Category Archives: Teaching Strategies

Podcasts for the Winter Months

A rare sunny day in December!

The days are short and cold where I live for the next couple of months. Most days, I drive to work in the dark and drive home in the dark. I know it’s the same for people across the northern hemisphere but still, it can feel isolating. That’s why I get so excited about podcasts for the coming months. I look forward to a warm friendly voice or two to cheer me during the morning and evening drives to school. Here are the podcasts that I am looking forward to listening to in the coming months.

Cult of Pedagogy

To be clear, I would listen to Jennifer Gonzalez share her teaching wisdom in any season. Her podcast covers everything from classroom management strategies (for instance, one of my fall favorites, “When Students Won’t Stop Talking,” which was the story of my 5th hour last term!) to learning strategies (such as “Retrieval Practice: The Most Powerful Learning Strategy You’re Not Using”) to advice for reaching all students and ensuring they feel safe and honored at school (“Making School a Safe Place for LGBTQ Students,” “Twelve Ways to Support English Learners in the Mainstream Classroom,” “Four Ways Teachers Can Support Students of Color”). Gonzalez has a companion blog for her podcast (or perhaps the podcast became the companion to the blog) where she links to helpful materials and resources for every episode. That’s great news because I know I can look up the podcast episode notes when I am ready, NOT when I am driving. New episodes of The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast are released on Sundays.

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.

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).