Write To Learn Conference Highlight: Sherry Swain’s Cumulative Sentence Workshop

I learned a ton from this session and walked away with a ready-to-use lesson plan and handouts. I attended Write to Learn 2019, a writing and teaching conference, held at Osage Beach, Mo. at Tan-Tar-A Resort and Conference Center. Write to Learn is sponsored by the Missouri State Council of ILA, the Missouri Reading Initiative,Continue reading “Write To Learn Conference Highlight: Sherry Swain’s Cumulative Sentence Workshop”

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards: Six tips for entering your students’ work

Your students need to enter this contest! Last December, ten of my students’ entered their writing in the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Two of those students won Silver Keys and three won honorable mention awards in the Missouri Writing Region awards, a qualifying round before the national level. (Students who win Gold KeysContinue reading “The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards: Six tips for entering your students’ work”

Don’t “dis” formulaic writing prompts

Use structure to develop ideas and writer’s voice   I’m pretty proud of the student’s written response in the photo above. It’s written by a seventh-grader who, while being a strong writer, struggles with turning in work, whether assigned as homework or completed during class. He is not doing well in my class “grade-wise”; however,Continue reading “Don’t “dis” formulaic writing prompts”

When students don’t “follow along” in the book

“Following along” may not work for every student I’ve been reading Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James Swanson to my seventh-graders and we just finished it on Friday. About every two chapters or so, they’ve written a response to a question I’ve posed to help them comprehend the text as well as think critically about someContinue reading “When students don’t “follow along” in the book”

My number one most effective writing assignment: Gallagher’s AOW

Nothing works better to build writing stamina. If there’s one assignment I would never give up it would be the AOW, the Article of the Week. Gotta have it. Gotta do it. I can’t imagine teaching without it. You may have heard of AOWs. They’re pretty well-known among English teachers. They were developed by KellyContinue reading “My number one most effective writing assignment: Gallagher’s AOW”

Contest #13: Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest

Try this contest for grades 3-12. Entries are due Feb. 25. I’ve stumbled upon another student writing contest that middle schoolers may enter:  the Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest.  The sponsors invite students to submit a poem to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site’s annual Student Poetry Contest. “The contest encourages youth to explore writing their own poetry,Continue reading “Contest #13: Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest”

Use this totally free source for movie and TV transcripts

Every so often, this website comes in really handy. Ever need to know exactly what a character said in a movie? Ever want to show your students how dialogue is done for film? I recently found a free —I repeat, FREE—source for any and every movie transcript. At the time, my class had just finishedContinue reading “Use this totally free source for movie and TV transcripts”

How not to feel guilty about showing videos before a break

Plus: the movies we watched the final two days before Christmas break Every teacher knows the feeling. You’re in the final week of school before Christmas break. There’s no point in starting something new, and often, you’re finishing up a project or unit and you need a couple of extra days for the late workContinue reading “How not to feel guilty about showing videos before a break”

One road-tested way to connect with your students

Put a “lotion station” on your desk   If you’re wanting another way to connect with your students, try adding a small box of lotions to your desk or wherever it might fit best in your classroom. Male English teachers (all five of you out there) can try this, too! Find a couple of macho-scentedContinue reading “One road-tested way to connect with your students”

How I actually accomplished something in my classes the week before Christmas break

Students presented their writing contest entries for an end-of-semester critique   The last week before Christmas break was super productive. Oh, don’t get me wrong… we still watched videos late in the week, but we ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH early in the week with our contest entry presentations that my self-inflicted and totally undeserved teacher guiltContinue reading “How I actually accomplished something in my classes the week before Christmas break”