New Holiday Activity

I am having way too much fun uploading worksheets out of 60 Positive Activities for Kids on to our Teachers Pay Teachers Store (Click on Build Positivity to find all the worksheets!) One of the things I’m really enjoying is that it gives me a chance to think deeply about how to use the resources in the classroom. As I was uploading this awesome New Holiday Activity I realized that this could be a one-off creative worksheet as the authors intended. But it could also spark a discussion comparing holiday traditions. You could even use it as the beginning […]

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Positive Psychology: More Than Just Fun and Games!

This was a nice post about from Patrice Palmer about 60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom, one of our books that promotes positive psychology in the classroom. As Patrice writes below, research suggests many benefits to building positive emotions in the classroom 60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom by Teresa X. Nguyen and Nathaniel Cayanan is a fun-filled resource with activities that can easily be used as fillers, enders or energizers. I wanted to review this book because I’m a huge fan and student of positive psychology.  Although the book does not explicitly mention the science of this fastest […]

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Prewriting Activities for Young Learners and Lower Level Students

Prewriting is really just a fancy way of saying planning to write. For many writers, it includes brainstorming and outlining. But prewriting activities for young learners, or students with lower proficiency in English, need to be designed carefully. Even something as simple as brainstorming may be hard because they don’t have a lot of vocabulary around a topic. And outlining can be equally intimidating. Now graphic organizers can be helpful, but how do you explain a graphic organizer to a student with low levels of English? That’s one reason I really like Teresa X. Nguyen‘s books of illustrated creative […]

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Genre Switching for Better Writing

I belong to a Facebook group for self-published fiction authors many of whom routinely make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a month. The key to their success? Pick a genre that readers like, read as many examples of it as you can, and then write to that genre. While some might dismiss this approach as putting formula over art, their ability to sell does highlight the importance of genre to readers. When we read a detective novel, we expect certain things to happen. In a horror novel, there are certain things characters will never do or say. […]

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Ways to Make Me Laugh

Humor can be a powerful tool in the classroom. As I’ve written elsewhere before,  Humor plays a large role in my teaching. I use jokes to lighten the mood and make learning fun. I use self-deprecating humor so that students feel comfortable challenging me and so that they understand that mistakes aren’t the end of the world. I use humorous stories to establish rapport. And I make silly skits and demonstrations of words or grammar points so that students will remember them. But humor is also different from culture to culture and from person to person. And while they […]

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How to Engage Reluctant Writers

There was a recent piece in The Atlantic about a teacher who helped her students who get over their fear that they couldn’t write well or that writing wasn’t for them. How did she engage reluctant writers? By forcing them to write a lot. Once they had built a portfolio of writing, they couldn’t say they weren’t writers. They clearly did know how to write because they had written a lot. Beyond that, this teacher engaged with her students, less as students and more as writers. If you focus too much on correcting, you end up marking up all […]

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Creative Writing Class With Stories Without End by Taylor Sapp, published by Alphabet Publishing

Creative Writing Class With Stories Without End

We are very excited to learn that Taylor is going to be teaching a creative writing class based on his first book, Stories Without End, at his Intensive English Program (IEP). Many IEPs offer flexible elective classes periodically. Stories Without End is uniquely well-suited to this kind of extra-curricular class. It can fill 2 weeks or 2 months. Because you can pick and choose stories based on your students’ interest or a topic you want to cover, you can create a very flexible and adaptable modular class. While I don’t have the exact syllabus Taylor is using, here is a one way […]

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Guide to Stories Without End

Our latest book, Stories Without End by Taylor Sapp, came out last week. In case you missed it, or the subtitle “24 open-ended stories to engage students in reading, discussion, and creative writing,” wasn’t clear, the Stories Without End is a collection of 24 short stories that end on a cliffhanger. Students read short stories, discuss them, and then write their own endings: It’s an innovative and interactive way to teach reading and writing. The stories themselves are pretty intriguing and creative themselves, so they generate a lot of discussion. Some have a science-fiction flavor and ask what life would […]

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If the students love it, who we to argue?

When I asked our latest author, Taylor Sapp, to collect some review quotes and blurbs about his new book, he did something I’d never thought of! Sure, he asked his colleagues and some big names in ELT for quotations. But he also asked students what they think. And here’s what they said (only lightly edited): “These creative, intriguing short stories that made me think and wonder what if? Absolutely amusing miscellaneous topics that I enjoyed” “I think it’s useful because we can train a skill that we guess the stories even if we have a lot of vocabulary that […]

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