When your summer bucket list is too long…

Like most teachers (and students, I’m sure), by the time 4th marking period rolls around, I’m already dreaming of all the things I’m going to do once the summer begins. Finally, I say to myself, now I have the time to do everything I’ve been wanting to do, all the projects around the house that have gone neglected during the school year. Every room in the house needs a fresh coat of paint, the boys’ rooms need remodeling, as does our very outdated 1970s laundry room (our stylish 1980s kitchen is just too big a project to tackle any time soon).

I’ve been on vacation officially for two weeks (our last day was June 24). How much of my grand remodeling have I gotten done? Continue reading

Slice of Life 31: Purpose with a capital P


I came across this infographic in one of my social media feeds the other day and immediately saved it. I tried to locate the original source by doing a reverse image Google search, but it looks like the image has been copied/pasted around so much on the great and wonderful world wide web that locating the source is beyond my Googling prowess. So if, by some small chance, the creator is reading this, thank you.

The infographic got me thinking about Purpose with a capital P. And it reminded me of a question I ask students, the same question to bookend the school year.

Ask me anything.

Continue reading

Slice of Life 29: Twitter as PD

twitterAbout a year and half ago, I was presenting at the PA Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) fall conference on technology. At the end of the conference, one of the co-directors, Judy Jester, asked me to help her and others “tweet” for the project. “I actually don’t use Twitter,” I told her. I think she was surprised. I’d just given a presentation on blogging with my students, and I was fairly active on most social media sites… that is, except for Twitter.  Continue reading

Slice of Life 28: In the Best Interest of Students, Reading

I’m in the middle of (the awesome) Kelly Gallagher’s new book, In the Best Interest of Students. In it, Gallagher takes on the Common Core anchor standards and looks carefully at what works and what doesn’t work. I just finished the section on best practices in reading, and as I expected, every page has given me something to think about, whether it’s a specific instructional strategy or general question about pedagogy. It’s overwhelming in all the best ways. 🙂

A few takeaways so far from Chapter 2, in which Gallagher points out where the CC anchor standards are particularly strong:  Continue reading

Slice of Life 27: A Single Story

My 9th graders and I are in the middle of reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Purple Hibiscus. We are about half-way through the book, and it seemed a good time to hear from the author herself by watching a TED Talk she delivered a few years ago—a talk titled, “The Danger of a Single Story.”

I first saw Adichie’s TED Talk shortly after it was first given back in 2009.   Continue reading

Slice of Life 26: Non-negotiables

A short post today as I get ready to head back to school tonight to chaperone the “Mr. Pioneer” talent show/fundraiser (add this to my growing list of things I thought I’d never do)…

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my teaching practice, why I do the things I do, how I can be more effective, etc. Of course, this line of thinking started to overwhelm me a bit, so I came back to this one basic question – what are my non-negotiables? What are the things about teaching and my classroom that I would absolutely not compromise?  Continue reading