series: the good stuff

Things I think about in the middle of the night: What was that noise outside? What are the best ten to twenty best, time-tested lessons for middle and high school students? The noise was nothing. Probably just a small monster or trashcan panda. The best lessons, now that’s something else. The first post in this series is something new: Bob Probst of Beers/Probst renown gave us teachers this gift: Dialogue booklet by bob probst from kylenebeers It’s a dialogue booklet that helps students move through a text with purpose. I haven’t vetted it yet, but it holds much promise.  

'tis the season: December Ideas

Two Writing Teachers posted: Narrative Writing Makes a Beautiful Gift Writing is a gift–and perhaps if students of writing see themselves, their words, as gifts to themselves and others we can reshape how they feel about writing (which isn’t always positive). My favorite December idea: Drabble-A-Day Creative constraints provide necessary restrictions for all of us who wish to create productively. It may seem counter-intuitive, but creative constraints produce better focus and creativity, not less. Drabble A Day Writer Portfolio Document: (click for Google Doc) Using Signposts: Going to freshen this up today, too:  

How to survive a bear attack.

Your neck tingles. You feel the hot breath, tinted with salmon bones and gooseberries, mingle in your cheaply-shampooed hair; feeling unprotected, vulnerable, and instinctually aware, you know someone just played the research card, and it feels like a bear attack–wild, demobilizing and terrifying. How do you survive? Remember that word ‘collaboration’ we’re so fond of? Well, this is where it’s put to the test. When our personalities and teaching styles clash with others, and deductive reasoning paints us in a pedagogical corner, we’re left with few other options than to go to the research well and find other credible experts…

Something wicked +1

Is it just me or does one become a veteran teacher far too soon in one’s journey? Meaning, how did I get so old?! Well, as scary as that is, it’s better than the alternative, right Poe? Allow me to present the context: through December I have a student teacher, and boy oh boy am I happy to know her. She’s going to be a fantastic teacher, wants to do well and jump right in. This has been an especially chaotic start to the new school year for me: our administration takes great care and time to balance the master…

Room in your head.

  We can’t see the stars any longer because of light pollution. But as the lady says, “The night is dark and full of terrors,” so we humans master the monsters and use all the power we can to dispel the darkness. But we don’t see things as we once did, or learn from the larger spaces and infinite wonderful universe. And perhaps — this is just an idea — we have overlooked the other toxic detriment to learning: noise pollution. Studies come out all the time based on things we know. But the knowledge needs to be re-studied, analyzed, and…

8 Days a Week

Let’s pretend we live in a world where no students are ever tardy, there are no altered schedules (no joke: last year there were no fewer* than eight to ten different schedules depending on whether or not it was a morning assembly, afternoon, late start, etc.) The class period is 50 minutes long, after a four-minute passing period, where all students have hydrated, taken care of bathroom necessities, and enter the classroom, crossing the threshold to a new adventure. That’s the dream. The reality is students, and teachers, are…humans. The school day feels less like a nurtured, creative maze and…

Chivalry isn't dead.

Here is my attempt to help students using the Notice and Note strategies for one of my favorite short stories, ‘Chivalry‘ by Neil Gaiman.   Or: Wait, you know what? I think you might enjoy doing this yourself. I don’t want to spoil the story for you. I believe there is an example of every signpost in this story. Read it out loud to your students in your best English accent (if you don’t have one already). Enjoy. This book of short stories is well worth it: //


Books/Text Recommendations A Curated, But Never Complete, List The focus is primarily 6th grade +: if you have recommendations for elementary school age children, please comment! Make a list. Focus. Read the text/novels/stories first. Make notes. Next discussion: genres. Rinse. Repeat. Nine Websites for Readers Some Favorite Book Club Books for Middle School Common Lit Actively Learn NewsELA Mackinvia Artifact App TeenReads Smithsonian Magazine This American Life Storycorp The Moth RadioDiaries Radiolab Snap Judgment   And bonus points superstar awesome-sauce!