Making the Most of Mystery

Last year, with input from students, I wrote a mystery one of whose central features is a small, sealed box that the protagonist finds and seeks to open. The desire to know what’s in the box plays a key role in propelling the reader through the story. Last night, I came across a brilliantly simple suggestion from Adam Beck (@BeckMonkeys) for making […]

Limiting your language learning–on purpose

The best journaling advice I ever got was to follow a firm rule not to write more than a single page per daily journaling session. The prediction was that this limitation would actually increase my total writing because it would make the task less daunting and would therefore make me more likely actually to sit down and […]

How To Use Your Windows

I’m taking a sick day from skiing in Sun Valley. The upside is that I can finally write about windows, as promised in the last post, which dreamt of the ideal classroom. Through the window I can see one of my Happy Places–a snowy peak with a ski lift–from another: a quiet lodge with an oversize […]

The Perfect Classroom

What do you love about your classroom? What do you hate about it? If you don’t have your own, what do you love or hate about the ones you travel to? I have to be honest: the only thing I’ve really loved about any classroom I’ve ever taught in is the students in it. Given that […]

“I don’t know how to teach” (#Teach2Teach Question 3)

This is a response to #Teach2Teach Question 3 from Jennifer, about troublesome experiences (full question below). Special thanks to Amy Lenord and Karen Tharrington for starting the #Teach2Teach movement and to those who have responded to their call! Here is Jennifer’s question: “What has been your most troublesome experience with teaching and how did you handle it?” It’s difficult to […]

9 Ways To Happify Your Class

Is your class a Happy Place? Your students don’t have to be happy, and they certainly won’t always be, but they’ll probably acquire language better when they are. Most of the reasons why a student would be unhappy are out of your control, but many aren’t. Here are some ways to happify your class in service of language acquisition. […]

A Celebration of Connectedness

The value of professional networks is so frequently touted that it seems almost abusive to mention it again. But I will, because this fortnight has been especially fun, illustrative of the quirky connectedness in the world of teaching and learning.  If the references or connections are insignificant to you, no problem! I’m thankful for and honored by them for their […]

Rising Above School Politics (#Teach2Teach Question 2)

This is a response to #Teach2Teach Question 2 from Carrie, about school politics (full question below). Special thanks to Amy Lenord (whose response is here) and Karen Tharrington for starting the #Teach2Teach movement and to those who have responded to their call! Here is Carrie’s question: “How do you stay inspired and not get bogged down by the politics of […]

Preparing a lesson vs Preparing yourself (#Teach2Teach Question 1)

This is a response to #Teach2Teach Question 1 from Garrett, about balancing “teaching” and “planning” (full question below). Special thanks to Amy Lenord and Karen Tharrington for starting the #Teach2Teach movement and to those who have responded to their call! Here is Garrett’s question: “How do all these teachers balance the workload between teaching and planning?  Now that I am […]