7 Ideas to Supercharge Back to School 

It's that time again! I've been busy getting ready to head back to the classroom. The beginning of the school year can be so overwhelming. It's hard to absorb all the new initiatives, procedures, and information when all you want is time to get ready for students. The ideas that follow will help you make … Continue reading 7 Ideas to Supercharge Back to School 

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Three Ways to Improve Students’ Test Scores With Kahoot

AP Lang multiple choice can be tough to tackle. When my students took their second full-length mock exam at the beginning of April, I was hopeful that students might gain four or five questions over their first exam.  Try an average of NINE questions' growth in eight weeks! I was floored. Multiple kids actually doubled … Continue reading Three Ways to Improve Students’ Test Scores With Kahoot

How Assertion Journals Can Inspire and Challenge Your Students

They're analytical. They're argumentative. They're intriguing. They're bite-sized. Assertion journals are hands-down my favorite way to teach and assess writing. Here's how they work: Students are given an assertion, usually in the form of a pithy quotation. How much context you want to give your students is totally up to you. I just project the assertion … Continue reading How Assertion Journals Can Inspire and Challenge Your Students

Trash It or Stash It?

Giggles in the back corner. Whispers in the middle. A shifty glance. Knowing nods in the front.  No, my students are not plotting to mutiny (not today, at least).  "TRASH IT!" They chorus. A sticky note gets crumpled and tossed in the recycling bin on my desk. A few students scribble frantically in their notes.  … Continue reading Trash It or Stash It?

Get Out of the Kiddie Pool!

This was the mantra repeated by a presenter at one of the first AP conferences I attended. We were examining methods to break students out of shallow analysis. The past few years of teaching AP Lang have convinced me that teaching students to write really comes down to three things: thesis statements, organization, and support. … Continue reading Get Out of the Kiddie Pool!

The Best Professional Reading for English Teachers: Books That Are Shaping My Teaching This Year

Every January, I spend some time going through my professional bookshelf. I find that during the bustle of the school year, I forget some of the ideas and practices I was so excited about implementing this year. Sometimes I even come across ideas from years past that would be helpful to bring back. This week, … Continue reading The Best Professional Reading for English Teachers: Books That Are Shaping My Teaching This Year

New Year, New Unit

It's a snow day today, so this will be a quick post before I get back to playing Feed the Woozle with my toddler. We just headed back to school from winter break, and I am so excited to jump in with my AP kids. For one of my grad school classes last semester, I … Continue reading New Year, New Unit

The Analytical Thesis: A Student Writer’s Frenemy

As the facts change, change your thesis. Don't be a stubborn mule, or you'll get killed. -Barry Sternlicht It's a love-hate relationship: the thesis is essential in analytical writing, but it can be one of the hardest elements for students to master. A couple of years ago, I began reflecting on how I was teaching … Continue reading The Analytical Thesis: A Student Writer’s Frenemy

How to Teach Analysis Like a Boss

In my last post, I made a case against the five paragraph essay as an appropriate analytical structure for high school students. The closed thesis, redundancy, and built-in limitations to critical thinking ultimately hold students back from their best work. If not the five-paragraph essay, then what? I'm going to take you on a tour … Continue reading How to Teach Analysis Like a Boss

Please Stop Teaching the Five-Paragraph Essay for Analysis 

Please stop teaching the five-paragraph essay for analysis. Please, pretty please with a cherry on top!  Let's talk for a moment about the purpose of the five-paragraph essay. Many scholars trace its origins centuries back. Its parallel structure was favored over more meandering approaches. Today, teachers and students value the five-paragraph essay because it's both … Continue reading Please Stop Teaching the Five-Paragraph Essay for Analysis