Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Double Steal

My friend Joe at Joe Average Writer stole this from Laura Robb. I'm stealing it from him.

Ten Ways Students Can Expand Their Vocabularies

1.      Become a nonstop reader: Read e-books, print books, blogs, and online articles. The more you read, the greater your background knowledge and the more your vocabulary will grow. Through reading, you’ll meet words in diverse contexts and come to know their multiple meanings.

2.      Use new words or lose them: Include words in your conversations, text messages, IMs, and writing. Without use, new words you’ve learned just fade away into the land of forgetting.

3.      Develop curiosity about multiple meanings: When you meet a new word in one situation, take a few moments to consider its multiple meanings. Use an online dictionary or thesaurus to explore multiple meanings. Text a friend to see what he or she knows about the word.

4.      Bond with a dictionary: If you come across an unfamiliar word, jot it on scrap paper, and when you have a free moment, read about it on an online dictionary.

5.      Play vocabulary games: It’s easy to find word games online through Google. Play games with friends, siblings, parents, and on your own. While you’re having fun, you’ll learn new words and revisit old friends.

6.      Broaden your interests: Try to branch out and read beyond your interests and hobbies. Read online newspapers, take a virtual tour of a museum, castle, or city. Listen to music you love; then listen to other kinds of music. When you learn about a range of topics, you can enlarge your vocabulary.

7.      Ask questions: If someone uses a word or expression you don’t understand, ask that person to tell you about it.

8.      Talk: Talk to friends and family; use a video chat program such as iChat to talk online; have conversations with yourself. Make talk an important part of your day, and you’ll meet and learn new words that you will use as you communicate with others.

9.      Listen: Listen during a conversation, lesson, speech, sermon, newscast, play, movie, video; listen to the words others use to convey meaning and communicate ideas. Mull over ideas and words you’ve heard—new words, familiar words—and discover what listening has helped you learn.

10. Visualize words: You can picture, see on the screen of your mind, what you understand. Once you can use meaning and situations to picture new words, you’ll be able to use them when thinking, speaking, reading, and writing.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Growing the Growth Mindset

A colleague posted this on a site I frequent. I think it's a great idea to introduce the idea of "productive struggle" in class.

I think I'll use this with my students during the first week of school, after we do our getting to know you activities.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Starting Afresh

Last year was CRAZY busy for me, what with teaching full time for the first time. This summer has been a much needed break to retrieve sanity.

I have two things that I'm currently looking into:


The first site is a treasure trove of ELA ideas, and the second site is one that purports to help teachers keep their work to a 40 hour week. We shall see!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Edutopia Poetry Post

This edutopia link on poetry has some real gems that I was previously unaware of. I can't wait to try some of these with my students:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

More Blast From the Past

When I taught at UCAS I used to do writing circles where we picked a topic and then wrote on it. I picked a different group to work with each time. When I was finally down to organizing the last of my filing, I found several of these pieces that I apparently never saved in a digital form -- here is one of them.

Gifting from the Comfort of Your Home

There are two things in life that I truly hate: calling people on the phone and shopping in the mall at Christmas time. Some people find it exhilarating and exciting to shop at malls when they are wall-to-wall people--I am not one them. I don't like being jostled, I don't like noise, and I most definitely don't like waiting in lines.

Because of this, I have become a dedicated internet shopper. There is something intrinsically exciting about getting packages in the mail. Someone has to do something to keep the postal service in business, right? 

Of course there are a few downsides to internet shopping--the shipping can be expensive, the clothes occasionally don't fit, and you have to do something with all those boxes. Speaking of boxes, I like to break mine down and get them into the recycle bin before anyone notices that I just got another eleven boxes in the mail. Heck, internet shopping is the reason I HAVE a recycle bin.

However, once you have destroyed the evidence, you are still faced with the dilemma of where to store the contents of said eleven boxes. If you follow my concept of complete anti-surprise, you will just leave the contents out on the counter, and the recipients have to pretend to be surprised when they show up in their birthday/Christmas package a week later.

The real problem surfaces when the items you just ordered from the internet don't fit, or even worse but occasionally true, are rejected out of hand by the giftees. You are then faced with two choices: stand in a long line at the post office to mail them back, usually on your dime, or take them back to the mall/store where you will have to deal with crowds, lines, and noise.

Really, when it comes to shopping for gifts, it's a lose-lose world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ekphrastic Human Rights Poetry

According to Google, an ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

We just started a unit on Chris Crowe's nonfiction book, Getting Away With Murder. I passed around iconic visuals from the 1950s and 60s pertaining to civil rights and had the students create ekphrastic poetry about them. The students had some really good ones. Here are two I created for them -- not my best work as it was on the fly -- but okay.

They look like anyone's child --
clean cut, well dressed.

But the smiles on their faces
belie the words on their signs
and the hateful look in their eyes.

Strike. Won't. Don't.


Hate is even worse when it
masquerades as morality and
moonlights as tradition.

I knew music and color went together –

soulful blues, breezy greens, melodic mauves,
red hot notes and moody purples
mixing and mingling in harmony.

Now they tell me music only comes in
black or white –

but I still hear

the rainbow.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blue Haired Lady

With today being a new term, I had the students scribble on the question: What does my ____________ reveal about me? This is what I wrote.
One thing that people often notice about me is my hair. I’ve had a blue streak in my hair for about three years. All I’m going to say about it is this: My hair is more of a decoy than a clue to my personality. Most of my students this year assumed that I was a different person than I really am just because of the blue streak – for example, they assumed I wasn’t a member of the dominant religion. Having blue hair makes you seem like a rebel – but at the end of the day, I’m pretty laid back. I would definitely NOT call myself a conservative though – I’m pretty liberal these days – liberal in my love for my fellowman, to quote my husband’s mother. As for my hairstyle, it’s more a function of ease of care than anything else. For the past 15 or so years, I’ve had my hair pretty short – as a matter of fact, for the past few years it’s continued to get shorter and shorter all the time. This is entirely a matter of ease of care rather than fashion. My hair is fine and curly, and it tends to look better if it’s short – when it is long it just starts to go crazy. Literally.