At first, the shutdowns started slowly. School districts here and there across the nation closed for just a couple of weeks. And then things got serious -real fast. The week before my district closed was unlike any other week. In essence, my students were a bit more on edge, daily attendance slowly started dwindling, and I kept the news open on one of my computer tabs constantly refreshing it and checking it during each passing period. Schools around us started closing. The numbers in LA County increased. Entire school districts. Disneyland closed. In all honesty, it felt like the beginning of an apocalypse movie. As an avid fan of The Walking Dead, I kept thinking that this is what it must have felt like in that fictitious world as the infection started to spread. However, this isn’t fiction. It’s reality, and it is a reality for which we weren’t entirely prepared. We did not become teachers so that we could teach remotely in quarantine. And yet, here were are. However, this a...
With so many schools shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators around the world are scrambling to turn their warm, cheerful classrooms into effective digital classrooms as they attempt to master remote teaching. One thing’s for sure: It isn’t easy. That is why I recommend sticking with platforms you or your students already know. In addition to creating interactive Google-based assignments for my students, I will also be relying on educational websites. For teachers who taught in 1:1 classrooms, used Google Classroom regularly, and tried out new tech often, the switch isn’t as cumbersome. For teachers who haven’t implemented tech or who teach in areas where students don’t have access, it is an entirely different story. I cannot emphasize the importance of being flexible, compassionate, and understanding at this time.  Here’s a list of educational websites I use in my classroom that will help with teaching remotely. Please note, this is not a sponsored post, and these ...
With so many schools closed, teachers around the world are scrambling to find ways to hold classes and engage their students in remote learning. For some teachers, the ones who have been using technology consistently in the classroom and who have students with access to the Internet and devices, this isn’t a big challenge. However, for many teachers, those new to educational technology and those who teach students who do not have equitable access, the new challenge facing them seems unsurmountable. I am very fortunate to be in a 1:1 classroom. I have a set of 40 Chromebooks dedicated to my classroom, and (for the most part) I have a reliable Internet connection in my room. Since I have access to tech in my classroom, I frequently use Chromebooks, Google Classroom, and a wide variety of tech sites with my students. Also, the majority of my students have access to wifi and at least a smartphone at home. However, I am not naive enough to believe that everyone is in that situation. Wit...
Perhaps one of the most difficult subjects to teach adolescent students is that of war. Middle school is a challenging transition period for many children. Not quite kids but not quite teenagers, these students are just beginning to be exposed to more demanding, adult subjects; both intellectually and emotionally. In Number the Stars , Louis Lowry walks this delicate tightrope with masterful delicacy. She never sugarcoats the horrors of the Second World War, yet she avoids overly distressing imagery and graphic descriptions of violence. Lowry approaches her narrative of war with a teacher's instinct for sound content, proper facts, and a guiding hand. The story's horror and violence do not serve to impoverish her characters nor make them pitiful. Instead, these struggles serve as the soil in which her characters grow and blossom. Annemarie Johansen, a 10-year-old living in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen, Denmark tells the story. The book has a quick and easy-to-read pace, ...
There's nothing students love more than a good, old-fashioned movie day. It's a time to unwind and let their busy brains tune into a familiar storytelling structure, one associated with fun and entertainment. Whether it's a movie day or not, you can still incorporate movies into your curriculum and bring along all the excitement and joy that comes with turning off all the lights and cueing up the projector. Whether you watch the whole movie with a lits of comprehension questions, show clips in class to compare scenes from the text, or turn the entire thing into a personal assignment in which students study the movie and book of their choice, your students will enjoy the chance of pace. To get going, here's a list of ten movies adapted from books that may shock your little film fanatics. This post includes affiliate links. Holes Although your students may only vaguely remember this Disney feature film, Holes was a smash hit, both as a movie and a book. In f...
Helping students become stronger writers is one of my passions. As a high school English teacher, there aren’t many things that are as rewarding as seeing a student grow in their writing abilities. Several years ago, I switched up the way I taught my short story unit at the beginning of the school year, and I saw so much growth in my students. Not only were they understanding the literary devices and connecting with the stories more, but they also became stronger, more confident writers. The secret to this success is a combination of three teaching strategies: short writing assignments, sentence frames, and immediate feedback. When combined, these three teaching strategies provide students with the skills, practice, and reassurance that help them increase their writing efficacy. Short Writing Assignments As we work our way through our short story unit, I assign my students a quick and straightforward three-sentence writing prompt to accompany each story. In their response...