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Showing posts from October, 2014

When Students Tell You #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Most of my sophomores were out yesterday, so I used the class period to get to know the students that were there better. We were hoping to go on a writing marathon, but the weather looked less than promising, so we compromised. We would have a reading marathon, tie up loose ends of Of Mice and Men, and have a class discussion about the book. With an extended time for reading, I was able to knock out many reading conferences that I'd waited too long to do. My goal was to meet with every student before the end of the marking period. I'm close!

During sixth hour, however, students wanted to take the class in a different direction. One student brought up her past experience in a charter school that encouraged her to switch to our school. Apparently a staff member there didn't see the value in appreciating diversity, and she didn't feel comfortable there.

In sharing her story, I asked her to tell me about how our school was different. First, she said that she felt comfortab…

Needed: Honest Conversations about Texts

Two former students visited me today to check out books. They met the same question I ask every former student: "What are you reading?" More often than not, students respond with the title of a whole-class novel. I then follow up with "What are you reading for you?" and I'm met with a completely different response. Sometimes students are able to mention a title; other times they aren't.

These students told me today that they didn't even bother reading their whole-class text. And these are avid readers. My jaw dropped. If our college-bound readers, the students who voraciously devour texts, aren't reading the whole-class texts we assign, then who actually is? As a teacher that uses a whole-class text nearly every marking period, I'm not sure I want to know the answer. As a teacher that genuinely cares about his students' reading habits, preferences, and growth, I feel compelled to do more research to find out. Is the text too difficult? Too h…

My Writing Tribe

For the third time of my life, I spent a weekend with teacher-writers in Lake Ann, Michigan. It was the much needed reprieve during the longest stretch of the year, the time when it starts to seem like no end is in sight. I'm feeling refreshed, full of ideas, and like I've accomplished so many things on my to-do list. 
Like the Nerdy Book Club, these teachers are my tribe. Though we are all from different summer institutes, we are all brought together as teacher consultants for the Eastern Michigan Writing Project. And trip after trip, I'm reminded that these people get me. I could wake up at 5:00 AM to read and write and not face judgment. I could share something I've written and only receive positive feedback if it was that early in the writing process. I could suddenly wander off alone and know that they would give me that writerly space. I could sit down in a bookstore and participate in a read aloud of William Shakespeare's Star Wars and laugh and celebrate som…