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4 Ways of Looking at a Mentor Text: Incidental Comics

The school year is winding down—and I find myself thinking more and more of warm poolside days—yet everywhere I turn, rich mentor texts seem to come my way. I’ll find something and think, “Oh, that would have been perfect to use with ____” or “That would have worked great with ____!” Although it may be too late to use these ideas this year, I click my bookmark button and tuck them away for next year.

One mentor text I can’t wait to use is Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics. Although I’m usually suspicious of most social media “suggestions,” I have to thank Facebook’s algorithm for introducing me to Snider’s work. I’m surprised that I hadn’t come across Grant Snider’s work before. As someone who loves the way words and pictures can work together, whether it’s through infographics or graphic novels, the moment I started browsing Snider’s work, I fell in love. And once my teacher-brain took over, I couldn’t stop imagining the possibilities for reading and writing for next year.

This post was originally published on Moving Writers. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING.

Fearless Reading (and Analysis)

Ever since the NCTE Convention in November, I’ve been thinking a lot about the theme of advocacy. How can we advocate for our students—and the teaching practices that we know will best serve them? How can we help students advocate for themselves—on their own behalf and perhaps more importantly, on behalf of others? How can we help students advocate for issues that can help make their world and our society a better place?

As educators, we know the power of empathy. Just yesterday, as we finished up our unit on Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, my students and I discussed how important that novel is to our understanding of others around us who may be feel vulnerable or disempowered. Literature has the unique power to allow us to walk around in another character’s point-of-view, to broaden and deepen our own experiences so that we can become, ultimately, more understanding fellow human beings.

But lately I’ve been thinking that literature, by itself, may not be enough. If we read books, no matter how rich and wonderful and engaging they are, but we fail to expose students to study today’s relevant social issues, we miss an opportunity to help students to read the world. And in this era of #fakenews, reading the world may be more important than ever.

This post was originally published on Write. Share. Connect. at the PA Writing & Literature Project Blog. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING.

Argument in the Wild: Reading & Writing from Media-Rich Texts

The idea that “everything’s an argument” seems almost too obvious these days. After all, talk to almost any adolescent today and it’s clear how aware they are of the ways in which they are constantly being persuaded, whether it’s an editorial from the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, the latest newscast from CNN or The Daily Show, or the pop-up mobile ad for an item students were browsing earlier.

That said, we all know that as tech and media-savvy our Generation Z students seem to be, students may still lack the close reading, analytical skills necessary to understand not just that they are being persuaded, but how that persuasion is happening. And because “everything’s an argument,” the sheer volume of messages can be overwhelming.

This post was originally published on Moving Writers. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING.

Slice of Life 30: Almost there

This is my thirtieth consecutive day blogging. I am exhausted. It’s my third year finishing the Slice of Life challenge, but this year feels different. I wonder if it’s because spring break is so much later this year; even without the work (and joy) of daily blogging, I’m pretty sure I’d still be this spent. But tomorrow is the last day (I think I can, I think I can). Almost there…

A colleague today said to me, “You must be exhausted.” She was referring to the work I’m doing in a new course I’m teaching this year, but really, she could have been talking about any part of my life. I am exhausted. But it’s all my own fault, really. When I think about all the things going on in my life, I chose every single one of them. It’s hard to complain when you’re in a hell of your own making (okay, hell is too strong a word, but somehow the expression fits). Read More

Slice of Life 27: Just two things

A short post tonight, as I’ve still got piles to do. Two quick things from this evening:

Things always take longer than you think they’re going to, even with all the technology in the world. For a long time, I resisted doing electronic birthday invitations because I didn’t like how impersonal they felt. But life happened and after getting one evite after another from fellow stressed parents, I succumbed.  Read More

Slice of Life 26: What do my students need most right now?

If you’re like me, then you know that the internet is both blessing and curse—especially for connected educators. On one hand, there’s so much access to innovative ideas and thought-provoking conversation with fellow educators around the world that it would be hard to justify not being connected, especially considering how many of those ideas could potentially benefit our students.

But on the other hand, it’s also all so much, and like anything, too much can become easily overwhelming, especially when you don’t know how to manage it all and you find yourself with too many ideas: you want try them all.

And there’s the slight panic that starts to settle in— Read More

Slice of Life 25: A tale as old as…

We go to the movies a lot as a family. Usually, that means a lot of superhero movies. Captain America, Iron Man, the Avengers, Superman—you name it, we’ve seen them all.

As a society, I think we often concern ourselves with the messages that our young girls get, especially from the media about issues related to sexism and body image. But as a mom of boys, I wonder about what messages my sons are getting—messages about women, yes, but also messages about men and manhood. Read More