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Crowdsourcing Information in the English Classroom

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Jan 7, 2016 7:50:48 PM

Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are native concepts to teenagers today.  They use the waze app to crowdsource information about how late they are likely to be to first period. They create their own flavor of Lays potato chips without batting an eye. They back the next Kickstarter idea and share Go Fund Me pages for causes they believe in.

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Topics: Classroom Management, Classroom Tech, crowdsourcing, internet, phones, tech, tips

The Gifts Teachers Really Want

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Dec 15, 2015 10:59:19 AM

Dear Parents,

Teachers do not work for gifts, but if you want to treat them this holiday season, here are a variety of ideas teachers will love from all budgets:

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Topics: gifts, Holiday/Seasonal, parents, tips

When you don't have time to read the whole novel...

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Oct 29, 2015 9:11:30 AM

We frequently get questions from teachers who want to teach novels, but simply do not have enough time to read entire books with their classes. While we generally advocate for reading novels in their entirety, we completely understand that this is not always possible for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to English language levels and school schedules, as well as state, school, and district mandates. Today we want to give you a few tips for picking out which novel excerpts to read with your class.

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Topics: Classroom Tech, Literary Analysis/Reading Strategies, Literature, novels, reading, tips

Easy Way to Find Fresh Research Paper Topics

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Oct 20, 2015 11:32:42 PM

When research paper season comes around, I struggle with more than the paper load and the process (which I wrote about here). I also struggle with finding fresh topics.  I am a fan of letting students pick topics within boundaries, but I am decidedly not a fan of reading the same trite selections over and over.  Last week, while I was listening to This American Life in my car, I was struck with how perfect this NPR show is as a farming ground for engaging research topics.

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Topics: Essays, research, research paper, tips, topics, Writing

Daily Affirmations for Secondary Students

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Sep 24, 2015 12:30:25 AM

Sometimes in the muck and mire of teenage life, negative self-talk takes over and it is hard to focus on academics, building positive relationships, and accomplishing goals. As English teachers, we ignite a love of our favorite authors, cultivate solid argument writers, and extol the virtues of effective communication, but occasionally we have to break through some tough barriers of negativity to impart our knowledge and help students think critically.  When we are up in front of the class lecturing, teens may be thinking about things like:

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Topics: affirmations, Classroom Management, tips

5 of the Biggest Problems Facing English Teachers Today

Posted by Emily Guthrie on May 27, 2015 12:16:29 AM

Warning: I will not claim to solve any of the problems listed below!  That being said, I think it is important for us to acknowledge the issues that we face so that we can work together to find some solutions.  I'd love to hear your struggles, thoughts, and solutions in the comment section below!

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Topics: Classroom Management, English teachers, teacher problems, teacher struggles, tips

Activism vs. Slacktivism: A Lesson in Research and Informational Texts

Posted by Emily Guthrie on May 13, 2015 12:48:30 AM

If you are like me, there are few things more exciting than introducing students to amazing novels and other works of fiction, but finding ways to engage students in informational texts can be a little trickier.  Today I want to share a lesson that I came upon recently that had students engaged in reading an informational text, researching credible sources, and discussing their findings.  I'll outline the lesson below.  Please comment with questions, comments, and other informational texts that your students love!

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Topics: informational text, lesson, Lesson Planning, Literary Analysis/Reading Strategies, nonfiction, tips

Teach Students to Organize Research with Scrible

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Apr 29, 2015 12:13:32 AM

I've just finished another round of student research papers and as laborious as the grading can be, the process of curating research is one of the most valuable lessons that I teach students heading into our modern world.  For the rest of their lives at home and work, students will need to solve problems and reach conclusions based on the incredible expanse of information on the internet.  They will need to be able to determine the credibility of sources, understand multiple perspectives, and use resources to form educated responses to their world.  Academic research, including research papers can be one step along the path to digital proficiency. (For tips about research paper assignments, click here.  For more about teaching students to determine source credibility,click here.)

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Topics: Classroom Tech, papers, research, technology, tips, Writing

Preparing for Maternity, Paternity, or Family Leave as a Teacher

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Apr 18, 2015 11:42:41 AM

Teacher friends, I know that many of you are like me with a serious appetite for control.  Organizing, planing, and assessing variables are some of the things that make us good teachers. They are also some of the exact things we need to let go of when preparing for a maternity, paternity, or family leave sub.  I'm currently in the process of preparing to take maternity leave for my second baby.  It is such a personal decision and a personal process that I can't emphasize enough how different this experience can be for everyone.  No parent should feel compelled to fit neatly into the model that worked for their co-workers, friends, or even themselves with a previous child.  As a society and as a profession, we should reach out in support for people needing to take family leave no matter if they are: mothers or fathers, biological or adoptive parents, caring for a baby or a relative of another age or in any other circumstance.  That being said, I would like to go through a few things that I think are good to think about when preparing for family leave.

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Topics: family leave, Lesson Planning, maternity, Planning, tips

A Creative Spin on Argument Writing

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Apr 7, 2015 8:03:28 AM

No matter which standards you are currently in alignment with, argument writing is an incredibly important mainstay of English curricula.  Arguments can take many forms, and sometimes it is fun to mix up the writing assignments to inspire students to use their creativity and have a little fun (especially during fourth quarter)!  Today I want to share a writing assignment that fell into my lap recently and turned out to be a great experience for my secondary students.  Last week, I was reading the New Yorker and I came across this article that described a couple's first dinner in the form of a recipe. I thought that it was an interesting social commentary that teenagers could easily relate to (even though the article is geared toward young adults).  So, I decided to mix up the argument writing for the week to include an assignment modeled after this article. We read the article together and discussed the elements of style, content, and convention that were employed as well as the arguments, both explicit and implicit.  A couple of the reasons I liked this assignment were:

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Topics: argument, Essays, prompt, social commentary, tips, writing

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