Dear English teachers: No offense, but your students shouldn’t be writing for you

 In fact, they should be writing for anyone but you.  part 3 of 4     Let’s get real. If your students know their writing will be read by someone beyond the school building walls, they’ll sit up a little higher in their desks. They’ll be a little choosier with their words. They’ll be more carefulContinue reading “Dear English teachers: No offense, but your students shouldn’t be writing for you”

Get Your Students Published ASAP

Three days in and students are revising submissions for a publisher. Read this for the details. I decided not to discuss class rules on Wednesday, the first day of school, because who wants to hear class rules for eight different classes in one day? Instead, we jumped right into a writing contest hosted by CreativeContinue reading “Get Your Students Published ASAP”

Contest #5: Outdoor Writers Association’s Norm Strung Writing Awards

Here’s another writing contest for you to try with your students. The Outdoor Writers Association, based in Missoula, Montana, is an organization of writers, editors, broadcasters, photographers, film makers, and other communicators who are, according to OWAA’s website, “dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience.” The organization is involved in many outreach activities, including the NormContinue reading “Contest #5: Outdoor Writers Association’s Norm Strung Writing Awards”

We have a winner!

Student’s essay places second in national contest Congratulations to Elijah D., whose essay placed second in the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s   Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards. Eli’s essay entitled “Natural Nostalgia” placed second in the nation in the junior prose category. He also received a check for $100. Eli graduated from Kirbyville Middle SchoolContinue reading “We have a winner!”

Ten Questions for Kohl’s About This Back-to-School Shirt

Yeah, it’s just a $10 t-shirt (when you buy two of these charmers), but clothing has power.     Is this shirt supposed to be funny, Kohl’s? Because it’s really just mean.  Did you know that back-to-school should be a time of building students up, not tearing them down? “Nobody cares” has no place inContinue reading “Ten Questions for Kohl’s About This Back-to-School Shirt”

Let Students Talk, Think, and Think Some More

Here’s what else I do to help students find writing topics they care about and then start writing part 2 of 4 I know from teaching middle school (6-8) ELA for a few years that, in order for students to be passionate about their writing, they must first have a topic that they care about. WhenContinue reading “Let Students Talk, Think, and Think Some More”

2017 Branson Tech Institute: My Takeaways

I attended Branson Tech Institute, an educational technology conference, July 17-18 at Branson High School. The Branson School District extended invitations to attend the conference to area schools, including my district, Kirbyville R-VI. (Thanks to my district for paying my registration fee!) About a dozen different classes were offered during each of nine sessions. Classes were categorized intoContinue reading “2017 Branson Tech Institute: My Takeaways”

I’m Imagining the Possibilities of Project-Based Learning

    Yesterday I met for about an hour with Leslie Wyman, the managing director of the White River Valley Historical Society based in Forsyth, Missouri. I had contacted her last week by email to inquire whether there were any projects for which my students could provide basic research and/or writing. I really didn’t knowContinue reading “I’m Imagining the Possibilities of Project-Based Learning”

Contest #4 That Works for My Students: New York Times Editorial Contest

Since 2014, The New York Times has sponsored an opinion-editorial contest on its Learning Network site. Last spring, all of my seventh-graders submitted entries for their chance to win.  This contest engaged my students, especially because they knew they were writing for The New York Times. Age Range: This contest is open to students agedContinue reading “Contest #4 That Works for My Students: New York Times Editorial Contest”

When you return to your classroom before you’re required to return to your classroom

I drove the twenty minutes to my classroom today to . . . start. There’s always a day or two (or three) before the big day when we’re required to return to school for in-service training.  On days like today, when I’m often working alone, I just begin. Here’s what I did, with the help of myContinue reading “When you return to your classroom before you’re required to return to your classroom”