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 sister, she runs away to the woods to calm down. She meets Pilu, a young tree spirit who feels her mother doesn’t love her. Can the two girls help each other find peace among turmoil?     These Show Notes use Amazon Affiliate Links for your convenience. If you decide to purchase this book, please consider doing so through our affiliate links. Your support makes this podcast possible.   Episode highlights… Today’s entire episode is

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Creative Reading Cover

Creative Reading

Spark Imagination with Creative Reading We spend a LOT of time reading books and watching TV and movies in our household, and one game we love to play is “what if”. What if the ending had been different? The characters had had a stronger motivation? The main conflict had been more believable? This is what I call creative reading. Strong readers do this all the time. Passionate readers and viewers claim any story as their own and imagine the possibilities of twisting and molding characters to be more intriguing or more exciting or more heart-wrenching. It’s the joy after the ending. You may not have been the teen who wrote fan fiction, but you do this when you wonder what it would have been like if the girl hadn’t opened the basement door and gone down the stairs. Our

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What can you do with five extra minutes in secondary ELA? Here are a few five-minute fillers for keeping your students focused until the bell. (blog post)

5-Minute Filler Activities for ELA

5-Minute Filler Activities for Secondary ELA Although I’m getting pretty good at gauging time in my classes, sometimes, I end up with five extra minutes. When this happens, it’s really important for me to already have filler activities for ELA ready to go, so that I don’t waste the time. Here are some examples of things that have led to needing filler activities:  *A fire drill disrupts class, and we return with only five minutes until the bell *Joey didn’t show up for his presentation slot, but no one else is ready to present today *We lost power, and can’t watch the video I’d planned on. What can you do with five minutes? Here’s a short list. Filler Activities for ELA that Build Skills Play an Improv Game Early in the year, I teach my

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Teach Public Speaking with small group presentations. Smaller audiences boost speaker confidence, keep audience members engaged and accountable, and improve usage of class time. Blog post.

Teach Public Speaking with Small Group Presentations in 3 Easy Steps

Teach Public Speaking with small group presentations to boost speaker confidence, keep the audience engaged, and improve usage of class time. Public Speaking is an important skill for middle schoolers and high schoolers to develop, and some of them embrace the opportunity. For others, though, public speaking can be so daunting as to actually cause fear and nausea. How can we help our students develop public speaking and listening skills while still being respectful of their feelings? Small group presentations. Rethinking my presentation model helped alleviate my students’ fears, increase audience engagement, and save valuable classroom time. How it Works Instead of having students present in front of the whole class, put them into presentation groups of 5-6. Make sure someone is still timing each speaker (1-2 minute presentations are a great starting point!), and

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Make grading easier by only writing on the rubric. By writing focused comments on the rubric, you'll reduce your grading time while still assuring that your students receive valuable feedback. Read more at the blog post.

Make Grading Easier

I used to live in constant dread of my grading load, struggling under the weight of it all. I thought that to be a good teacher, I had to write copious amounts of feedback and notes on my students’ papers. In an effort to make grading easier, I stopped writing on student papers. In this post, I’ll talk about why I made this change, and what I do instead. Take a trip with me down memory lane, back to my first year of teaching. Also, let’s do a bit of math as we ponder this. Let’s say Younger Me reads every page of a three-page essay, stopping to make two comments per page. It would take me five minutes per essay. 5 minutes x 120 students = 10 hours of grading Many teachers will relate

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Persuasive Techniques and Media Literacy

Persuasive Techniques & Critical Thinking I’ve taught persuasive techniques every year, but it feels more necessary than ever for our students to develop media literacy. Can they judge the worth (and truth) of the information presented to them? Can they identify how a speaker could be manipulating their emotions and instincts? I’ve teamed up with a group of teacher-authors from TeachersPayTeachers to share free resources for teaching in this tough climate. We know that our students are hearing messages of hate and division after the election, so we need to come together to counter that with messages of peace and unity. Also, more than ever, we need to equip our students with the skills to identify and analyze persuasive techniques used in the media. Here are some activities for helping students develop an awareness of

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A photo of rows of empty, red velvet covered theatre seats looking towards the stage with a golden curtain down across the state. There is a blue box in the center of the image with white text that says "Drama in the ELA Classroom - Improv Games"

Drama Games for High School: 3 Easy Improv Games

Are you looking for ways to integrate drama games for high school? Get started with these three zero-prep improv games! Why drama games? I have loved drama since my 3rd-grade class got to be Arabian dancers in the school’s performance of “The Nutcracker”. When I was in middle and high school, I always wanted to do “acting” options for projects, sometimes asking my teachers ridiculous things like “can I show you the parts of the cell as an interpretive dance?” As a teacher, I seek to give my students the same opportunities. Drama in the ELA classroom is a great way to build public speaking skills, memory, and community. I have used drama with grades K-12 in France, Germany, the US, and Puerto Rico, and students beg for more. Literally. After finals one year, I

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Independent Reading in High School

How to Keep Kids Reading in High School One of my biggest goals as a high school teacher is to help my students love reading. I am an avid reader, and hit my book challenge for the year (75 books – woo-hoo!), and I want my kids to find books that they can connect with. I see the primary blogs talk about guided reading, group reading, and Drop Everything And Read!, and I want that for my classroom, too. Getting kids to love reading in high school should be more of a priority, I decided. This year, after doing some research and reading a great post by Laura Randazzo, I decided to implement Student-Selected Reading (SSR) in my classroom. I’ve done it for a semester now, and here’s how it’s going. 1. Implementation – Reading

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