Poem Of The Week: Opium Dreams and Author’s Intent

You know you have a good poetry lesson when it grabs students in the first days of school.  One of my favorite and most effective poetry lessons of all time is my two-day lesson on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment.”  It’s a great lesson because I get to employ some of my favorite comprehension strategies, and because I get students writing and thinking about big questions early on.   (You can

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Classroom Management: The Perfect Bellringer

Those first few minutes of a class are always hectic.  Someone needs to go to the bathroom, someone else needs to get their missing work, and someone else needs to show me their newest poem about a fight they had with their mom this weekend and how they incorporated an extended metaphor to explain their pain.   I’m expected to take attendance and submit it electronically ASAP.  Not to mention checking homework, reviewing due dates and upcoming projects and tests.

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Troubleshooting Writing Workshop: Three Common Questions

I have recently created a comprehensive resource to help teachers who would like to start doing writing workshop with their classes–or for teachers who’d like a little more structure and guidance with the workshops that they have already conducted in class.  It includes 30 pages of handouts, how-to’s, and tips including 11 common writing workshop problems and solutions. One of the greatest things about creating resources for other teachers is that I can help them to learn from my (many many) mistakes

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Poem Of The Week: Death and Old Age with Shakespeare

Not sure if it is the almost-bare trees outside the window or the dying embers of the warm winter fire in the fireplace that reminded me today of one of my favorite poems to teach.  William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73, usually known as “[That Time of Year Thou Mayst In Me Behold],” has been a go-to poem for me for years.  (You can find a ready-to-go lesson plan on this poem by clicking here.) It’s a typical Shakespeare sonnet in many ways: an

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How To Instill A Growth Mindset In Your Students: 6 Tips

When I first learned about growth mindset, I was fascinated.  It explained so many behaviors and beliefs that I had witnessed over the years. The difference between students who were a burden to teach because of their negative attitude, lack of motivation, or refusal to acknowledge feedback and those who were a pleasure to teach because of their willingness to take on challenges and eagerness to learn and work hard—as soon as I saw the first group as having a

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Common Core: Challenging Non-Fiction Texts For All Subject Areas

I admit to feeling resentful when I learned that the new Common Core standards would require teachers to incorporate more challenging non-fiction into their lesson plans.  Really?  Wasn’t I doing more than enough already?  But I have since (reluctantly and grudgingly) found some great articles to use in class.  In fact, one of my favorite new lessons revolves around a piece published in the New Yorker about the relationship between the Enron Scandal and fixed mindset. Since I decided to

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