Happy (belated) Birthday, Maya Angelou!

Yesterday would have been Maya Angelou’s 88th birthday, and though she is not here to celebrate with us, she’s left a legacy of the written word that we can celebrate in her honor.

angelou

Today, I would just like to share some of Angelou’s poetry that we may not know as well as “Phenomenal Woman” and “Still I Rise” – and poems that would easily add to much of what we’re teaching:

A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou  (1995, for the UN’s 50th Anniversary)

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

There are many topics and “big ideas” we could connect this poem with – in order to work it into what we’re teaching about contemporary and current events or literature. We could connect it to war, the environment, the potential (and disappointment? and hope?) of people.  The repeated “When we come to it,” emphasizes our still-coming-into-itness.  What might our students have to say about this in light of other things they’re learning or reading?  Are we closer than humanity was in 1995 . . . or further away?

This poem may also work nicely paired with a poem from a previous post, Matthew Olzmann’s Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czeslaw Milosz, which is about the violence happening in America – in schools and elsewhere.  It begins:

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me. 

I wonder what these two poems would have to say and reveal about one another. It might be an interesting discussion or Socratic Seminar.


At the time of Angelou’s death, she had been working on a collaborative project with producers Shawn Rivera and RoccStarr, who focused on original beats and instrumentals as Angelou recited her poem, “Harlem Hopscotch”:

One foot down, then hop! It’s hot.
Good things for the ones that’s got.
Another jump, now to the left.
Everybody for hisself.

In the air, now both feet down.
Since you black, don’t stick around.
Food is gone, rent is due,
Curse and cry and then jump two.

All the peoples out of work,
Hold for three, now twist and jerk.
Cross the line, they count you out.
That’s what hopping’s all about.

Both feet flat, the game is done.
They think I lost, I think I won.

The video can be seen with this Huffington Post article, “The Music Video For ‘Harlem Hopscotch’ from Maya Angelou’s Posthumous Hip-Hop Album, is Here.”


 

And, finally, the poem most often used in tributes right after her death, “When Great Trees Fall,” published as the last poem in the 1990 collection of poetry, I Shall Not Be Moved. 

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.


 

And if you want to participate in “Take a Poet to Word Day,” here’s your chance with Maya: http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Take-Your-Poet-to-Work-Day-Printable-Maya-Angelou.jpg

Building Autonomy, Maximizing Class Time: Writing Workshop in Stations

I am in LOVE with this idea from Shelby Scoffield at Edutopia: Creating a Writer’s Workshop in a Secondary Classroom, published just yesterday.

In the article, she shares the station rotation model that she uses with her AP and Honors English students to elevate Writing Workshop to the secondary level.  She provides examples of stations (which you can see below) and descriptions of them.

edutopia-scoffield-writersworkshopsecondaryclassrm

In the comments section, she clarifies what she does as the teacher and facilitator of the Writing Workshop stations:

  • Beginning of class: spend a few minutes at each station:
    • explain the assignment
    • provide any important information they’ll need
    • answer any initial questions they have
  • During the rest of class: settle into the teacher-led table, where you’ll conduct a more in-depth lesson on a more difficult skill before those students apply that to their papers.
  • Once the in-depth lesson is complete (I would assume):
    • constantly make rounds and check in to eliminate the problem of students always needing your attention
    • Be sure to spend extra time at the tables where students are tackling specific skills.

At every station, students are learning and the applying what they learn to their writing. It still utilizes the basic elements of Writing Workshop with which we are familiar, just applies those in a different format.

Scoffield has not provided any specific information about rotation or how often they switch (these are also decisions we can make for our students and the management of our classrooms.).

Scoffield  has designed this for her AP & Honor students.  However, I think this is applicable and easily modifiable for all levels of students.  Some classes might just need more structure ahead of time and may need more practice in the model and feedback from their performance in Writing Workshop to gain the full benefits of it.  Still, I think it’s worth the effort because I think this Writing Workshop model could solve one of our biggest problems: classroom time.  And another: student autonomy.  Of course, we have to be smart and strategic about the station set-up so students are still getting what they need (and hopefully even more) from the process.

Here are my initial thoughts after reading the article:

Potential Benefits:

  • students can choose skills they need to work on, instead of a one-size-fits-all model of mini-lessons and mentor texts
  • students are in charge of their own learning and development in that they tell teachers what skills they need to work on or would like to work on
  • the onus is on the students – they choose the skill and then they have to do the work of learning at that station and then applying what they’ve learned
  • student choice will require self-awareness of their writing skills and awareness of what skills make writing great (and would work nicely with the portfolio process that the 12th grade teachers have implemented at TC)
  • 10-day Writing Workshop Units could be pared down to 4-5 days of stations
  • student-centered learning & differentiated instruction
  • better student products, less grading frustration

Possible Hiccups:

  • initial set-up, planning, and facilitation may be time-consuming, but if we work together and share materials for certain skills, that will be alleviated somewhat over time
  • classroom-management in more difficult classes (there is the possibility here to have me co-facilitate with you so that there is another person in the room to manage the process.)
  • physical space in the classroom – do we have enough? What other spaces could we use for an activity like this?

Shelby Scoffield is on Twitter, though (@sscoffield1), so maybe we can tweet our questions her way for clarification and tips!  You can also join the conversation below the article on Edutopia.

If you have additional ideas for stations (this somewhat depends on what students tell you they want to work on) or would like to try this in your classroom, let me know and I’d be happy to help you plan and facilitate them! You know how to find me. 🙂

Poetry & Personal Narrative: Two Texts to Get Students Writing

For this #writingworkshopwednesday, I’m sharing a poem and a NYT resource, both of which can be used to get students writing, thinking, and creating.

Background Noise & Narrative:

This gem showed up in my Twitter feed yesterday:

tweet

And it immediately made me think of personal narrative (or really any kind of narrative writing) writing – in the tradition of Penny Kittle’s “Music of my Heart” and the life-soundtracks many of us have had kids think about.

The article, “What are the Sounds That Make Up the Background Noise in Your Life” by Michael Gonchar uses a New York Times article by Michael Kimmelman, “Dear Architects: Sound Matters” as a jumping-off point to get students thinking about what kind of background noises are in their lives.

The “Dear Architects” article is a great starting text for all of us, and when you and your students go to read it (I recommend using excerpts from it, which would work better since the whole article isn’t relevant for our purposes and to get the idea across in a manageable time frame.), make sure you have the opportunity to hear it as well.  Included in the article are photographs of everyday places, such as the New York Public Library’s Reading Room, an office building, and the subway that, when you hover your mouse over them, reveal the background noise of each place.  As Kimmelman states, “The spaces we design and inhabit all have distinctive sounds . . . It may be sealed off from the outside, and you may think it is quiet. Is it?,” sound is part of the architecture designers create and it also part of the architecture of our lives.

What can our students’ writing gain by thinking about, discovering, or recording the background noise of their lives?  How can this study reveal more about their personal lives (or the personal lives of any character)?  How can background noise be articulated in font and how might it drive, enhance, or amplify an existing narrative?

As we answer these questions, I think we begin to arrive at a valuable resource and idea to both prepare students to write about themselves and to test out new narrative techniques in their writing.  The original article, “What are the Sounds . . . ” provides some reading-response questions that might be a good transition from reading to thinking to writing.

 

Current Events & Poetry:

The other gem that found me yesterday was my poets.org poem-a-day, “Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz” by Matthew Olzmann.  “Letter” is a haunting poem that could be effective not only for writing workshop, but also for Socratic Seminar or literature circle discussions. (Here’a a word document version with line numbers: Letter Beginning Olzmann)

It’s going to take up a lot of room here, but please (PLEASE) take the time to read it all (you won’t be able to stop once you start . . . )

Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz

Matthew Olzmann

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me. 

Can we agree Kevlar
backpacks shouldn’t be needed

for children walking to school?
Those same children

also shouldn’t require a suit
of armor when standing

on their front lawns, or snipers
to watch their backs

as they eat at McDonalds.
They shouldn’t have to stop

to consider the speed
of a bullet or how it might

reshape their bodies. But
one winter, back in Detroit,

I had one student
who opened a door and died.

It was the front
door to his house, but

it could have been any door,
and the bullet could have written

any name. The shooter
was thirteen years old

and was aiming
at someone else. But

a bullet doesn’t care
about “aim,” it doesn’t

distinguish between
the innocent and the innocent,

and how was the bullet
supposed to know this

child would open the door
at the exact wrong moment

because his friend
was outside and screaming

for help. Did I say
I had “one” student who

opened a door and died?
That’s wrong.

There were many.
The classroom of grief

had far more seats
than the classroom for math

though every student
in the classroom for math

could count the names
of the dead.

A kid opens a door. The bullet
couldn’t possibly know,

nor could the gun, because
“guns don’t kill people,” they don’t

have minds to decide
such things, they don’t choose

or have a conscience,
and when a man doesn’t

have a conscience, we call him
a psychopath. This is how

we know what type of assault rifle
a man can be,

and how we discover
the hell that thrums inside

each of them. Today,
there’s another

shooting with dead
kids everywhere. It was a school,

a movie theater, a parking lot.
The world

is full of doors.
And you, whom I cannot save,

you may open a door

and enter a meadow, or a eulogy.
And if the latter, you will be

mourned, then buried
in rhetoric.

There will be
monuments of legislation,

little flowers made
from red tape.

What should we do? we’ll ask
again. The earth will close

like a door above you.
What should we do?

And that click you hear?
That’s just our voices,

the deadbolt of discourse
sliding into place.

Wow, right?

So since this is #writingworkshopwednesday, I’m going to stay focused on using this with our Writers’ Notebooks, but feel free to let your mind wander into all of the incredible possibilities available here.

One way to use this poem as as mentor-text inspiration is to allow students to borrow the same lines from Czesław Miłosz that the author did:

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me. 

I think there are so many opportunities for students to write about themselves or characters in novels (from the perspective of the author, other characters, etc.) by beginning with these two lines.  I imagine Sethe writing to Beloved (Toni Morrison’s Beloved), Jay to Daisy (Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby), Ida or Vivaldo or Eric to Rufus (Baldwin’s Another Country), or Walt Whitman writing to the Country (since he desperately wanted Leaves of Grass  to keep the nation from falling into civil war).  There are so many possibilities; it could easily work with independent reading selections as well.

We could also use this poem to talk about this writing-move of the response poem (of sorts) or the “life a line” (or two from another poem) to begin our own.  Students could take lines from poetry or songs and use it to frame or inspire a poem. (The could lift a line from this poem to start another as well. I would choose something related to the “the deadbolt of discourse,” I think.)

And of course, this could be a wonderful mentor text on how to write poetry that is also relevant and timely social commentary.  Maybe students research current events (we could collaborate with the history teachers on this too) and use this format to write a poetic letter that makes a comment about an issue in the community that they care about.

Lots of inspiration with these two texts! Happy workshopping! 🙂

As always, feel free to share any adaptations, additions, etc. you make and student samples or work produced from these ideas.

 

Plagiarism Resources

credible-hulk

It is research paper season, and with every research paper season comes the issue of plagiarism.

Here’s a TED-Ed Lesson, “The punishable perils of plagiarism” that your students could watch and complete the 7 questions that come with it.

Here’s turnitin.com’s plagiarism report:

turnitin plagiarism_report

To better help students understand what we mean by “plagiarism,” here are some resources we’ve compiled.

Infographics

These would make great classroom posters and/or handouts.  You may need to break an image into multiple in order to make it readable when you print.   

And if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, try piktochart.com (there’s a free version) to make your own infographic/poster with the information you want to include.

(Click the image to see the full graphic.)

Here’s a Power Point version of the Potter info-graphic from lib.rollings.edu:plagiarismandpotter-1

And of course, we have a district-wide Academic Integrity poster:

academic-integrity-poster

Memes

Here’s some memes that could get the conversation about plagiarism started.  There are also apps out there to help you create your own memes, including mematic, which is very user friendly.

meme

gatsby-plagiarism

batman-and-robin-plagiarism

Power Point

At the freshmen PLC, Joe and I stumbled across this power point (9 plagiarism tutorial2012 (1)) from the Mt. Lebanon School District.  It’s a tutorial for avoiding plagiarism.

Handouts

And Cathy Stelling createdthis plagiarism handout (WHAT IS PLAGIARISM), which she was kind enough to share.

If you’re doing something else to review and/or teach plagiarism, please feel free to email me or leave comments below.

The New Fall Line-Up

In order to keep the blog “trending” and keep posts somewhat predictable so you can find what you’re looking for when you need it, I’ll be posting to the blogs each day according to the following hashtags:

Monday: #mememonday – Memes to use in the classroom, how to create memes, and assignments that use memes.

Tuesday: #techtuesdays – Websites, apps, and other tech resources to use in the classroom or to prep for the classroom

Wednesday: #writercrushwednesday – Highlights of writers we “crush” on with tangible uses of the author in the classroom. I would love some guest-bloggers for this!

Thursday: #throwbackthursday (#tbt) – Features a previous blog post that is current or relevant to the goings-on of the time

Friday: #freebiefridays – This is an anything-goes day that could include anything relevant to what we’re teaching.  Maybe I’ll even find a way to get some “freebies” available too!

I’ll also be bring back “Infographics of the Week,” that I’ll post by Thursday for the following week.

The fun begins next week! 🙂

Socratic Seminar & The Big Ideas: On Mars, Wonder, Colonization & Imperialism

Google Mars

Google’s animated Mars drinks water to celebrate NASA’s recent findings.

What are the implications of hunting/searching for life on Mars?

With the discovery of flowing water on Mars, many ethical issues are likely to arise as we consider, “What are the implications of hunting/searching for life on Mars?”  As educators, I think we are responsible for helping students understand, analyze, and evaluate what’s at stake with discoveries like this to ensure they become responsible and curious citizens.

We can do this by bringing the Mars announcement (liquid water!) to the classroom through Socratic Seminar.  Through Seminar, we can connect the news to some of the “big ideas” that run through some of the texts we teach.  This would make students think about the implications of the current event while also helping them understand connections and patterns among various texts, eras, etc. and create a larger context in which they could understand the big ideas in the texts they’re reading.

For resources on Socratic Seminar, check our the Socratic Seminar page

Here’s a quick sampling of some of the issues the news has covered with this finding:

Ian Sample, in his article in The Guardian, “NASA Scientists Find Evidence of Flowing Water on Mars,” quotes John Bridges:

John Bridges, a professor of planetary science at the University of Leicester, said the study was fascinating, but might throw up some fresh concerns for space agencies. The flows could be used to find water sources on Mars, making them prime spots to hunt for life, and to land future human missions. But agencies were required to do their utmost to avoid contaminating other planets with microbes from Earth, making wet areas the most difficult to visit. “This will give them lots to think about,” he said.

And Jonathan Amos’s article on BBC, “Martian salt streaks ‘Painted by Liquid Water‘,” raises a similar issue:

An interesting consequence of the findings is that space agencies will now have some extra thinking to do about where they send future landers and rovers.

Current internationally agreed rules state that missions should be wary of going to places on Mars where there is likely to be liquid water.

A UK space agency expert on Mars landing sites, Dr Peter Grindrod, told BBC News: “Planetary protection states that we can’t go anywhere there is liquid water because we can’t sterilise our spacecraft well enough to guarantee we won’t contaminate these locations. So if an RSL is found within the landing zone of a probe, then you can’t land there.

And here are some issues that we can discuss in conjunction with this current event:

  • 10th & 12th Grades: Colonization: (What happens when we introduce something foreign into a culture/society?  What happens when one culture overruns another? What responsibility to we have to other cultures/lives/places?) – with texts like Things Fall Apart or conflicts with Native Americans
  • 11th & 12th Grades: Language & Bias (AP Language): (Why are each of these news accounts providing different perspectives? What is the impact of their differences in word choice? What can we learn from their differences? Similarities?) – each of the articles below are different.  The CNN article, for example, is hopeful about the “search” for life and includes nothing about the potential sterilization issues that are discussed in both The Guardian & BBC articles.  The Guardian refers to the search for life as a ” hunt.”
  • 10th & 11th Grade: Manifest Destiny & Imperialism (American & Western Studies): (What right does one have to invade or expand its borders? What are the potential benefits and dangers of such an expansion?) – would work nicely after students have some background and in conjunction with political cartoons or other images/texts from the time 
  • 11th Grade: The Unknown: (What is our relationship with the “unknown”? How can not knowing impact how we perceive and react to it?) – pair a discussion of what Beowulf’s Grendel, who represents much of the uncertain and unknown of the times, with “Why are we obsessed with Martians?”
  • 10th Grade: Nature & Wonder: (Why do we go to nature? What happens when we over-turn nature?  What are the implications to interfering with nature? What value is there in “wonder”?) with The Secret Life of Bees & the moon-landing scene (August wants to turn it off . .. some things should be left to wonder – thanks to Sherrie E for this connection) or Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Nature.” John Muir & excerpts from the National Park documentary might also fit nicely here . . . in terms of the importance of preserving of nature (should we?). 
  • 9th Grade: “The Butterfly Effect” (What happens when we introduce something foreign into nature? What are the possible long-term effects?) – with the short story, “Sound of Thunder.”
  • All Grades: Perspective: Will we become the evil, power-hungry, & destructive aliens of science-fiction fantasies if we seek out life on Mars? (thanks to Sherrie for this one!)

Finally, here are some texts on the Mars findings to pair with the literary:

There are many more possibilities for bringing the issues with Mars to the English classroom. If you develop any of your own, please share them in the comment section below or via email.

Banned Books Week: Virtual Read-Out, Bulletin Boards, Reading Signs, Oh my!

BBW-logo122h

Banned Books Week is coming September 27th-October 3rd!

What to do . . . What to do . . . What to do . . .

NCTE’s Virtual Read-Out – An option for independent reading assessment or a book-talk resource

Here’ are the criteria and options for a virtual read-out, as per ala.org:

You have four video options for the 2013 Banned Books Virtual Read-Out:

1) You can submit a video no more than 3 minutes long of a reading from a banned or challenged book. The video should include information on where and why the book was banned or challenged. You may also add a comment about why you believe the book is important. Please keep your remarks brief.

Here is a list of banned literary classics as well as a list of frequently challenged books throughout the years. You should also check out Mapping Censorship and Robert P. Doyle’s Banned Books: Challenging Our Freedom to Read for more ideas. Banned Books: Challenging our Freedom to Read is available for purchase at the ALA Store or can be found at your local public library.

2) Choose a favorite banned/challenged book and discuss what the book meant to you and how you would feel if someone prevented you from reading it. The video should be no longer than three minutes long

3) A video of an eyewitness account of local challenges can be submitted. This video should be no longer than three minutes long.

4) Create a promotional video for Banned Books Week like the videos featured here. The video should be no longer than five minutes long. The video’s message should focus on celebrating the freedom to read during Banned Books Week.

This information is also available here (the link also explains how to submit a video, which is important).

Using the Virtual Read-Out in the classroom:

  • Independent Reading Assessment (for the quiz or homework/classwork category)

You can complete and submit these videos any time of year, so, for example, if you made a “banned books” a theme for independent reading, it could be some kind of assessment grade or an option students could choose for assessment (under these criteria, it would have to be in the quiz or homework/classwork category) that still assesses, to some extent, whether or not they read the book and allows students to contribute to a larger reading community.  Or, if a student reads a banned book anytime throughout the year, this could be a form of assessment.  I think 2 and 4 could be independent-reading assessments, whereas option 1 could be a pre or during-reading assignment.

  • A pseudo-book talk

Of course, you could also do this (to show them or model a “book talk” of sorts” or your class could create one together if you read a whole-class novel that is on the banned books list.  A third option, if you read a banned book as a whole-class novel, would be to have students work individually or in pairs and “compete” for best video. The winners could have their videos uploaded to the site.  

  • A resource

This link will take you to youtube videos others have created.  These could serve as book talks you show your kids either as models OR to get them interested in reading those books!  It could also be a great foray into a discussion about censorship. 

Banned Book Bulletin Boards – Want help putting one together? Let me know!

Banned books can make a great bulletin board theme or even a “display” for the top of your classroom-library bookshelf.

Here are some ideas (click the image to see it larger):

This bulletin board has “wrapped books” with descriptions of why it was challenged on the outside.  I think it would definitely draw in student interest and later in the year or throughout the year, you could reveal the books.

banned book bulletin board

This one has book covers and titles, and I don’t know what’s “inside” the book cover, but putting descriptions of the book or reasons why it was challenged would be great!

Banned-Books-Library-Bulletin-Board-Display

I’ve seen pictures like these compiled on a bulletin board that says “Busted for Reading Banned Books.”  You could have students pose with banned/challenged books (like The Outsiders) that they’ve already read and/or add to it throughout the year as students pick banned books for independent reading.

bbbulletinboard idea

This one has “Wanted” signs similar to the image above along with covers of banned books.  The fire and crime scene tape definitely make my English-nerd heart skip a beat:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is probably the easiest of the Banned Book Bulletin Boards to execute.  You would just need to print some book covers and get some caution tape . . . and bam! Rad bulletin board:

bbbulletinboard2

Literacy Promotion through Reading Signs

Those plastic things outside your door are for more than decoration or common-time availability! They are the place where we advertise what we’re reading so that students can see that their teachers read too. (If you need a plastic sign-holder, let Marcie know!)

There is a banned book themed reading promotion sign that you can personalize to your favorite banned books (and with your name) in the District Shared Directory – English – Reading Signs & Templates. Here’s a list of banned books to help you along the way!

And I created a new, more generic one that might work for you too (it’s on the shared directory in full size and resolution).  I tried to use titles we teach, have in our classroom libraries, or offer as summer reading.

Banned Books poster

Additional resources:

book challenges by reason

Our Writers’ Teas are Coming – Let’s Celebrate Student Writing!

Let’s celebrate student writing!

Our 2015 Writers’ Teas are as follows:

Timber Creek: Wednesday, May 27th!

Triton:Thursday, May 28th! (different than the date on the original school calendar)

Highland: Tuesday, June 2nd!

writersteaparty

Other than People’s Choice, the Writers’ Tea celebrations of writing are my favorite warm-and-fuzzy nights of the year!

As always, we are looking for students (and teachers) to share all kinds of original writing on these celebration evenings.  We will publish the work in a booklet (and perhaps online in some way if I can figure that out) and provide them with certificates of participation.  There will be food – and family & friends are encouraged to attend with them. We even have NJEA Pride money again this year to help us fund the event.

This year, thanks to a suggestion from the February in-service, we will have emcees who will enthusiastically tie the program together! Thank you to Joe Hart, Cathy Stelling, and Beth Marks for taking on this task and sharing your awesomesauce, humor, and general delightfulness with all.

We would also LOVE if you can encourage Project V.O.I.C.E. participants to try their hand at sharing an original composition.

In addition, I’m thinking we’ll advertise it as a “Open Mic Night.”  Submissions will still have to be in ahead of time (and reviewed by the teacher), but “Open Mic Night,” sounds a bit more rad than a “Writers’ Tea.”  I will put together advertisements for schools and classrooms within the next week, but please start talking to your students now if you haven’t already.  (I know many of you have! Thank you :))

I have a bit of money to spend on decor, so if you have ideas for that or for set-up, let me know.  I’d like to continue to make this a successful and enjoyable event. 🙂

Feel free to check out the writing workshop tag or writer’s tea tag for ideas on ways to get them writing creatively (teacher’s choice for 4th mp?) in preparation for the Tea!  I’ll also post some additional ideas on the blog in the coming days.

Have a great writing assignment that you’d like to share?  Shoot me an email and I’ll post it for all to enjoy!