Category: Teaching

Pandemic-Flexible Lesson Planning – An Idea

Pandemic-Flexible Lesson Planning – An Idea

What Will Fall Look Like for Teachers? For me, Distance Learning, or Remote Instruction, or whatever your institution called it, has been “building the plane while we’re flying it,” as one colleague put it. Will be flying steady by Fall 2020, though? We teachers know things won’t be normal, but we also know we don’t …

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Teaching in the Time of COVID-19

Teaching in the Time of COVID-19

Distance Learning: Anyone Else Skeptical? When I was a kid I remembered reading about life in the Australian Outback. Kids there grew up on remote cattle stations or small towns, hundreds of miles from the nearest teacher. Apparently, lessons were broadcast over the radio. Even as a kid, I wondered how the hell this was …

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Reimagining the Quiz with Sticky Notes

Reimagining the Quiz with Sticky Notes

Here’s a question I’m always asking myself: how can I steal methods from design to improve my classroom work? Well, here’s one method we can steal from the discipline of design. The sticky note session. Folks who follow the methods of Tim Brown, the Stanford dSchool, and anybody who chants the phrase “design thinking” with …

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What do You Mean, “Analyze?”

What do You Mean, “Analyze?”

So, on the second day of class, I put a poem in front of my sophomore English students. Well, not exactly. I put the shape of a poem in front of them. It looked like this: I told them, “Take a couple minutes to read this over.” Immediately, they began asking whether or not they …

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Teachers: Do This to Keep Your Goals in Sight

Teachers: Do This to Keep Your Goals in Sight

My first day of classes is soon. Very soon. I’m up at four A.M. writing this, having woken from an anxiety dream about not having enough chairs in my classroom. Writing seemed like a good way to quiet my teacher-specific demons. I’ve been meaning to write this post, anyway. Because I want to share a …

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Are You Teaching Expository Writing Backwards?

Are You Teaching Expository Writing Backwards?

The value in teaching expository writing lies solely in the exercise of translating writer-oriented writing to reader-oriented writing. Knowing the difference and how to move between the two–that’s a way more important skill that supporting a thesis with three points.

Essay Draft Comments: What Do We Owe Students?

Essay Draft Comments: What Do We Owe Students?

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the whole purpose of written feedback. For one thing, it can be frustrating, spending time on articulating suggestions for improvement, and then watching the student flip to the end of their draft to read the grade. Then put the paper away. Or flat-out chuck it in the trash. Even more …

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Today, You Can Take a Poem through Seven Drafts

Today, You Can Take a Poem through Seven Drafts

I want to offer you something that I developed in my sophomore English class last year. I’m always trying to get my students to revise. Revision is where all the creative decision-making happens in writing. I came up with a method for pushing a freewriting through seven drafts, and into a focused, straightforward expression of …

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Five Ways to Jackhammer through Creative Block

Five Ways to Jackhammer through Creative Block

We all get stuck. And waiting around for inspiration to strike is…well, let’s just say it’s not a winning strategy. We know this. So what can we do about creative block? I’m a teacher, but I’m also a creative professional — a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, who’s dabbled in music, theater, cartooning, and other …

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Two Ways to Keep Your Lessons User-Friendly

Two Ways to Keep Your Lessons User-Friendly

In the education profession, you’re trained to approach lesson planning a certain way. Your key question is, “What’s the objective?” You’re supposed to write lessons around learning objectives — what will the student be able to do at the end of the lesson? But I’ve found that, in practice, the exercise of writing lesson objectives …

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