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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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”)?

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

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

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.

Shakespeare and High Schoolers

…don’t always work well together. I’ve found that until you help kids make that connection with his language, themes, characterization, etc., many dread pulling out their books to read Shakespeare.

With this in mind, I’m always looking for new ideas to help liven up Shakespeare lessons. It is through these great teaching strategies and my passion for reading his work (and again, helping show kids the connections they can make with his work) that I have found teaching Shakespeare can be a LOT of fun for both me and the kids.

One resource that I have found VERY helpful is Mary Ellen Dakin’s book Reading Shakespeare with Young Adults. There are so many helpful topics in this book (ranging from understanding the language to reading strategies to acting out to hear [and see] the words) that my kids have really enjoyed participating in and that have truly helped bring Shakespeare’s work alive.

[note: a favorite activity is the “living pictures” (pg 158) assignment that I modified to fit in with our Othello reading. We record the groups “spins” and enjoy watching them together to add to our discussion (with some even taking it a step farther to create a video in which all of the spins are brought together to ultimately define the complexity of the characters, specifically Iago).

Also, as many of you probably already know, the Folger Shakespeare Library has TONS of resources, too!

If you’ve had success teaching Shakespeare to high schoolers (or if you are a high schooler who has found something that works for you or you have enjoyed doing!), feel free to share! 🙂

ISTE Young Educator Video

Here is the video I created for my entry to the ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award. I had so much fun creating it and it really got me thinking about how important it is to think critically about the technology we use in our classrooms. We have so many opportunities today to engage, challenge, and motivate our students through the use of technology — the possibilities are endless!