Doves adorn the staircase to the middle school, twirling gently in the air currents, still exuding the active hope for peace expressed by the students who made them and arranged them. At the top of the staircase sits a totem pole, made by the class of 2019 back when they were seventh graders, expressing who they were at the time and thus, in many ways, who they are now. I walk into the middle school lobby, where soon enough kids will start to flood in, flopping on the chair and couch, half sitting on each other’s laps as they chatter about any- and everything that crosses their minds. I walk into my room, past the Black Lives Matter, Girl Power, and LGBT Safe space signs on the door, and arrange the blue beanbags in a half circle. Soon, kids will half-walk, half-run into the room and either drop their backpacks on their beanbag of choice, whirl, and return to the lobby, or drop down to relax and hang out with their friends as they arrive.
“I kind of like being fooled about some things.” Tally, the protagonist in Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, utters this line to close out a chapter section, where we ended today’s Morning Reading in Humanities 7. The kids reacted immediately to the line, pointing out examples of Tally, and the society in general in this future dystopia, wanting to be fooled. After their thoughts settled into silence, I asked them, “Are there people in our culture who kind of like being fooled about some things.” No silence then - one student jumped straight to, “I like being fooled into thinking the world isn’t going to descend into chaos in about 12 years and our species will go extinct.”
Filed Under: Vote
I had an excellent day at the 2018 AISNE Diversity Conference. I attended:
- Opening Keynote: “Understanding & Dismantling Privilege: The Importance of Disrupting White Silence, by Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility
- Workshop I: “Transgender Student, Faculty, and Family Experiences,” a panel facilitated by Alex Myers
- Student Panel: “Be Inspired: Student Voices, facilitated by Erica Ramirez
- Workshop II: “Using Oppressed Identities to Face White Privilege," with Robin Di Angelo
- Closing Keynote: “Beyond Tolerance: LGBTIQAP Students and the Need for Loving Policies & Practices,” by Darnell Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire
Blog title from a song by Nina Kauderer ‘20
Joan Armatrading and her Stratocaster. Bonnie Raitt and her Stratocaster. Avril Lavigne and her Telecaster. Chrissie Hynde and her Telecaster. Tal Wilkenfeld and her Precision Bass. Aimee Mann and her Precision Bass.
And don’t forget Anna and her own Stratocaster.
Note: RAINN (The Rape Assault & Incest National Network)’s website includes information, resources, and a hotline.
I can’t follow the “debate” about the Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination with thinking about my kids. How many of them are thinking right now exactly what Emma has said here? How many of them are wondering about what boys are thinking? Even those of my students who identify as non-binary and/or whose romantic/sexual orientations don’t include boys may be (and probably are) thinking about how these messages society is sending applies to them and the people in their lives.
Humanities 7 is, by design, a democratic classroom. I provide the overall structure - independent writing, independent reading, and unit work, plus the skill list on which we focus - and they make all the decisions about what they write independently, what they read independently, and what the theme questions and individual (personally chosen) Focus Questions are for each unit.
Forbes recently published an article by Frederick Hess entitled “Ten questions parents should ask before school starts.” Normally skeptical of articles that list whatever number of things people “should” do, I began to fall in love with his list at the first question, and by the third decided I wanted to answer them all. So, in order and writing as if I were speaking directly to a parent...
(with thanks to Middleweb for originally publishing this review)I pre-ordered Rachel Simmons’s newest book,
“We try. We will always try. And also? We all matter- all of our voices rising for school safety, better resources for schools and teacher and students, etc. will help .....” - Nelba Márquez-Greene, tweet dated July 2, 2018.
Nelba Márquez-Greene is the founder of the Ana Grace Project, one of a variety of foundations and charities set up by Sandy Hook parents following the tragedy. Her ongoing advocacy for safer and more inclusive schools, her willingness to be vulnerable, her resilience, and her relentless work to bring about positive change in the world have led me to view her as a role model in my own ongoing work along the same lines. So when the idea arose that we might do a Twitter chat together on gun violence, I knew working with her was an amazing opportunity, one which I hoped many dozens of people would seize. We settled on the hashtag #SavingLivesChat, and if you click on this link, you should be able to scroll back and view the chat if you’d like.
I was the first to show up at today’s blood drive in my home town of Shelburne Falls. I sat patiently by the intake table checking my Twitter and Facebook feeds (and those of the school) on my phone as they finished getting everything ready to go. Ten or 15 minutes later, I was lying on a table listening as the donation specialist sang along to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” which was playing on the radio. I waited for the right moment to tell her that I taught Rock Band in my school, and the kids had chosen to do that song twice over the years, and she told me about her husband, “a real singer” in a metal band who was planning to participate in a benefit concert for suicide awareness this September. Moments later, “Titanium” came on the radio, and again we bonded as I told her about the time the middle school band was scheduled to do the song in a Winter Solstice Performance - and then Sandy Hook happened. We had to postpone that performance as everyone was just too raw and upset, but when the kids worked with my colleague Greg Snedeker and me to ready “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber for performance with just one rehearsal, we pulled off what my colleague Karen Suchenski called “a Christmas miracle.” (see "Resolution" if you want to read more about this.)