On the Power of Choice (Plus a Writing Center Update!)

As you may have noticed from some previous posts, Rebekah’s “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” has been fueling a number of experiments in my classes this year. Another risk I decided to take was to replace a long-running historical narrative project with a new study of informational texts. The results of this experiment have […]

Vulture’s “Close Reads” and Key Passage Analysis: Perfecting On-Demand Literary Analysis with Mentor Text Study

“I just don’t have enough time to say what I want to say!” “If I had more time, I would be better.” “I had all of these ideas planned, but I could only write about one of them.” “I just don’t think I work well under timed conditions.” Eleventh-graders’  laments fill my IB English classroom […]

Starting a Writing Center: A Risk, a Recipe, and an Invitation

Vulnerability–in life, in writing, in yoga class, you name it–is really tough for me, so you can imagine how moved I am when another teacher in this amazing community is willing to share a challenge in the classroom, a well-intentioned project gone slightly askew, or a new endeavor in its wobbly-legged infancy. Reading about those moments […]

“Getting to Know You”: Introductions Inspired by Broadway

My last post mentioned Pippin, and now I’m quoting Rodgers & Hammerstein; I had musical theater on my mind this summer because I knew my break would end with a “bucket list” vacation to Broadway, the four-plays-in-four-days kind of trip my Tony Awards-watching teenage self had always dreamed about. The trip was an absolute treat, […]

“The Right Words at the Right Time”: Commencement Speeches and Essays for End-of-the-Year Reflection

It is six o’clock on a Saturday night, and I am sitting at my desk in my classroom. The end of the semester is definitely near! While many of you might still have weeks of instruction left on the calendar, I am down to my last week before finals and commencement. My desk is a […]

Introducing Argumentative Writing with Infographics

Like Rebekah, Allison, and probably many of you, I am a big fan of Kelly Gallagher’s work. In fact, a colleague and I structured our freshman curriculum to mirror the writing scaffold in his book Write Like This: our first freshman writing assignments encourage students to “express and reflect” in personal narratives, assignments throughout the […]

Teaching Shakespeare (and Literary Analysis!) with Prompt Books

    This April, English teachers, Anglophiles, all buddies of the Bard will commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Museums, libraries, schools, and theater companies are marking the occasion with special events like the homecoming of the Globe to Globe tour of Hamlet, which will have performed in around 200 countries by the […]

Sentence Study to Textual Analysis — an Aha! moment

In 2014, I attended Alison and Rebekah’s presentation at NCTE in Washington, DC, and left buzzing about so much of what they shared, especially sentence studies. For reluctant writers like my freshmen, a sentence study is a great way to ease into creative writing or new sentence styles. The  thought of writing a paragraph sometimes […]