Advertisements

Category Archives: Community

If These Walls Could Talk

We spend eight hours a day (Ha! Nine? Ten? Should I just sleep here?) in our classrooms.

Four walls, seating for 30 (Ha! 3img_66735? 78? Does flexible seating come in bunk style these days?), and an endless array of inquisitive minds, needs, and beliefs.

At Three Teachers, we speak with full hearts and buzzing minds about the opportunities that Readers and Writers workshop afford. From choice to challenge, talk to Twitter, and many, many elements in between, we explore, question, wrestle with, and embrace the opportunities that come with relinquishing control over a classroom to instead move together with our students as readers and writers.

As I look around my classroom this year, full of some familiar components (budget-busting classroom library, inspirational posters touting the beauty of words and books, and my space age rolling furniture), I also see evidence of my growth as a workshop teacher.

So, in much the same way that one might suggest that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, the following suggests some of the ideas I’ve collected from great workshop teachers, Twitter searches, fellow colleagues, and my professional reading over the summer to reflect the beliefs of our community and what we value as readers and writers:

img_6116

I’ve completely abandoned any traditional rules in the classroom. On the first day of school, I joke with kids about their vast knowledge of how to “play the game of school.” As long as we can, as high school students, keep from putting gum in each other’s hair, we can focus on the more important “rules” that will guide our philosophy of learning and engagement. These rules from Amy Fast, are referenced each and every day. Mostly rule #2. We need a LOT of work there. 

img_6117

I am NOT an artist, by any means. In the past, I’ve let this limit what I try to do when it comes to anchor charts in my room. NO MORE! With a projector and pencil, I am tracing my way to borderline copyright infringement (Don’t worry, I promise not to try and sell them). This beauty comes from the Disrupting Thinking by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst, which rocked my world over the summer. I wanted my students to have a solid reminder of what their books, brains, and hearts mean to their reading. We refer to this chart that I found through Google Images almost daily. 

img_6468

Giving students a place to share what moves them in their reading means we have a constant reminder of the power of words, and motivation to write as we reflect on the great beauty we find through the published word. This reading graffiti poster illustrates the baby steps my students are taking to feel comfortable in sharing what speaks to their hearts and minds while reading. Once I finally broke the seal and put a quote up myself (Thank you, as ever, Patrick Ness), students have added insights such as “When you tell a lie, you steal a man’s right to the truth” and “You can’t take it with you, right?!”I love the brave souls who are sharing their reading lives with us without even being asked. 

The back wall is a revolving homage to mentor text study. Early in the year, my sophomores started their study of narrative by emulating Kelly Norman Ellis’s poem Raised by Women.” These days, creations from my AP Language students grace the walls. They utilized authentic informative writing in the creation of biographies modeled after the work of James Gulliver Hancock in Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers.

img_6685

In the space behind my desk, I have inspirational words that help frame my work each day, provided by people that I love and respect. I have pictures of my family, notes of gratitude from students, and art from my daughter Ellie. I am a firm believer that as a reader and a writer in the room, my story matters too. I love to share with students how the belief that we can always improve, grow in reflection, and benefit from a positive attitude, can shape their experience in English class each day. 


Our classrooms, both full of students, and basically empty, suggest who we are as teachers. I love what mine says about the work we do everyday in the workshop.

What does your classroom say about your workshop journey? Please share in the comments below!

 


Lisa Dennis teaches English and leads a department of incredible English educators at Franklin High School near Milwaukee. One of her classroom walls is painted in a burnt orange color. It’s fall all year. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LDennibaum 

Advertisements

5 Lists of Books and More Space for Talk

I am a collector. I collect bookmarks I don’t use and tweets with headlines I think I’ll read later. I collect cute little pots I think I’ll eventually make home to plants, and notebooks I’m afraid to mess up with a pen (from my pen collection, of course.)

I also collect lists. Doesn’t everyone?

I collect lists of books thinking this will keep me from buying more books. Sometimes it works. Not often.

We’ve shared several lists of books on this blog:  Coach Moore’s list of books he read this summer, Shana’s Summer Reads to Stay Up Late With, Amy E’s Refresh the Recommended Reading List, and Lisa’s Going Broke List just to name a few.

I like reading lists about books. This helps me stay current on what my students might find interesting or useful. Often, I find titles that help me find the just right book for that one students who confuses “reading is boring” with “I don’t read well,” or “I don’t know what I like to read.”

With one heartbreaking event after another in our country lately, I keep thinking about the importance of reading to help our young people grow into compassionate citizens who more easily understand their world. Did you see the results of yet another study? Reading makes you feel more empathy for others, researchers discover.

Of course, we don’t need another study to tell us this. Many of us see it in our students.

I see it in my students. My students who enjoy reading also enjoy talking about their

Bookclubdiscussion

My students chose from nine different books for their book clubs. Once they chose, we had five different book clubs happening in one class. At the end of our second discussion day, I had students combine groups and talk with one another about the major themes, make connections, and share a bit about their author’s style.

reading. They relate to one another more naturally as they talk about their books, the characters, the connections. They welcome conversations that allow them to express their opinions, likes and dislikes. They learn much more than reading skills through these conversations.

My AP Language students recently finished their first book club books. I left them largely without a structured approach to talking about their reading. My only challenge on their first discussion day was to stay on topic:  keep the conversation about the book for 30 minutes. They did. I wandered the room, listening in as I checked the reading progress of each student.

On the final discussion day (three total), I reviewed question types and used ideas from Margaret Lopez’ guest post Saying Something, Not Just Anything, and asked students to write two of each question types:  factual, inductive, analytical prior to their book club discussions. This led to even richer conversations around their reading.

I remember reading a long while ago about how conversations about poetry could invite opportunities for solving big problems. I don’t know if this is the article I read, but the poet interviewed in this article asserts it, too:

I think we know the world needs changing. Things are going awry left and right. I firmly believe that in our very practical, technological, and scientific age, the values of all the arts, but of poetry in particular, are necessary for moving the world forward. I’m talking about things like compassion, empathy, permeability, interconnection, and the recognition of how important it is to allow uncertainty in our lives.

. . .Poetry is about the clarities that you find when you don’t simplify. They’re about complexity, nuance, subtlety. Poems also create larger fields of possibilities. The imagination is limitless, so even when a person is confronted with an unchangeable outer circumstance, one thing poems give you is there is always a changeability, a malleability, of inner circumstance. That’s the beginning of freedom.

When we invite our students to read, and then open spaces for them to talk about their

bookclubdiscussion2

This group had hearty discussions around Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. It’s Western Days. They don’t always wear hats and plaid and boots, even in Texas.

reading, we provide the same opportunities that discussions around poetry do. Maybe not on the micro scale of ambiguity and nuance, but most certainly on the macro scale of possibilities. Our students are social creatures, and we must give them spaces to talk.

So I collect lists of books I think my students may like to read, with the hope of engaging them in conversations — with me and with one another — around books. (A couple of years ago, Shana and I had students create book lists as part of their midterm.)

Here’s five of the book lists I’ve read lately. Maybe you will find them useful as you curate your classroom libraries and work to find the right books for the right students, so they can have the conversations that help them grow in the empathy and understanding we need in our future leaders, right or left.

6 YA Books that are Great for Adults

50 Books from the Past 50 Years Everyone Should Read at Least Once

The Bluford Series — Audiobooks

20 Books for Older Teen Reluctant Readers

43 Books to Read Before They are Movies

Oh, and if you haven’t read Lisa’s 10 Things Worth Sharing Right Now post in a while, now, that’s an awesome list!!

Amy Rasmussen loves to read, watch movies with her husband, and tickle her five grandchildren. She’s in the market for a lake house and likes to shop thrift stores for books and bargain furniture. Someday she’ll be disciplined enough to write a book about teaching. For now, she teaches senior English and AP Lang and Comp at her favorite high school in North TX. Follow Amy on Twitter @amyrass, and, please, go ahead and follow this blog.

Shifting Control to Invite More Learning

569059I admit to liking control. I won’t go far as to say I’m a control freak, but I am freakishly close. As I age I realize I like more and more things in neat little rows, even my To-Do lists must be lined up perfectly, so I can make tiny check marks with my Precision pen.

I am ridiculous.

The hardest part of teaching for me is letting go. It’s also been the best thing for my teaching.

To be an effective workshop teacher, we step aside so our students can step in. They want to know their opinions, ideas, and choices matter. They’re hungry for it. We’ve written a lot about choice reading on this blog, and I know many of us advocate for self-selected independent reading, protecting sacred reading time like an O line protecting our quarterbacks.

I wonder what other choices we offer our students. How else do we invite them to own their learning?

Recently, I read this post “The Inspiration in Front of Your Eyes” by George Couros. He begins:

Often when working with educators, I try to give relevant examples of ideas that can be implemented into learning but get very specific to either a class or grade level.  My focus is not adding something to the plate of an educator but replacing something they currently do with something new and better than what they may have been doing before.  For example, instead of a teacher spending hours searching a video to explain a concept in math, or even creating it themselves, why not have the students find the concept and say why it is powerful, or having the students create some form of multimedia to explain the concept themselves? The flip is putting the learning into the student’s hands, which can lessen the work for the educator.

Deeper learning for the student, less work for the teacher.  Sounds good to me!

Couros goes on to explain the importance of being observant and connecting ideas we find in the world, and reshaping them to facilitate deeper learning for our students. Of course, this resonated. This is how we find mentor texts like author bios and user manuals. But Mr. Couros got me thinking about shifting the finding to my students.

Then before school a week ago Monday, I saw Kristen Ziemke‘s Padlet, Take a Knee. And I got another spark to shift my instruction.

I’d never used Padlet before, so while my students shuffled in to first period, I quickly made an account and created a board. I put one thing on it:  Kwame Alexander’s poem, Take a Knee, which I knew was the perfect quickwrite for the day after so many NFL players knelt in protest.

After we wrote and shared and talked in small groups and as a class about the issue. One student said, “I just don’t know enough about it to know what I believe.”

The perfect intro!

I suggested we make a text set that could help us understand the why’s and who’s and what’s of this hotbed of a topic, and I issued the challenge:  As a class of individuals with a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds, we’d search for articles that would address all sides. We’d use Padlet as our storage space. Then we’d use the text set we build together for our learning in class.

With their phones and iPads, students went to work, and in the 10 minutes I gave them in class, they talked. Students talked about where to find information that “wasn’t biased,” “would tell them the truth,” “will help me want to know more.”

I leaned in to these conversations, teaching terms, suggesting sites, encouraging objectivity — and why it is important for our understanding of human needs and desires.

Our Padlet What’s the Argument is not complete. We haven’t had a chance to return to it yet, but we will. Maybe we’ll use it as we learn to ask better questions in preparation for whole class discussions. Maybe we’ll use it as we learn to synthesize information from a variety of sources. Maybe we’ll use it to spark ideas for the arguments we’ll post on our blogs. It doesn’t matter.

When we return to our Padlet, or even create another one that coincides with whatever peace-cannot-be-kept-by-force-it-can-only-be-achieved-by-understandinghotbed topic fires up the nation (sadly, there are so many), my students will know I value their input. They’ll know that helping them make sense of our world is as important to me as helping them love books and become good writers.

And maybe they’ll remember to look at all sides of the issues, to see into the hearts and minds of those we may disagree with so we can find a space for conversations.

If my giving up control makes space for that, I’ll take it every chance I get.

What ideas to do have to flip the learning into students’ hands, let go of control, and invite deeper learning? Please share in the comments.

Amy Rasmussen is a neat freak in her classroom but not her bedroom closet. She loves sharing books with student readers and reading students’ writing. She is the mother of six, grandmother to five, and wife to one very patient man. She teaches senior English and AP English Language at a huge and lovely senior high school in North Texas. Follow her on Twitter @amyrass

On Substitutes in a RWWorkshop Classroom

We’ve all been there:

tweet by Mr Minor

If you don’t follow @MisterMinor, you’re missing out. He’s a master teacher, and a master at gifs. No justice in this screenshot.

We carefully craft lesson plans, sometimes with step-by-step instructions, and descriptions of each students’ temperament scrawled in the margins of our rosters; sometimes leaving flow charts to indicate transitions from activity to activity, hoping if are meticulous in our details, and we leave a timer, and sternly warn our students: “Be on your best behavior,” even just a bit of reading and writing will happen when we need a substitute.

When I first started teaching, it rarely did.

I’d never thought to write about a workshop classroom in the hands of a substitute until I got an email from a 2nd year teacher who is newly implementing workshop in her sophomore English classes. Just so happens I got her email the same day I saw Mr. Minor’s tweet.

My new friend wrote:  “How do you approach substitute plans? Do you chalk it up as a loss? Do you leave detailed plans with the idea that once students have developed routines, they should still be able to follow them with another adult in the room?”

If you know me, you know I never chalk anything up to a loss — even in the days when my precise plans didn’t work, I tried to save the day.

Sometimes it depends on the substitute. Just like pretty much everything, some are better than others. Sometimes we are just grateful someone picked up the call. Sometimes our substitutes are used to being left with crowd control, so they think that’s the job.

I speak from several years experience. When I returned to college to finish my degree, I substituted at my children’s high school. I loved the teachers who left me detailed plans, the teachers who held their students accountable for being on task when they were not physically in the classroom. I could always tell the teachers who had established rapport with their students, built relationships of trust, practiced routines, and set expectations for completing work while they were out. I substituted for five years –about half of the teachers I subbed for fit this category of awesome.

Effective workshop teachers are these teachers. Of course, I didn’t know what a workshop pedagogy was back then, and I never subbed in a readers-writers workshop classroom, but the culture in the classroom is the same.

When our students “buy-in” to the community we create around reading and writing everyday, they are more likely to be on task when we leave them in the care of a substitute teacher. Some classes can even facilitate the workshop themselves.

Here’s my tips for leaving instructions for your substitute teachers:

1.Encourage substitutes to stick to your routines. For example, my students read for 15 minutes at the beginning of every class period. I ask my substitute to monitor this sacred reading time by walking the room and when necessary waking up the sleepers, and asking the phone-addicted to put away their devices. (I have to do this everyday myself. Some teens can be so slippery.) And depending on my students’ stamina, sometimes I ask my sub to double the reading time. Many students thank me for it.

  1. Invite substitute teachers to share their reading lives. This is a good fill in for a planned book talk. Ask them to take five minutes and share their favorite books. If they don’t have favorites (sad but sometimes true), ask them to instruct your students to turn and talk about their books, maybe with focused ideas like “Describe the main character,” or “Imagine your book was being made into a new movie, who would be cast as the characters?” I’ve had substitutes borrow books from my classroom library. They’ve left me notes  — and usually bring the books back, eventually.

  2. Invite substitutes to write with your students. Leave a favorite poem or short passage, or if the substitute has access to technology, a video clip that students can read or watch and write a response to. Of course, this ties back to routines. My students and I write almost every day. Sometimes our quickwrites spark ideas for further writing. Sometimes they spark thinking about a topic we’ll explore in a longer reading task. I’ve had some substitutes love writing what my students write. These are the ones I want again.

  3. Trust substitute teachers to facilitate your workshop. Maybe they cannot teach a mini-lesson, but they can give students a reading passage to read and discuss in small groups. They can give students a handout with a short writing task and prompt a discussion around topics students may choose to write about. If we’ve taught our students how workshop works, they will know what to do, even if the substitute is unsure.

  4. Follow up with your students when you get back. This has made the biggest difference in my students staying on task when I am out. If they know I will hold them accountable for the workshop the day before, they are more apt to not take a vacation day when I am gone.

Having a successful substitute experience all comes back to our community. If we’ve built a culture of readers and writers working together to reach individual goals, we can trust our students will keep on learning without us for a day or two.

Go ahead. Take a break if you need it.

How do you ensure learning in your workshop classroom when you leave your students with a substitute? Please share in the comments.

Like every teacher she knows, Amy Rasmussen lives tired. Leaving feedback for student writers, and reading books to share with teen readers, keeps her up way too late. Add in her 5:30 am workout, and no wonder she’s beat. Amy teaches senior English and AP Language at the home of the Fighting Farmers in North Texas. When she’s not yawning, she’s attending her grandson’s baseball games, trying to quit her online shopping addiction, and writing on this blog. Follow Amy on Twitter @amyrass & @3TeachersTalk; and please join the conversation over on Facebook at Three Teachers Talk.

 

 

Building Community Through Tough Conversations

We need to invite conversation into our classrooms, and sometimes that means having controversial conversations. Provocative topics will get anyone talking–we’ve all seen evidence of this in our Facebook feeds–but teens, especially, need to flex their opinion muscles often.

Like any other developmental milestone, kids need a safe place to practice and fail at these skills before they master them. Talk, argument, the subtle art of making claims, supporting them with evidence, and persuading listeners with ethos, pathos, and logos, are developmental milestones. As such, it is our job as educators to provide the safe space needed for that practice.

But as we know, you can’t just leap into the tough conversations a few weeks into the school year–you have to build community, and trust, and a sense of values first.

img_2578Right?

I happen to think that having those tough conversations is the way to build community.

We have to read, think, and write what matters in classrooms. So last Friday, my preservice teachers and I unpacked a tough topic: institutional racism in education. We didn’t just leap in and invite uninformed debate–instead, we did lots of work before our conversation to help us navigate the waters we were about to enter.

First, we read.  Our assigned reading for the week was Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” A women’s studies scholar, McIntosh coined the term “privilege” in the late 80s, when this article was published. It’s a thoughtful read, strengthened by its narrative of McIntosh’s discovery about her previously-unseen privilege.

We drafted our thinking in pairs. After reading, students wrote one-pagers about their thinking and submitted them to our class Google Drive. Each student has a critical friend this semester, so they receive feedback on their thinking from both me and a peer. These low-stakes spaces for thinking help students get their initial reactions down on paper

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 8.27.30 AM.png

We talked. To open our conversation, I asked students to speak generally about what surprised or interested them about McIntosh’s writing. Many students volunteered ways in which they agreed with McIntosh, but a brave few spoke about how they weren’t so sure about her claims. One student even prefaced his comments with, “I feel like kind of a douchebag for even thinking this, but I’m going to say it.” I thanked him for his willingness to be honest, and that opened the floodgates for other students to share more readily.

We extended and re-drafted our thinking. After several minutes of back-and-forth, I presented students with a variety of other points of view on this same topic in the form of quotes about institutional racism and white privilege. I asked students to read and respond to one quote anonymously via Post-its.

img_2517

They did this, then passed their Post-it laden quote to the next table, who read both the quotes and comments and added their thinking.

img_2577

We continued in this vein, then talked in small groups about what the post-its said, negotiating agreement or disagreement with each writer, then conversing about the ways our own opinions had evolved.

We left the conversation unfinished. Because how can you really ever arrive at a definitive understanding of any topic so complex? Our thinking must keep evolving. I have several next steps in mind.

I’m going to send my kids Peggy McIntosh’s fantastic TED Talk on how studying privilege systems strengthens compassion. They’ll respond to their critical friend’s comments. In their notebooks, they’ll write a bit more about how they see evidence of institutional racism in the schools in which they observe. Next class, we’ll discuss ways to enact actionable change in classrooms, using this topic as a starting point for something we may want to reform in education.

In just our third class meeting, our conversation was a good start to the kinds of deep thinking and grappling with issues I want students doing in the course of our two years of seminars together. By offering plenty of opportunities to draft and revise thinking in small-group and low-stakes ways, students got comfortable enough with their thinking to share it with the class thoughtfully and respectfully.

We’ll continue to dialogue about this topic and other difficult ones, revising our thinking through the lenses of our learning and experiences, and discuss why discussing these topics matters. In just this one class meeting, my students and I learned more about one another than we had in our previous weeks of just writing and talking about safer topics. Through reasonable risk-taking, vulnerability, and honesty, we grew not only as individual thinkers and teachers, but as a community of reflective practitioners as well.

How do you help your students have controversial conversations? Please share in the comments!

Shana Karnes is mom to 1.5 spunky little girls and wife to a hardworking surgical resident.  She teaches practicing and preservice English teachers at West Virginia University and is fueled by coffee, tortilla chips (this week), and a real obsession with all things reading and writing.  Follow Shana on Twitter at @litreader and read more of her writing on the WVCTE Best Practices blog.

#TwitterTeacher

I’m late to the party. This I know. But my enthusiasm for this soirée is genuine, and it fueled some of my first day success.

In an effort to build community as quickly as possible this school year, and to get to know our students a bit over the summer, my colleague Sarah Sterbin and I decided to add some technological play to our AP Language summer homework. Using the hashtag #fhslanglife, students were asked to share their reading life twitter4throughout the summer.

They could snap photos of their trips to the bookstore, their feet in the sand and a book in their hands, and their smiling faces reading the summer away.

They could quip about quotes from required and choice reading, make suggestions to peers on what to read next, comment on the insights of others, follow my reading adventures, and the list goes on.

As often happens with open ended assignments, we got a wide variety of participation. Tweets ebbed and flowed throughout the summer, but each time a student posted, I made it a priority to comment, retweet, like, and/or tag an author to promote connections across the world of reading. When Ishmael Beah, Allen Eskens, and Matthew Desmond interact with your students over the summer, I call that a solid win for starting to build readers and a community with enthusiasm around reading.

twitter5

On the very first day of school, and in the few days that followed, as we quickly collected summer work, set down to work with a quick writes, set up writers’ notebooks, organized editorial speeches for our first speaking opportunity, and took in the surroundings of our room, I asked students to use our hashtag to share their excitement about the work ahead. I love what they chose to share.

twitter3twitter1twitter 2twitter6

Tweeting is a quick and easy way to build community. I sometimes display current tweets our daily PowerPoint/Syllabus to keep the movement afoot, and I love to hear students’ reactions as they come in the room to see their humor, insights, and recommendations on the big screen.

Twitter

How do you use social media to promote reading and writing lives? Please leave your brilliant ideas in the comments below!


Lisa Dennis teaches English and leads a department of incredible English educators at Franklin High School near Milwaukee. Her latest tweet suggests that she thinks about reading 24/7. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LDennibaum 

Inviting Controversy, and Often

“If you could, keep any type of content that has to do with race and gender possibly politics out of any classroom discussion, videos, papersor anything of that sort. Its very controversial. . . It’s very debatable , especially when we have different values/ethics on subjects .”

If you can look past all the errors, perhaps you can see why this student’s message cut into my brain a bit. I invite open dialogue, so that a student felt comfortable emailing me with such a request took some of the edge off. Some. Of. It.

But really?!

Once my heart slowed a bit, and I got over the audacity of this child (Can you even imagine telling a teacher what is and is not appropriate to discuss in class?) I realized one important thing:  I am right on target.

Hard TopicsIf we do not discuss the hard topics in our classes, where will students ever learn to discuss the hard topics? Sure, we can hope they debate social, economic, and political issues in their homes, but we know many families do not have meals together much less conversations. And it’s the conversations, varied and diverse, that can help us view the world in a different light — sometimes a cleaner, clearer, more empathetic and compassionate light. I think we need more of this light.

Here’s part of my response:

I appreciate your concern about controversial topics; however, English is a humanities class, and as such, we should learn about the humanities. That means all the messy topics that make us human. We should invite controversial topics into the classroom. The classroom becomes a microcosm of the world outside of school. If we cannot learn to discuss and debate in polite conversation here, how can we expect to ever discuss and debate politely as adults?

I see it as my job to be sure we think and feel and share as individuals with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and interests. I will continue to use texts, including poems, that give us voice to our lives and thinking.

Side note:  The poems in question were ones I shared as quickwrite prompts to spark thinking for the college application essays students would soon begin writing, “Raised by Women” by Kelly Norman Ellis and “Facts about Myself” by Tucker Bryant. I still don’t see the controversy.

Yesterday I saw a post on a Facebook group I follow where ELA teachers often ask for help. One person posted:  “One of my students challenged me today to include more literature that is relevant to what they are seeing in the world right now. . . What should I include?”

I refrained from responding:  EVERYTHING in my Twitter feed.

We all know the importance of helping students see the relevance in the texts we study, and I don’t know the context of that student’s request, but I wonder if sometimes students believe relevance means:  reflects what I already believe and feel, instead of: often challenges what I already think and feel.

Maybe we need to do a better job of explaining why we must challenge our own beliefs, get out of our echo chambers, and at least acknowledge the opinions of those who differ from our own.

Maybe I failed my student because I didn’t explain enough at the get go.

Today he got his schedule changed. Right after I found this infographic, an argument for the humanities.

We’ll study it in class real soon — after we discuss Jared Kushner’s Harvard Admissions Essay and finish writing our own. (See what I did there?) Then we’ll brainstorm the most debatable topics we can think of — DACA, Black Lives Matter, Confederate monuments, everything A Handmaid’s Tale, gender rights, gay rights, women’s rights, and more rights– and engage in the critical, and oh, so vital discussions that help us understand what it means to be human.

How do you invite these critical conversations into your classroom instruction? Please share in the comments.

Amy Rasmussen is a trouble-maker. Tell her not to do something, and she will do it — especially if it leads to expanding the minds and improving the learning experiences of today’s youth. She teaches Humanities/AP Language and Composition and senior English at a large, diverse, and truly wonderful high school in North TX. Her hobbies are searching for controversial topics that spark debate, reading and sharing banned books, and challenging the status quo. And she loves the readers of this blog. Follow Amy on Twitter @amyrass and @3TeachersTalk; and please join the conversation over on Facebook at Three Teachers Talk.

%d bloggers like this: