All posts filed under: teaching

3 Ideas to (re) Energize Your Teaching

Are you one of those teachers who turns off your teacher-brain once summer hits?  If so, I am envious of you.  Every year I give myself a month to decompress and not think about teaching, but after a week my teacher brain goes in overdrive.  It’s become a delicate balance spending time reflecting about the previous year and changing/adjusting for the upcoming year (which I really love to do) without stressing myself out and spending my summer not present with my family and friends. But if I really think about the numerous summers I have spent as a teacher, not every one was this happy-go-lucky-I-love-teaching mentality.  I have had some rough years where it was anything to want to go back to the classroom in September.  And I know I’m not alone. Sometimes years are tough and taking a break is the best thing to do.  Sometimes as teachers we fall in a rut or a routine that is comfortable, and wanting to change or grow is not on the to-do list. However,  five years …

Reflecting and Moving Forward

This is my stack of summer reading.  A mix of professional teaching books and YA books others have recommended to me.  Regarding the professional books, some I read last school year, but want to take a closer, not-so-rushed approach, and some are new. Reflecting right at the end of the year is the perfect time to tweak and make changes for the upcoming year.  What worked well and what didn’t work so well are still fresh in my mind.  This is the second year I have used writing workshop and so far, I have really enjoyed it.  The book Hacking the Writing Workshop and Writing Workshop in Middle School are new to me this summer.  I am sure I will find lots of new gems that I can try with my 8th graders this next year.  Workshopping the Cannon I bought after attending last year’s NCTE conference (and if you have never gone, I encourage you to do so–amazing!).  It’s the foundation I used for using our core text The Secret Life of Bees to center around social justice.  …

5 End-of-the-Year Ideas

We have a week left of school and every year I feel hard-pressed for time.  There’s so much to do and so little time in which to do it!  As the school year comes to a close, I give students time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming one. Reflecting is a good way to showcase the hard work students did this year, and for them to see where they started in September and ended in June.  Because growth in reading and writing is slow, oftentimes students don’t see it.  As teachers we see our students grow in leaps and bounds, but when you’re in the thick of it, it doesn’t always feel that way.  Regardless of whatever final essay, project, or assignment they are completing as the year winds down, I remind students of this and encourage them to push themselves a little harder as we approach the finish line.

Middle Grades Social Justice Novels

One of the required novels for my 8th grade students is The Secret Life of Bees.  I thought it would be good to look at this novel through a social (in)justice lens, specifically focusing on race, gender, and social class.  But I didn’t want to stop at just the novel. Students dissected poems, read picture books, and annotated newspaper articles all focusing on injustice.  While solving or complaining of these problems wasn’t the focus with this unit, I did want students to develop a larger context of what social justice is.   The main goal of reading the core text was to develop empathy and understanding of those who feel marginalized.  It’s difficult to walk alongside someone when you don’t get where he or she is coming from.  Students are now finishing up this unit with book club books.  A few weeks ago, they speed dated 10 books that dealt with at least one of the three injustices.