Engaged Learning

NaNoWriMo

In the middle school writing rotation, fiction writing came up on my unit map this year. While I have a curriculum that I regularly use to teach writing, I had a crazy idea- what if my students participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? NaNoWriMo is traditionally an adult-led tradition where people worldwide commit…

Getting to know you (and me) through buddy letters

A date, a salutation, at least five sentences, a picture they’d like, a closing, and your name.  It’s good to ask at least one question so they have something to respond to.  These were the parameters of a buddy letter, as a few complaining middle schoolers explained to me.  What were they complaining about?  Not…

Gender Relations in the Classroom

A couple of weeks ago, two students in my room—a boy and a girl, friends who often play as part of the same group—were on the outs. Small conflicts kept erupting. On the advice of one of our parent volunteers, who had just finished a difficult recess with them, I pulled those two students aside…

Science

One of the most compelling pedagogical concepts I’ve ever come across is very simple: Don’t teach a vocabulary word until students already know the concept it describes. Let the experience you create be not, “Okay, there’s this word, and apparently it means X,” but, “Oh! That’s the word for that!” During the fall term, In science class,…