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Showing posts from April, 2015

"This will take forever.."

I went to a little league baseball game today. In some ways, it was exactly what you are imagining. The sun shone, the players had on matching shirts and the dads were encouraging everyone to "keep your eye on the ball." Except this game was different. This game was a scrimmage for kids who can't play regular little league. Maybe they aren't coordinated enough, maybe they are too shy, maybe they just don't feel like it. These players range in age, size and ability. It doesn't really matter, though, because they all belong.

They cheer, encourage, high-five, heckle and laugh with one another. There is a fair amount of teasing- but not the kind that hurts anyone's feeling. Opportunities are given to try again and no one feels like a loser.

As a non-athletic person and the mom of one of the players, I delight in this model. While my kid is one of the better hitters in the group, I know that he could never play on a more traditional baseball team. He giggles t…

Toward Something

Opportunity comes from the word opportune, a Middle English word from the Latin opportunus. Miss Campbell, my Latin teacher of many years, would be proud that I remembered that much, but ashamed that I had to look up the rest, that ob- means toward and -port means harbor. In a way, I see where the Romans were going with idea, that opportunity can be interpreted as a chance at safety. However, I think the toward part should be emphasized over the harbor. Harbors are nice, and all, and there can be lots going on in them, but they don't offer the non-seafaring folk much in the way of opportunity.

For me, it is the toward part that matters. When I think about the encounters I have had with opportunity, there is typically motion towards something. Put more simply, if you just sit around, you don't get much opportunity.
All of us should be moving toward something. However, this is only part of the opportunity equation. We also need, I think, some other factor(s) to be in our favor. …

Crossing Paths with "Idea People"

I love a good idea. One that really makes you think, wonder, plan and try.

In the summer or on break, I find that my own ideas are abundant. My brain has time to reflect and ruminate. "What if we tried this?" "I wonder what would happen if we...?" "Oh, wouldn't it be cool if we..."

This time of year, things are a little more hectic. As much as I need a new idea for one thing or another, my brain space is occupied with minutiae - the 8th grade trip, getting ready for graduation, a conference with someone's parents, did I unplug the iron?. Not really the stuff of inspiration, I assure you.

This makes it difficult to wind out the school year on a strong footing. This time of year more than ever, students need new and innovative challenges to keep their minds from wandering to summer plans or other things teachers don't want to even contemplate.

The dilemma is clear - the adults are running out of steam and inspiration just when the students need …

#sfsreads: Twitter in the Middle School Literacy Classroom

A year or so ago, I had the idea that I wanted to use Twitter for my classes. It was just an idea and I really wasn't sure where to go with it. My goals were simple: I wanted to build engagement and community.

I tried some different things. First, we tweeted for pretend. It was a good way to get our feet wet. We used tools like Twister to make Twitter handles for characters in a book we were reading and Tweeted as if we were them. It was fun, different and engaging.

Finally, we all made our own Twitter handles and started in earnest. We chose a hashtag and started Tweeting questions and responses to each other. At the time, we were reading a great book called Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar. We found him on Twitter and told him about our book discussion. He stopped by a few times and added a lot to our discussion, much to the delight of the students and their nerdy teacher.

As the school year wore on and summer approached, I wanted to keep the momentum going. We invited…