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!]


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?

I SO can relate to that

Random question for everyone out there…

Have you ever read a book and had one particular character, quote, setting, etc. stick out to you? If so, what was it?

I can think of several times in which my students struggled with a text because they didn’t like it/the language was challenging/etc. until suddenly everything made sense with one quote that changed their entire perspective. These little gems are things I have tried to capitalize on when teaching various novels to help kids make connections by reading through a specific lens. [And, lets’ be honest here…there are TONS of lines/characters/places in TONS of books out there that anyone can relate to at one point or another!]

Though I can think of a lot of really moving pieces, my quote of the moment comes from Ian McEwan‘s novel Atonement.

“It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.” (p. 38)

I’m not sure why I find it so powerful, but it is for me. I think the idea of people being confused and misunderstood relates to a lot of issues we see in the world today, but that’s another story within itself 🙂 Anyway, please share your quotes! I’d love to see what you all think!

You call THAT reading?

I keep thinking about two specific comments from my AP Lit workshop that I am struggling with in regards to adolescent reading and writing practices today. When I first started researching new literacies and the ways in which students (and really all of us) are becoming increasingly multiliterate, I truly believed that “Literacy as we know it is not in a crisis, but instead evolving as we know it.” This belief still holds true today as I think the majority of kids are reading and writing, a lot, just not in ways that the traditional classroom has always valued.

With my belief in place, I think many of you will see why the two comments below got my attention… Continue reading

Book Talk: The Tiger’s Wife

Another amazing book I’ve read recently is The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht. First, I’m amazed at how young she is! WOW! What an incredible, fresh writer! Next, the Balkan folklores immediately pull you in on a wild chase as Natalia, the main character, explores the mystery of her grandfather’s death.

I really appreciated the fact that there were so many unique superstitions woven together in this novel because it mimics all of the family stories you know you have heard once or twice (or hundreds of times) at gatherings. In addition, I think it is important to respect the past while still looking ahead at what’s to come. Thus, Natalia balances that line and continues along her journey.

The vivid description apparent within the novel made me feel as if I was trekking along the back woods and watching the “diggers” myself. Even though this story originated from continents and time periods away, there’s something here that just draws you in…something that we all can connect to no matter who we are or where we are from…that “thing” is the power of story telling and how those stories are passed down and shape each and every one of us.

I would highly recommend this book and can already think of several students who would jump on this for an IR read! Definitely check it out; it’s a must-read!

How much is enough?

One of my personal struggles is trying to fit in more reading time into my schedule. In addition, I’m always wondering if I have read enough — classics, YA Lit, non-fiction, fiction. I would say that I’m pretty well-read (though I think you can ALWAYS find something to read!); however, a lot of what I have read, particularly with the classics, was years ago. So, my question for others is how do you keep up with all you have read?

I find that I will “think” I haven’t read something, and then get part way into the novel and realize I have, in fact, read it. I also acknowledge that there is a difference between reading a novel for pleasure and reading a novel to teach it (at least in my opinion).

Nevertheless, you can never read too much (#bookaday, anyone?) 🙂 And I’m always looking for more titles to add to my collection! (note: I can’t WAIT to read this!)

ps I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m using Goodreads and Book Crawler to help catalog some of the works I have read and hope to utilize them more in the future!

pps I’m also thinking more and more about establishing a legit class library. Would love to hear how others have set that up, what they have included, etc.

Book Talk: Unbroken

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is one of the BEST books I have read in a long time. This novel had me hooked from beginning to end, and I’m so glad that I grabbed in while I was in the bookstore (especially considering during the bookstore visit, which involved an attendant who did not believe I was a teacher even with photo ID, and would not help me find what I was looking for, and then I was mocked by the manager, and … I’ll stop there because the bookstore alone is a story within itself!).

This powerfully moving narrative highlights the life of WWII AF lieutenant Louie Zamperini, whose colorful younger days ranged from neighborhood trouble maker to one of the best runners in the world. It not only serves as a historical novel of a very significant point in our world’s history, but it also weaves in the lives of so many who were involved and directly impacted with the war that you would not necessarily read about (or at least as in-depth) within a history text in school.

I think this would be a great novel for any English/History class, and a novel that could lead to an independent research activity in which students find the story of one of the servicemen (or women on the home front) and bring it to life. Further, I have always said that I am not a “history” person, and yet Hillenbrand made me a history person with her vibrant writing. Thus, this novel has the potential to pull in more reluctant students in an engaging way that would tie in what they are learning about in their history class.

I don’t want to give too much away regarding this book, and it would be easy to do so because its story will stay with me for a long time. Anyway, I truly feel that if you only read one book this summer, make Unbroken that book!