Category Archives: Social Networking

Try it Tuesday: About that Digital Citizenship

I only had to ask three students to put their phones away on Monday. This is progress.

I know some teachers “outlaw” phones in class. I do not. We use them too often. Besides I have never been in a meeting or in a conference session or anything of the like and been asked to give up my phone. Of course, I know a thing or two about etiquette. Many of our students do not.

Instead of being the phone police, I would rather take the time to teach my students to use their devices appropriately in class — and, of course, with any luck, if the learning sticks, I’d like them to take that “appropriateness” beyond my classroom as well.

If we are not taking the time to teach our students phone etiquette and digital citizenship, we are missing out on important opportunities that may make a startling difference in their lives.

For example, did you see this headline:  “Girl gets kicked out of college for Snapchat photo”? The link lead to a hard sell for why every teacher should take the time to teach students the importance of digital citizenship.

I’ll be sharing it with my students today.

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keystrokes.wonecks.net

What are some ways you teach phone etiquette and digital citizenship in your classroom? Please share in the comments.

 

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#PoetryChat – Boys & Poetry – Monday, August 3 8ET

IMG_8888This week, the writers of Three Teachers Talk are together in Durham, New Hampshire at the UNH Literacy Institutes.  For five days now, we’ve learned with Penny Kittle and Tom Newkirk about strengthening our practice and our thinking.

Newkirk’s class, centered around his Misreading Masculinity (2001), is focused on boys and literacy.  We’ve read and discussed issues of violence, humor, personality, sexuality, power, and more–all surrounding boy readers and writers.

Join us to continue this conversation on the topic of poetry.  The four of us will be together in Portsmouth, ready to chat on Monday at 8ET.

1. How do you notice your boys responding to poetry in your classroom?

2. Should boys write poetry in an English class?

3. How is poetry uniquely valuable for boys?

4. How do you hook boys into poetry?

5. What are your best poems, poets, or poetry resources to engage your boys?

Poetry Chat August 3

Shelfie Saturday

sticker,375x360.u1While my last name is Catcher, I’m far from a natural athlete. In fact, my high school softball career ended after I “caught” a stray throw with my forehead, landing me in the ER with a swollen eye and thirteen stitches. Still, I can appreciate a brilliant sports story, the type that moves beyond the game and captures the essence of teamwork, leadership, and friendship. The “Sports” section of my classroom library does just this.

Over the past year, I have cultivated the sports section to reflect the varied abilities, ages, and interests of my students. I teach freshmen, juniors, and seniors ranging from struggling to gifted readers. Because of my diverse students, my library must appeal to 14-year old freshmen and 18-year old seniors alike. Fortunately, sports can oftentimes bridge this age gap while also pushing students to gradually engage with more complex texts.

My somewhat anemic-looking sports section.  Many of the books (particularly the ones not pictured here) have waiting lists and won't return to this shelf until the end of the year.

My somewhat anemic-looking sports section. Many of the books (particularly the ones not pictured here) have waiting lists and won’t return to this shelf until the end of the year.

My younger students (and even some of my older) tend to gravitate towards popular young adult novels at the beginning of the year, like those written by Matt de la Pena and Mike Lupica. After they exhaust the options on my shelves, they inch towards lengthier and more complex analytical or historical books like Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game by financial journalist Michael Lewis or The Punch by sports writer and commentator John Feinstein. More than any other genre, these brilliantly crafted pieces serve as strong mentor texts for a wide variety of mediums including nonfiction, narrative, research, and persuasive writing. This year, books like Ice Time by Jay Atkinson inspired many of my hockey players to explore their sport through personal narratives while Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella served as the basis for one of my freshman student’s research papers on the Black Sox Scandal.

Sports hold leverage within our society, particularly amongst teenagers. From die-hard fans to benchwarmers, both athletes and non-athletes can appreciate a sports story, particularly when it transports us into a world packed with suspense and action.

Join the conversation by posting your own shelfies!  Share a shelfie with #shelfieshare and let us know if it’s a #classroomshelfie, #bookstoreshelfie, or other miscellaneous find.

Shelfie Saturday

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I love Monday mornings.

Monday signifies a new week, new possibilities, and new literature!  At the start of every week, I take time to display different books on each themed shelf.  This provides readers an opportunity to explore new titles on an ongoing basis.  Some books are brand new to Room 382 while other books have occupied our shared space for years; yet feel fresh and enticing when they are uniquely displayed.

Students (and guests) are continually gazing at our Francis Gittens Lending Library and enjoy, not only the vast array of literature to choose from, but how easily accessible it is to find what they are looking for. Gone are the days of ‘genre shelving’ and in are the days of ‘theme shelving’.  Whether students are just emerging into the world of literature or they are deeply rooted in their love for reading; our scholars need to feel supported.  By clustering books via theme, students (regardless of their comfortability with literature) know exactly where to go to get more of what they want!

Many students find their heritage fascinating and want to explore it beyond their current ideologies, beliefs, and familiarities.  So, they peruse the shelves in which they see themselves; racially, culturally, geographically, athletically, and so on.  They find comfort in exploring the lives and stories of those they’ve met before in history class or via conversations taking place within their homes.  They also take pleasure in learning more about who they are within the context of society, and on an even larger scale, within the world; simultaneously honing in on their more localized and individual existence.

All adolescents are searching.  They search for identity.  They seek to understand.  They thrive on building connections.  They strive to be enlightened.  And many times, students stumble upon exactly what they didn’t know they were looking for!  I love that.

Be it non-fiction, fiction, poetry, fantasy, science-fiction, auto/biography, graphic novels, screen plays, what have you; genre holds much less weight when the stories, characters, and settings transcend our students into a world full of exploration.

Here, our ever growing and ever evolving “Roots” shelves allow us to embark on a genre free yet culturally rich journey!

Some of our collective favorites include: Mumia-Abu Jamal, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, Dr. MLK, Jr. and his lovely wife

 

Join the conversation by posting your own shelfies!  Share a shelfie with #shelfieshare and let us know if it’s a #classroomshelfie, #bookstoreshelfie, or other miscellaneous find.

Shelfie Saturday

One of the foundations of a strong reading and writing workshop is providing students access to a wide variety of excellent mentor texts.  You may provide access to those books through your classroom library, school media center, or public library–but how do you know which books to purchase?  How do you predict which titles will be most popular with teens?  How do you know which authors will teach your students the most about writing?

sticker,375x360.u1We hope to offer you a few answers to these questions on Shelfie Saturdays.  Here, we’ll share shots of our classroom library shelves, bookstore tables, yard sale treasures, and more.  We hope these will act as examples of which books to buy, how to shelve them, and which ones to get into the hands of your readers.

So, to get us started, here’s one of my most popular library shelves–the Award Winners shelf.  This shelf houses winners of the Printz Award for Young Adult Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker Prize, the National Book Award, and more.  I also include nominees for all of those awards, as well as honorable mentions.  The genres are varied–YA, nonfiction, general fiction, even multigenre.  The books are at a range of difficulty levels–some have complex narrative structures, others are very long, and others are tough only because of their dense topics.

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I asked a few students why they liked this shelf so much.  Mylana said, “I want to challenge myself sometimes.  Whenever I read for fun I usually choose fiction, so I like to pick a nonfiction book that’s long but not boring.  I know I can find that on this shelf.”

I asked Garrett how he chose books on this shelf.  He said, “I pick books on this shelf because I hear about them on GoodReads or because they’re made into movies.  So I go to this shelf and pick the ones with the coolest covers.  The length is challenging, but if I get far enough in I won’t give up as a point of pride.”

Students gravitate toward The Goldfinch, Jellicoe Road, Grasshopper Jungle, The Round House, and Why We Broke Up more than any other texts on this shelf.  Again and again, I hear the same refrains during conferences regarding award-winning books–this book was hard, but I finished it because I just couldn’t put it down.  Award winners are shelved so for a reason–they’re the best writing has to offer in a given year, and are incredibly valuable teachers for the young readers and writers in my classroom.

Join the conversation by posting your own shelfies!  Share a shelfie with #shelfieshare and let us know if it’s a #classroomshelfie, #bookstoreshelfie, or other miscellaneous find.

I’m hosting #engchat March 23 7:00ET: We’re Talking Poetry as More Than a Unit

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Before I attended The Conference on Poetry and Teaching at The Frost Place last summer, I was a reluctant, resistant teacher of poetry. Sad to say, I never had a memorable experience with poetry until I was in my 50th year.

At The Frost Place, I listened and joined in conversations with working poets about language and their craft. My heart changed. I finally understood because I lived that language for a glorious week surrounded by these people with poetic souls and a view of the White Mountains smiling down on me. Oh, Franconia, NH. (Read about my experience here.)

By no means am I an expert when it comes to poetry in the classroom; however, nobody has to be! Our job as teachers is to help our students grow in literacy skills. Poetry helps us do that.

We bring a beauty into our classrooms, a peace that our world is so often lacking, when we allow poetry to be spoken, heard, shared, and felt.

#engchat is Monday March 21, 2015 at 7:00 ET. That’s 6:00 CT for me, which is why I forget and rarely make it to this chat. The family dinner hour for me in Texas. I’m eating out and early on the 21st though.

TOPIC: Immersing Poetry into ELA Instruction

Questions for Our Chat:

Q1: What are some ways, other than a poetry unit, that you use poetry in your class? #engchat

Q2: “Play is what we want to do. Work is what we have to do,” said W. H. Auden. Poetry is both of those things. How do we use poetry for work and play? #engchat

Q3: We can teach most any skill with poetry that we can w/ prose. Agree/disagree? If agree, what skills do you teach with which poems? #engchat

Q4: Last question. What resources can you share that will help us all immerse our students in beautiful language, daily? #engchat

 

Do you have any other questions you’d like us to talk about during #engchat? Please leave a comment.

©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015

The Modern PLC

Sometimes things stay with you. In December I got this message:

I have been working with three teachers this fall who have transformed their classrooms (all ranging from freshman level to AP Lit and AP Lang) from the traditional class to a readers/writers workshop approach.  Your blog posts always show up in my email box at the exact right time when they are in need of inspiration to keep going and figure out what to do in their classes.  They realized very quickly how fast they were able to get through “old curriculum” when they dropped the class novel approach and were then scrambling to find new and exciting mentor texts, books to share, and additional writing ideas. Their students have read thousands of pages and enormous amounts of books which never happened in their classes before.  Students were writing them thank you letters for inspiring them to become true readers and writers.  Penny Kittle’s books got them started on this path, but your real life teacher posts have helped them validate what they are doing.  So… thank you and keep those posts coming.  They are making a difference in our classrooms.

I could write a book about the value in that feedback (Probably will). Feedback should make writers want to write more. That is exactly what Melissa Sethna’s kind words did for me and my friends here at TTT.

Her simple thanks also made us want to follow her work, support her even more, watch how she helps other teachers. We’ve become colleagues with a united purpose. We’ve become friends.

And that is the beauty of the modern PLC.

A literacy specialist in Mundelein, IL sends a thank you to a teacher/blogger in Lewisville, TX, which makes the teacher/blogger want to become a better teacher so she becomes a better writer so she writes more inspiring and instructional blog posts for other teachers and so on.

Teachers supporting one another as we do our best to do right by the children that we teach. As ELA teachers the best way we know how to do that is through balanced literacy practices in readers and writers workshop.

That’s the foundation for the Three Teachers Talk blog, which started as three friends committing to stay in touch by sharing our work through our writing. We are four teachers now — writing, sharing, and growing. And participating in a Professional Learning Community that’s been redefined, refocused, and restructured by connected educators around the globe who are just like us.

Thank you, readers, for being part of the best PLC on the planet.

 

Note: Melissa Sethna posts as a guest blogger here tomorrow. Her work inspires us.

©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015

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