Ending the year with hope

Usually I’m a planner. I like to-do lists and calendars and vision boards and check boxes. But I’m also fond of those lightbulb moments when an idea pops into my head and I can see an entire project unfold that my students could start tomorrow. And that’s what happened when I read this article from Edutopia: In Schools, Finding Hope in a Hopeless Time, by … Continue reading Ending the year with hope

#NaNoWriMoTinyTip: just an excerpt, please!

If your students have been pounding away on their keyboards for the past month, drafting a (very very rough) first draft of a novel (thank you, NaNoWriMo!), you might be wondering how you can assess the work they’ve done. It wouldn’t be fair to assess their first drafts, especially since one rule of NaNoWriMo is that we all “silence our inner editors.” How painful would … Continue reading #NaNoWriMoTinyTip: just an excerpt, please!

Put the kids in charge

There’s nothing quite like the intensity, the chaos, the one-crisis-after-another, the sorry-I-can’t-help-you-go-find-someone-who-can, the exhilaration, jubilation and exhaustion of the first day of production in a middle school broadcast media class. My brand new group of 7th and 8th graders had met six times in the first couple weeks of school (90 minutes, every other day) and our audience was antsy for a show. Our news … Continue reading Put the kids in charge

Go ahead: ask your students what they want to write about. They will amaze you!

On my first-day-of-school survey, I asked my 8th graders: If you could write about anything this year, what would it be? Their answers remind me why it’s so valuable to give students choice in their writing. I never would have guessed they would want to write about so many interesting topics. Here are some of their plans: I would write about… a kid who is … Continue reading Go ahead: ask your students what they want to write about. They will amaze you!

Part 4: Reflections on our bulletin boards

In my last post I shared the beautiful and inspirational bulletin boards that my students created when they were given the challenge to make our classroom walls their own. Not content to end this project with their displays, I then asked them to choose one part of a bulletin board that they liked and reflect on its value to them and our community. Here are … Continue reading Part 4: Reflections on our bulletin boards

Part 3: Bulletin board inspiration

They arrived early on Day 1 of their bulletin board rotation, laden with bags of decorations, eyes and smiles full of¬†anticipation and excitement. I handed them staplers and push pins, and stepped back to watch them work. I had assigned this group to the largest bulletin board in the first round because I knew them well enough to expect them to produce a creative, thought-provoking … Continue reading Part 3: Bulletin board inspiration

Part 2: bulletin boards and student #voice

It took me a few weeks to get our bulletin board remodel going, but now we’re making progress. (See Part 1 here.) The bulletin boards are bare and my students are planning what they will create and bring in to hang on the walls. (I left the life skill posters up on the green bulletin board because they are too high for me to reach … Continue reading Part 2: bulletin boards and student #voice

Student #voice: bulletin boards and literary analysis

In my ongoing efforts to give my students more voice and choice in our classroom, I decided last summer that I would hand over the bulletin boards to them. I wasn’t sure my students even noticed what was on our walls, and I was pretty sure that I didn’t know what they needed to see that might impact their learning. But the start of the … Continue reading Student #voice: bulletin boards and literary analysis