Creative Expression

I have always had the need to express myself creatively. I drew and colored and wrote stories, and later tried every art or craft I could. It was more than fun. My very soul demanded creative expression. I even remember making up stories in middle school and passing them off as truth--like how my mother... Continue Reading →

Daily Arguments

When teaching students to write persuasively (which Common Core now calls Argument), it's important for them to realize that they encounter the art of persuasion every day. After all, persuasion is nothing more than influencing someone else. In ancient Greece, Aristotle wrote abut how to persuade others. Three hundred years later, in Rome, Cicero wrote... Continue Reading →

What is a 21st Century Learner?

What is a 21st century learner? Equally important, what does a 21st century classroom look like? It’s important that students learn the same content they always have. They will need reading and writing, math, science, and social studies. They will also need interpersonal skills like teamwork and collaboration, as well as skills learned on the playground like... Continue Reading →

Creative Nonfiction

One of the writing genres we teach in sixth grade is personal narrative. A narrative is a story, or fiction, but a personal narrative is based on a real event. The struggle is getting students to write good stories about an event in their lives. Now personal essay, or memoir, is supposedly a different genre.... Continue Reading →

Behavior Management

Managing the classroom behavior is something every teacher struggles with. Some classes are harder to deal with than others, but they all require some system of reward and consequence to keep the peace and allow lessons to occur without disruption. In the twenty years I've taught, behavior management has included some combination of earning Behavior... Continue Reading →

Improving Public Education

You can blame large class sizes, teacher experience or salary, or parent involvement in the home, to name a few, but there is no simple answer to the problems of public education. The responsibility must be shared. In Finland, recently touted as a model for public education, students are given no homework. The younger students have... Continue Reading →

Influencing Youth

  As a teacher, I know I influence students every day. I strive to be a good role model and show them passion for learning, excitement about reading and reading, pride in their math skills. Young people are greatly shaped by their environment. If they are around positive energy, they may absorb it. I find... Continue Reading →

Writing Exercise

This week in a writing class, we have a fun assignment. Try it yourself! *It needs to be one paragraph, exactly seven sentences. No dialogue. *It should be the first paragraph or the last paragraph of a Young Adult novel, meaning the main character should be a teenager. *It can be in first person, but... Continue Reading →

Missing Work

When I first became a student teacher in 1996, I was shocked by the number of students who didn't turn in homework. I always did my homework in school. In fact, it never even occurred to me not to do it. Nineteen years later, I am not so much shocked as I am disappointed. In... Continue Reading →

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