Who Can You Trust?: Research in the Classroom

In November, Stanford University published their findings on research conducted on more than 7,000 students of varying ages that strongly suggests adolescents (especially younger ones) struggle to identify credible news sources. Following the wake of a massively heated election, in which fake news sources may have had a significant influence on people’s opinions according to the Washington Post, these Stanford results leave a bad taste in every educator’s mouth--and rightly so. In the new millennia, teenagers are bombarded with social media, television, and headlines everywhere. Now more than ever, it is critical that students learn the skills to be technologically savvy about the information they accept as fact.

What I Learned From My First Finals Week

This past week, I have come to an astounding revelation that will seem in no way surprising to you, but knocked me clear on my backside: Finals week is stressful. What happened this past week? I’m only now waking from that foggy and nightmarish sleepwalk of frustration and stress. It is an understatement to say I was unprepared for the emotional onslaught of finals week. Despite having graded previous assignments, handing out study guides out with ample time, and administering a Kahoot that was eerily similar to the final, I was not ready for the emotional turmoil of my students. Doing all the teacher-y things I was supposed to did not barricade me from my students’ concerns. During my first ever finals week, I found myself overwhelmed with negative feelings, leading me to grump at my students, loved ones, and (I am horrifically ashamed to admit) my dogs. 

Five Paragraph Essay vs. The World

Every few years or so, educators around the country find themselves up in arms about an issue that is said to hinder thousands of English classrooms every day: the five-paragraph essay. On these occasions, this writing curriculum staple goes under attack with scathing blog posts and national news articles. Educators of all kinds come out of the woodwork to claim their stance, for or against the demonized essay. We should make t-shirts next time. #Team5ParagraphEssay!

Gamification in the Classroom

Gamification of learning has taken the education world by storm. This innovative technique combines the two most important missions of schooling: engaged students and valuable learning. You can see evidence of my very own attempt at gamifying the classroom above! For my 9th grade Honors English Language Arts class, my students read Mark Zusak’s The Book Thief. For their final project, they wrote several essays and applied their learning by constructing a novel-themed board or card game. The kids loved it. Liesel Meminger’s experience in Nazi Germany was immortalized in Monopoly, Candyland, Crazy 8’s, chess, and a suspicious card deck that claimed to be an Apples to Apples’ dupe (but was formatted eerily similar to Cards Against Humanity…). 

3 Lame Reasons Why I Almost Didn't Write This Blog Post

Writing is incredibly difficult. It is strange to me that talking comes so naturally to most of us, while conveying the written word is a constant struggle. Somewhere in between our mouths and our hands, there is a chasm that holds all the sentences that perfectly explain what we want to communicate. From ninth grade high school students to veteran teachers, writing poses challenges for all of us, which is exactly why we should write even more.