…for trusting teachers
…for getting our voices out there
…for letting us tell our #lightbulbmoment stories
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I often rely on the wisdom of the Kid President to give me enough courage, strength, and motivation to keep doing good work in the world. For me, work of Kid President embodies the values we should all try to lift up in our lives, values such as kindness, generosity, optimism, and inclusivity.
Unfortunately, this is not the current political or civic climate of our country.
If you’re fed up with the current election cycle, or just are looking for more ways to make writing real and relevant for your kiddos, look no further than the Letters to the Next President 2.0 project from National Writing Project. See below the image for more info about this opportunity:
For many writing project educators, Letters to the Next President 2.0 is an exciting opportunity to support youth voice and civic participation around issues that matter to them. Here are some materials to support this work at your site this coming summer and into the fall.
- This resource, L2P 2.0 Ideas & Resources for WP Sites, is crowdsourced from writing project colleagues across the network; feel free to draw from this and also share.
- The L2P 2.0 Promotional Toolkit is a resource created to support you in getting the word out about this project. Find here language for posts, tweets as well as images you can use via blogs/newsletters as well as on social media.
- Coming up soon! NWP Radio on Thursday May 26 at 4pm PT/7pm ET is about Design Thinking for Letters to the Next President 2.0 with teachers and students from across the country including the Hudson Valley Writing Project, Cal State Writing Project in LA, UNC Charlotte Writing Project and more!
If you haven’t already done so, please sign up at letters2president.org. Signing up here will keep you in the loop about the youth publishing site when it launches in August. And, until then, you will receive updates on resources and opportunities that support educators in thinking about how to make use of this opportunity in classrooms and in out of school learning spaces.
One last note: Let us know if you will be working with youth to write letters, either text or multimedia, this summer. We are looking for a range of examples to pre-populate the youth publishing site (letters would be selected for diversity from among a set and would need to be ready for publication by early July in order to prepare for the public launch). Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
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.
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.”
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: http://teacher2teacher.education/. 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.
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
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!
Nick and Meenoo
— Meenoo Rami (@MeenooRami) February 25, 2016
— Tiffany Sargent (@MrsSargentFMS) February 25, 2016
— Josh McLaughlin (@JoshPMcLaughlin) January 20, 2016
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.
- Please share your name, location, what you teach kids
- How have mentors shaped your teaching? Who are you mentoring in your network?
- What networks do you think teachers should consider joining to fight isolation, aside from #APSCHATS
- What would you say to teachers who say they don’t have time to connect?
- What are some ways you’re helping Ss become connected learners?
- What work are you excited about doing next with your kiddos?
- 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:
— Caitlin Davies (@Stratford124) January 20, 2016
— Molly Toussant (@MollyRToussant) January 20, 2016
Special thanks to Josh for the warm welcome and all the work he’s put into creating this vibrant community:
— Josh McLaughlin (@JoshPMcLaughlin) January 20, 2016
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.
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