Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Win $5K For Your School: Made By Milk Carton Construction Contest

I recently heard about another great contest for students: the Made By Milk Carton Construction Contest. It's open to elementary, middle and high school students, with winning schools receiving $5,000!
Interested in participating in the upcoming Spring 2014 Made By Milk Carton Construction Contest? The program resumes with a new theme, “Stories!” Participants are required to use a minimum of 100 cartons to build a character, symbol or scene from a story. Think fairy tales, epic sagas, or science fiction! Entries will be accepted now until April 16, 2014. Visit for official rules and upcoming contest details. 
Last year's theme was "Transportation" and the contest's sponsor Evergreen Packaging sent along a couple of winning entries. With this year's "Stories" theme, this would be a great project for English/Language Arts classes, art classes or for extracurricular group like National Honor Society or recycling club.

If your school participates, I'd love to see your entry!

Friday, February 7, 2014

'Ten Cheap Lessons' Five Year Anniversary

On January 31, 2008 I published my first book, Ten Cheap Lessons: Easy, Engaging Activities for Every Secondary Classroom, a collection of ten of my best lesson ideas meant to be adapted to fit different content and subject areas.

Last week was a huge milestone. I can't believe it's been five years since I fulfilled the dream of publishing and sharing my work with other teachers. I still get a kick out of walking into Barnes & Noble, typing my name in the computer and seeing my books pop up on the screen. 

I just want to thank everyone that supported me over the years, both in and out of the classroom and through this website.

The original version is still out there, but I published an updated Second Edition that I believe is a bit better. You can find both on my page on, and you can still find the original on Amazon.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Notes To A New Teacher by Dana Dunnan

Dana Dunnan has a few years on me in the classroom--about twenty to be exact. He has taught a variety of subjects at the high school level in wealthy suburbs north of Boston for a long time. He also worked at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and on education policy at the state level in Massachusetts. On the surface, I certainly didn't see any parallels to my experiences in and out of the classroom.

Yet as I read Notes to a New Teacher: A Not-for-Dummies Guide for Beginning Teacher, I felt like I had found a kindred spirit. Dunnan's advice sounds eerily close to my own, supported with stories about his students as well as interactions with amazing people like legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. The book is written in a conversational tone, as if Dunnan was sitting down with you for a few hours to chat about teaching, not unlike my own work aimed at helping young teachers.

Dunnan covers the most critical topics for new teachers: the first day of school, assessments, and dealing with students, colleagues and parents. This is not new territory for books on teaching, of course, but his advice carries the weight of wide ranging experience and is delivered in a way most teachers can easily absorb.

As usual, I am giving away my review copy of Notes to a New Teacher (sent to me by the author himself) to a lucky reader. Send an email with the subject "NOTES GIVEAWAY" to by Wednesday, February 5th at 11:59pm CST, and I'll select a random reader to win.

For more information on the book and the author, visit his website. If you would rather skip the contest and make sure to get yourself a copy, it's available on Amazon.