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Mar 18 2011

On Exemplars as Tools

Exemplars are powerful teaching tools, I’ve discovered. An exemplar is basically an ideal model–an archetype?–of what students should aspire towards for any given assignment. If, for instance, students are writing a literary analysis paper, what might an “A” paper look like? How might it be structured? For an 8th grader, maybe something like this. Indeed,…

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Mar 11 2011

“I was walking down Georgia”

We’re currently reading literature from the Middle Ages as part of a unit on storytelling. The accompanying writing assignment is to write a modern-day ballad (a contemporary story that uses the format of a medieval ballad like “Lord Randall” or “Get Up and Bar the Door“). The 5 characteristics that we discussed are as follows:…

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Student 1: (frustratingly flops book on desk and gives evil eye to Students 2 and 3) “Excuse me!–I’m trying to read here. You’re being so VERBOSE!” Student 2: “Shut up. You’re not actually reading. Stop making such PRETENTIOUS comments!” Student 3: (long mumbling, incoherent ramble about how she is “guh” because of the intentional use…

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Jan 24 2011

Fresh Idea for a Fresh Beginning?

Just like that, our first semester ended, almost as soon as it had started, last Friday. And, just like that, Spring 2011 begins tomorrow. As they say, “no rest for the weary.” Objectively-speaking, last semester did not go that well. I certainly had an interesting situation, given my more-than-5-week absence from school due to grand…

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Here is a potential set of assessment items for 9.LD-V.8. (“Determine the meanings of multiple-meaning words by using context.”), a DCPS ELA standard, that shows just how important context can be: “I just bought a case yesterday!” (1) If this statement were uttered by a college student, what sort of “case” would he most likely…

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Oct 11 2010

What Does It Mean to Be an Expert?

My students and I recently finished a modified version of Kathleen Cushman’s “Practice Project.” The idea was to invest my students in the idea that practice–even if boring, difficult, or frustrating–matters if they want to become successful.  Students learned that experts don’t necessarily need to hold advanced degrees or have fancy titles.  Rather, experts needed…

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“Come ON, Mr. K!–you’ve got a room full of black kids begging you to read and you’re going to deny them?!” – Student, utterly amazed that teacher would cut off independent reading block at 30 minutes. My students clearly know about stereotypes. The implied stereotype that this student refers to is that black students don’t…

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Sep 04 2010

Pondering The Practice Process

One of the unforeseen positive outcomes of participating, as a “teacher-blogger,” in a recent Education Sector policy panel was that I met some amazing teacher-bloggers. Dina Strasser over at The Line always has insightful posts on various topics in education.  Recently, I read a guest post on her blog by Kathleen Cushman–whom Dina proclaims is…

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My students recently criticized me en masse for doing too much.  I told them we’d have “work” to do every day until the end of school on the 22nd.  Today, I discovered that the first day of “doing too much” wasn’t really doing too much.  I will present a simple and effective poetry lesson that…

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Teaching is hard; teaching while taking grad school classes is even harder.  But I like to look on the bright side of things.  Reflecting on all the grad school readings I’ve done this semester, I can say that there is at least one idea that I’ve taken directly from one of the texts we’ve read…

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Oct 23 2009

Why We Reread

Many of my students see no value in rereading.  A few weeks ago, we read Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”.  When we announced that we would be reading this (brilliant and suspenseful) story, some students complained that they had already read the story and “knew the ending” (as if that was all that were…

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Really, "A Blog Covering Dilemmas in Education": A (former) English teacher's reflections…

D.C. Region
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