Category: Uncategorized

SILVER LININGS

There’s been lots of talk about finding the Silver Linings in the midst of our current COVID storm. At publishing time, we’ve been quarantined here in New England for ten weeks, and schools are closed indefinitely. However, despite all of the anxiety and unrest,…

FLATTENING THE ANXIETY

Photo Credit: Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris This is our students’ 9/11. Their JFK Assassination. Their Uphill-Both-Ways-in-the-Snow walks to school. This is their “I-Remember-When…,” the story they’ll be telling and retelling the next generation. This is also a breeding ground for anxiety. And the…

On Death & Teaching

I always tell my students that Life trumps School. I don’t want them worrying about a reading assignment or writing deadline when they should be caring for a post-op mom or sitting with a sick grandparent. Life is precious, our time together is limited,…

The Gratitude Project (2019)

A few years ago, during Thanksgiving week, I began what I affectionately call “The Gratitude Project.” (You can read read more about it HERE and HERE.) Essentially, I forced my students–and myself–to carve out some time to reflect on the Good in our lives in…

CHOICE: It Does a Reading Program Good.

High schoolers aren’t reading like they used to. However, most students remember a time when they enjoyed reading, going to the library, having a book read to them. But something happened, and reading was placed on the back burner. (For my readers, that Something…

When Numbahs Don’t Lie (2018-9)

Students can’t be reduced to a number. They can’t be defined by their results on common assessment, reduced to where they fall on a state test, nor limited by their SAT/ACT scores. However, sometimes numbers don’t lie. With a towering goal of helping students fall back…

MCAS: This Does Not Define You.

It’s that time of year again…The snow is beginning to melt (ish). The days are feeling a bit longer. Daylight is sticking around for dinner. And statewide exams are lurking around the corner. In Massachusetts, sophomores must pass the MCAS exam (in ELA, math,…

The Gratitude Project (2018)

Last year, a few days before Thanksgiving, I began what I affectionately call “The Gratitude Project.” (You can read read more about it HERE and HERE.) Essentially, I forced my students–and myself–to carve out some time to reflect on the Good in our lives. We…

Let Them Choose Books!

Penny Kittle wrote,  “A book isn’t rigorous if students aren’t reading it.” This single statement has shaped my teaching career more than just about anything else. And for my first fifteen years, my students (and, chances are, probably yours, too) simply weren’t reading. I…

Authors Who Inspire

Since reading is the inhale and writing is the exhale, our Creative Writing class reflected on which authors have inspired the inner writers in each of us. Take a look at the community slidedeck that we created! (Use the control bar to control the…

When Numbahs Don’t Lie (2017-8)

Students can’t be reduced to a number. They can’t be defined by their results on a common assessment, reduced to where they fall on a state test, nor limited by their SAT/ACT scores. However, sometimes numbers don’t lie. With a towering goal of helping…

Teaching Style: The Art of Repetition

Most honors students enter my classroom in the fall with the ability to craft organized, error-free writing. Which is fabulous. However, most students don’t have the tools to take their writing to the next level. (And based on the Traits of an Honors Student, taken from the Honors…

The Gratitude Project–Part 2 (2017)

A few days before Thanksgiving, I asked my high school students to take an inventory of what they were thankful for this year.  They knew ahead of time that I would be sharing their lists, and, as promised, I emailed the class projects to…

The Gratitude Project–Part I (2017)

I’m sort of done with the news. Except for the whole I-don’t-want-to-be-ignorant part. With each shooting, political scandal, and social media war, it’s hard not to head into the holidays with a heavy heart. And our students feel it, too. Maybe more than we…

The Dangers of Landscaping

Teachers don’t have favorites. Sure, and Mom didn’t like me best because I was the baby. However, there are definitely those students whose growth leaves us beaming with pride, whose writing leaves a lasting impression, whose authenticity leaves us questioning how we can help fix…

When Numbahs Don’t Lie (2016-7)

Students can’t be reduced to a number. They can’t be defined by their results on a common assessment, reduced to where they fall on a state test, nor limited by their SAT/ACT scores. However, sometimes numbers don’t lie. With a towering goal of helping…

Explainer Videos 101

In a world of Common-Assessment-This and District-Determined-Measures-That, it’s more important than ever to allow our students to show their learning in  non-standardized ways as well. Enter: the Explainer Video. An Explainer Video is a real-world digital tool that can be found on virtually every…

PostSecret: Where Language, Art, and Vulnerability Collide

Sometimes the best ideas begin with a dream. And the PostSecret project is no exception. This ongoing community art project was born in 2005 to proud parent Frank Warren. After visiting Paris–where he experienced a lucid dream, he returned to the states and began disseminating postcards…

“We STILL Hear America Singing”: A Collaborative Poem

Our American Lit students are examining the role that individualism plays in American society. After studying Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” (and Langston Hughes’ response, “I, Too“), my juniors, as a class, created their own 21st century anthems below. They were too fabulous…

Ingredients for a Delicious Passion Blog Post

In an effort to create a positive digital footprint–while doing real-world writing for an authentic audience beyond Teacher-Lady, my students have started their Passion Blog Projects. This real-world task, inspired by the fabulous teacher-author  Catlin Tucker (@catlin_tucker), allows students to shape their own learning…

Stretching: It Does a Classroom Good

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., asserted that “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.” Since I’m assuming that applies to a woman’s mind, too, I’m fixing to celebrate: My mind has done quite a bit of stretching since September….

The Beauty of a Blank Canvas

August ignites a range of emotions in teachers. We’re sad that our delicious, correcting-free days of summer are over. We’re disappointed that those ambitious To-Do Lists didn’t get completed. We’re dismayed at how quickly the school supplies, school clothes, and school lunches add up. And we’re eager to step down from our…

‘Tis the Season–of Abdominal Pain?

If April showers bring May flowers, and Mayflowers bring pilgrims, what does June bring? Apparently, abdominal pain. I’ve had some internal discomfort for a while, and since I practically have a medical degree because I can Google my symptoms, I self-diagnosed it as being gall bladder-related. My doctor-sister, Wendy, thinks…

5 Benefits of Going Paperless

I love the planet; however, I didn’t go paperless in my classroom to save the Earth. It’s a fabulous, additional benefit, as we ELA teachers can photocopy like nobody’s business! But saving trees wasn’t the motivating force two years ago; engaging my students–while trying…

The Power of Words

  I’m a work in progress–both in and out of the classroom. Outside the classroom, I’m still trying to survive navigate each stage of child-rearing, which I’ve decided is only mastered after my own two children have moved on to the next phase of development.  But that…