Category Archives: Teaching

My thoughts on my professional journey.

Team-Based Learning and the Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique in English Classes

It’s the time of year when discussion about how to effectively teach students to be successful on multiple-choice tests has increased.

Let’s be clear: Like just about every teacher out there, I hate test prep.

I want every day in my classes to be about authentic learning and assessment. There is rarely anything authentic about multiple-choice tests. On the other hand, the reality for my students, whether they are in my AP classes or my regular English 9 classes, is that they will face stressful multiple choice exams in high school. In Michigan, a portion of our state-mandated test is the SAT, so our students take the PSAT as 9th and 10th graders and the SAT as 11th graders. In 11th grade, they also take additional multiple choice tests in science and social studies, and many begin taking AP tests to earn college credit. I want my students to feel prepared for these tests, but I struggled for many years with how to do that in a way that still feels authentic for their learning. Then I discovered Team-Based Learning. I wrote about TBL when I first used it three years ago, but I thought an update was in order.

Writers Write — and So Do Teachers of Writers

My writing/reading spot.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on six different writing projects in my professional life — two blog posts, two chapter proposals with a colleague, and two proposals for presentations for the 2017 NCTE Annual Convention with different collaborators. The process of writing for various audiences, purposes, and situations has reminded me not only that I enjoy writing, but that I am a better teacher of writing when I regularly write — whether for personal or professional circumstances.  I know I am probably preaching to the converts here, but being a reflective writer makes me a better writing teacher in some very concrete ways.

Recognizing the Struggle. Writing is hard. When I am writing myself, I remember what is challenging about the process, and I recognize the places where I want to quit. I am also reminded of the strategies I use to overcome difficult portions or writer’s block. For instance, I remember that I need time for an idea to germinate. Taking breaks, going for walks, and talking with others are essential parts of my process, but often, they get squelched in my classroom. I remember, too, that sometimes I just have to write through the challenges – trying to get what I can down on paper and knowing that I can improve it later. Most importantly, though, I remember that I don’t have to be alone as a writer — that I can reach out to others for collaboration and feedback during the process not just when I complete the first draft. Transferring what I know about my process into my classroom means committing to an environment that values thought, conversation, and collaboration along the way. It also means sharing my strategies more explicitly with students with my own real rough drafts.

Becoming Authentic Writers, Part 3

How the paperless classroom goes beyond teacher convenience

This is the third in a series of posts about the impact of a paperless approach on the writing process and product.

In the first post in this series, I talked about using technology to improve my feedback to high school students, and in the second, I wrote specifically about the growth I see in my students as a result of using the tools in Google Drive.  This post will explain how I organize a paperless classroom using Google. I delayed writing this post when I found out about Google Classroom, a learning management system to be released in the fall for schools using Google Apps for Education. Now that I have had the time to preview Classroom, I’ll explain what I do to stay organized in a paperless classroom using Google, and I’ll touch on how I anticipate Google Classroom complementing my paperless classroom next year.

Telling Our Stories: Creating Authentic Narratives of Home

Recently I wrote an article that was published in the Michigan Council of Teacher’s of English Language Arts Journal of Michigan.  The theme for this edition was Location, Location, Location, and my submission reflects the uniqueness of rural northern Michigan.  Below is the article and the appendix containing my assignment.

When I moved from the suburbs of Detroit to northern Michigan twenty-two years ago, I wondered if I was moving to the frontier.

Becoming Authentic Writers, Part 2

Image by Anasuarezrivero (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
How the paperless classroom goes beyond teacher convenience

This is the second in a series of posts about the impact of a paperless approach on the writing process and product.

In the first post in this series, I talked about using technology to improve my feedback to high school students.  My earliest experiment involved using my smart phone and using an iPad app called Explain Everything to provide audiovisual feedback for students.  My paperless classroom, though, has evolved quickly, and this year, we went Google.

Becoming Authentic Writers, Part 1

How the paperless classroom goes beyond teacher convenience

This post was featured on the Chippewa River Writing Project’s Teachers as Writers Blog this week. Check out the blog for other great posts from CRWP teachers.

This is the first in a series of posts about the impact of a paperless approach on the writing process and product.

"Stack of Papers" by Flickr user Jenni C
“Stack of Papers” by Flickr user Jenni C

When it comes to technology, I am a geek.  My students and my colleagues will not be surprised that I spend countless hours playing with technology and dreaming of ways to adapt it for the classroom.  My friends and family are not shocked when we go shopping and they lose me in the Apple Store or the Best Buy (if the local bookstore does not claim me first).

Using TBL Activities in AP English

Thursday was a good day! Scratch that – pun intended, as you will see in a moment. Thursday was a great day!

Recently, on the PsychTeacher Listserv that I participate in, there was a thread about Team-Based Learning.  I was not familiar with this college-level instructional practice that has students working in teams and pushes them toward in-depth analysis and discussion. I was intrigued,

Evolving Literacy

Literacy has been on my mind again lately. It should be. I’m an English teacher, after all. What I have really been thinking about, though, is the rapid change in what it means to be literate for the future. Some people wonder whether books will die in an era of e-readers or whether cursive will become extinct. The real question, though,

Be a Teacher

(This was a piece that I wrote during the Chippewa River Writing Project summer institute.)

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Molly finished ringing up my order and placed my produce into a bag.

“That’ll be $16.34,” she said, and then barely taking a breath, she asked, “Ms. Neyer, do you think teaching is a good career to go in to?”