Romeo and Juliet Unit

This lesson plan was written for a class of eighth grade honors students at Murrays Bay Intermediate School in Auckland, New Zealand.

The following was posted for students in a Google Classroom page, and they directed themselves through each lesson.

Continue reading


Mrs. Toller Teaches Vocabulary

Bringing Words to Life & Creating a Robust Vocabulary

One of the things I complained about teaching the most in America was vocabulary. While I agree it’s important to have a big and high-level vocabulary, I never had to go through much effort to learn the words myself. I was “blessed” with a mother who consistently uses “High Vocab” or “Tier 2” words, even when simple words would easily suffice. (I even wrote an essay about this phenomenon.)

Continue reading

You Mean, You’re NOT Worried They’re On Facebook?


I’m sitting at the “front” of a classroom, scribbling notes for my journal entry as the students around me are sitting grouped together at their tables, chatting away as they bend over their personal devices or look at a neighbor’s. Some students are walking in and out the open door that leads to outside as they will.

This sounds like a recipe for disaster. This sounds like I have suddenly lost all classroom management skills that I picked up within my American tenth grade English classroom. If one of my students from America was sitting here, they would probably complain something along the lines of, “They get to wander off to other classrooms, but we could barely even use the bathroom?” Indeed, if an administrator for an American classroom walked in on this, it’s entirely probable that it would be the last day of my teaching career.

Here’s the thing though: the students are learning. They just don’t need me to do it.

Continue reading