Favorite Lessons: Box of Destiny

A wonderful question appeared on one of my ELA social media groups the other day, “What was your favorite lesson/unit you created?” and immediately I thought of the (say this in a trumpeting voice): BOX OF DESTINY! I created this prior to hearing the term ‘role play’ — not being a Dungeons and Dragons person and prior to my time in Azeroth, this idea came organically. While teaching humanities and Ancient Rome, I first create the Voices from the Grave unit, whereby students would draw a card giving them a role in Ancient Rome: it required hours of research on…

First they came for…

I credit my dear friend Sharon Clarke for reminding me of this lesson we learned at a PSWP Social Studies course  Here is the lesson in brief detail: Have students write about a recent event that they would remember. Take all the voices and then randomly throw some away: you can provide the educational theater by saying things like there was a flood, or war, or destruction of a library, or digital files, were lost… Read the few remaining ones and try to piece together a historical event. Are all voices and perspectives represented? Whose are missing? Why does this…

Heroic measures: teach critical thinking

My big question this morning: how do we teach, and learn, to think critically? Not the surface-level fluff–but the hard questions, the wrestling with the trifecta of intellectual stagnation: cognitive dissonance, justification, and rationalization? Do we need heroes/heroines? What would happen…if…we…didn’t? What if…we were good to each other, did no harm, and made our classrooms, lecture halls, and online spaces engaged and safe places to discuss questions and seek ideas and answers? Consider and read this thread: keep track and curate the narratives you teach: by every figure, do a character study. We need to face and review the decisions of…

The first rule of write club…

@mrskellylove Zinn’s take on the gentrification of Sesame Street? That would be priceless. — John Spencer (@spencerideas) May 28, 2016 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js   Must give credit to John Spencer once again for this idea. He tweeted: Now the thought of Chuck Palahniuk writing the back story for a cartoon intrigues me, and I began to think of multiple mash-ups of writers and stories. This morning I envisioned a complete Nathanial Hawthorne Scarlet Letter version of Rugrats, whereas every time Angelica attempts to bully the babies she must wear her insignia “A” embroidered on her chest, serving multiple purposes. The adults are the…

Slithering summer

Ah, those last few weeks in U.S. public schools before students and staff leave for summer break. When teachers all over the nation are worried about ‘summer slide’ and for their students, and perhaps themselves: thinking about what professional development may boost spirits and lighten the soul, or thinking about how much they’ve put off to those magical summer months of repair and rejuvenation. Personally, I’m finding it difficult to soldier on through the rest of the year, namely because of content: my fanaticism for history and big, bold, brash units feels like my gate valve to flow froze. Nah,…