It’s been forever!

Embarrassed. Disappointed. Yet, I realize I have to give myself a break and acknowledge that life happens. I never stopped writing, just stopped writing here. To be honest, I’m not sure why. I know in the past, I struggled with finding this space what I once found it to be, but  I have always believed in the power of writing and reflecting. After all, reflection was my whole purpose! Through reflection is how I learn more about myself and who I am as a teacher.

Yet, what a semester. I started off focused and ready to go. It was going to be a great Fall. And it was, but a Fall full of tough times that ultimately made me realize while we may have an impact on the kids we teach, it’s their impact that is also everlasting.

Growing up,  Continue reading

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”)?

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!

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!

Hidden Knowledge

I recently visited my grandparents and uncovered a notebook in which my Grandpa wrote “Notes to My Grandchildren.” For those of you who do not know, my Grandpa has TONS of books that he has written in all over his house, however, luckily enough I found this particular one whose sayings really stood out to me. I really value all that my Grandpa has to say — he’s a decorated athlete (winning the 1st ever ACC cross-country championship at N.C. State), a former Army man, a renowned former regional park executive director (traveling all over to speak), and a very, very smart man who is always sharing stories and wisdom with anyone who will listen 🙂

So, I decided to “publish” his notes Continue reading

Book Talk: The Girl Who Played with Fire

See, the problem with me and series is that I can’t just end and pick up at some point down the road. I always think I’m going to do this, you know, graciously move from book to book, but it never turns out that way. Instead I find myself reading and reading and reading until my eyes just can’t read anymore and the clock is showing some very late time in the early morning, ha! (Anyone else like that?)

So now you could probably guess that Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire is done and it’s on to the final book for me. Anyway, Larsson’s 2nd book of the trilogy grasped it’s reader once again with the intertwined lives of many characters, the hidden secrets that everyone has, and murders that have to be accounted for.

Building upon the plot of the previous book, his style is the same throughout. Strong sexual and violent language and images are used, and yet something hit me while I read this book surrounding some of the scenes where they were used the most: I had a student do a research project on the “sex trade” abroad, tying it back to pop culture references such as Taken and the fact that many of the girls who were being abused were girls their own ages. I guess the point I’m getting at is that though it has very mature content (and some content that truly makes me squirm) in it, some of my students would read this. (Which actually brings up another question I’ve been debating that I’ll get out in a post soon regarding “appropriate texts” for kids.)

Anyway, book 3 is in the works and I’m sure I’ll have a review for it very soon!