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Showing posts from January, 2015

Unity without Uniformity

Today, three students and I traveled to the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor to visit campus and hear Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. If you aren't familiar with his work, check out his website here.

I have to say that I chose those three students intentionally. They didn't know each other, they spanned grade levels, and they all had never been to the university. In the weeks ahead, I'm excited to continue talking to them about the experience and what we took away from Dr. Hill's speech.

Here are some of the words and phrases I scribbled in my notebook:

radical listeningcontradictionscoalitionsdangerous truth-tellingcomplicating our narrativessuccumbing to the analysis of othersparalysis of analysisact bravelyobsession with remembering vs. willful forgettingunity without uniformity  Dr. Hill spoke about how there is so much talking but very little listening. He talked about the need to tell the truth and how the truth can isolate you and make others feel uncomfortable. He spoke…

When Other Students Bless a Book

Banned Books Week was in September. And now that it's the beginning of 2015, it seems like it was years ago. During that week, I highlighted banned titles available in the classroom library. One of those titles was Toni Morrison's Beloved. It remains one of the heaviest books I've ever read--and it's also one that has made me think about the legacies and lasting impacts of our actions.

Before winter break, I loaned the book to a twelfth grader, who also happens to be an AP English student. Their assignment over break was to read a book and come up with a question that the book is supposed to make you think about, not necessarily answer. I happened to have the student two years ago, so she came during lunch to ask for recommendations. She was expecting one recommendation, and I gave her two: Jackie Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming and Beloved.

She returned the book this past Monday during my third hour, which happens to be an English 10 class. Normally I hate being int…

Learning: What We Should Really Have in Common

I've been slowly making my way through the November edition of English Journal. This edition is dedicated to standards--something that, try as we might, we just can't seem to avoid. 

I'm not far into the issue, but Stephen Heller's article, "The End of Innovation," really made me stop and think about what I see happening in so many places. Just like I hate the phrase "data-driven," I'm starting to distrust the notion that everything should be assessment-driven. Heller makes his case here: 

By putting assessment at the forefront of the agenda--and in effect having the ends justify the means--we risk losing that creative spark that not only authenticates lifelong learning but also inspires teachers to recognize that while students do share many of the same qualities from year to year, each child and each classroom is different, and each requires the capacity to differentiate in ways that permit greater flexibility in teaching students. 

I've bee…