September 29

First Chapter Friday

So I do this thing in my 11th/12th grade high school ELA classes that I’m sure many of you do too called First Chapter Friday.

It’s exactly as you are probably imagining. I start the class by gaining the students’ attention, and then I read the first chapter(-ish) of a book to them. They love it for many reasons, and the results have been fantastic. I tell them that it’s been a long time since they have had “carpet time” or “story time” in class, and I think it is long overdue. They close their devices and focus solely on the story. And the most magical of magical things happens.

* whispers in a hushed voice*

They are quietly listening and hanging on to my every word.

It’s stunning really. And at the end of nearly every chapter read, they respond in the same way. “What happens next?!” “Can I get that book please?”

I have had students who have requested to borrow a book that other teachers have exclaimed about them, “So and so?! I didn’t even know he/she COULD read!”


And the next Friday is the same way. “Hey Mrs. Long. It’s Friday. You know what that means?!” I play dumb and insert a sarcastic comment letting them tell me…


Here are the (completely unsponsored) links to the books I have used thus far this year.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Anything But Ordinary by Valerie Hobbs

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman


In the YA fiction section, I currently have Jason Reynolds, Kwame Alexander, Nic Stone, Tomi Adeyemi, Rainbow Rowell, and others in my classroom library ready to go.

In the nonfiction section, I currently have several biographies of famous people on standby (Michelle Obama, Trevor Noah, Laura Bush, and other lesser known people who have compelling stories to share).

Any ideas of books I should add to my list? What are you reading?

September 15

Truth, Sarcasm, and Diet Dew

Here we are. First blog post. Steeped in truth, sarcasm, and Diet Dew (my caffeine drink of choice).


As a high school teacher, we are expected to educate and lead these young folks who have been entrusted in our care. Many times, these young people are not used to hearing the truth. Or they hear it wrapped in bubblegum and air pockets.

My truth is wrapped in sarcasm and Diet Dew. Teenagers understand the language. it becomes common ground between myself and them. Being real with students allows them to be real with you.

Students may think they want sugar coated feedback, but in reality…they do not. They want the adults in their life to be as real as possible with them. Especially when it is a life lesson or truth they need to hear.

One prime example of sarcasm I use in the classroom is with my classroom rules and procedures. I have funny memes (which let’s face it, is just visual sarcasm) sprinkled throughout my slideshow and on posters and signs around my room.

So many articles have been written with glaring warnings about avoiding sarcasm in the classroom. Please. Get outta here with that mess.  If you can’t speak a foreign language, I would advise not attempting it in a classroom. Same applies to sarcasm. If you cannot speak it effectively and in the humorous vein that it is intended, then do not attempt it. You will fall flat and potentially get yourself in huge trouble.

One of my favorite teacher comedians has multiple examples of sarcasm in the classroom. Some of it we say out loud. Other times we keep it inside.

So there ya go. A little bit of truth and a whole lot of sarcasm. What sort of experiences have you had in speaking the teen language of sarcasm?

Stay tuned.



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