Posted in Big Questions, book recommendations, Language News

Heroic measures: let's do something (anything)

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Happy New Year’s Day!

Last night we went to see the new Star Wars movie. I bought the tickets in November and made it until the show without a single spoiler. I am thinking now — if I can navigate social media for over six weeks without a single spoiler or discussion thread — I can certainly navigate social media better overall. Because at times, it’s been terrifying.

Even from those I respect and admire.

In fact, quite disheartening.

There are many wonderful voices shaking up the world now and have been. Voices whose candor, truth to power and legions of loyal fans pave the way to get them to the forefront. And yet, I still have the nagging feeling that anytime anyone puts forth shakey argumentative devices, credibility and authoritative legitimacy are lost. We know better.

However; I can only be mindful and reflective of the information I seek or is provided: “Be critical of the media you love.” — Anita Sarkessian.

Resolved:

  • Continue to question, research, and revisit/revise
  • Continue to change and adapt
  • Keep track of the narrative; revisit accordingly with new information
  • Understand people are in pain, and pain causes fear.
  • Take care of your own heart: then take care of others:

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I don’t have anything financially to give now. It’s been a cause of my own stress and concern. But being who I believe myself to be, I always think there is a way around or through it, it being the problem or task at hand. If not having enough money to pay the bills or worrying about when the next paycheck will come from interferes with my teaching ability, consider how this stress and insecurity affects students every day.We all must be unstuck. They need to see past the fear in the next place.

Follow me here, though: ideas are relatively inexpensive and can provide bountiful returns.

The other day my friend and I were sitting have a sandwich, and the older couple sitting next to us struck up a conversation, found out we were teachers, and long story short, treated us to our entire meal. It was a generous deed that buoys my heart. I needed this good deed more than I realized. And if I can feel this way, perhaps our students need this as much, too.

What we tell students we need to tell and support teachers, too: just as we tell students they are more than a number, I, too, am more than one observation. My aggregate joy as a teacher cannot be summed up in a tweet or post: it is sustaining and messy. Clarity and chaos. Human, and flawed. And perfection. With this support we all can use our collective creativity, generosity of ideas, and metaphorical community barn-raising about how do we educate our children and support the professionals who are in the classroom every day, on the front lines, learning how to navigate this world as it changes?

So–if you want to do something, really do something–continue to speak your truth to power. And in your power, please consider:

  • Buy a teacher a book for his or her classroom. Go around the bureaucratic time wasters. (The couple didn’t realize how much time is spent for teachers to fill our Donors Choose forms, POs, etc.) Find your local schools and buy a class set of diverse novels from diverse authors.
  • Does anyone know Jeff Bezos? Does anyone have his ear? Perhaps a trillionaire can begin giving back, too?
  • Better yet: if you know authors because you’re a well-known activist and have connections, come speak in classrooms via Skype.
  • And really free (except for your time): Don’t have $340? Neither do I. But perhaps you could write a post about your favorite current books and share with students around the country what you liked in a book discussion.

If you want to change the world, create literacy. Create critical thinking skills. Show students who are coming up in the world that you aren’t afraid if they disagree with you. Show them that there are a million other voices besides the narrow, tunnel-visioned silos of past hierarchies.

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
― Isaac Asimov

Resolved: help students hear that books, discussions, and real people doing powerful writing may sometimes act in self-serving ways, but the act of service and hope to others far outweighs everything else. We must fight the anti-intellectualism together, fight fears that make us lie, fight with whatever tools we have.

And one of the best tools to fight ignorance is a book.

Please share with me other ideas you have about helping our students be true, thoughtful and confident critical thinkers. Confidence not from hubris or willful ignorance, but the confidence that comes from open-minded that they did their research, they understood the nuance between truth, opinion, and facts, and can adjust their thinking when new information comes around.

Happy New Year: I am hopeful and excited.

 

Posted in Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Close Reading, Language News, Lesson Ideas, Literary Analysis, Notice & Note, series: the good stuff

series: the good stuff

Things I think about in the middle of the night:

  1. What was that noise outside?
  2. What are the best ten to twenty best, time-tested lessons for middle and high school students?

The noise was nothing. Probably just a small monster or trashcan panda. The best lessons, now that’s something else.

The first post in this series is something new: Bob Probst of Beers/Probst renown gave us teachers this gift:

It’s a dialogue booklet that helps students move through a text with purpose. I haven’t vetted it yet, but it holds much promise.

 

Posted in Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Language News, Lesson Ideas, Literary Analysis, Making Stuff, Metacognition, Reading, Reading Strategies, Story Telling, Technology

Mind the Map.

https://bubbl.us/NDI3MTU5OS84MzQzNDkzL2FiMjAxMmE5YzRkMjA2ZmU2NGI1ODgxOGEwODg3NjNh-X?utm_source=page-embed&utm_medium=link&s=8343493

https://ed.ted.com/on/7WdV6Sqw

Here is the teaching point/issue:

How do we concurrently 1. teach students how stories work (or how anything works for that matter) 2. use technology to best demonstrate concepts 3. have students practice and grow their own knowledge?

One idea: mind mapping.

There are multiple available apps, etc. for this technique. We had Inspiration in our district, but not sure if we renewed the license or not. No matter.  I know we have other similar apps on our PCs for work. Mind mapping is simply brainstorming, sketching ideas in a hierarchal visual mode, and revisable in real time. For anyone who’s done a cocktail napkin sketch, written a grocery list, or planned an essay, you’ve done a form of mind mapping. It’s finding your way, setting a course, and looking at the big picture.

 

There are some exquisite examples of mind maps.

Cool examples: https://mindmapsunleashed.com/10-really-cool-mind-mapping-examples-you-will-learn-from

https://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/app-list/

http://mashable.com/2013/09/25/mind-mapping-tools/#ncJJyS7Bx8qG

I looked through this file and added MindMap:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5aVNLZnc1Q3dmQ1E/view?usp=sharing

https://www.visualthesaurus.com/

http://www.mindmapping.com/

Canva:

https://www.canva.com/graphs/mind-maps/

https://bubbl.us/

http://www.inspiration.com/visual-learning/mind-mapping

How to Mind Map

All mind maps begin with a main concept or idea that the rest of the map revolves around, so choosing that idea or topic is the first step. Begin by creating an image or writing a word that represents that first main idea.

From that main idea, create branches (as many as needed), that each represent a single word that relates to the main topic. It’s helpful to use different colors and images to differentiate the branches and sub-topics.

Then, create sub-branches that stem from the main branches to further expand on ideas and concepts. These sub-branches will also contain words that elaborate on the topic of the branch it stems from. This helps develop and elaborate on the overall theme of the mind map. Including images and sketches can also be helpful in brainstorming and creating the sub-branch topics.

Mind maps can be created on paper but are more easily and fluidly created on a computer with mind mapping software such as Inspiration Software®’s Inspiration® 9.

https://giphy.com/embed/lkVO2a0QHIFzi

via GIPHY

https://www.text2mindmap.com: I got a safety message when I tried to go to this site.

 

Posted in Being a better teacher, Connections, Creativity, Language News, Lesson Ideas, Literary Analysis, Workshop

Working.

Ah, all of this:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthreeteacherstalk%2Fposts%2F1910190822578447&width=500

From 

 

[embeddoc url=”http://mrskellylove.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/response-to-literature-1cbx6qp-st2bew.pptx” download=”all” viewer=”microsoft” ]

Response to Literature

[embeddoc url=”http://mrskellylove.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/response-graphic-organizer-1l7pd3c-2i47qbb.docx” download=”all” viewer=”microsoft” ]

 

Posted in Being a better teacher, Big Questions, Connections, Genre Studies, Language News, Lesson Ideas, Literary Analysis, Media and Mischief, Novel Units, Units of Study

Saving Summer: More Good Things

Literary Analysis, Themes, and Essay Writing, Oh my!!

How did I not know about this? (probably because of PG-13 language: I’ll get permission slips, promise!)

ThugNotes is narrated by Sparky Sweets, Ph.D., and yes there is some language, but the plot summaries and analysis are epic. For a secondary audience, this modern version of CliffsNotes is helpful and entertaining. Since I’m teaching a unit on Lord of the Flies next year I am thankful for his analysis and insight.

Next: thinking about essays and writing structures differently:

An Essay Primer for Adults: Six Essay Types You Should Know by Lorraine Berry

http://www.signature-reads.com/2017/07/an-essay-primer-for-adults-6-essay-types-you-should-know/

Here they are to preserve and keep:

The linear narrative essay: This essay structure is self-explanatory. The story is told in a straightforward narrative, and is usually told in chronological order. Sometimes, there are flashbacks contained in the essay, but that doesn’t disrupt the forward motion of the narrative. One essay that may be of interest in the coming weeks as we approach the August 21 “Great American Eclipse” is Annie Dillard’s “Total Eclipse,” which is published in her collection, Teaching a Stone to Talk.

The triptych essay: Just as a triptych painting features three panels, so too does a triptych essay feature three separate sections that are not continuous with each other, but that may shed light on the other two parts. See “Triptych” by Samina Najmi, which was published in World Literature Today.

The collage essay: This type of essay features bits and pieces – vignettes – of prose that are collected together to form an essay. They often resemble poetry as the writing for a collage essay tends to be lyrical. One of my favorite collage essays is Sherman Alexie’s “Captivity,” which appeared in First Indian on the Moon.

The experimental essay: These essays seem to buck all known structures. One of the most unusual of these essays is “The Body” by Jenny Boully. The pages of the essay are blank – except for the footnotes, which are extensive. It turns out that the footnotes are the entire essay. “The Body” is characterized as a lyrical essay

The last two forms of essay that I wish to discuss are the “hermit crab” essay and the “braided” essay, and here I’d like to offer more exploration of two particular essays that are examples of them.

The hermit crab essay: In 1972, John McPhee wrote “The Search for Marvin Gardens,” and it was published in the New Yorker. He used the original game of “Monopoly” – the original American version that was based on the streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey – and he uses going around the board as the frame for the essay, making this a perfect example of a “hermit crab” essay.

In the essay, McPhee is playing a game of Monopoly but he is also recounting walking the streets of Atlantic City. The game is taking place at an international singles championship of Monopoly play, where it is possible for two skilled players to play an entire game in fewer than fifteen minutes.

McPhee intersperses the history of America in the details, but also how Atlantic City was the planned “invention” as a railroad terminus that would be a “bathing village.” In preliminary sketches, the village was labeled as an “Atlantic city,” and the name stuck. In the early 1930s, Charles B. Darrow took those early sketches of the city and based a game board on it.

So, as McPhee lands on each property or group of properties, he tells the story of each part of town. When McPhee’s piece lands him in jail, he uses it as an opportunity to visit the city jail, which in 1972 seemed to be chock-full of drug offenders. He also documents the “facade” aspect shared by resort towns. Once you travel off the beach-side main drag, you are in “the bulk of the city, and it looks like Metz in 1919, Cologne in 1944. Nothing has actually exploded. It is not bomb damage. It is deep and complex decay. Roofs are off. Bricks are scattered in the street.”

He walks these streets and sees long lines of people standing in line at the unemployment office. Newspapers in 2017 tell us that we have an “opioid crisis,” but a multiplicity of signs urging addicts to get help are present in Atlantic City in 1973 (perhaps another reminder that something doesn’t become a crisis until middle class white kids in the suburbs are dying).

McPhee walks through these neighborhoods looking for the one Monopoly property he can’t find: Marvin Gardens. No one with whom he speaks, those living in their bombed-out neighborhoods, has heard of it. It turns out that Marvin Gardens, “the ultimate out wash of Monopoly, is a citadel and sanctuary of the middle class.” It is a suburb within a suburb, what we might now refer to as a “gated community,” separated from the rest of Atlantic City and patrolled with a heavy police presence to keep the rest of the city out.

If you’ve been paying attention while reading, you realize that McPhee has used his hermit crab essay to write a critique of capitalism.

The braided essay: “The Fourth State of Matter,” by Jo Ann Beard is, I must confess, my favorite essay. It, too, was originally published in the New Yorker in 1996. Beard offers a braided essay – in which she is telling a number of stories that are all related to the time she spent on the editorial staff of a physics journal at the University of Iowa. Over the course of the essay, which begins with Beard’s poignant description of the daily routine she experiences as she cares for her aged, incontinent dog, the reader is braced in anticipation that the dog will die.

 

Posted in Being a better teacher, Language News, Story Telling, Summer Series of Saves

Saving Summer: Hugo House and Shared Writing

 

Summer fills up fast, faster than a kiddie pool in an Orlando backyard, faster than a cup of coffee at an all-night diner, faster than…well, dang. I’m out of analogies. But, there is a remedy for lack of inspiration! One of the highlights so far included time and money well spent at Hugo House at the Write-O-Rama on July 8. Since the dismantling of the Puget Sound Writing Project, I’ve been untethered in

Since the dismantling of the Puget Sound Writing Project, I’ve been untethered in terms of having others to talk about and share writing. It’s been…well, I’ve been in a state of low mourning. I’m glad I went, and I plan on going to other events and joining now that I am aware of this deep resource.

https://hugohouse.org/blog/

The way the day was set up was simply lovely: it didn’t start too early (looking at you, Holly!) and attendees could decide well in advance which speakers they wanted to hear. I ended up going to 1. Get into Character with Bruce Holbert (charming writer!) 2. Mini-Memoirs for Podcasting–it was good, but wish I went to Movie Memoir, too…3. Revising your novel – the tip I took away was…now I don’t remember. (Just write the damn thing?!) 4. Writing for Performance: I wish Garfield Hillson could come and speak to students at my school and finally 5. Your Note to a non-person was a lovely way to end the day. This is just like RAFTS, but the creative constraint was letter writing, which added a useful boundary by which to operate.

Oh, now I remember. One tip for the Revising Novel unit was to write a movie descriptor summary. What a great idea for students! This could lead to what themes exist, etc.

Looking for something else, I came across this site, which I am going to use for writing instruction:

What’s The Logline?

Now, the spoken word section. That was humbling and wonderful –(this may sound odd, but being humbled is excruciatingly thrilling for me: it’s where I learn the most). He gave us good notes, and specifically,  he said mine was really funny but need to alter my pacing. Good to know, good to know.

This leads me to ask, “What is comedy?” -but only because, like I said, he thought my piece was funny.

 

Comedy is “a person dealing with a situation that they’re ill-equipped to handle.” —  and if I go through my rough draft of the spoken word piece, clearly the world right now is too much for me to handle.

These are my raw notes from Evernote:

Spoken word poetry
Writing as ritual
Garfield
Access
Pronouns
Name
Asked important questions first (name, preferred gender pronoun)
Writing prompts:
Blockbusters if you had one superpower what would it be
If your name is the thing you’re called the most what would your name be
Acrostic poem
Blood is thicker but water swallows best
If I had one superpower
I could understand, and speak any language in the world
Dead languages, too, like Latin
And living ones like Urdu and Navajo and Swahili
The French would be astounded when this very American middle age woman opens her mouth and says the most brilliant things with the perfect accent and they wouldn’t be suspicious at all
Spanish students saying jota and pendejo would giggle when I could give them “the look” because I know what they are saying: but more importantly, I could help Moises learn to read in English easier, and faster, so he could pass the test and make his family proud. I could speak to the moms, crying because their daughter stole 800 dollars from them, tell them it’s going to be okay, instead of with my stupid cow face nodding sympathetically
I could speak perfect German, and Russian, just like Angela Merkel, so when I become a world ambassador I could help broker peace deals that would save the world, and in the virtual worlds,  if I could speak Portuguese I could tell the World of Warcraft players from the Quel Thalas server to stop trolling.
In elevators and airports, I could understand people’s small talk, and thus understand their dreams.
On airplanes, I would travel internationally and soothe babies in their mother tongue’s lullabies.
Floating on ships, nothing would be lost in the depths of translation.
I could speak Elvish just like Tolkien imagined, and Klingon that would bring any Trekkie to tears.
And read the Russian masters in Russian, gaining insight into my son’s predilection for dark, Slavic humor.
But the language I wish I could speak most of all would be the words to stop hate: shush the distractions and liars, and whisper intelligence in the unhopeful and ignorant.
No one seems to know this language, though. It has yet to be created.
Any poem can be performed
What does the poem say?
And that is how it’s performed
What does the poem require?
Energy to the words
Emote/Speak
Don’t read flat
I wish I could bring students to this!!!
Garfield
As we edit, put in the feelings and emotional tones
Soft spots: bursts open with feelings and emotions
Locate those moments first
Get rid of lines that are just thrown in there
Purposeful and lead into experience
List poems
Of what is in there and what is not
List of frailty
List of abundance
Writing territories
Create lists
Language
Death
List of all the languages
What do I need before I go on stage?
Why is this important?
Tell students to think about what they need: nervousness, not speaking or speaking
While on stage, why are you doing what you’re doing?
Speak and be in the moment
Exit strategy
Treat yourself in order to get back to yourself
Slump
Feel as good and genuine in your body as possible
Hands
Feet
Slam intentional movements
Point and down
Be careful of “poet” hands
You are all Genius and excellent writers
Several shades of emotions
Nuances of emotions
Record the performance
Make sure not so monotone
Please listen to self
Record self!!
Record self on mute and look at what body is doing
body language and voice can send a mixed message
Be authoritative when it calls for it
What an amazing partner activity
The voice/performance makes the world
Like Shakespeare makes sense when you hear it
Posted in Language News, New News, Writing

26 Love Letters

patience, practice, and persistence...
patience, practice, and persistence…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, an NPR report discussed the disappearance and resulting anxiety of the lost art of cursive handwriting from elementary school curriculum. Years ago, when I was working at Starbucks many of my younger co-workers could not read my handwriting, and while this made me feel “old,” it really made me feel sad. There must have been some valid reason why I learned cursive handwriting other than ‘tradition’ or rote direct instruction. There had to be something there, some pedagogical reason besides just having good penmanship. While I strongly disagree with the philosophy, “watch closely and wipe any mistakes out immediately and correct the writing before bad habits or confusion is set”,(*)which completely misses some instinct, some notion about the importance of cursive, I do think the craft of cursive handwriting is fundamental to our beings.

When I learned that cursive was no longer being taught, naturally I thought about my own experiences with hand-crafted typography. It’s so much more than a rap on the knuckles or disappointed home-schooling mother: it’s art, it’s our voice in lines, it’s our signature. We use our chubby fingers to grasp a pencil correctly (to this day I don’t hold a pencil ‘correctly” and have clear memories of my frustrated second-grade teacher gently re-positioning my fingers, and my waiting until her back was turned to do it ‘my way’). The thin newsprint with pale red and blue lines proved sturdy structures while developing “favorites.” To this day I wish my name was Queen Kelly. (I really like the letter K.)

While many feel that it’s near treason American school children can’t read the Declaration of Independence, while some believe it really doesn’t matter if they print or script, as long as students are writing, or that it’s important to do things the ‘old fashioned way,’ but there simply isn’t enough time in a school day.

Regardless of external ideas, I sense there is something deeply important and internal at work at the brain-development level, and I may be right. Studies have been done that find that young children’s literacy capacities are enriched:

When she put the kids back into the brain scanner, the two groups showed very different results: The scans for the group that was simply shown letters didn’t look that different. But in the scans for the group that learned to write the letters, James saw a huge spike in activity in their brains’ reading network.

Okay, I confess; that token scientific research article, as well as this one, serve to sway those who think cursive writing is frivolous.  I can’t help but think to the craft of writing truly being a ‘craft.’ My art background has always supported my teaching instruction: I see the art and creation of ‘making meaning’ and workshop/studio deeply embedded in language arts. My memories of struggling to practice perfect cursive letters, and then embarking on my own signature, then to the signature I have today, is as closely connected to my identity as any portrait: the change from my maiden name to including my married one, my “pretend” writer’s signature, and there must be a journal somewhere with my practicing future romantic roles, “Mrs. Blahblahblah.” As I dabbled in graphic art, not just the fine arts of printmaking/painting, I fell in love with grand typography. I always loved practicing calligraphy, and I adore a former student’s Facebook posts on his attempts with practicing Chinese characters with brush and ink, keeping his Chinese heritage alive.

Beautiful Typography
Beautiful Typography

Yes, generating typography/computer graphics is using technology and not hand-written, but I have often thought before we hand over technology to a child there should be some measure of foundational lessons. I am not talking about the “back in my day” kinds of things, but why do we always seem to need a “movement” to re-purpose or repackage traditional skills? We have the “maker movement,” going back to ‘real’ food, and life experiences that are authentic. I am not discounting the maker movement, only curious about our collective mania for re-branding our lives. My older son didn’t know how to sew on a button the other day, and I had no interest in teaching him. You know who did? My husband. I have a much more bourgeois attitude about the whole thing. Maybe I’m guilty of this — these hand-written cursive signatures seem too precious in our current state of “college and career readiness.” Just not sure how losing our identities further, our signatures, our marks, enable us to do that.

I recently bought a new i-Pad for myself. I’m pretty excited about it. My Kindle kind of stinks with its Silk browser (yes, I wrote a strongly worded review on Amazon about it: power to the consumer!). Last night my husband turned to me to show me this very cool pencil and app especially designed for i-Pads. I can’t wait to try it out, in my older, but still chubby fingers, and draw and write “real” things. Maybe there’s hope after all.

*That’s not even correct grammar. The sentence should read: “…before any bad habits are set.”

 

Good stuff: http://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_brencher_love_letters_to_strangers

and even Steve Jobs gives a nod to typography:

Posted in Big Questions, Language News

Loving monster arms.

My teacher-self and my creative-self had to take a break from one another for a bit. What I loved so much about teaching was its inherent creativity and craft, and for some reason, perhaps many reasons, this disconnected for me. I couldn’t seem to fit my mental sabbatical in a time-frame clock-shaped box that is a ‘summer vacation.’ This regeneration of loving my crafted profession, my calling if you will, required some slash-and-burn style chaos to opportunity regrowth. In other words, I was burnt out. Happens to the best of us.

But now–it feels like time for growth again.

Maybe this is the cycle for many teachers to go through. “They” say that most teachers leave the profession (via quitting, not retiring, obviously) around the fifth to seventh years. Perhaps it is because any endeavor we undertake: children, marriage, careers, we do spin our wheels, backtrack, cycle around, and hopefully–move forward.

I had many posts drafted in my mind as I recommit myself to this blog. This blog has changed over the years, too. First its focus was student-teacher discourse, a place for students to use as an resource, extending beyond the classroom day. As my district moved forward with technology, this has been a cause of great “ah-ha’s” and “oh, no…” for me. There is more “technology” but less actual interaction. Multitudes of websites are blocked, Vimeo was shut down for student access, the Minecraft club I am trying to get going has met with many obstacles, including my own Luddite-approach to pixelized building blocks, all the while trying to understand the “new old school” jargon that changes literally year to year. We, as a district, implemented “walkthroughs” last year, my school in particular being heavily placed under a microscopic view because of its continuing low test scores. “We” don’t call it AYP anymore, (annual yearly progress) but something else now. I forget what. It’ll come to me. Hang on. Oh yeah…School Progress.

So the blog mutated, evolved, regressed, progressed, whatever–to a safe place for me to capture my thoughts on teaching. I would come across cool things, and keep them here, my happy “isn’t the Internet a really cool place?” place.

And I still believe that. In fact, more than ever.

One ‘hobby’ I took up a few years ago, at the behest of my younger son and husband, was playing World of Warcraft. My brother-in-law works for Blizzard, and both he and my husband worked in games for years. My husband started at Sierra On Line, and helped get my brother-in-law there, and though Sierra and my husband parted ways, and my brother-in-law went on to work for Blizzard, and ultimately being a lead developer for Diablo III (a super fun, but yes, gruesome game of monsters, demons, lurking things, zombies, and lost-and-found souls). So, this is a ‘family’ activity for us. I ended up branching off more to the fan-fiction side of things, using my love of writing, and the lore (albeit highly derivative) sparked my cob-webby imagination. But–it is still a ‘game,’ but this is where the lines get blurry.

What have I learned during my time in the University of Azeroth? I learned that we as educators of this generation, and I mean kindergartners to thirty-somethings, need to be very aware of the lives that are led in social media contexts and in flesh-and-blood reality. I learned that not only do we have the honored responsibility to promote citizenship and critical thinking skills in one plane/dimension, but multiple realities. I am not so naive as to think this is an original thought with me – far from it. Much as been written about digital citizenship, and it is the ‘hot topic’ now. What I am proposing is that — wait, what am I proposing? That all teachers log into WoW to see the smack-talk, racism, sexism, trolling, and mean spiritedness of anonymous players? To go to Facebook and see what kids are saying to one another? Heck–kids?! How about the awful so-called adults?! Should you hang out in Minecraft for a few hours only to hear “CHEEEZEWHIZZLE KILLED ME!” as a griefer destroys long hours’ of pixelized civilization building?

I am not sure.

The image above was taken at our teachers’ meetings during the first two days prior to school. Our focus from our new principal (my fifth one in seven years–please stay…please…..stay!) is about PLCs. Our staff has been more than ready for PLCs: last year, before this principal arrived, someone, somehow, took away our “teams,” and the fall-out was near devastating to our students. But this year, we have teams back, I have many of my students from last year, and a wonderful schedule, and best of all: focus. Clear, sharp, beautiful focus. My colleague Chris and his table group came up with this interpretation from one of the passages, and he titled it “Loving Monster Arms.” That is the best analogy I can deliver: teaching, the technology, the world, and its dual citizenship status, are indeed like “loving monster arms.” They are not so scary once you understand them. Everyone wants to grow, be nourished, and be loved. We’re going to hold on tight to what is good, change what needs to be adjusted, and do it all with care.

So–this blog. Yes, it’s mine: I pay for it, I write it at home, on my dime, and it belongs to me. I share it for those who want to read it. Sometimes I may write about tough questions, hard feelings, and wonder if the emperor isn’t dressed properly. The opinions expressed are mine, and observations subject to flaws of perception. But isn’t that what we’re trying to get our students to do? Think for themselves, and have the ability to express it?

Hope so.