Teaching Shakespeare?

Get acquainted with The Folger Shakespeare Institute and its truly useful and illuminating resources.

I had the good fortune to be a Teaching Shakespeare Institute NEH Fellow in 2012 and spent the month of July studying under its expert mentors.

Here are just a few links to get you to start navigating the Folger online universe of Shakespeare resources:

Start Here

Teaching Modules

Folger Digital Texts


I use the site lifehacker at least once a month to get concise, vetted information that helps me sort through the paradox-of-choice world of tech solutions. If you've never visited, go there now. Something you need is waiting for you. Promise.

Project-Based Learning a.k.a. Problem-Based Learning

Neat summation of the value of project based learning here.

Neat summation of setting up a problem-based course/unit here.

The Value of Efficiency with Blogger

If you're a teacher looking for a quick way to set up a website that can serve as a base for discussions, showcase student writing, enable students to comment on each others' writing, enable video and image incorporation, etc., etc., you don't necessarily have to use Edmodo or other LMS platforms. I have been using Edmodo for quite some time, but I find that I run into its limitations more often than I'd like. For one thing, Edmodo can't handle threaded discussions. While students can reply to a post, no student can reply to a reply. As a workaround, I've had students have one long linear conversation, using @student name to reference earlier replies, but the result is that students often have to scroll for fairly absurd amounts of time to get to where they want to go. Another thing I don't like about Edmodo is that I cannot add links or pages to feature static information I need to feature for my class. So for years, I've turned to Blogger. The fastest way to set up a blogger account to feature student work is to invite students to your blog and then have each student  label (Blogger's tag feature) each and every post they ever make with his or her name. Then go to Layout and make sure you add a gadget for labels to show up on the main blog page. As a result, you'll get a neat list of student names. Click on a student and the blog instantly features only that particular student's posts. This is a simple, elegant solution for not just a class page, but for projects of limited length. Ideal for a unit. For example, right now, my juniors are using a blog I created just for their study of The Great Gatsby. I have pages for video, historical context, etc. We are also using it for an online Socratic Seminar (something I've written about here on this blog before). Finally, students use it to complete reading notes. The publishing aspect of the blog really pushes students to up their game re: effort and quality control. And of course, Blogger is free.

Even though Blogger has fairly robust features that remove it from search engines and only allow invited authors to contribute, I still sometimes wish for a bit more security. Recently, I stumbled across this great breakdown of how to make a Blogger blog password protected. Here it is.

Happy Blogging.


image by Barker

the students have been educated about media literacy

the teachers have been educated about media literacy

the students have received significant training in cyber safety (and no, signing an Acceptable Use Policy Agreement that makes the IRS code read like 50 Shades of Grey by comparison is not sufficient)

the teachers have received significant training in cyber safety (and no, signing an Acceptable Use Policy Agreement that makes the IRS code read like 50 Shades of Grey by comparison is not sufficient)

the students have received sufficient training in using Internet-enabled devices and the training emphasizes techniques for the student to learn how to complete linear tasks while avoiding engaging in multitasking that impedes learning

the teachers are competent in classroom management and have a plan for how to foster a blended learning environment

the teachers have a clear conception of how and when the devices will be used (i.e. has already planned how much screen time vs. face time will take place, and have already tied the use of the device to important pedagogy goals)

the school has a program in place that addresses inappropriate use of the Internet and this program has been proven effective in educating and empowering students through the use of clear boundaries, expectations, and enforceable limits

the students at the school are included in the process when the aforementioned program is being designed

the teachers have collaborated enough and aligned their methods re: the devices so that students do not encounter an endless array of teaching styles that ask them to switch to a new platform and work flow model five times a day

All of the above takes time

But it is time well invested

Time that will pay many dividends

Time that will save time

"It's not being corporate, it's being passionate."

It's not shouting, it's listening. It's not being corporate, it's being passionate. That's what the honey- voiced narrator of this British Council video suggests in laying out the rationale for social networking. But is it Propaganda or Important Cultural Exchange or an untease-able admixture of both?

The British Council - Social Media & You - Infographics from binalogue on Vimeo.

This video is a great starting point for conversation about social networking and social media in general.

Innovative Curriculum Design

I am working on creating an innovative curriculum design for 7th Grade English. What does that entail? That's the question I am asking myself over and over, all day, every day.

Here are the voices in my head so far:

Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats - ...

Socratic Seminar Online with Meta Blogging

The image above contains a chart that details how a face to face Socratic seminar could be enhanced by having an outer ring of students blogging synchronously with the conversation.

The seminar would have an inner ring of students taking part in the face to face discussion. On the outer ring, seven students equipped with laptops would be blogging about the conversation.

Here are the roles of the outer ring students:

Blogging Thoughts…Again

Blogging Thoughts from Weblogg'ed...

Great analysis of the difference between pretend blogging and actual blogging.

HOW TO BLOG, or Okay, my students have blogs. Now what?

The essence of blogging is commenting and having others comment on your comments. That is to say, blogging is commenting. In an educational setting, comments that have value meet two essential criteria:

The Fierce Urgency of Eventually

Take this article, add Ken Robinson's speech from my earlier post, and shake. What do you get?

The Fierce Urgency of Eventually

Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms | Video on

Brilliant and brief summation of divergent thinking and
how education needs to reform.

Analyzing Credibility of Digital Sources

It is difficult to articulate to students just how to decide if a source on the Internet can be trusted. Credibility operates on a continuum and depends on context. If I am having students write a biography on Martin Luther King, Jr., it definitely matters whether or not they rely on personal web pages or blogs with a slant vs. more well-known references. What if a student is reading a thinly or thickly veiled racist remark about Dr. King and doesn't realize it? How can I give students the guidance they need to distinguish writing that has an agenda from more credible sources?

I recently came across this excellent list of TIPS to help deal with this challenge.

Generating or Exploring?


It is easy to get overwhelmed when you are trying to incorporate technology in the classroom. A simple way to zoom out and gain perspective is to ask a few simple questions before you begin work on anything from a mini-lesson to a full unit of study. Specifically: Do I want the students to generate or explore? Or both? Generating = making stuff. Exploring = researching and learning about stuff.

Questions to help lesson planning: