Want to Go on a Date?

I enjoyed reading Sharon Kane’s “Dating Ben Franklin:  Investigating the Early Years of Historical Figures and Classical Authors” in this month’s English Journal, published by NCTE.photo (14)  Her premise is that we, as teachers, should take our students back in time, further back than when these icons were successful; take them back to when they were of the same age as the students themselves, suggesting that, even though the years may pass, they still have much in common.

This being February, a thought sprung to mind: send each on a date, just as the title suggests.  Fun!  This being February 20…means this project goes in the plan book for next year, giving me time to further research and become more acquainted with these three books she suggests…

  1. Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes from Cleopatra to Camus
  2. Boys Who Rocked the World
  3. Girls Who Rocked the World

A lesson-making feign, I look forward to putting this one together.  This might be a journey the students could also take as part of our gender role unit…hummm, I’ll need to ponder on that.  This year, I placed that unit during this third nine weeks, but, due to so many interruptions during the second nine weeks, I had thought I might move this unit to then, moving Macbeth to now, providing a more intense and daily study of this drama.  I suppose seniors like to go on dates, whether in the fall or around Valentine’s Day, right?

NOTE:  I just ordered all of the above books from half.com for $10.02 (and that includes shipping!)…books 2 and 3, I ordered an earlier edition.

What activity do you plan around authors?  Holidays?

Publishing…How Fun!

This past year, I agreed to chair the Publications Committee for the Arkansas Reading Association.  While a learn

photo (12)

ing process, creating this document was interesting, as I met new people, both face-to-face and via email, both in-state and out-of-state.

As I began the process, feeling like I was begging (!), I emailed three scheduled spe
akers for this year’s fall conference and was so pleased when all three agreed to either write something for The Reader or to grant permission for something already published.

May I introduce these authors to you?

  • Ruth Culham:  Such a cute website and loads of resources.  Culham, author The Writing Thief and known for her work with the writing traits, blogs here.
  • Maria Walther:  A teacher of first graders, an author of several publications, a National Board Certified Teacher, one who has earned her doctorate, she “does it all” because the previous list makes her who she is.
  • Stephanie Shaw:  A contributor to several publications, author Stephanie Shaw has penned several children’s book, with her latest being released in April.

For the most part, probably 95% of the publication’s process was completed online…emailing authors and committee and publication company.  Don’t you just love technology?

Books, Books…and More Books

Last week, a student asked, “What’s the hardest book you ever read?”

Moby Dick.  Definitely.  High school for an independent read for my English class…or maybe I read attempting to impress the teacher?!

Before that above discussion ended?  We had agreed to read War and Peace prior to his graduating in May.  1400+ pages before May 15.  AND others are joining us!  Maybe I am a nerd, but this is just so cool…even if it is War and Peace!

Then, I had a moment of anxiety.  Consider this list of books I am concurrently reading:

  1. English Department:  20 Literacy Strategies
  2. BHS Reads (faculty book club) PD book:  Five Levers of Learning
  3. BHS Reads (fun selection):  The Historian (recommended by a student several years ago)
  4. BHS Reads Student Book Club (allowing students to choose one of three series):  Legend, City of Bones, The Selection
  5. Leadership Team:  Mike Mattos’ newly released book on RTI (not sure of the title yet)
  6. PaperChase Book Club:  A Turn in the Road
  7. Bible Study:  Beth Moore’s Esther
  8. a Manga book (Japanese comic book)…a student checked this one out for me because he wants me to read one.  Okay…I can do that.  Yes, I’ve started…at the end and am reading backwards!  Very interesting!
  9. AND a book just recommended by a student Acheron that I purchased this weekend with on a school trip.  He graciously said I could read this later.  Might have to take him up on that offer.  I have the book, though, which I am taking to show him tomorrow!
  10. Kindle:  Leaving Liberty
  11. Oh, yes…and War and Peace
  12. Then…there’s reading for class and the Bible (reading it chronologically with some ladies online).

Yes, a moment of anxiety!  In a good way!

I have struggled some with how to get more students more involved in our BHS Reads Book Club.  Last semester, we read two classics, but we just had 4-6 students involved.  Although a book club is not about the numbers, I do want as many students involved that would consider doing so.  Thus, enter Olaf…as is the snowman from Frozen.  I created a bulletin board using him…then, the title for it came to me:  “Snow Many Series.”  While some have read some of the above series, I am encouraging them to still attend and add to the conversations…and to consider a re-read, for there is power in that decision, also.  Based on conversations alone, this plan may work.  Our kick-off meeting for this next week…so more on that in a few days.

While attending our state Beta Club Convention, we decided one series for next year will be Harry Potter.  Won’t that be fun!?  Right now series seems to get their attentions and create some excitement.   I’ll take it!

Why book clubs?  As we often say during our meetings, “This book I would never have read…had we not chosen it here.”  Without exception, I have read books that would not have been of my own choosing.   I, also, like how Jessica Cuthbertson with Center for Teacher Quality describes book clubs:

When I read a title for book club it is often not a text I would self-select. When I read a book for book club I read differently. I read with the purpose of holding onto my thinking. I read with intentionality. I am more metacognitive about my reading process, especially in sections of the book I plan to share or discuss. Some of my thinking might surface in the actual discussion, but depending on the menu, the venue, and the duration of time that has passed between my reading and our book club meeting, much of my thinking about my reading stays in my head, heart, or in highlighted sections of the text itself.

In addition, these books often go with me to my classroom, further broadening their backgrounds, sometimes suggesting these as book recommendations.

Currently, each of my seniors has chosen an independent read (chose one to read…found a new series for boys…The Extraordinary Adventures of Aldred Kropp…sooooo good!), so we are chatting about books every day.  Many have quickly completed this assignment, others are progressing, and some…well, I am encouraging them!

AND…my daughter has already read two books this year.  Yay!

Now, to keep up with these reads…

What’s on your reading list?  What do you do to encourage others to read?

Happy reading!

Assumptive Teaching? Oh, No! Guilty!

Our English Department is reading, discussing, implementing  20 Literacy Strategies to Meet the Common Core.  Last week, we met to discuss Strategy 3:  Prove It.  In the midst of this, though, a term jumped off the page, grabbed me, and requested that my brain hit pause.

What Is Assumptive Teaching?

Teaching that assumes that because students have been taught content that they know it.  That’s right…that content was covered last year.   Of course, they know it!

A Better (or worse) Example:

I planned a 15-minute bell-work giving students time to develop their outlines for our upcoming essay assignment.  That’s right…yes, we created outlines last semester in my class under my tutelage.  Outlines with parallel structure.  Of course.

Thirty minutes into the lesson, I became a live example of non-assumptive teaching as I re-taught what they had not mastered last semester. Modifying and adjusting.  That is what we used to call this guiding principle.

The Irony

When a new year begins,  I tend to re-teach, accepting that many have lost much over the three-month summer break, gauging their responses verbally and via formative assessments how much each have actually retained.   The irony, though, is that the above bell-work lesson hit just a bit close too home when my students did not retain what I had assumed they would have from the previous semester.  Or should I look at this glass as half full and thank them for giving me this example to discuss during book club?!

I assume, though, that many students have mastered content when I see the “we got this” face and positively nodding heads…and so we move on.  Not stopping.  Just moving on and leaving students further behind.

My Concern

Could assumptive teaching ever be used interchangeably with high expectations?  Expecting students to learn, to retain, to master content, these are obtainable goals.  After all, that is our job:  to teach students to learn.  Because I have high expectations, I “expect” them to learn; thus, I should not have to re-teach, assuming they know all I have ever taught them.

Please re-read the above paragraph and find the fallacy.

Yes, that line of thinking is flawed.  So is assumptive thinking.

Here’s to assumptive-free teaching!

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Additional Resources on Assumptive Teaching:

The Year Advances

During a time when so much negativity abounds within our world (ISSIS, debt, shootings…), focusing on the positive might take a leap of faith.  Would you join me for some “leaps“…

  • This past week or so, two of our teachers experienced losses within their families.  When I asked who might want to donate so we could take meals to these families, the money poured in…in two days, nearly $500 flooded the envelopes for each.  This speaks to two topics: 1) how well-respected these ladies are and 2) the huge hearts of our work family.  Just a feel-good moment, isn’t it?
  • Began a Word-of-the Week since we returned from Christmas Break, focusing much more now on actually mastering a new word.  So far, we have learned harbinger and prodigious.  I chose these words based on what I am reading during each week.  As I come across a word that I have noted before, that one says, “Choose me for this week’s word.”   As of now, our word for week three is vicarious…still have a few hours of reading ahead me, so that might change!
  • We hosted our first Socratic Circle of the year.  A huge success!  As one young man stated, “Why don’t we do these every day?”  Indeed.  Upon reflecting, I pushed them to produce too much evidence from the two assigned articles.  I had told them that comments must be based on evidence to receive credit, so they worked hard to fulfill that goal, to the point, though, that much of the “discussion” was simply reading quotes.  I will now go back to Matt Copeland’s book Socratic Circles:  Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking and review some for myself, for I, too, am still mastering this method. An excellent resource, this book is.
  • Our thematic topic on gender roles kicked off to a tremendous start.  Yes, they each have input on this one!  Note to self:  I do need to move this unit to the second nine-week grading term, for during the third nine-weeks  we have fewer interruptions, as long as the weather cooperates (supposed to be near 60 today…wow!), for reading Macbeth.
  • On the topic of gender, I found this article to use as we pay tribute to MLK within our classes on Monday/Tuesday.  An interesting read, one in which I found our next Word-of-the Week.
  • Our senior high school girls’ basketball team, for whom my niece plays, is 3:0 in conference.  I know…that has little to do with my classes, but considering their record since I began teaching in this district, quite a leap has occurred…and I have family member playing a team, a first for me!  Go, Pioneers!

I hope 2015 produces many “leaps” for you!  Please share one…or two!

Third Quarter Is Calling

Back to school!  Day one already completed.  The brain has had to shift into gear after a two-week break as I continue pondering on which journeys we will take this nine weeks.  We have so many places to go!

  1. Write the history of our school.
  2. Research society’s impact on gender roles (will kick this off with a Socratic Seminar).
  3. Travel back in time and explore gender roles in literary pieces.
  4. In essence, write three papers.

In addition, on this journey we will welcome another Tour Guide as I will have a student intern this spring.

We began this new grading period with several entries in our Writer’s Notebook (I say we…for I write with them…by jigsawing four topics.  Up and moving, they were…gave them a chance to chat on this our first day back) and  a Word-of-the-Week. For our first word, I chose harbinger, for this first day back is a sign that the end for my five classes of seniors that May 15 (graduation day) is quickly approaching.  Word-of-the-Week is a different approach than I have taken before, an approach I am trying to assist in my obtaining my personal professional goal of teaching vocabulary using more methods.

Again, this time, I also started off with my asking each to take the My One Word Challenge.  When asked to share, several shared in one class, touching my heart with how much thought and emphasis on self-growth they wanted to reach this year.  A very good thing! This was also an opportunity for me to share my life with them as I related my choice of words over the last five years.  It was a good lesson…a good time spent with my kids today.

During lunch, our faculty reading group met, discussed our last two books (yes, we had gotten behind!), and chose our next read:  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  A new release in 2014, this one is just $3.99 on Kindle (quite the savings).  Call me old fashioned, but I still resist reading online.  I just love the feel of a book, but for the sake of my wallet and my over-flowing books shelves (literally), I purchased the Kindle edition.  A good deal!

Happy teaching, listening, and reading in 2014!

My 15 Intentions…

This year my One Word is completer.    With this word in mind, I have chosen 15 things I would like to complete…in no certain order…

  1. Read and complete more classics. Six is my goal with Rebecca being my first choice.
  2. Complete more professional reads.  I have a “basic” ASCD membership and with it, I receive five newly released PD books.  I want to read three (front to back) before this year is over.
  3. Complete more woman-hours improving my marksmanship.  Plus, this means quality time with The Hubby.  Yes!
  4. Completely learn more gospel songs…especially those in our church song book.  So many beautiful songs in that book.  Songs I want to learn.
  5. Continue book club involvement:  both for our BHS Reads and for the Paper Chase Bookstore.  This year, I signed up at Library Thing for the 75’ers…to read 75 books in 2015.  (Today, I started the first one!)  Here’s a link to my reading intentions for 2015.
  6. Complete Bible studies with the group of ladies that meet at our church.  Just really love this time.
  7. Completely read the Bible through this year by signing up for and completing Joanne Weaver’s challenge.  I am also happy that Beth Moore’s SSMT is back.  Click here for more info.
  8. Develop more “complete” relationships with my students.  I want to go back to being THAT teacher, the one they remember years later as the caring one, yet the one who has high expectations.
  9. Develop more complete professional relations.  I would like to become more active on the state level in our reading association and within our state’s National Board organization.
  10. Write.  Blog on one of my four blogs a minimum of two times a week and possible submit an article to a professional magazine.
  11. Cultivate relationships.  With friends.  With my children.  With my husband.  With our families.
  12. Say no.  No.
  13. Teach.  Complete my four units of study more.
  14. Tammy Time:  quilting, crocheting, reading, gardening, painting.
  15. Peace.  Quiet.  Fit.  Smile. These were my four words for My One Word Challenges for the previous four  years.  These words have had such tremendous impact on my life.  Please, please consider going tomyoneword.org, learning more about this inspiring opportunity, and committing to whatever word chooses you.  I don’t want to leave these words behind…want more of all four!  Plus, now, I am ready to COMPLETE  my next word….

Reads like 2015 will be full of great intentions! Happy New Year!

Reflecting on 2014

Just want to take a moment…or two…and reflect on 2014.  Listed below were my 14 Intentions (make these instead of resolutions; have more success that way!):

  1. Read more classics. My goal was six…read three.  Ugh…Going to keep this one in my list to accomplish for 2015.
  2. Complete more professional reads.  I did work on this one more. Did not complete as many as I had wanted.  Am currently reading two as part of book clubs.
  3. Maintain a clean car.  Uh…no.  It needs a bath right now.
  4. Improve my marksmanship.  Not as much as I had intended.
  5. Learn more gospel songs.  Learned several new songs!  Finally, a sense of accomplishment!
  6. Be active in book clubs.  Very successful here…almost to the point that they became almost more than I could read.
  7. Develop my professional relations.  Yes, I am more involved in WRRC, ARA, and the Arkansas group of National Board teachers.
  8. Write.  I did not write as much as I had intended nor did I publish has I had hoped.
  9. Cultivate relationships. This I did to some extent.   Am learning that I am more and more happy just being me.
  10. Say no.   Hum…no, I did not do so well on this one, especially towards the end of the year.
  11. Teach.  Yes!  At school.  At church.  For Lyon College.
  12. Open the Right Doors.  God seems happy with my not opening doors.  I did not open as many as I hoped.  That is fine.
  13. Peace.  Quiet.  Fit.  Love these words; still working on them!
  14. Smile.  🙂  This I did; not as much as I had hoped, yet it was an awesome choice for me.

All in all, a hefty list.  All in all, I am okay with what I “intended” to accomplish and what I actually did, for when my father-in-law passed in May, our lives took a shift as we began spending most of our evenings with my mother-in-law, watching movies and TV, quilting, chatting.  Some of these Intentions took a backseat as others priorities took over.

I do like creating this list of Intentions, rather than Resolutions, for they seem more obtainable, more achievable.

Now, to create my list of 15 Intentions…Happy New Year!

Still Having Fun…and Winning, Too

We are still having fun in English 12.  This week was Red Ribbon Week, so I offered the prize money to a class if they would help decorate my door for the annual photo (3)Door Decorating Contest.  Good news!  We won second.  No prize money, though…but I did share my bag of candy goodies with them.  “Owl” always remember them fondly!

For three Friday’s now, one class has written similes for that night’s football game, and so far, they have all come to pass.  You know how it is….once you do something, then you can’t stop, for it might cause them to lose!

  1. Running like the wind, the Pioneers will win against Wynne.
  2. Beating like Spartans’ hearts with their war drums, the Pioneers will beat Blytheville at Friday’s game.
  3. Souring like an eagle and then stalking its prey, the Pioneers will devour GCT.

Secretly, hidden within this challenge?  The mastery of participial phrases and the creation of similes.  Sneaky, right?  AND maybe, just maybe?  Those similes are just very powerful!

Now, the true fun begins….hooking them onto the plotline of Macbeth and retaining that interest throughout our reading this drama.  Began that process, as we watched the first two witches’ scenes in honor of the Halloween weekend.  Perfect timing.

Now to grade their latest essays and to, hopefully, share back with them some “fun” grades!