Iowa Council of Teachers of English

Success Using the Common Core

October 23, 2016

Okay, I’ll admit it right now: I’m stubborn. I don’t like being told what to do or how to do it, even though that attitude is often the wrong approach… and I’ve learned that the hard way throughout my life. However, when it comes to the standards in my classroom, I’ve learned to adapt to the ...

Teaching and Observing: Our Midsummer Night’s Dream

October 15, 2016

I’ve taken to including Shakespeare in my AP Language and Composition course. These last few years, we've been reading A Midsummer Night's Dream in early April. The poetry of the play provides some relief from our steady diet of nonfiction essays and gives us valuable practice at deciphering sixteen...

ICTE 2016

October 9, 2016

The post-conference adrenaline slowed down somewhere on the 90-minute drive home along I-35 on Friday evening. My mind was already racing ahead, thinking of the digital stack of papers awaiting me in Google Classroom, and the 52 student emails I’d somehow racked up during my absence. As always in ...

Jeff Saylor After All These Years.

October 2, 2016

As a young teacher, I came to teach in a school with an experienced staff. It was, and maybe still is, a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing to work with great educators who had a lifetime of experience and experiences to share with me that helped me become a better young teacher. It was a curse t...

The Gap: More Than Jeans & T’s

September 25, 2016

Being a teacher sometimes feels more akin to being a scientist than one would think.  We are constantly asked to gather data, analyze data, process data, make decisions based on data... It is easy to get numb to the situation.  I know several people who are jaded by the process, rolling their eyes like...

On Color Blindness in the Classroom

September 18, 2016

A young pre-service teacher I have come to admire, posted on Facebook a while back that one of her professors had referred to future students as "the color blind generation." She was disappointed that this phrase in particular, and multicultural education in general, have been glossed over without muc...

Why We (Still) Blog

September 11, 2016

My students have been blogging since 2008. At the time, it seemed like an innovative way to accomplish some of the goals of a writing notebook (e.g., developing fluency), while giving students access to a broader audience in a genre that seemed a little more fresh. As with most things this election y...

Huckishness: Spoon-fed Classics, Worthy Objectives, and a Reflective Mindset

September 4, 2016

  (A version of this piece first ran as a guest blog on Ethical ELA on May 28th, 2016.)   Huck Finn was going the way of Hester Prynne in my American Heritage classroom. Which is to say, he was getting chipped and chopped into smaller and smaller segments that I could spoon-feed to my stu...

#newkid

August 28, 2016

I remember what it was like to be the #newkid in school. You see, we moved a lot when I was a kid. My mom used to joke that my cumulative file must have looked like my parents were migrant workers. They weren’t, but my dad’s job kept us on the move - 5 elementary schools in 7 years before we se...

The Dichotomy of Failure

August 21, 2016

We’ve all been there… yes, we’ve ALL been there. It’s hard to admit, and it hasn’t gotten easier to use the F word about my class(es), but we have all had moments of FAILURE. When I started teaching, I wanted a lesson to be perfect. Who doesn’t? However, over time, I realized that my own reactio...

Sucking at Golf

August 14, 2016

In August, we start anew. A new year. New kids. New goals. I love the start of a new year. Life just seems full of possibilities. It seems like I can do anything. Be anything. My plans for that first day--to begin making those connections with kids. I have 100 new students coming into my class...

Teaching Moment: The Most Beautiful Thing

August 7, 2016

Last March, on our last day before a well-deserved break from school, I decided to forego my AP Language and Composition lesson plans and show a short movie or movie clip that could prompt some discussion. My first choice was unavailable (the opening scene of Beasts of the Southern Wild), so I chose a s...

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