3 Reasons Why Your Students Will Love Blogging

student blogs

I informally survey my students at the middle and at the end of the year to inform my instruction. I want to know what’s working, what’s not, and better understand each individual’s needs. It is a part of my continuous effort to get feedback to will allow me to adjustment my teaching, improve learning outcomes, and build rapport with my students. … Read more…

The No-Fail Pre-Writing Strategy

Community IN THE (1)

There is a strategy that has gotten me four jobs. In each case, I was asked to demonstrate my teaching skills in front of interviewing committees, and was completely confident that this exercise would cast me in a positive light. Moreover, the strategy is as easy to administer as a think-pair-share.

If Anthony Robbins taught English, he’d use this strategy: the discussion web, a process and graphic organizer first developed by Donna Alvermann in 1991.

You could probably get an idea of how it works by studying the graphic organizer, but there are a couple twists that really give it power—namely step 5 and step 8, below: Read more…

The Flipped Grammar Experience

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Last year my principal presented a very unique opportunity for me to flip instruction in my classroom. His motivation was to try and reach more students on all levels. As our conversation progressed, we discussed specifically students who struggle getting homework turned in and students who need to be challenged. Furthermore, we talked about how flipped lessons provide student an opportunity to go back and watch a lesson over as many times as needed if the student was not understanding it the first time as it often happens after a teacher is going through a lesson while in front of the classroom. Unfortunately, there is no rewind button for teachers. However, if a student is watching a flipped lesson, they can rewind as often as needed. 


Flipping is not a secret and is an innovative way to deliver instruction to students. A flipped classroom is where a traditional teaching methods are switched where instruction is delivered through online videos and other resources such as websites. In addition, the “homework” portion is then done in the classroom. Students watch lectures outside of classroom, working at their own pace and application of the learned processes take place in the classroom with the help of the teacher. Having some background knowledge of what a flipped classroom is and does, I was more than willing to implement this instructional strategy into my classroom. In the Spring of 2013, my principal sent myself and one other teacher to a professional development where we were able to have some hands on experience with how to flip our respective classrooms. In addition, he handed us Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. 

Upon furthering my own knowledge of flipping, I took the time to develop a plan to flip just one part of my instruction when it came to my language arts classroom. I didn’t want to overwhelm my students and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself when it came to this innovative way for my instruction. So, I decided to flip only the grammar part of my instruction. There are educators who do flip their entire language arts classrooms, but with me being a novice I was not ready to take that plunge. I have chosen to flip grammar because most students find grammar boring and to be quite honest, so do I as their teacher. Flipping grammar allows me to put together an instructional video where I use Camtasia, Snagit, or Touchcast. Camtasia and Snagit are both products from Techsmith and are fairly inexpensive. Touchcast is free, which fits everyone’s budget. Below is a sample of a Touchcast flipped lesson I did using Touchcast.

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Two Perfect Sentences


Teacher: Brian Durst Class:  High School English Language Arts School:  Grafton High School (WI) Rationale Perfection may be a lofty goal in a chaotic school day, but on our quest for mastery, I expect students to: “Determine the central ideas of a text” “Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content” “Draw evidence from informational texts to … Read more…

Revamping the Writing Assessment: Essay to Infographic


Teacher:  Carrie Toth School: Carlyle High School (IL) Class:  Spanish 4 Spanish 4 Narcoviolencia final Projects: infographics! We have limited access to technology at my school so we often have to low tech our high tech projects. This was no exception. I wanted students to develop writing skills but also wanted to branch out from … Read more…

Getting Real with Book Clubs

book clubs

Teacher:  Jennifer Brittin School:  Warren E. Sooy Elementary School, Hammonton, New Jersey Class:  4th Grade Language Arts   Along the Way I’m here to confess that I ruined book clubs for several of my fourth grade classes.  You may be wondering how that’s possible. Book clubs build community in the classroom, get students excited about … Read more…

Speed Dating for Research Papers

Teacher:  Mary Tedrow School:  John Handley High School, VA Class:  High School Speed-date your research papers. There is nothing worse than taking home a pile of papers, spending a weekend marking them up only to have students ignore the marks, repeat the mistakes, and learn nothing in the process. The next time a major paper is … Read more…