Amy, an English teacher, facing the 8th grade Writing SOL (Virignia's standards of learning tests) in the upcoming weeks, came into the library with an idea to help her students review. She was armed with data from assessments showing the specific skills on which her students needed extra support and was hoping we could help her build a lesson. After some planning with Amy, Susanna (my co-librarian) and I delved into the 8th grade writing standards to figure out exactly what we needed to teach. What evolved was a review activity that surprised even us with the level of student engagement.
Definition of a #teacherfangirl: when Teacher A thinks Teacher B is so amazing that they spend time trying to teach more like Teacher A. In this situation, Cris Tovani, a talented, thoughtful English teacher (and book writer) with decades of teaching experience is teacher A and I am teacher B (but you probably figured that out by now).
Cris has been working with my school district over the past two years to improve our literacy programming. Consequently, Gretchen and I have had the chance to delve into her work and to hear her speak on multiple occasions. She's fantastic and has altered my teaching practice in so many positive ways. So for our 100th blog post (yes -- you heard me right -- one hundred!), Gretchen and I thought we would share the love by sharing with our readers some of the truths we've learned from Cris (yes, I can call her Cris because I am her #fangirl). Because as you know, when teachers share great ideas Bubbleup.
BubbleUp Take5: Problem Solving, Morale, Writing Feedback, Math + Google, and yes, a Personality Quiz
As I watch the headlines unfold day after day, and hear conversations among friends (both Democrats and Republicans alike) that our nation is more divided than ever, I can't help but feeling that educators (or maybe education policy gurus) are missing something - something vital to our democracy. The talk of late is about STEM and STEAM, about how we need to teach children to code, to experiment, to engineer and calculate. And we do, 100 percent. But by emphasizing some subjects over others, we are acting as though the humanities (subjects like history, civics, philosophy, geography and literacy) somehow don't matter as much as math and science.
We know that it’s hard to get to conferences. They are too expensive or too far away. So we wanted to share a few of the things that we learned on our journey (some big, some small) in the hopes it might empower you in your own teaching and learning.
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