Read a Banned Book. Now.

Actually, many of us already have. However, let’s continue the tradition of FREADOM and celebrate our right, our students right, and everyone’s right to READ!

I always try to talk with my students about BBW and tell them about what it is, why it matters, etc. How will you celebrate Banned Books Week?


Positive Footprints

As you all know, I feel very strongly about helping kids understand how to create and why to create positive digital footprints. I’ve thought about this topic a lot, and yet it’s something that is still weighing heavily on my mind. [Maybe it’s because the means in which we work digitally is constantly changing???]

Anyway, I’m seeing more and more kids not understanding what their digital footprint is all about and how it can/will affect them now and down the road. I know that I stress it a lot when I work with my students and try to emphasize it’s not about culling their creativity, but a way to push them to think critically and post information that is appropriate (and in a way that still gets their point across). So, I’m curious…how are others helping their students develop positive digital footprints? How can we keep kids motivated to produce and stress to them they can still “own” that digital space (without them not being “googled well”)?

Censorship Stinks

It’s funny that I was just talking about Banned Books Week today, and then I happened to see a post from one of my former students regarding censorship. The energy I felt from this student’s writing reminded me just how important it is to value every thing (and every one for that matter).

This post reminded me that the lack of open-mindedness plays a huge role with things that get censored. When people don’t “get” things, things get censored. I also thought about how fear plays a huge role, too. When people fear things, they push them away. Out of sight…out of mind. However, some of those things that we fear might just be the light that another needs.

Though I am sad to know the confusion/anger/pain associated with this post, I am also breathing a breath of fresh air. The fact that there are kids out there who want to make a difference, who want to stand up for what is right, and who have open-minds to appreciate the diversity that surrounds us today is a beautiful thing.

Thus, in honor of the upcoming BBW (and the post I read tonight), I wanted to share with you all (again) beautiful words from the talented Ellen Hopkins. Her “Manifesto” is hanging in my office, and I hope it moves others as much as it moves me. Enjoy!

Little things that make you smile

After a long day at school (it’s our benchmark testing week) and an even longer few hours at the gym (I’m just now realizing how incredibly out of shape I am…and I have a half marathon the first weekend of October, ha!), I came home to this note from a former student:

I just wanted to say thanks to you for helping me with my writing. I wasn’t aware of how much your class has helped me until I had to peer-edit essays for other students in my English class. The essays for these other students are horrible. They have problems ranging from multiple sentence fragments to not even having a thesis. I am super thankful for the education that you have given me to make me a better writer.

[Made my day.]

Teacher Brain

…is in full effect. I think most of us have this at some time or another, right? [Or I could really be suffering from insomnia!] Anyway, I’m the good kind of exhausted [you all know what I’m talking about because you know how it feels when you give your all and see the results as discussions blossom, minds think outside of the box, kids ask to borrow books (randomly)…the list continues…it’s the little things], but I cannot sleep. So, instead of lying restlessly awake trying to fall asleep without success, I decide to write about some of the random things running through my teacher brain.

  1. I’m about 5 weeks into the school year. New room. Room that needs some “life.” I always worry about decorating and fixing it up the “right” way. Maybe I’m just not a very good decorator. Nevertheless, I think a trip to Jo-Ann’s might be in the works because I have some ideas (and did I mention that they give teacher discounts?).
  2. iPads. are. AMAZING. Seriously, I’m loving having them in class. Now to actually start applying all of those great ideas I have suggested to others on how-to use them in their own rooms!
  3. Speaking of #2, since I have access, I need to get kids blogging. More writing = more practice = stronger skills = sharing ideas = growing together.
  4. I’ve challenged my students to read at least 5 minutes at home. Several laughed. “I don’t read” and “I don’t like to read” filled the room. I told them they just hadn’t found the right book yet and still challenged them to find a book [or talk to me and I’d find one for them]. And guess what? Several came up to me the next day either a) asking for book suggestions, b) with their own books, c) with several books. [Again, it’s the little things.]
  5. Hearing about my past students and their success makes me so happy. Not to mention how honored/humbled I am when they tell me I helped them…that I made a difference. That’s pretty cool.
  6. Ancient Greece, Ancient Greece! We are wrapping up Oedipus Rex. I’m not going to lie, Antigone is my favorite, but overall I think the kids liked it because it was SO different from anything they had ever really read before or even thought about for that matter. [“You mean he marries his mom? He stabs his eyes out? Yo, that is sick!”] I’m really proud of them for a) stepping outside of their comfort zones and reading in “dramatic” fashion, b) working SO hard, c) keeping open minds…the list continues. I’ve got a great group of kids in both 10th World [and 12th AP Lit]…it’s going to be awesome to watch them grow as readers, writers, and thinkers this year!
  7. I need to read and write more. A lot more.

4:30 comes very early, so I guess I better MAKE myself sleep or attempt to sleep. Tomorrow is a half day, and we are having a PD meeting [higher order thinking and high impact practices] and team collaborative meetings. I love that a) we are valued and b) we believe in collaboration. Anyway, off to sleep [well, hopefully, ha!]. Happy end of the week, everyone!

4 weeks down!

That’s right! I’m heading into the 5th week of teaching and things are going great! I know I sort of broke my own promise to myself with writing more, but up to this point, I had to get settled in both my new place and my new school. Now that I’m finally on solid ground, expect several catch-up posts on my thoughts, new ideas, and overall excitement about another year of teaching!

Hope everyone’s back-to-school’s have been great as well!

The Power of Positivity

I finally am back up and running after moving into my new place AND moving into my new school/classroom. To be honest, I’m exhausted, ha! However, I am so incredibly excited that I cannot even begin to explain exactly how I’m feeling. Nevertheless, I’ll give it a try 🙂

My new school is one of the most positive, energizing environments I have ever seen. The support I have already received is like none other, and everyone is truly on the same page. (Did I mention that there is TONS of cross-curricular writing taking place? I love that reading and writing skills are focused on so heavily in every discipline!)

Positivity is so incredibly important in all we do as educators. It’s contagious. So, as we all begin school next week (or in the next few weeks for many of you all up north, ha!), just remember the power of positivity!

ps I wanted to share the funny video clip below with you all…it’s one we viewed in our orientation on differentiated learning. Enjoy!