue reading “My Top 3 Apps to Get Through the Whole School Year”

Getting Students Beyond Superficial Revision

My # 1 Problem: How Students Talk about Their Writing

You’re about to get into today’s lesson: revising a first draft. Before you say the words, you can feel the collective groan gathering strength. When you finally come out with it, they are ready to revolt: “Today we’re going to revise your writing assignment!” And there it is.

They complain. They grunt violently. They look for pitchforks and other pointy objects to take up against you. And one student in the corner quietly Snapchats a selfie of an ice bag on her head. It’s clear. They don’t want to do this.

As I see it, a big problem is students think they are done with their writing. In the eyes of each student writer, what they put on paper looks “good enough.” They are done. If they understand it, then there’s nothing to revise. But even when I get them to see that their writing needs further work, all I get from them are superficial changes. They may change a punctuation mark or two and a grammar mistake, but they almost never revise for content and purpose.

Sound familiar?  Continue reading “Getting Students Beyond Superficial Revision”

Does Anybody Know How to Get Students to Revise Their Writing?

This is so frustrating! I teach them. It looks like they don’t get it. Or maybe they just don’t care? I give up.

That’s what I used to think. I now have a different take. It all changed when I decided to take the pressure off of teaching editing and revision. When I stopped tying the instruction exclusively to academic essay writing.

Continue reading “Does Anybody Know How to Get Students to Revise Their Writing?”

2 Reasons Students Hate Writing For You

I’m going to be a little vulnerable. Early in my career, the most common result produced from the flow of my writing instruction was students developing an aversion to writing. Students weren’t rewarded unless they conformed to the high-stakes scoring guide and assignment parameters. At the same time, students were engaging in all kinds of low-stakes writing that was rewarding, to them at least: social media and text messaging.

Talking with other teachers over the years showed me that this was a common experience. Most of us struggle to get students motivated to write. And most of us aren’t even asking for students to like the academic writing we assign. We want them to maybe appreciate it or see some small value in how it develops them into better students on their way to college. But that rarely develops in students. Why?

Let’s take a closer look at two reasons students hate writing for you.  Continue reading “2 Reasons Students Hate Writing For You”

The 6 Reasons You Should Grade Student Work Electronically

I’m a big believer in pen and paper. Students should write on paper as often as possible. I resist the prediction that one day screens will replace paper. There are so many cognitive benefits to putting pen to paper for writing that the keyboard will never be able to compete with. But when it comes to assessing student work, especially essays, I am starting to see things differently.

One of the main reasons I am transitioning to grading student work on the computer is because I teach on a campus where no teacher has his or her own classroom. We all rotate. Some of us multiple times because our campus has more students than rooms. There are some arguments that can be made for this way of operating a school, but after teaching there for four years, I can attest that the biggest argument against this operation is losing papers.

When a teacher is misplacing and searching for papers regularly, that person is going to look for any way to reduce the stacks. So I transitioned to grading student essays through certain Google apps, and I really like the results.

Here are the 6 reasons you should grade student work electronically.  Continue reading “The 6 Reasons You Should Grade Student Work Electronically”