School Spirit Banter

I am SO impressed by the creativity of two local area high schools and their students’ videos. As quoted in this Get Schooled post, these ARE examples of what the best “spirit cheers” look like today. You can check out the original video in this “battle” here and the response here.

For me, these videos show just how multiliterate our students are and all of the neat ways in which they are reading, writing, and engaging with the world around them. These videos use rhetorical strategies, rhymes, video angles, music — and this list only continues — all to help show their school spirit. And, I love the fact that they pull in lots of different members from their respective student bodies to be a part of the banter.

No matter which school wins the game, the main point is that these two videos have just under 400,000 hits (combined) in two weeks. Where these students’ voices heard? [I think so!]

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Poem in Your Pocket Day

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day which ties into National Poetry Month.  And luckily, our first annual Writers’ Week coincides with all of this! Our version of Poem in Your Pocket Day (which lots of people are talking about) consisted of writing on our class blog and either 1) sharing a poem with everyone or 2) creating a poem to share with everyone.

The two poems I picked to share were by Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni. I picked “Dreams” because it’s a piece that has always stood out to me since the first time I heard it…we all have to have a purpose or continue to reach for a new dream.  I told my students that I always try to make myself better/learn something new in some small way each and every day (because I personally believe that if I don’t, there’s no real purpose to what I do).

During my time at Virginia Tech, I was fortunate to have Giovanni as one of my professors. I chose her poem on the events of April 16th because that is a day that has forever changed me. And even though it’s been almost 4 years since those terrible events happened, I still feel like it happened yesterday…I can still feel the bitter cold of the wind of that day as I crossed the Drillfield…I can still see the reporters shoving their cameras in our faces…I can still remember being trapped on campus…I can still hear the sirens…That day still gives me chills and makes me cry.

Though I know this day will forever bring up emotions words could never describe, Giovanni’s words remind me of how powerful writing is and reinforces how truly proud I am to call myself a Hokie.

Because Writing Matters…

…to me and it should to you, too. Being home has been a reminder of the importance of writing as I’ve dug through old postcards, books, notes, essays, [the list continues]. Plus, all of the #blog4nwp posts really have me thinking about writing in general. [Not to mention the Cs conference this week!]

So, why writing? What’s the big deal, anyway? My students ask this question a lot, too. Especially seniors as we plow through about an essay a week for the 2nd part of the year and include journals in our daily activities. This question also makes me think back to when I taught in the ECP at Virginia Tech and how many smart students questioned why they needed to be able to write well when they were going to be “engineers” not “authors.”

Writing is a way to allow one’s voice to shine through. To allow one to reflect. To allow one to grow. To allow one to connect. [Get the message yet?] It’s not about English class or being an author or writing essays. Writing is SO much more!

Why do people not like writing? Maybe people don’t like writing because it is hard. [Hey, it is!] Maybe people don’t like writing because they’re too focused on right vs. wrong. Maybe people don’t like writing because it’s personal. Maybe people don’t like writing because it’s a skill that has to be practiced. Maybe people don’t like writing because they do not realize all of the intricate ways it brings us together…no matter who we are or where we are from…writing always brings us together in one way or another.

Why should we support writing? Well, to me, the question is why shouldn’t we? We need to show people why writing matters. And programs like NWP support the foundation of one of the skills that we all need no matter what field we go into or where our future takes us. Writing matters, and I just hope Washington realizes how much it matters before they cut a program that works and supports so many Americans on so many different levels (both now and for years to come).

[And on a personal note, a colleague shared information about the various NWP summer institutes that I thought would be AMAZING to experience. I’d really like that chance one day, Washington. Please hear our voices.]

Changes in Reading Habits

As if they read my mind…reports are now out that the iPad might just be changing many people’s reading habits. There is SO much potential here! I really am excited about the possibilities of its integration into the classroom and people who are finding success with it.

And speaking of changes in reading (and writing) habits, some of my kids are “tumbling” on-the-go through apps that allow them to access their Tumblr blog on their mobile phones. I think that’s so neat! Also, was asked if we could “tweet” somehow for class. A lot to think about as far as extending the classroom walls in many ways.

Remote School Days

Well, I’m sure most of you have followed along with the news reports to hear about the Atlanta area being on a stand still due to all of the ice and snow that hit our area this past week. It has been unbelievable! [And to think I moved south to get away from all of that “stuff!”] Many local streets are still covered in thick sheets of ice a week later, but we are all hoping for some relief this weekend as temperatures will hopefully raise enough to melt it all away.

Anyway, my school (along with most of the local schools) was closed the entire week. However, we implemented our remote school plan which allowed us to have school for the past three days. Three days that will count for school days and not require anything to be made up. Three days of instruction that could continue outside of the classroom. Three days of creative thinking to truly infuse the content through the technology integration to keep our kids learning.

Overall, I was really excited to see the kids jump right on board with everything. They were so enthusiastic about their work! And in fact, one of my students was quoted in one of the local news resources stating,

“At first I thought it was a crazy idea, trying to control students’ via computers and the Internet. But now, as I sit here and do my homework willingly, I realize that there is a characteristic that pushed me to do this. One that I, and plenty of other Lakeview students obtain, that is respect for our teachers and respect for our education.”

I think the last line really sums it up about the kids’ work ethic during this entire remote school experience. And, for us teachers, it allows us to not miss a beat and continue our instruction…just in different forms. So, what did my kids do? We blogged. We created visual analyses. We read articles. We wrote and recorded. We submitted assignments via Moodle. We took quizzes via Google Forms. We researched. We prepared for our units by watching videos (uploaded via Dropbox). The list continues…and needless to say this first experience of remote school has brought about many new ideas I am eager to try out in the future. (Or with integration into a blended classroom…which is something I am VERY interested in.)

So, here are a few things I’m interested to look into for down the road:

As you can see, just a few random ideas that have been bouncing around! Also, I would love to hear from anyone with experience with teaching in a blended classroom or with reverse instruction!

Why we do what we do…

Sometimes we have to, while other times we love to…Sometimes we dread it, but in the end, we are thankful we did it…Sometimes we want to…Sometimes we need to.

I’m back from chaperoning the trip (trying to catch my breath and relish the last few days of summer I have left). It was an awesome time, the kids were great, we (yes, we) all learned TONS, and I had the opportunity to talk some cross-disciplinary curriculum ideas with one of the science teachers at my school. (AND even got him hooked on google apps and signed up on twitter!)

During one of our many discussions, he asked me why in the world I blogged anyway. [note: now the title of the post makes sense, eh???] Here are just a few of the things I put out there about why I do what I do: thinking, love writing, connecting, exploring, new ideas, questioning, good things, bad things…the list goes on and on. And the bottom line is that I blog because it has become one of the best ways for me to reflect on my practice and thoughts on teaching English.

Reflection is key…to me at least.

[why do you do what you do?]