Make. Believe. Stained Glass Windows. (3rd in a Series)

Modern science alone, stripped of story and poetry, provides a wiry, cold, metallic view of humanity.  It’s not inaccurate per se, but it’s empty.  Thus, love or joy or sincerity can be reduced to firing ions and chemical reactions and muscular movements.  It is as if a picture is not so much reduced to paint-by-numbers […]

Make. Believe. Campfires Are Vital to Life on Earth (1st in a Series)

I stole this idea from an NPR series awhile back.  I’ll be mentioning what I believe and how it shapes the way I live. I’m choosing the term “make” in terms of what I make out of life and how I make sense out of life.  I’m choosing believe, because though these are my convictions, […]

Humor Needs to Be Affirmed

I have a student who wrote a creative masterpiece as an alternate ending to a story about a woman in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.  In the end, she is caught and faces life in prison because she accidentally wears a pair of white socks (they were forbidden).  As they take her away, she cries out, “Cursed […]

Failure Is a Part of Science

When I was in the seventh grade, I had to do a science fair project.  I first wanted to test what actually happens to flame-retardant pajamas when burned.  My teacher wouldn’t let me, so I decided to see how music affected plant growth.  Sadly, the results were inconclusive.  The plants grew at about the same […]

Blending Subjects

The math book chooses some strange examples for percent increase and decrease.  The first involves a friend who loans $200 to her friend at 6.9% interest (what kind of friend does that?) and the next example involves finding the original cost after looking at the sales cost.  Finally, there is a problem involving finding the […]

A Note to Myself As An 8th Grader

Dear John, So about school.  I know you feel like a failure, but you’re doing better than you think. You sometimes feel guilty about hating school while liking your teachers.  Sometimes you even do the assignment just because you feel bad for teachers who internalize your apathy and think it’s their fault.  Don’t beat yourself […]

Can we read more?

Blame it on “Rise and Read,” a program where my eighth graders get a chance to read with kindergarten students.  Or perhaps it was the fact that we spent fifteen minutes in the library and I allowed the lowest level readers to pick a few books with more pictures and graphics (like comic books or […]

Show and Tell

Tom, a fellow blogger who teaches high school suggested that Show and Tell can work for people of any age. I scoffed at first glance and then thought about what I would bring. I thought about the Homer Simpson toy my son got from Burger King. It had been a late Parent Teacher conference night […]

letting students redesign my classroom

At first glance, my classroom looked “set up.”  I had a half-circle set up with netbooks, a solid amount of walking room and my one enrichment table where students could go when they had finished with their work.  I had the six traits and reading process canvases my past students had painted and I had […]

3 Changes In How I Teach Based Upon My Son’s Experiences

Joel’s comments this week have had an impact on how I teach.  It’s odd that I’m allowing a kindergartner to reshape how I think about my own classroom: He cried twice this week.  Once involved not being able to finish the chronicles of Narnia. I want to read books that captivate my students to the […]