Teach writing? Then you’d better BE writing.

I told my husband that he needed to come with me for an evening canoe ride. We were vacationing at our cabin, and although I was working very hard at not working, I was also working on a piece of writing that had to get done. And I needed to bounce some ideas off of him. We paddled up the lake a bit, the late … Continue reading Teach writing? Then you’d better BE writing.

#NaNoWriMo: ask the experts

I’ve never published a novel of my own, so it’s intimidating to ask my students to write a novel under my tutelage. But since the answer to just about every question can now be found online, I decided this year to ask my students to search the web for writing advice from those most qualified to give it: published writers. Much of the wisdom they found echoes … Continue reading #NaNoWriMo: ask the experts

Sticky post

Always a learner; also a teacher.

Greetings! I have been teaching middle school since 1988: first English Language Arts, then Digital Design Lab and Broadcast Media, and now as the K-12 Ed Tech Teacher on Special Assignment in Petaluma, California. I present workshops for teachers on technology in the classroom, project-based learning and writing; plus I work with Edutopia, PBS and KQED Learning. I love to connect with other educators, so please enjoy … Continue reading Always a learner; also a teacher.

Thank you (so much) and I’m so (very) sorry.

I know I’m not the only teacher who struggles to meet the needs of all her students, but after 25 years, I am still surprised by the wide range of responses I get from my students and their parents. The following comments come from parents of students (and students, too) who have been in the same class period with me this year: “Thank you so much! I think you are … Continue reading Thank you (so much) and I’m so (very) sorry.

Loving the homestretch: meaningful work and active engagement

Oh, these crazy days of May! As sure as the weather gets warmer, our students get antsy, lose their focus and challenge our well established rules and expectations. Attention spans wither and distractions bloom. But thanks to the engaging nature of PBL and student choice, I love my classroom in May. Although my students know the year is almost over, they are (for the most part) fully engaged in … Continue reading Loving the homestretch: meaningful work and active engagement

Brainstorm backwards, then look ahead

The first time I read Billy Collins’ poem “On Turning Ten,” I thought it would be wonderful if my 8th graders wrote poems about the nostalgia of childhood and the uncertainty of growing up, since they were kind of in the middle: finished with elementary school and looking forward to high school. We watched a video of Collins reciting the poem, and I distributed it on … Continue reading Brainstorm backwards, then look ahead

“I’d like to thank the Academy…” a.k.a. What do teachers need?

Did you see the new thank-you ticker crawling across the screen at this year’s Oscars? The long list of names reminded me that whether we are actors or teachers, directors or principals, we didn’t get where we are without the help of a lot of people. I was reminded of all the people who have contributed to my own, albeit less glamorous, career in education. I was reminded that I have not become … Continue reading “I’d like to thank the Academy…” a.k.a. What do teachers need?

50% means it’s time for a box castle

My students have been working on their novels for a couple weeks now, and as November 15 approaches, they know it’s time to get to 50% of their word goal. When they cross that halfway line, they choose a NaNoWriMo button to wear proudly on their hoodie: But many of us are starting to feel like we’re running out of steam. The story we were so excited … Continue reading 50% means it’s time for a box castle

21st century collaboration: put ’em on wheels

After just one day with our new furniture, I experienced one of those “ah-ha” moments that I’m sure resulted in a light bulb exploding over my head. OK, maybe no visible light bulb, but certainly there were flashes of light in my eyes. As I had predicted when our new furniture first arrived, my students were most enthusiastic about the chairs on wheels, which not … Continue reading 21st century collaboration: put ’em on wheels