Advertising For Good: An Experiment in Activism & Love

More than once last spring I spent my prep period wondering if I had lost my teacher mind. It was an exhilarating and inspiring semester. It was also frequently overwhelming. It was like falling in love. Last week concluded my fifth year teaching. More than half of all teachers leave the profession before the end of their fifth year. And didn't I feel it. I had four preps this year. I was tired a lot. And then I was tired of feeling like I was surviving this year. So I did the opposite of … [Read more...]

Finding Passion in Midst of SBAC

I was recently asked to list how a teacher is feeling at different points of the year. The information was requested by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in efforts to get a better idea of when supports could best be offered to teachers. I could only answer how I felt during the school year and really my answer focused on my most recent memory - this past school year. For some reason it seemed like a modified line graph would give a good indication of my thoughts*. I’m sure teachers in … [Read more...]

Teaching About Bias in 3 Easy Steps

Over the past few weeks, our Nation has experienced several events that will not soon be forgotten, and will arguably be known as landmark moments in the history of our country. With all news, monumental or less so, I am noticing a growing trend of adults, myself included, consuming news via social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.  As you’ve probably seen with various posts on your social media feeds, often these news story threads lead to high emotion, the sharing of opinions, and … [Read more...]

Top 6 Things I Learned From the SBA

In May, my students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) along with most every other 3rd-8th, and 11th grade student in Washington. This was my second year with SBA since my district piloted the test last year and earlier this year I wrote about what I had learned from the pilot experience. It’s now been over a month since my students finished testing, and I’ve been able to reflect on our overall SBA experience. Here are six things I’m taking away from this year: “Testing does not have … [Read more...]

Real World Research Skills

Many times, you plan for those great educational moments in the classroom. Then other times, serendipity steps into the plan and creates a more meaningful lesson. If we are wise, we not only celebrate these serendipitous moments, but we reflect on the moment and find a way to make it a habit and part of our future lessons. A few years ago, before Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea was entrenched in scandal, my students worked on an Afghanistan project based on their reading of Mortenson’s … [Read more...]

Summertime Recharge

As this school year wound to an end and I held on for the last few days, I struggled to begin, let alone finish, this post. I was writing (well, trying to) about text complexity and academic vocabulary but my heart wasn’t in it. Summer was right around the close I could smell the sunscreen, and imagine sleeping in…. As I tried to write the blog, one of my colleagues and dear friends said, “Why not just be honest about what you're thinking and people probably don’t want to read about … [Read more...]

Acting Out – Readers Theater in Your Classroom

The reading improvement class slouches into the library.  Although their teacher reminded them when they left their classroom, Surly Sixth Grade Boy has managed to leave his reader's notebook and his pencil behind.  When he did the same thing last week, I told him that no one ever needs to arrive at the learning space in the library unprepared.  Paper, pencils, and other school supplies are conveniently located right next to the entry door on open shelves and I sent him to get what he needed.  … [Read more...]

Using Engagement Strategies to Improve Achievement Part 3

In March and February I wrote a blog about our efforts to increase student achievement using Total Participation Strategies. This is my 3rd installment in this series. As we last left our lovely elementary school, teachers were challenged to record themselves trying one of these strategies. The reasons for this were 2 fold: to encourage teachers to try something new, and to allow teachers a venue for sharing their practice (when peer observation is not otherwise an option.) I knew the … [Read more...]

42 Deep Thoughts on the Bridge to College Pilot

I received an email a few weeks ago asking for an unusual request. I just finished piloting a module about researching and composing an argumentative essay for Washington State’s Bridge to College program, and its organizers wanted me to reflect on my experience. The Bridge to College program is a high school course for 12th graders to prepare them for the rigors of college (you can read more about it here in my previous blog post). I was selected amongst a small group of teachers across the … [Read more...]

Integrating Science and Literacy with an LDC Mini-Task and Module

I am lucky enough to work at the same school as Corelaborate blogger, Douglas Ferguson (read one of his posts about the Three Dimensions of NGSS here.). He is our school STEM Specialist, a role he has been creating and defining throughout the year. Once a month he comes into my classroom for a week (he does this in all 3rd-6th grade classes) and leads students through an investigation, often using Lego Robotics. In May he switched things up and used the picture book, Those Darn Squirrels by Adam … [Read more...]