by Meg Clementi
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary.
As a math teacher, I am questioned by peers as to why I have my students write. What is
my purpose in asking students to explain their thinking? Why have I attended conferences, courses and programs whose attendees are comprised of 99% English teachers and Elementary reading and writing teachers? I stand at the edges, accepting the shaken heads and wonderings of my peers.
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary.
I have my students write because their ability to explain their thinking is important to me. Their ability to justify their processes and answers is critical. Their depth of knowledge is essential. My students write because as their teacher, I demand this level of participation, performance and comprehension from them. I am not satisfied with them simply renting knowledge and discarding what they have learned as they place their hands on the doorknob and walk out of my classroom for the last time. I want them to own knowledge.
Is reabhloideach mise. I am a revolutionary. Read more
by Paul Janezcko
I didn’t start out to be a poet. I started out as a kid in New Jersey, who had two major goals in life: 1) to survive one more year of delivering newspapers without being attacked by Wink, the one-eyed, slobbering, crazed cur that lurked in the forsythia bushes at the top of the hill; and 2) to become more than a weak-hitting, third-string catcher on our sorry Little League team. I failed at both.
I didn’t do much better in school, where I played the part of an affable kid who endured uncountable hours in a desk that was designed, I was convinced, in a 15th-centry Spanish dungeon. Poetry meant no more to me than 1066, George Washington’s wooden teeth, or the chief export of the Belgian Congo, which was, I still recall, flax. The only times I was gifted was on Christmas and my birthday. Read more
By Frank Murphy
Recently, Lynne Dorfman wrote a Teacher to Teacher post about using my newest book, Take a Hike Teddy Roosevelt, as a mentor text to help guide the instruction of teachers of young writers. (Of course, I was, and still am, flattered!!) Soon after, on a Saturday in January, we co-presented on the same topic for some dedicated members of the Capital Reading Council in Harrisburg, PA.
In a nutshell, I started the event off by sharing the story of how Teddy became so dedicated to environmental conservation; then Lynne went about analyzing how she could use this book as a mentor text for elementary school student writers. (If you’ve never seen Lynne present – she’s like a literary surgeon on Skittles!!). She focused on many things, from strong verbs to exact nouns. Even artful sentence fragments! (I hope she thought that one was artful!) All of Lynne’s analysis forced me to recollect so much of the writing and rewriting and imagining of writing that I did over the last few years of constructing and crafting this book in collaboration with my editor, Anna Membrino. It also made me reflect on a recent lesson that I taught to my current sixth grade students that I’ll discuss later. Read more
by Rose Cappelli
In Jacqueline Woodson’s beautiful novel in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, the author talks about being compared in school to her older sister, Odella, who was “brilliant.” But school is difficult for Jacqueline, so soon the teachers
“…remember that I am the other Woodson
and begin searching for brilliance
at another desk.” (p. 220).
Jacqueline loves stories, and she quickly discovers that by reading the words of a story over and over again, that story eventually becomes lodged in her memory and becomes part of her. So when she is asked to read aloud to the class, she doesn’t need the book, and amazes her teacher and classmates by reciting a whole story from memory. Read more
by Aileen Hower
Digital tools that have proven helpful in supporting students on the autism spectrum to express their thoughts better in writing are those that allow them to create comic strips and videos. Likewise, digital tools like QR codes, podcasts, and interactive sites like BookFlix and TrueFlix can support a student’s reading more efficiently and effectively. Read more
By Barry Lane
I met this guy at the Newark airport years ago. I remember feeling both puzzled and offended by his tee-shirt. Puzzled, because I have never really understood the purpose of retirement and offended, because he appeared to know and was taunting me. I approached him and asked for a photo of his shirt and then I confided in him my bewilderment.
“I don’t really understand what it means to be retired,” I asked with great earnestness.
“What do you do when you are retired?”
He paused a moment and then looked me right in the eye and said,
“I do whatever I want to do, don’t I?”
Yes, of course, that’s it. That’s retirement, and by this definition I have been retired for years now, along with the thousands of dedicated teachers I have met over the years at reading association meetings, like KSRA. There is no other place they want to be, but in the classroom. These are not normal people who work a boring job and relax on the weekends with their family. They are not extrinsically motivated by money or vacations or golden parachutes, (though all bets are off when free picture books are in the equation) . Many work in a profession for far less material reward then they could be getting in other less meaningful jobs. But they have this spark in their eyes and a passion for learning and children that is undeniable. To say they love their job would be an understatement. They don’t even see it as a job. They see it a calling. They see it as a life.