Student agency: voice, choice and making

In anticipation of the new Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessments, which students will take online, teachers are being asked to help students prepare by giving them more time on computers. After all, if the testing environment is all online, students need to be familiar with and comfortable using basic computer commands and options, as well as keyboarding and computation. But as with any significant shift in classroom … Continue reading Student agency: voice, choice and making

Evolution of a lesson

It all started with a Facebook post by a friend of mine: “Check out these customer reviews on Amazon!  It’s like a whole new kind of writing!” The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer has generated nearly 3,000 customer reviews that mock the absurdity of this unnecessary product. Ranging from “What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn’t already been said about the wheel, … Continue reading Evolution of a lesson

A Novel and Most Excellent Cause

You are frustrated with the testing emphasis in education, and you really resent politicians and non-educators trying to tell teachers what to do in their classrooms.  You are especially upset over the shift away from creative, artistic pursuits in the classroom as drill-and-kill math and reading replace the arts.  So what can you do to make a difference? Don’t despair, my friend!  The Office of … Continue reading A Novel and Most Excellent Cause

Call me NaNo…

It’s Day One of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and my 8th graders wrote for a full hour in class, tap-tap-tapping away on the first chapters of their novels.   They wrote in a Google Doc, which they shared with me, so when I should have been working on my own novel, I was taking peeks at theirs.  Wow!  Some great stuff.  Here are just … Continue reading Call me NaNo…

“A, B, C or D? Really?!?”

Our frenzied novel writing was repeatedly interrupted on November 30 as students let out yelps of joy when they met their word count goals.  Even I disturbed the quiet when I took a writing break, loaded my novel into the NaNoWriMo word validator, and saw “WINNER!” flash across my screen. “I made it!” I yelled, jumping out of my chair and bowing to my students … Continue reading “A, B, C or D? Really?!?”

“Pleeeeze, can we write today?”

The bell rings, my classroom door flies open, and Tony comes hurtling through.  “Can we write today, Mrs. Bradley?  Please, please tell me we’re gonna write today!”  He glances at the white board, sees “writing” on the agenda, and throws his hands up in celebration.  “Yes!” In 20 years of teaching, I have never seen students this eager to write.  Sure, I have had success … Continue reading “Pleeeeze, can we write today?”

Will writing get me in trouble?

My students were hard at work outlining the first essays for their self-published magazines.  They were writing about cars, gymnastics, football, teen fashion, traveling, music, cooking, skateboarding and whatever else grabbed their fancy. This project would carry them through the rest of the semester, and because they get to choose the topics for their magazines, they usually enjoy the work.  Writing is an art, and … Continue reading Will writing get me in trouble?