• Classroom Life,  Instruction,  Process,  Six Words,  Students' Words,  Writing

    From Every Book…. Learning the Pleasures of Being Literate {Slice of Life}

    I wonder:    Who taught you the pleasures of reading and writing?  Did you discover them in high school? Earlier? Later? In my high school Intensive Reading/Critical Thinking class, it takes a while to get students to ‘buy into’ reading for pleasure.  It’s not uncommon to hear, “You want us to read???” followed by:  Do we get a grade?? My classes are a mix of AP and Honors students who don’t use strategies (because they ‘know how to read’) and are insulted that they’re in my class, thinking they most certainly do not need to be, and struggling and reluctant readers who haven’t read for pleasure in years and have limited knowledge and nearly no use of reading skills and strategies…

  • Classroom Life,  Instruction,  Life,  Process,  Training

    Of Aqua Net and Apologies…. {Slice of Life}

    Recently, while hurrying through our teacher workroom before sunrise, a fellow teacher stopped me. We worked together in Career & Technical Education a few years ago. She was a tech center instructor, while I served as an instructional coach, bringing pedagogy to CTE instructors. Now, we both teach at the local high school. “I owe you an apology,” she declared. I quickly sifted through my not-yet-awake brain, but couldn’t think of a single reason. “No, I can’t imagine you do,” I answered. “Oh, but I do,” she insisted. Now she had my attention. “Remember when you came out to XYZ  Tech (protecting the innocent) …  and tried to do training?” I smiled, remembering in clear detail, the training sessions at…

  • Classroom Life,  Great Reads,  Instruction,  Process,  Training

    Tell Us About Yourself: Sending an Introvert Into a Tailspin

    Freaked out at the thought of having to introduce yourself to strangers?   Several months ago I blogged about my BIG discovery {here}, after reading Susan Cain’s, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, last December.  What a great read!  In it, she discusses introverts in our society and society’s response to them.  She writes, “The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”       You can see her TED Talk here: If you’re an introvert, you know she’s singing the gospel… Now, if everyone would just get quiet and listen….!! Right? What was particularly enlightening to me ~ other than discovering I’m really an introvert camouflaged in an extrovert’s…

  • Classroom Life,  Instruction,  Life,  Students' Words,  Writing

    When Dads Walk Away…. {Slice of Life}

      What happens when dads walk away? As a ‘dad-less’ daughter, I know kids are left behind to wonder why. Why did he go? Why didn’t he want me? What did I do wrong? Why didn’t he want to be around? What could I have done differently to make him stay? Or, worse yet, kids left behind think mom pushed dad away, and surely, if mom had done things differently, then dad would’ve stayed. It’s her fault. As a teacher, I see the fall-out, too. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes blatant. Always painful. Last month, I asked my juniors and seniors to develop a written piece for National Day On Writing (#NDOW).  I provided three photos and asked students to choose one (or…

  • Classroom Life,  Six Words,  Students' Words,  Writing

    Dear Teacher… {Six-Word Wednesday}

    I recently shared six-word stories, one of my favorite writing forms, with my high school students, on a day we could actually breathe a little.  Any more, these days are few and far between.  No observers.  No guests.  No testing.  Just time to write. Creatively. Makes me miss (even more!) the days when Reading/Writing Workshop was the foundation of my then-middle and later-high school reading classes. After a brief intro to six-word stories that included my collection of nearly 1,000 six-word stories written by my HS students the past three years and showing the Smith Mag web site, my kiddos were ready to dive in.  I made it an optional writing…

  • Classroom Life,  Humor,  Process,  Students' Words,  Writing

    Creative Chaos?!?!

    I took this picture yesterday …. I’d love to tell you it was a few minutes of messiness, but that would be a BIG, FAT, l.i.e. Can you relate? Or, are you shrieking as you look at the cacophony that threatens to swallow my desk in its discord? One day last week, as 1st period was getting underway, one of my HS students suddenly proclaimed, “You must be really organized in your home office!”  Another student enthusiastically agreed, “Yea!!” I don’t remember what spurred this revelation, but it was clear in that moment that my students have met Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and don’t even know it.  🙂 They (my students, not Jekyll and Hyde) know I’m a blogger/writer, have a…

  • Classroom Life,  Instruction,  Lists,  Process

    Becoming Unnecessary

    A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. ~ Thomas Carruthers Become unnecessary?  Why would I do that? Because as teachers and as parents, it’s our responsibility to our students/children. My two cents?? Teach kids the definition of integrity: what you do when no one is looking,” … and get out of the way. Ever wonder why some teachers seem to just have it all together?  You walk into their room and things are humming along.  These folks might be your colleagues or they might be your own kids’/grandkids’ teachers.  What makes things different in these classrooms? If you’re a teacher with a classroom, a student in a classroom, or have visited a classroom,…

  • Classroom Life,  Lists,  Process,  Students' Words

    Why I Teach: Ten (Important) Reasons

    Students Students Students Students Students Students Students Students Students Students   Oftentimes, when I tell people I’m a high school teacher, I get this response (or a slight variation), “Oh, wow!  I could never do that! Teenagers these days….” Truth is, the teenagers have been the only reason I keep coming back to the K-12 classroom.  Let’s be clear ~ some are a royal pain in the buttola:  mouthy, lazy, disrespectful, not interested in anything an adult (especially a teacher) has to say, and well, just teenagers.  Increasingly, they have no boundaries and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement… products of our changing culture/society. If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, big brother/sister, fellow teacher, remember being a teenager, or have…

  • Classroom Life,  Instruction

    Early Childhood Ed: Tykes, Testing, and (Future) Teachers

    This post was first published in 2011.  At the time, I was a member of our district’s CTE Instructional Support team.  Since then, I returned to my own academic classroom, where I’ve spent the past three+ years.  Now, with a wish to return to CTE, I’m sharing an answer to the question I get from fellow academic teachers in my current high school:  What’s Career and Technical Education?  Isn’t that for at-risk kids?  My answer:  No way!  It’s definitely not your father’s shop class anymore.  🙂 -> -> -> ->   Remix debut:   November 2014   Rigor + Relevance + Relationships  What do you get when all three are in balance?…

  • Classroom Life,  Process

    Of Paper Clips and Hall Passes …..

    Oh pockets, thank you! In the predawn darkness, you hold the To Do’s and Don’t Forgets. You carry the promise of another bustling day. Hour by hour, your promise, revealed.   Classroom life…….  Not. For. The. Faint. Of. Heart.   Then, as the sun begins to slide …. you shelter new treasures. Remnants of the day….. But what’s to be found when I dig deep? Not coins. Not receipts. Neither gum nor money. No. I find… Paper clips. Binder clips. Rubber bands. Flash drives. Hall passes. Sticky notes. Notes from students. Notes to students. Notes about students. Of paper clips and hall passes… A teacher’s pockets save the day! In one of my favorite books, Show Your Work, Austin Kleon says, “Share something you’re working on, every day.” Well, here’s…

  • Instruction,  Six Words

    Six-Word Wed: Celebrate Librarians/Media Specialists!

    Always endless effort, media specialists ROCK! (6)   In the twenty years I’ve been teaching and training fellow teachers, I’ve often said our school’s Media Specialist is one of our most important resources.  He or she wears so many hats and now more than ever, has an expanded role that requires much more knowledge and ability to juggle. Thank you for keeping our classrooms, training sessions, testing, etc … running smoothly every day of the school year and throughout the summer!  I appreciate you greatly! I stumbled on to @cybrarian77, Ms. Julie Greller’s, blog [here] while researching National Library Week.  What a great example of today’s media specialists!  

  • Instruction,  Process,  Quotes

    Help Readers Read: Banish Boredom!

    Five years into my teaching career, I decided to move from English Language Arts to Reading, specifically. I began working on my Master’s in Reading Education, and while I learned a lot, my biggest A-ha! came not from the volumes of textbooks read or the 1,000s of words written. No, my biggest lesson came from my students. “Reading is boring!” they said. “What??”  There was no hiding my surprise … or confusion! “What do you mean, ‘Reading is boring?'”  I wanted to ask, “Have you lost your minds?” but I had been teaching long enough to know that was not an appropriate question –  at least not in that tone. Turns out, reading comes down to two…