Being a Good Sports Fan

I’ve come across some very annoying sports fans. We all recognize the type: opinionated, unwilling to take gainsaying, trash-talking, loud, obnoxious. I’ve heard it said that the modern sports fandom is a socially sanctioned way to express the fanaticism and warrior-like need to denigrate an opponent that in past centuries would have been reserved to […]

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Why Sometimes a Character Must Die

Death is waiting for everyone. Each one of us will some day experience dying, whether after aging, through sickness, or suddenly. There is an inescapable inevitability to death and many choose to live their lives ignoring the end as much as they can, as though it will somehow prolong life if they succeed. I recently […]

Gradeless AP Literature: Standards-Focused Assessment

A few months ago, I wrote about teaching my AP Literature class sans grades (at least as much as possible). De-Grading the AP Lit Classroom One of the main benefits has been a refocusing on the actual standards that the students need to master over the course of the year. My school does standards-based grading […]

The Both-And Cake

I’ve begun to notice more and more a disturbing pattern in which ideas that don’t coincide are automatically assumed to be in direct opposition to each other. This leads to either/or thinking, often on topics that are far more complex and cannot be generalized into just two opposing camps. This is not new, but it’s […]

A Jens By Any Other Name

My first name is incredibly common and yet most people I meet have never heard it or know how to pronounce it. I guess my parents wanted me to experience the double benefits of having a recognizable name and also deal with the constant battle of teaching others how to say it correctly. Jens is […]

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De-grading the AP Lit classroom

One of the first things I tell new students that come into my classroom each year is that I don’t care about grades. For years, I’ve worked to de-emphasize grades and so hopefully to promote learning. It works for some students, while others never quite get beyond that need for validation from a number/letter that […]

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The Sin of Making Academic Success into an Idol

It would be futile to try and count the sheer multitude of assignments I have completed purely to get the grade. I’ve written elsewhere about how I wasn’t really that great of a student when I was in school (I Was Not a Good Student) and my attitude towards learning stemmed mostly from my view […]

Dear Class of 2020

Dear Class of 2020, I’d like to tell you a little story: There was once a bottle, freshly made of glistening glass, waiting. This bottle had high hopes for its future, wondering what would fill it, where it would be sent, and who would open it. The bottle had watched all those before it filled […]

Consume Post-Apocalypic Literature

In times like these, we should all consume more post-apocalyptic literature. This thought has been circling my mind the last few weeks and in examining its origin, I found it rooted in my lack of immediate concern surrounding the current situation. As street and foot traffic slow significantly, store-shelves are emptied, and panic sweeps from […]