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May 16 Newsletter

May 16 Newsletter

Hope your week is off to a great start. One thing I need to figure out is picking a day of the week to send out the newsletter, have been vacillating between Fridays and Mondays. I have been reflective about what it means to show up fully in your work? And what that could possibly mean for students who come into our classrooms? How do we work to create a welcoming environment in our schools and classrooms? If you have thoughts on this or community building you do in your classroom, I’d love to hear back from you.


Open Tabs:


What Young Men of Color Can Teach Us About The Achievement Gap – “So they end up actually behaving according to a script that they don’t necessarily subscribe to, but which seems a requirement to fit in and be accepted by their peers and maybe even by some of the adults.”


Less Disruption, Greater Traction when it comes to Edtech in Higher ED – “That’s why tools and platforms that demand a lesser degree of disruption might have found greater purchase in the marketplace.”


Obama at Rutgers — “Facts, evidence, reason, logic, an understanding of science: These are good things. These are qualities you want in people making policy. … That might seem obvious. … We traditionally have valued those things, but if you’re listening to today’s political debate, you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from.”


Interwebs Humor:

Currently reading:

currently reading books here:



TinyLetter Newsletter

TinyLetter Newsletter

Thank you so much for subscribing to this newsletter.


My aim is to share some of my work in progress. As an admirer of Austin Kleon, I try to adhere to his mantra: Show Your Work as much as possible.


With each newsletters, you can expect a general update from on things I am thinking about and working on, links that caught my eye, and something that made me laugh.


If you’ve been wondering what I have been up to at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, you can check out some of the work that I’ve contributed to here:  As I have done before through efforts like #engchat, I am working with a team to connect more teachers to one and another in order to improve practice.


I hope this newsletter finds you well and serves as an easy way for us to keep in touch and share each other’s work. I’d love to hear what you’re working on, thinking about, etc.


Open Tabs:


Blockchain for education guide by Audrey Watters – such an important read when you’re thinking about future of credentialing, hopes and pitfalls of evolving tech


Chris Emdin drops some truth in his new new book – if you care about actively working against systemic racism in schools, this new publication is for you.


Mark Zuckerberg’s Keynote at F8 – confession, I haven’t watched the whole thing but the first few moments about open connectivity and how it can make the world better are powerful (take it with grain of salt.)


A New Map for America –  interesting argument about how the way we organize ourselves in states might be an outdated system and unable to meet demands of our changing economy, society


Online Kingdom of ‘Game of Thrones’ Fans – if you love the show as much as I do, you’ll love this piece on intersection of community, connectivity, and this addictive series


Interwebs Humor:









Currently reading:

more currently reading books here:



MR Signature


We Want Your Huck Finn Stories #EngChat

We Want Your Huck Finn Stories #EngChat


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is  one of the most important pieces of literature ever written in American History. Mark Twain wrote an amazing story tackling the issue of race that still resonates today. It is one of our favorite books of all time and a joy to teach with our students.


Literature teachers are part of a wonderful community and we share many stories about our favorite novels. Huck Finn is one of those books that brings this group together. Ask any ELA teacher for their Huck Finn story and they will share with you an amazing tale that will be sure to make you laugh, cry, and shake your head. These teachers also have great lessons that they use to get students to see the classic the way that Mark Twain had always hoped people would see.


After sharing our love of the book, we thought it would be an a great idea to collect these stories and lessons put together an e-book that all teachers could read and share. In particular, we’re looking for your stories about teaching this novel in present time.


We want your stories about how you’ve made sense of this text in a diverse classroom. We want your stories about this book being challenged by parents/community. We want your stories about making this book relevant for your students.


If you are interested in sharing your story or lesson, please fill out this form by May 30 and we will pull all of this together over the summer so teachers can have something awesome to read by the start of the school year.


Please share this with anyone that has a great Huck Finn lesson or story worth sharing! So excited about this collaboration with Nick! 


Thank you,


Nick and Meenoo



#writetolearnmo Tech Resources from Write to Learn 2016

#writetolearnmo Tech Resources from Write to Learn 2016

Thank you to all who shared resources during our pre-conference workshop. Thank you for your hard work and deep thinking during the entire day, I am very lucky that I get to work with teachers like you.
Here are the resources we collected together:
Blendspace – create digital lessons easily
seesaw – student driven digital portfolios
Plickers –  real-time formative assessment in the classroom
Storyboardthat – digital storytelling storyboard
Stupeflix – make amazing videos using photos, music, and text.
Kaizena – fast personal feedback kahoot – on student work, using your voice
Edpuzzle – embed quizzes and check for understanding for classroom videos
Class Messenger — parent communication made easy – sync parents, students and teachers easily
Quizzizz – make formative learning easier for you and your students
Padlet –  colloborate easily digitally, keep a wonder journal
Symbaloo – simple start up page to keep track of all these links
Vimeo – large community of video makers
Screencast-o-matic –  create and share screenings
Formative –  create incredible online assessment, classwork, and homework
Lucidchart – make diagrams easily
kahooot online games to make learning fun
wevideo –  cloud based collaborative video platform
emaze  – online presentation tool
Refme free citation, citation made easy
#APSCHATS Reflection

#APSCHATS Reflection

I had the honor of hosting #APSCHATS last night with amazing teachers and leaders from this incredible community.


Here are the questions that we discussed mostly inspired by Thrive and below you’ll find some thoughts that stood out to me.


  1. Please share your name, location, what you teach kids
  2. How have mentors shaped your teaching? Who are you mentoring in your network?
  3. What networks do you think teachers should consider joining to fight isolation, aside from #APSCHATS
  4. What would you say to teachers who say they don’t have time to connect?
  5. What are some ways you’re helping Ss become connected learners?
  6. What work are you excited about doing next with your kiddos?
  7. Share any resources, tips, to help teachers continue to thrive into rest of the year.


Here are couple of tweets that really probed my thinking around what teachers need to keep learning, keep innovating, and keep meeting the needs of their students:




Special thanks to Josh for the warm welcome and all the work he’s put into creating this vibrant community:


5 Tips To Stay Rejuvenated in 2016

5 Tips To Stay Rejuvenated in 2016

cross-post from Teaching Channel Blog



For many people, the end of the holidays and the beginning of a new year is a time for reflection, setting new goals, and perhaps finally using the gym membership they signed up for a year ago.

Teachers, however, are not most people. Our “new year” actually begins in September, when we return to our classrooms once again to find our furniture flipped upside down and stacked in the corner of the room. We set new goals, reorganize the classroom library, and yes, wipe down every single tabletop surface with disinfectant, several times.

So what does a new calendar year mean for the teacher in you? How are you marking the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016?

While we may not be making New Year’s resolutions about diet and exercise, the return from the break does offer us a unique chance to start over again. If you’ve been struggling with classroom management, building camaraderie amongst your students, or the inability to meet the needs of a particular set of students, now is the time to dig in, reflect, and possibly consider making some changes in your plan of action.

If you’re ready to begin this reflection, here are some ideas you may use along the way to keep yourself grounded and rejuvenated:

  • Prioritize your goals: There will always be more to do than you can focus on, so decide on your priorities before you spread yourself too thin. Where you invest your energy will determine the outcomes in your classroom, so choose wisely. Is it important for you to try a flipped lesson for the first time, or do you want to increase the amount of rich, focused conversation your students are having about the topic at hand during any given lesson? Either way, you want to figure out the changes you’ll need to make to reach your goals.
  • Look for support: Whether you find this source of support from a mentor across the hall or across the country, you need someone who is going to be your thinking partner, your cheerleader, and your sounding board. Do not go alone; there are many networks, organizations, and ways for you to connect with like-minded educators. Seek out a mentor and bring this person along on your journey.
  • Learn alongside your students: If you want your students to be lifelong learners, then you must model this for them. How are you going to model for your students the ways you keep learning, questioning, and inquiring about things you don’t know about? My experience as a teacher of writers shifted drastically when I started writing alongside my students. Once I started sharing my drafts and my struggles with my students, writing improved for everyone in the room.
  • Take some time for yourself: Yes, I know that our work never ends, that there are always papers to grade, calls to make, tweaks to that pesky unit you’re starting next week. But I implore you to take some time for yourself throughout these upcoming months. Whether you pick up a book from your to-be-read pile, see a movie, or just go for a hike — take the time to recharge so you can continue to give your best to your students.
  • Keep the big picture in mind: The thing that often helped me keep going during the long slog from January to June, was amping up connections between my classroom and the world. The time, for instance, we published teen magazines as a class, which led the students to conduct interviews with folks around the community. In short, we focused on issues that mattered to my kids. From gun violence, climate change, a presidential election, to whatever is going on in your local community, find a way to make connections to the world. As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Between the World and Me, “schools did not reveal truths, they concealed them.” We can do better. We can aim higher and uncover truths alongside our students.

I’d love to hear your responses to these ideas and invite you to share your tips for the new year in the comments below. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Penn State York Summer Institute – Home/Registration is Open!

Penn State York Summer Institute – Home/Registration is Open!

I am so excited to join Chris Lehman, Kristin Ziemke, and other amazing colleagues during the week of June 22nd at the Penn State York Summer Institute. I’ll be there on Friday to share some of my ideas and to learn alongside you. I hope you can join us!

Penn State York Summer Institute

Source: Penn State York Summer Institute – Home/Registration is Open!

The Next Part of My Journey: Living the Questions

The Next Part of My Journey: Living the Questions


And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

For past year, I have been on an incredible journey meeting readers of Thrive from all over the country. When I wrote the book, I could not have imagined the response that it has received. Now that I have met so many of Thrive’s readers, I can honestly say that this work belongs to all the teachers who have made it their own: the teacher in Missouri who said that she is now working to bring her students’ work to new audiences because of Thrive; the teacher in Wisconsin who quietly told me that he’s ready to reimagine his classroom practice because he knows what’s been happening is not helping his students; the teacher from Kentucky who sent me a Facebook message to say that reading this book kept her from quitting her job after Christmas break; the educators who have started book study groups for Thrive and designed professional development work around it. As I wrote in the book, I am humbled to be on this journey with you all.

Now, I’d like to invite you to join me on the next stage of my journey.

In July, I will join the Gates Foundation for a two-year assignment as a Teaching Fellow. I am excited about this change, which will give me opportunities to bring the ideas I wrote about in Thrive and the lessons I’ve learned from all of you to more educators, as well as to partners who are in a position to help teachers to excel and thrive in the profession.

As exciting as this change is, it is bittersweet. For the past four years, I have had an amazing opportunity to work alongside brilliant and inspiring educators at Science Leadership Academy. The lessons I have learned from Chris Lehmann and the faculty and students at SLA will stay with me always. I am better prepared to envision the type of education all of our students need because I had a chance to teach in this incredible environment. I have also been blessed to have spent four years with my advisory students and their families, and I am grateful for the ways in which they have welcomed me into their lives. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of my soon-to-be-graduated advisees.

In my new role at the Gates Foundation, I’ll take the heartbeat of the work I learned to love at SLA with me. I’ll have the chance to carry the conversation about excellence in teaching and learning that began at SLA and grew through the publication of Thrive, to teachers all over the country. I’ll be a voice for teachers, raising issues that everyone is thinking about but no one is talking about. I’ll help build local and national networks to help teachers learn with and from each other. I’ll be celebrating and recognizing teachers, visiting classrooms to observe and support the excellent work with students.

I’ll also have a new opportunity: the chance to help inform the foundation’s decisions about funding and policies. And I’ll be doing it all with the perspective of someone who has gotten up every school-day morning for the past decade to teach the students of Philadelphia, someone who has heard from so many teachers about their stories and struggles. I will do my best to carry your voices and experiences with me in the work ahead.

As I make this transition in my life, I’ll continue to share my thinking at and to keep the conversation going via Twitter (@meenoorami). I’ll also continue present and speak at various conferences and events. I hope that you’ll follow my adventures and stay connected. The importance of your role in my life—as mentors, as friends, as colleagues—cannot be overstated. I need to hear from you now more than ever.

Of course, there’s a level of uncertainty in all of this. All change is hard, but I am moving forward with a heart filled with gratitude and a mind open to new questions. I’ll keep the poet Rilke’s words close by in the coming months, as I live the questions now.

Connected Learning: Empowering Students and Engaging Teachers

Connected Learning: Empowering Students and Engaging Teachers



Starting on April 14th, I’ll be leading a three part webinar series offered by Heinemann. Here is the brief description of each of the part:

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2015 Session 1 from 4:00-5:15 pm:

Participants will learn how connected educators empower their students’ learning. Witness stories and examples from classrooms around the country and learn how these educators are making learning meaningful for their students every day.

  • Tuesday, April 21, 2015 Session 2 from 4:00-5:15 pm:

Participants will learn about the various social media tools and online communities that are fostering teacher engagement and collaboration. In this session, we will also brainstorm ways we can engage our school community, parents, and students through these channels.

  • Tuesday, April 28, 2015 Session 3 from 4:00-5:15 pm:

Participants will have a chance to form their connected learning plan and think about the ways they can take what they have learned in this webinar and apply it to the rest of the school year. They will also receive guidance and support with identifying specific communities of interest to join after the webinar is over.

My ultimate hope that through this webinar, we will build another online network of support for one and other and the participants in these webinar sessions will stay connected long after the series is over. Instead of just talking about the benefits of having a robust network of colleagues to tap into, some of the participants might even start their own local face-to-face or online networks for colleagues in their schools or districts. Ultimately, the goal is to apply all of this work to improving our students’ learning experience. To bring the joy, passion, and curiosity that we hope that all our students would embody. I hope you’ll join in and if you’d like more information, you can find it here. Thanks and hope to see you soon! Let’s have some fun together this April.



Congratulations to Nancie Atwell! #teacherprize

Congratulations to Nancie Atwell! #teacherprize

I am joining the chorus of many admirers and those who have learned from Nancie Atwell as she accepts the Global Teacher Prize for her life’s work on behalf of students and teachers everywhere.  I loved what she said about what she hopes this prize will do:



A few years ago at the NCTE conference, Nancie and I were speaking at the same event and she saw me briefly address the audience. As I walked back to my seat next to her, she said to me, “you’re going places kid, way to go!” That unabashed moment of encouragement has stayed with me till this day. Thank you for inspiring countless number of teachers like me with your work. Thank you Nancie!