National Novel Writing Month

We are so excited to begin working with our students as they write novels! This is our first time doing this with our students. Talk about needing a growth mindset! It is scary enough to write a novel, doing it in front of/with some of the harshest critics on the planet is terrifying and exhilarating!

What makes this so exciting for students is the level of student choice. Conferencing with students about their ideas is electric. We will keep you posted on how it is going.

If you are interested in this project, go to this site. . You will find a wealth of free, well-written, standards-based resources.



Using Mash-ups to Deepen Understanding

I always tell my students, “Everyone loves a mash-up.” It’s basic neuroscience at its best. Our brains pay attention to what is novel, look for patterns, and seek to make connections.

I wanted to help my students get a better understanding of theme. I gave them a choice of two tweets to work with. By mashing the ideas from a short story we read and film we watched with a current news article and video of a living sculpture, the students flexed their thinking about theme in a deeper and broader sense. The discussions were rich and gave me the opportunity to do some on-the-spot reteaching.

Escape Room

 Escape rooms are all the rage. They can be web-based, blended, or purely paper-based. The process of escaping requires collaboration and provides the social element that students crave. 

We used a premade activity made by Taylor Teaches at Teachers Pay Teachers. It was definitely helpful to go through the process the first time using someone else’s activity. Now we have a solid template for future escapes to pretest and reinforce concepts.



Understanding that Reputations can be changed.

This year we had a group of students enter the 8th grade with the perception that they were the “monster” group. For them, their reputation arrived years before they did. I was anxious to meet this uniquely challenging group. Upon meeting them, I realized that they are like any other groups of kids I have worked with, but the difference was that this particular group of kids were content with their infamous reputation. However, I believed they could be more. We spent several days talking about stereotypes; identifying them in our school, and analyzing the impact they can have on the individual. When I realized that students were engaged, I pushed it further. We began talking about the word ‘reputation’ and discussed the positive and negative effects a reputation can have on the individual, a group, and a society as a whole. I challenged students to identify their reputation as a class, and we began talking about ways to change it. The ability to change one’s reputation was certainly a new concept for students, and they ate it up. We started by identifying their positive attributes as a group, and how they wanted to be remembered when they leave the district as seniors. That organically turned into creating Wordles. Students worked for a couple of days, and then we hung them in the hallway around their lockers as a constant reminder that change can happen. All it takes is the will to be different.


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