I‘ve been in a serious writing slump over the last year or longer. I don’t know what it is. I joked with a friend that since I’ve been engaging and thinking more on Twitter that I’ve only been able to think in 240 characters at a time. It’s become a real problem.
But someone suggested seeing the micro-writing I’m doing on Twitter as small, rough drafts—pieces of thinking, some scrappier than others, that I might be able to reflect upon, cobble some thoughts together, and then explore a bit deeper. A few days ago, I posted a thread reflecting on the diversity of my own reading life, so I want to include those thoughts and expand a little on them here. Read More
Thank you so much to Dr. Aileen Hower who asked me to be a part of Millersville University’s Summer Literacy Institute this year! Loved working with such a great group of teachers on their last day on writing strategies to get to students dig deeper. Click HERE for the full slide deck. NOTE: Permission to use with written request and proper attribution.
In June 2018, the second cohort of Heinemann Fellows presented their action research Capstone presentations in Portsmouth, NH. No words will ever fully capture the way this experience has transformed my professional and personal life. I will forever be grateful to Vicki Boyd and Ellin Keene for bringing the eleven of us together to reflect and examine our most urgent work in our classrooms. While I am saddened at the end of this stage in the process, I am excited for the many opportunities for continued learning ahead.
Click HERE to view the slides from my Capstone Presentation.
In April 2018, I was honored to present on behalf of the PA Writing and Literature Project at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit Spring Dinner to a group of educators from the local area. Click HERE to see view the full slide deck. NOTE: Permission to use with written request and proper citation.
We have officially arrived at the point in the year where panic ensues. The fourth marking period is here and there is still. so. much. to. do. And with the additional pressures of AP and state testing season, to say I’m feeling overwhelmed would be an understatement.
The truth is that it’s when the going gets rough that I tend to slip back into a more teacher-directed instructional style. It makes sense, after all; as the sage-on-the-stage, I can control the pacing of the class and how much time we spend — or don’t spend — on any particular activity. Free-flowing conversations? Write to explore? Who has time for that when the clock is ticking?
But that’s when I take a deep breath and remember that any heavy lifting I’m doing at the end of the year is only heavy when I’m the one doing all the work. More than ever, it’s time like this that I need to engage students as active learners — to get them up, moving, talking, walking.
So here we are with only a few weeks to go, and in my AP Lang class, there are still so many wonderful essays and mentor texts that we have yet to read. Ideally, with more time, my students and I could spend 1-2+ days discussing each text. So my dilemma was this: how could I maximize the number of high quality mentor texts they could read but also give them the time needed to dive into a deep study about craft and style?
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING ON MOVINGWRITERS.ORG.
My dear friend and Heinemann Fellows colleague Dr. Kim Parker and I presented at the Spring 2018 Gathering for The Educator Collaborative. Our workshop focused on disrupting texts in the secondary ELA classroom.
Full video below. Read More
After the Parkland school shooting in February, we witnessed something tangible shift in our discourse about school safety and gun regulation.
Nationally, we saw and still see young people like the Parkland student survivors stand up and make their voices heard, including the CNN sponsored town hall with Florida politicians and a coordinated student-led walkout on March 14 in schools across the country. With the increased attention to issues related to gun control and gun rights, we’ve also seen some (though not enough) discourse around the history of activism among students of color regarding school safety and gun reform. And this weekend, millions are expected to gather for March for Our Lives events around the country to advocate for gun reform.
But something shifted, too, among my students. All politics is local, and the fears and challenges that have increased in the wake of the Parkland shooting has become personal for many of my students. In fact, shortly after the shooting, several of my own students asked me to sponsor a new club, Students Against Gun Violence. They hope to not just increase awareness through greater education on gun control issues, but to also advocate for change that will keep students safe in schools. They want change, and inspired by their fellow young people at Parkland and across the country, they don’t want to wait for the change to happen—they want to do something.
Yet in my actual classes, students didn’t bring up Parkland and many seemed content to go on with class, business as usual. But as a teacher, it seemed strange to continue with the lesson of the day with so much happening in the world affecting our students’ lives. Perhaps it was me: maybe students feel comfortable with me leading us through these messy conversations. I know the routine and ritual of school can also be comforting for kids. Or perhaps it was a lack of awareness or disinterest. But no, I knew that wasn’t true. You could hear their conversations in the hallways, on social media, and in the library. Students were already talking about these issues, which made me wonder: How? Who was leading them through these difficult conversations? If school is any kind of reflection of the outside world, I wondered, how many of their conversations included multiple perspectives? How critical was their media consumption? How were they processing the endless stream of noise? How were they distinguishing the shouting from the dialogue?
CONTINUE READING ON MOVINGWRITERS.ORG…
This is my fourth year doing the Slice of Life Challenge. Even though I’d been planning on participating again this year, I almost forgot about it until someone (thank you, Aeriale!) asked if I was slicing again this year. Is it March already?
To be honest, I thought about not participating. Even though I’m always telling myself I’m going to be better at managing my commitments, it’s really hard to do. Unfortunately, in the busyness of life, writing is usually one of the first things that ends up pushed off for another day and then the momentum is lost. I try to do the weekly Slice of Life throughout the year, but the last time I wrote for that was back in November, and before that, I think it might have been sometime last summer. It’s okay, I told myself. Just make it up in the March challenge. Well, it’s March, and here we are. Read More
Whenever my students and I come to the end of any novel study, I’ve always struggled with finding that perfect and elusive “closing” activity—the lesson that can somehow do justice to our novel study before we move on to the next text. While we often do some sort of writing that helps students synthesize their ideas, I don’t think that we always have to write the traditional literary analysis paper in order to engage students in higher level thinking.
In recent years, I’ve shifted my reading and writing practices to try to be as authentic as possible. Whenever I revisit my approach to a text, I ask myself: How authentic is the learning we’re doing? In what ways is the work we do in class work that’s done only in school or work that reflects the type of reading, writing, and thinking that’s out in the world, beyond our classrooms?
CONTINUE READING AT PAWLPBLOG.ORG
My 7-year-old currently claims that he has a hard time falling asleep. He’s not lying exactly. The other night, I sat next to his bed in the too-small-for-a-grown-up beanbag chair, waiting for him to nod off. He tossed, turned, tossed some more. Finally, I squeezed in next to him. He cuddled into the crook of my arm; within minutes, he was asleep—and so was I.
Last night, the same thing happened, except that I woke up at 1:36 a.m. and then couldn’t go back to sleep. Groggy, I trudged down the hallway in search of the comfort of my own bed, my familiar pillow. Yet as my husband snored peacefully, I tossed, turned, tossed some more. I remained awake for the rest of the night. Read More