Teaching Executive Functioning with Escape Rooms


Have you been told you should be teaching executive functioning? Is this a totally overwhelming proposition? Where do you even start? Let’s break it down.       Teaching Executive Functioning   Executive Functioning is the complex way the brain ‘works’. We use these skills to make decisions, choices, and plans. When we use strong executive functioning, we work smarter.…

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Wicked Fox & more: Asian American author spotlight

Asian American YA Authors and Protags


How many Asian American YA novels do you have in your classroom library? We recently read Wicked Fox, a new YA urban fantasy by Kat Cho, and we wanted to collect some of our favorite Asian American YA authors and protags to share.     According to a study done by Creative Commons, only 7% of children’s and YA books…

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Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay


We are joined by Zshavette, a Pinay bookstagrammer to chat about Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. It’s one of our favorite reads of 2019! (Transcript)     In today’s episode… In Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, we meet Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American teenager. He has mostly maintained his connection to his family in the Philippines through…

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More Diverse YA Novels from the YA Cafe Podcast


From the 17th Century adventures in Lady’s Guide, to the dystopian future predicted in Internment, this list has a book recommendation for every student. Make sure you are subscribed to the podcast so you don’t miss all the great books and guests we have lined up for our next season! 🙂 And if you aren’t already caught up, you can…

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57 Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi feat. Justina Chen

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi feat. Justina Chen


This week we chat with author Justina Chen about Gilmore Girls, Firefly, and of course our featured title, Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi Rachel Recht is the next great filmmaker. At least, she will be as soon as she can…

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TED Talks for Young Writers


Have you ever used videos to inspire your students to write? Here are some TED talks for young writers you’ll be able to use at different moments in your curriculum. As I‘ve mentioned before on this blog, I love the Writer‘s Workshop model! Each day includes a focusing mini-lesson, time to write and ponder, and time to share or conference.…

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56 These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling feat. Jessica Spotswood

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling feat. Jessica Spotswood


Author/editor Jessica Spotswood joins us to chat about the blood witches and bad breakups in These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling, a fun YA mystery. (Transcript) In today’s episode… In These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling, Hannah Walsh wants to get through her summer breakup, but sharing a coven with her ex-girlfriend Veronica doesn’t make life easy. Hannah…

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Teaching Social Justice with Literature Circles


We read a lot of books with social issues for the YA Cafe Podcast, and I feature a lot of these books on my own Instagram. Because of this, teachers often ask me for resources for teaching social justice books. Today, I want to share some specific resources for teaching social justice literature circles.     Literature circles are classroom…

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LGBTQ+ YA Novels for Pride Month


PRIDE month is almost here! Woo-hoo! In celebration, here are 21 diverse LGBTQ+ YA novels for your high school classroom library, broken down by genre. Building your classroom library to represent more voices is a great way to build empathy, teach peace, and draw in all of your students.   Contemporary LGBTQ+ YA Novels   The Summer of Jordi Perez…

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With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo


  This week we are joined once again by our friend Anna aka @never_withouta_book to discuss Elizabeth Acevedo’s newest book, With the Fire on High. (Transcript)     In today’s episode… With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo  Since getting pregnant at fourteen, Emoni has done everything she could for her daughter and her abuela. Between being a full-time…

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Teaching LGBTQ+ Rights


Teachers on Instagram often ask me for tips on teaching LGBTQ+ rights. You want book recommendations, teaching resources, and ideas for increasing visibility and advocacy. Well, I’m here today to highlight one collaborative resource to get you started.     When my friend, Matt, from Surviving Social Studies shared his LGBTQ Painting Recreation, I knew I wanted to share it…

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The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline


This week we discuss an indigenous #ownvoices novel, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, and how we as teachers can assist with Truth and Reconciliation. (Transcript) In today’s episode… The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Demaline In a world wrecked by global warming, most people have lost the ability to dream. The state believes the answer to this loss is inside…

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Adding Physical Locks to Escape Rooms


Classroom Escape Rooms are collaborative games that make engaging review activities for students! Students work together to solve puzzles in order to be the first to “escape”. I’ve written a lot about using Escape Rooms in ELA before, and today I want to focus on just one aspect: adding physical locks to Escape Rooms.     Many teachers love the…

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The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala feat. Natasha Deen


Don’t miss this lively chat with author Natasha Deen! She shares about her life and we discuss the new YA fantasy, The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala. (Transcript) In today’s episode… The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala Esha, the legendary assassin known as the Viper, is on a mission: take down the brutal General Hotha and strike at…

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Teaching The Great Gatsby cov

Teaching the Great Gatsby: Building Background


Teaching The Great Gatsby can be transportive and engaging. Students explore a whole new era (Flappers! Jazz! Speakeasies!) while still making modern-day connections. To get the full impact of this American classic, however, students need to situate it within its historical context.     Building Context: The Post-War Era   Before teaching The Great Gatsby and the quirks of the…

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In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen


Join us this week as we chat about In the Key of Nira Ghani, the story of a Guyanese-Canadian teen who longs to pursue her passion of playing jazz trumpet. (Transcript) In today’s episode… In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen Nira Ghani feels like she doesn’t fit in in her mostly-white Canadian school. It’s not just that…

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12 Diverse YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels


Many students adore fantasy and sci-fi, but most of our class novel choices are contemporary or historical fiction. Here are some great titles you can add to your classroom library to make sure you’re providing students with well-rounded choices. These diverse ya fantasy and sci-fi novels also feature authors and protagonists from a range of backgrounds and identities.    …

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Pilu of the Woods (and Trauma-Informed Teaching)


Author H.D. Hunter joins Danielle for a discussion of Trauma-Informed Teaching and YA books that touch on grief, like Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… Pilu of the Woods is a graphic novel following an episode in Willow’s life after the death of her mother. After Willow gets in a fight with her…

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7 Books for Teaching Poetry cover

7 Books for Teaching Poetry


It’s April so y’all know what that means: National Poetry Month! I have compiled a list below of some books that are sure to interest even the most reluctant poetry readers and included some ideas for how to use them in the classroom. Even though I’ve labeled these as “books for teaching poetry,” they’re also great additions to the classroom…

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Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson


A typical Muslim-American teen saves the world (with the help of her teleporting dog), in our 50th episode, Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. (Transcript) In today’s episode… In Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Kamala Khan is your average Pakistani-American teenager living in Jersey City. She feels her parents’ expectations of…

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Including Superheroes in American Literature


When I took American Literature as a high schooler in 2003, we read a range of texts from colonial accounts to Puritan sermons to stories from the Great Depression. Even as a future English teacher, I hated the class. Where were our nation’s epics? I already viewed Huck Finn as passé and overrated, and The Grapes of Wrath never spoke…

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Internment by Samira Ahmed


Join us this week as we discuss Internment by Samira Ahmed, a gripping book with a dark vision of a future that is too close for comfort. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Internment is a look at a horrifying near-future United States in which Islamophobia and fear-mongering have won. As their freedoms are stripped away, Muslims are registered and eventually rounded…

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Gifts for English Teachers cover

10 Gifts for English Teachers


If you’re looking for a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week or for the beloved English teacher in your life, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a list of ten gifts for English teachers. I’ve chosen a range of items in terms of price, size, and seriousness, so I know you’ll find what you’re looking for. Enjoy!      …

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Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young feat. Amanda K. Morgan


Author Amanda K. Morgan joins us to chat about Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young, a new YA thriller that kept us guessing all the way through! (Transcript)   In today’s episode… In Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young, Philomena is the perfect student at a school that makes perfect girls. Behind her school’s gated walls, girls are…

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Teaching Women's History cover

7 Ideas for Teaching Women’s History


When we arrive at March, we finally talk about teaching Women’s History. Even though it’s something we should integrate all year long (like Black History!), we rush to gather lesson plans in the busiest month of the year. Well, here are ideas you can use year-round to get your students talking and thinking.   Honestly, I used to wonder what…

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Liar by Justine Larbalestier


It’s time for another #throwbackthursday, and this week we are arguing, I mean talking, about Liar by Justine Larbalestier. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Micah Wilkins is a liar, she’ll lie about anything. Not just for personal gain, not just for a good reason, but to see how easily someone falls for the lies that comes easily…

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Teaching Shakespeare with David Rickert cover

Teaching Shakespeare: a Conversation with David Rickert


I love teaching Shakespeare, and I LOVE discovering new and innovative ways to engage students in the material. I’ve talked before about teaching Shakespeare’s language or using abridged versions for in-class productions. I’ve even shared how my 9th graders put on a full production for the middle school! Today, I’m so excited to share about one more way I get…

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon feat. Somaiya Daud


Beware: dragons ahead! Join us as we dive into the epic fantasy world of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, with our guest Somaiya Daud. (Transcript) In today’s episode… The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is an epic fantasy set in a world with sharp divisions. For those in the West, dragons are their most…

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Teaching Argumentative Writing with Adam Ruins Everything cover

Teaching Argumentative Writing with Adam Ruins Everything


So, you’re teaching argumentative writing again, and you’re looking for something to spice up your unit. I have been there! And I have an idea to share!   Even though they LOVE to argue, teens aren’t always excited to write it down. Their eyes glaze over when you say the word “rhetoric”. I’ve talked before about teaching media literacy and…

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45 We Set the Dark on Fire Tehlor Mejia cover

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia feat. Erin Callahan


Love, lies, and revolution! All of that and more in this week’s featured title, We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, with guest Erin Callahan. (Transcript) In today’s episode… We Set the Dark on Fire provides a dark vision of the island world of Medio where a wall separates the prosperous inner region from the salted, barren…

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