Monday, September 17, 2018

Authenticity Breeds Excitement

A frustration I've had for a long time with teaching writing is that my students do not write to an authentic audience.  While I am a reader, in their eyes, I am "just" a teacher who has to read their writing.  

Real-world writing almost always involves an authentic audience.  There is a small percentage of the population which writes only for their own personal enjoyment.  However, the vast majority of people only write when there is a reason and a person on the other end of the message.

I knew I needed to bring that to writing class, but I just didn't know how.

I am a part of an excellent PLC on Facebook called 2ndaryELA.  This is a massively large group of English teachers from around the world.  Over the summer, someone posted about wanting electronic pen pals.  I knew this might solve the authenticity problem I was experiencing, but I wanted a paper-and-pencil relationship.  I posted in the comments that I was looking for "old fashioned" pen pals, and I left it at that.  

Mrs. Burrow from Texas was also looking for paper-and-pencil pen pals, and a match was made!

We have written to our new friends twice, and we have received mail once.  

"Mail Call!" day was ELECTRIC in my classroom!  A student said, "I didn't know an envelope could make me so happy."  

Putting myself out there and being a bit vulnerable has made a huge difference for my students!

Happy learning,
m
:)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Comfortable Place To Be

There are many things about school which are less than comfortable.  
           The uniform. 
                   The lunch. 
                          The schedule. 

I want my classroom to be a comfortable place to be, grow, and learn.  Let's be honest - I am in my classroom more than I am in my living room.  

In my core, I am a desk in rows kinda teacher.  My son calls me a "chop chop teacher," and he's not far from wrong in some ways.  However, I know desks in rows with uncomfortable brown plastic chairs are not inviting or comfortable.

Here's a peek into the space of Room 213....





Happy learning,
m
:)



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It's the Little Things....

In the last 24 hours, I've been stopped in my tracks 3 different times over something I never would have given any attention.

Three different times, someone has stopped me to say "thank you."  They have gone on to explain the reasoning for the gratitude, which I appreciated because otherwise I would not have known why the "thanks."  All three were thanking me for something I did that I did not think was anything special.  I did the acts simply because it seemed to be the right thing to do.

My take away?  Am I saying "thank you" enough to those who do the little things I appreciate?  Do I pause to share my gratitude with those who make my life a little better?

Go say "thank you" to someone today!

Happy learning,
M
:)


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Win-Win!

Yesterday we kicked off our pen pal writing!  The kids were super excited to be writing to and for someone.  "A real person" as a wise-student declared.

I've been yearning for an authentic, real-world writing experience for my students.  I hope this partnership creates just that.

Mrs. Burrow and I have not created many rules around this.... we are both just learning as we go.

The letters are currently headed to Texas!  

Stay tuned for progress updates on this real-world writing experiment!

Keep learning,
m
:)



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A swing and a miss....

Sometimes you swing, and you miss.  Is it the end of the world?  Absolutely not!  What's important is you were willing to step up to the plate and try!

I just realized the pictures from the post last Tuesday appear as big, empty, less than exciting boxes.  Definitely NOT the look I was going for.  

Do I need to fix it?  Yes!
Am I frustrated I let it sit like that for a week?  You bet. (As a perfectionist, you get used to being frustrated with yourself!)
Is this a terrible mistake?  Not even close!

This is simply I tried something new, and it didn't work quite right.  It's a chance for me to learn and grow.  This is the mindset I want my students to adopt.  Mistakes just show I'm trying.

We're not going to hit a home run every time we're at the plate.  No one does!  It's important that we're willing to step up to the plate, face the pitch, and give it our best shot!

Off to fix some pictures....

Happy learning, 
M
:)

** UPDATE 8/15/18 - Well, I got distracted after writing the above post (story of life at the beginning of the school year!), and never fixed the pictures.  I'm happy to report, they are fixed now!



Thursday, August 9, 2018

I'll Miss Meeting You!

Can't make it to back to school night on Aug. 15?  Here's a link to learn more about writing class.

Please reach out to me if you have questions!

Happy learning, 
M
:)


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Who are you? Who am I?

Today is day 4 of the school year!  

The 7th grade team, and specifically my classes, have gotten off to a smooth start.  There's always the first 45 minutes of day 1 craziness -- -- late busses, no schedule, lost lockers.  However, we quickly resolved the issues and were able to settle into a groove.

What I always forget about the start of school -- -- how hard it is to learn names!  Whew.... 150ish (I haven't counted!) new people with new-to-me names.  The students are being very patient with me as I learn.  I'm making progress.... I'm guessing I'm at 30% learned.  We'll get there!

The most important thing... students have written something meaningful every day!  Today, we are doing part 1 of the introduction project.  More writing!  Setting the tone and expectation that we write every day in writing class!
   





Happy learning,
M
:)