For my final reading class exam this past year, I wanted to do something valuable, not just another show-me-what-I-know-that-you-already-know exam to fill a column in the grade book. I wanted to learn something from the students about how they saw themselves as readers, how they had grown as readers, and how important reading was to them. Each student chose an influential person in our district and wrote a letter to him or her about the importance of every student reading every day at school. I gave them the prompt and the choices of recipients, but the students composed their own letters from their experiences, research, and personal feelings. Continue reading
Listen to the wisdom of William J. Broz, as referenced in Penny Kittle’s super-awesome-amazing-fantastic book called Book Love:
“If students do not read the assigned texts, nothing important is happening in your literature classroom–nothing very important to develop your students’ reading and interpretive abilities is happening, no matter how many lectures you deliver, vocabulary words students ‘learn,’ elements of fiction students define, quizzes students take, essay test answers students write, or films you show.” (from “Not Reading: The 800-Pound Mockingbird in the Classroom”) Continue reading
My best friend once said, “The more principles you have, the more principals you’ll have.” I think about that phrase often, and, if you have read my Walk of Life page, you’ll understand why. I have worked in five schools, three in Wisconsin and two in Texas. I am not of the generation that will have 7-15 jobs in a lifetime, or whatever that statistic is. I want to find a school where I fit and that I can take pride in. My expectations are reasonable, I think. But you tell me. Here’s what I expect from the school where I work: Continue reading
I want to tell you about my gynecologist. However, as the title might suggest, I’m not going to tell you that having my cervix scraped or whatever she does down there makes me feel good. No, siree. That does not feel good. Ever. But my gynecologist makes me feel good as a person, a patient, a woman in stirrups. Continue reading
In 2002, Tyler, an eighth grader, changed my teaching life and improved the education of more than a thousand students who came after him.
When I started teaching, I used what I found in the file cabinet: novel units with easy-to-copy study guides, quizzes, and tests. There were textbooks in the room, so I used them, too, with similar resources that came neatly organized in a shiny box (with a handle!). Continue reading
My driving question of the summer is this: “Why do you teach the way you teach?” About a month ago, I quickly (and in my head), tried to count up the number of teachers I’ve had in my life. I included elementary, junior high, high school, college, grad school, numerous extra grad classes, and all of the conferences and workshops I’ve attended during my twenty years in education. Roughly, I’ve observed the teaching of 200 instructors. None used differentiation. Few used authentic assessment. Almost all used lecture. Continue reading