Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Actual [paraphrased] conversation among actual students

Around 1:40 on a February afternoon in a seventh- and eighth-grade English class, two sets each of 11 students watch and give feedback to student presenters. Zoom in on one group.

Presenter: So for this project, I decided to write an essay.

Observer #1 [scoffing]: You chose to write an essay?

Presenter: Yeah, [defensively] I thought it would be fun.

Observer #1: You thought it would be fun? [pauses, stunned] That's. Im. Possible.

Presenter: Um... [sheepish, stunned for a different reason]

Observer #2 [brightly]: I think it'd be possible if you cared enough about the topic. Like, enough that you're really curious about it.

Teacher [sighs, equal parts pride and woe]


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Dirty deeds

I don't like house cleaning, but I like having cleaned house. That's the dilemma with which I've been wrestling for much of Presidents' Day weekend.

Guests are due to arrive today, which necessitates enhanced spic-and-spanness for home, squalid home. So, I briefly became a dervish of dusting, scrubbing, vacuuming, rinsing, buffing, straightening, stowing, and pitching.

Those dust bunnies clinging to far, high corners? Succumb to the wave of my (Hoover) wand! That square of floor under the fridge? See the light of day and feel my broom's cleansing wrath! The three pendant lamps hanging above the kitchen? Lovingly polished for the first time in years -- once I ninjaed my way onto the counter to bring them within arm's reach; that same counter then given its own polishing to erase each tell-tale footprint.

The words of John Keats come to mind: "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." His statement turns out to be a half truth. It sweeps under the proverbial rug what feels to me like joy-sucking effort needed to make things fleetingly clean.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I ❤ zeugma

I love trying new recipes &, sometimes, my students' patience.
I love getting around obstacles of hypocrisy & by bicycle.
I love reading books written for younger audiences & arcs of flying Frisbees.
I love writing concisely & couplets.
I love running dirt trails & early for meetings.
I love asking questions & for ideas.
I love hearing popcorn pop & They Might be Giants.
I love wandering thoughts & libraries.
I love learning keyboard shortcuts & how my wife's day was.
I love going abroad & to sleep.


Happy Valentine's Day!
For more on zeugma, click here.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Knowledge collage

Eleven quotes, three paraphrased thoughts, and three online resources gathered at last week's Colorado Council of the International Reading Association (CCIRA) annual conference -- listed in order of appearance in front of my brain:

"Never hold a strategy in higher esteem than students' learning." --Douglas Fisher

"I've loved the kingdom of story. I've lived in the awe of words." --Nikki Grimes

"Everyone's a language learner, cultivating word consciousness... Every word is everywhere once you start noticing." --Ashley Maxwell

Reading should be the reward, rather than relying on extrinsic trinkets to prop up reading habits.
--Beth Claycomb

"Denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good." --Philip Gourevitch, quoted by Danny M. Cohen

“Say, you’re teaching 3rd grade… you’re not teaching 3rd grade; you’re teaching all the way from 7th grade to cave man.” --Danny Brassell

Use semantic maps to relate new words to known words, rather than having learners glean out-of-context definitions from dictionaries. --Nell K. Duke

“Reading accompanies you. It goes with you everywhere... Literacy is the most flexible invention that people ever created." --Pam Allyn

“We as teachers get the privilege to assign meaning to data.” --Valerie McBride-Taft

“Humor transmutes pain into meaning and connection. When you laugh, you’re connecting... When you can laugh at something that mortified you, you’ve healed it.” --Jeff Anderson

Two chief types of questions: inquiry questions broaden thinking; probe questions focus thinking.
--Vicki Collet

“Such a beautiful balance in a conference between what do we know and what we think the kid needs. Conferencing is such a subtle series of moves.” --Penny Kittle


“Time is the currency of education. How do we spend special, limited time?” --Kelly Gallagher

Voice is “that ineffable quality that makes writing sound like a real person.” --Kate Messner