About lzingger

I'm a former librarian and currently work on staff at Teach For America. I'm in awe of what our corps members do everyday and love reading your stories. In my free time I like to knit little critters and bake pies. I live in Seattle with my hubs and two enormous black cats.

A Better Way To Find the Best Resources On the Internet

If you’ve spent any time on the TFANet Teaching page [login required], you may recall that things were, well, a little overwhelming. There are a lot of great tools and resources on this page, but they are not always easy to find.

You don’t have any time to waste, especially as institue is in full swing and you start to plan for the fall, so the Teaching page has been redesigned to help you quickly find helpful tools and support as you are planning your first lessons.

The new Teaching page includes all of the same resources (don’t worry, nothing was thrown away!) But there’s also a few best-in-class teacher resources added from around the internet. These are things that other teachers from around the country have found useful. It isn’t everything, but a helpful starting place for finding tools that you can use right away.

What’s new

  • Simple design makes it WAY easier to discover tools that will help you right now

  • Easy access to external teacher tools that other teachers have found useful

  • Mobile-friendly design works on your iPad and other devices

Tips for getting started

  • Find lesson plans, assessments and student activities that you can adapt to your summer class under the Planning Resources box

  • Find student tracking tools like OSAT under the Data & Tracking Tools box

  • Hover over each button to get insider tips

Since you are the first to see this new page, share what you think.

By |July 11th, 2013|Teaching Tips|0 Comments|

Three Ways to Show Off Your Poet Warriors During National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, Emily Southerton (Delta ’10) is taking her Poet Warriors project on the road. Emily will be teaching a week-long poetry unit in corps member classrooms across the country this spring and we’ll be highlighting student voices from each region she visits.

If you teach middle-school or high school ELA, you can also showcase the work of your creative and talented students and join the national conversation about poetry. Here’s how:

1. Download Emily’s curriculum and guided notes to create your own poetry workshop for your class


2. Submit photos* of your students answering the question, “What is poetry to you?” to poetwarriorsproject@gmail.com

We’ll share them here!


3. Share photos* of your student poets on Instagram and tag them #poetwarriors


*Just be sure to complete this release form (English or Spanish version) for any photos of students under 18.

We’re excited to show off your students this month!

By |April 15th, 2013|Your Stories|2 Comments|

What The Hunger Games’ Katniss and TFANet have in Common

To all my fellow Hunger Games fans: I don’t know about you, but I secretly want to be Katniss. She’s smart and resourceful. She’s beyond tough. And this girl can survive on grilled squirrel. WOW.

The Hunger Games (film)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Growing up in woodsy District 12, Katniss was able to hone these skills in her own backyard. Meanwhile I grew up in the suburbs of Orange County, where the only animals I shot were the birds from Nintendo’s Duck Hunt. And I still have to consult the map every time I visit a shopping mall, trying to hunt down the big red dot that says “YOU ARE HERE.”

I’ve come to accept that getting lost is a frequent occurrence for people like me. But that doesn’t have to be true on TFANet.

You can find a handy visual guide to teacher tools on TFANet in the TFANet Lounge. It will let you know where to go for sample unit plans, resources vetted by expert teachers and advice for planning your first weeks of school.

Make it your TFANet compass—and avoid getting stuck in the weeds!

Got burning TFANet questions or suggestions for tips? Please tweet ‘em over to @TFANet.

By |September 13th, 2012|Teaching Tips|0 Comments|

3 Tips For Finding Good Relationship Advice on TFANet

Cover of "The Breakfast Club"

Ok, who doesn’t love the Breakfast Club?

Five high school archetypes–The Bad Boy, the Artsy Girl, the Jock, the Preppy and the Geek– are forced to spend Saturday detention together. All of them bonded together against a common enemy: Assistant Principal Vernon.

What I love about this movie (aside from the killer 80s soundtrack and Molly Ringwald’s endless yards of pearls ) is that the five characters end up developing understanding and respect for one another in a way that transcends their differences.

They’re not all best friends by the end of the movie. However, through sharing their vulnerable moments while trapped together in the library, they become much closer than they were before.

Even when you’re not an angsty high-schooler, building relationships is tricky. Knowing where to turn to for good advice is key. Here are three ways to use TFANet to help.

Tip #1: Visit Athena Turner’s On A Mission blog

Tip #2: Watch how other teachers are building relationships

Tip #3: Find great advice in your Content Communities

Get more insight on tapping the wisdom and lessons learned from other teachers by visiting the TFANet Lounge.

Got burning TFANet questions or suggestions for tips? Please tweet ‘em over to @TFANetAnd don’t forget to sign up for our daily relationships text messages here.

By |September 5th, 2012|Teaching Tips|0 Comments|

TFANet Tip: The Yodas of teaching are here to help you. Find them, you must.

The first time I saw Star Wars was actually in class, believe it or not.

My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Avery, screened the film during a rainy day in December on the last day of school before winter break. And yes, it blew my 10-year-old mind.

I remember having so many questions about the story and characters: “What lives inside the trash compactor on the Death Star? What’s under Darth Vader’s mask? Do we ever get to see him take it off?” And when my dad told me that there are actually two more films in the Star Wars series which would answer all these questions, all I could think was:

No way.

Too good to be true.

We gotta watch them all right now!!!


May the teaching force be with you! (Photo credit: alexabboud)


Which brings me to my tip for this week. Speaking of Yodas, having lots of questions, and things that are too good to be true . . .

By |August 29th, 2012|Teaching Tips|0 Comments|

There’s No Place Like Your New TFANet Home Page

When I was a kid, the Wizard of Oz was on heavy rotation in the Zingg family VCR (my childhood pre-dates DVDs by a decade or two).

One of my favorite moments in this film is when Dorothy awakens from being tossed around in that mean twister to find herself transported from the black and white Kansas prairie to the vivid Technicolor world of Oz. Man, those retouched colors are bright!

If you are a 2012 corps member, you may find yourself feeling a lot like Dorothy these days. In case you haven’t noticed, the place you call home on TFANet looks a little different now that you’ve finished institute.

True, you won’t see any munchkins or flying monkeys on your new homepage. But you do have quick access to helpful sites like Reading A-Z and tools for finding resources and advice that you can use in your classroom tomorrow.

Best of all, you don’t need a lion, scarecrow and tin man to guide you. Just follow the yellow brick road to the TFANet Lounge for a quick one-minute tour.

Got burning TFANet questions or suggestions for tips? Please tweet ‘em over to @TFANet.

By |August 22nd, 2012|Teaching Tips|0 Comments|

Meet The Top Five 2012 TFANet Search Masters

Earlier this year I was mulling over a question: I wanted to help 2012 corps members learn how to get the most out of TFANet before Institute, but I didn’t know how. Doing another PowerPoint training just seemed so. . .BORING.

So after talking to a few people I cooked up this wacky idea—a TFANet scavenger hunt! I figured it would be a fun way to get incoming corps members to explore TFANet and compete to win a prize.

The mission: To create your own institute survival toolkit by “bookmarking” helpful resources on TFANet such as Dear Molly’s advice blog on classroom management and videos about a day in the life of a CM.

Over 300 new corps members participated. Five lucky winners were drawn at random and received a sweet prize: their very own lovingly crafted institute care package filled with fun teaching supplies, institute survival gear and sugary goodies.

Who are these lucky peeps? Let’s get to know them!

By |August 8th, 2012|Teaching Tips|1 Comment|

TFANet Tip: Are You There Corps? It’s Me, Laura.

Does navigating TFANet make you feel like a character from a Judy Blume novel? Ever find yourself searching for answers that you’re not sure where to find?

Well, I’m hardly God, but I’m here to help!

Hi everybody, my name is Laura. My job is to train people so they have an easier time using TFANet to achieve great things in the classroom.

Before joining Teach For America staff, I was a librarian for a few years.  (Yep, I’m a nerd to the core.) But librarians also play a big role as educators. This was one of the things I loved most about my experience, and what ultimately brought me to TFA.

I worked with college students, scientists, librarians (some dressed as snuggly mascots), and even people transitioning out of homelessness to help them become more technologically literate. Looking back on how much time I would spend putting together just an hour-long presentation, I feel incredibly humbled when I think about the work you all do every day. 


I often ask myself if I have what it takes to be a corps member. I don’t know. But I DO know that I can help you make the best use of TFANet.

We all know that the biggest challenge with TFANet is that it’s jam-packed with A LOT of stuff.  Here I’ll give you weekly tips and ideas that will make it easier for you to access, find, and keep the stuff that you need.

In that spirit, here’s your very first tip:

Logging into TFANet is a breeze when you use your Facebook account.  

Once you connect your accounts (in just 3 easy steps!), you can log into TFANet with Facebook at any time.  See—easy breezy!


I’ve got plenty more goodies where that came from, but I also have lots to learn about what your day-to-day life is like in the classroom.  So leave a comment/question if you’ve got good stuff you’ve discovered, and tell me how you’re using it.

Until next time, happy searching!

Follow this column for more TFANet tips and join me and 600 other corps members in the TFANet Lounge for insider info, contests and games. 

By |July 4th, 2012|Teaching Tips|0 Comments|