I love free-writes and quick-writes and O'Connor's quote sums up why. Students often struggle to express their ideas, often for a variety of reasons: they don't care, they don't want to take the time to think about it, or they just don't know. When teachers give them these low-stakes and … [Read more...] about Free-Writes & Quick-Writes–One the Best Tools in a Learner’s Toolbox
When I assign a research paper—or any research assignment, we never start in the library or computer lab. That’s because I want the students to spend time thinking about what they want to say in their papers. I don’t want to read essays that are just a stitch job, a weaving together of ideas, facts … [Read more...] about Getting Ready to Research
I'm going to admit, although I love the idea of the Socratic seminar, I have not felt really successful with teaching my students how to do them. In the past, most have been boring and stilted, as students mechanically did what they were asked to do, with little engagement in the discussion. … [Read more...] about Tweaking My Socratic Seminar Approach
It seems like an odd thing to do: plan to be sick. In fact, those of us who work in germ factories hope to avoid it at all costs. But it happens, precisely because we do work in germ factories. Twenty-thirty bodies jammed in one hot room, using the same door knob, pencil sharpener … [Read more...] about Planning to be sick?
What's the best way to get our students to engage in deep and meaningful learning? I don't have the answer, but I do have a lot of questions. And it's my curiosity and desire to learn that drives my search for that answer.When you have students with that innate curiosity, it's a … [Read more...] about Now That’s a Good Question!
Even though we have had very few days together this snowy semester, it will not be long before I meet with my students' parents. When I do, I will be using something that worked really well in the past.Last semester, in preparation for our parent-teacher conferences, I had students do a … [Read more...] about Make your parent conferences more meaningful
This semester, I've decided to approach my novel studies differently, whether it be for independent reading or for full class novels. I've always loved the idea of interactive notebooks. I love to cut and paste and doodle and create. And I know many of my students do too. But I … [Read more...] about Feeling the Love with Reader’s Notebooks
It's change of semester time, so we high school teachers are reverting back to start up mode. It's time to begin again, which is a nice thing to do in the dark days of winter.Last August, on my old blog, I shared the digital syllabus I was using for my classes. I had a number of people … [Read more...] about Creating a Digital Syllabus
Our exam week begins on January 23rd, and for my IB students it will be their first "practice" session for their exams in May of 2016. The biggest thing I want to impress upon them--as with all of my students--is that reviewing for an exam is a process, not a cram session. They need to approach it … [Read more...] about Getting Ready for Exams–it’s a PROCESS!
It's that time of year again for high school teachers: we are either finishing up a semester or starting a new one, so it's like September all over again. Last August I posted a series of entries on my old blog on favourite ways to start the year. Here they are again:I often mix things … [Read more...] about My Favourite Ways to Start the Semester
Sadly, I'm getting close to the end of Macbeth. We are tackling Act V today, beginning with Lady Macbeth's famous sleepwalking scene. It's a fun scene to do, plus it's a good chance to see how much the kids know and remember, because she references so many things from earlier in the play … [Read more...] about Today in Room 213
One would think that the sight of many hands waving in the air would be a teacher's dream. It would mean that students were engaged and eager to participate in class discussions. And it does for those students who belong to the hands. Unfortunately, in most classes, a number of … [Read more...] about Get More Engagement with a No-Hands Policy