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!]

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”)?

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!

Digital Essays

I’ve been intrigued with the idea of a “digital essay” ever since Jim Burke posted an example of one awhile ago. When I asked him what his assignment sheet included, Burke said that he didn’t really have a “formal” one and just told the kids to create. I think the biggest reason I’m drawn to the idea of a “digital” essay and what that “format” might encompass (beside my love for rhetoric and comp!) is the fact that I see this format as one that would be more real-world applicable in many ways versus a traditional essay for English class.

When I tried it out with my students Continue reading

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!

Thoughts on AP Lit Workshop

During the AP Lit workshop I attended a bit ago, I truly learned about a lot of different techniques and resources that will be VERY helpful for me not only with my new prep (AP Lit, of course!), but also with my other classes as well. I have to admit that I have been a bit nervous about the transition from AP Lang to AP Lit…however, I was reminded that though there are differences between the two classes, reading is reading and writing is writing. And it’s true. Helping kids become more critical thinkers, readers, and writers is key in all of my classes no matter what the title of it is.

One thing I really liked a lot Continue reading

What the 2012 Campaign Means to Me

Today I saw a tweet from our President, @BarackObama, discussing what the 2012 campaign means to Americans around the country. With everything going on around the world, I am constantly reminded just how fortunate we are to live in a country where each individual can share his/her opinions/ideas on what he/she feels the campaign (rather the future of America) truly means. For this reason, I wanted to share a few of my own thoughts on what the 2012 campaign means to me.

Times are hard…for everyone. And yes, changes need to be and have been made. However, one of the most important areas our country does NOT need to cut corners with is EDUCATION. Education is the key to success and empowers people. That’s why when I hear about programs that work (and no, I’m not talking about ones that “supposedly” work surrounding more standardized testing that ultimately influence teachers’ pay scales) and the fact that they are being cut, I feel very concerned about the future of our country.

Our future is dependent on the generations to come. The generations to come are being taught by teachers every day all over this great country to prepare them for jobs that are not necessarily even present today. So why would we cut programs that help our educators? Educators that touch the lives of tons of kids a year? Why would we cut funds that directly impact our future?

Teaching is a profession many of us choose because we wanted to make a difference. Please help us do that by supporting, by valuing, how we grow professionally and how we help teach kids. Please help us continue to engage, challenge, inspire, and motivate the next generation of critical thinkers, consumers, and producers that will be running our country years from now.

So, in my opinion, the 2012 campaign is about protecting our future…and valuing what truly matters — EDUCATION. Focus on what WORKS! And support programs like the National Writing Project that make a difference in the lives of Americans all over.