A Blog Covering D.C. Education [ABCDE]

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Who knew that delegation to students in the classroom would actually improve management?  Up until this week, every bone in my body shouted to me that allowing my students to carry out any of the responsibilities traditionally held by the teacher would create a more peaceful classroom.  Yet, with the new semester, I figured it…

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Jan 21 2010

On Disasters

This time around, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve talked endlessly about the physical learning environment (here and here).  I’ve talked about how I will endure anything that doesn’t affect my personal safety/health.  In fact, I’ve said that I feel safe at my school.  But never did I think that my physical safety/health…

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Jan 13 2010

The Dragon in the Classroom

My roommates thought I was exaggerating again just to make my story sound more jaw-dropping (we teachers always like to boast superlatively about the most inconsequential of things).  At the time, I suspected they were right.  There really was no way my classroom could have been 130 degrees hot.  I knew I had a good…

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These days I’ve been eating too many marshmallows.  I need to stop.  Now. What explains why I haven’t created that attendance tracker I have been meaning to make since October? What explains why I haven’t graded these worksheets on denotation and connotation?  What explains why I have come home each night this week and taken…

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Dec 20 2009

Sketches of Immigrant Dreams

Despite the inequities of our public education system–that is, the ones that organizations like TFA are trying to address–I think sometimes we forget that there are many world citizens that can only dream of the quality of education that even some of our nation’s worst-performing schools provide.  In particular, I am thinking of the many…

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Despite all the (wonderful) talk I hear about 21st-century skills, standards-based education reform, the Teaching and Learning Framework, one major conversation that I think we ignore is the one centered on the physical environment in which our students learn.  No matter how good a school is at staying on top of the latest pedagogical best…

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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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Dec 04 2009

An NCLB Primer and Case Study

A few weeks ago, I had to put aside the lesson that I was doing on author’s purpose in order to clear up a misconception that a student was attempting to spread in my classroom.  AH complained about how ridiculous it was that so many students in our class were failing.  She argued that teachers were…

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When I asked my students to free-write about what they were thankful earlier this week, I noticed that many of them mentioned that they were “thankful for living another day.”  Although oftentimes people say this as an expression, I know that many of my students mean this literally. One of my students just lost her…

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In the month or so since its unveiling, the library has grown into a central part—if not the center—of my English classroom. To refresh your memory, here is the library before the project began. In this library update, I will recount the wonderful ways in which this terrific text tower has changed my students’ lives…

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Nov 17 2009

Falling (Down the Rabbit-Hole)

Right now, I feel like Alice when she dropped down the rabbit-hole into Wonderland: “in another moment, down [I] went… never once considering how in the world [I] was to get out again… Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end!… Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so [I]…

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Nov 13 2009

Be a Teacher, But Be a Person, Too

While I can honestly admit that my pedagogy/instruction has been at somewhat less than an ideal level, I realize that a teacher needs to do much more than simply be a purveyor of knowledge.  In fact, after 5 weeks in the hot seat as a new teacher, I’m beginning to think that I haven’t chanelled…

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Nov 05 2009

A Couple Email-Induced Tears

Up until now–4 months since I first set foot into a summer school classroom in Philly–I had not cried for any reason related to teaching (I cried tears of pain in the NYC Marathon Sunday).  That changed today, when I received an email from BC, one of the brightest young minds, but also one of…

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Nov 03 2009

An Attendance Heat Map

In the past, I’ve talked about the power of visualizations.  I think there is so much that a simple image can convey that mere words can’t.  I don’t have a box and whisker plot today, but I have a stunningly-simple “heat map” that gives you an idea of the pervasive attendance problem in my classroom…

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Oct 31 2009

A “Just Right” Library

The generosity and support have been unbelievable.  Every day, I come to school and find a big stack of boxes precariously perched on my pulled-out metal mailbox or scattered like confetti in the mail room.  The secretary gives me a daily update on the number of packages that have arrived.  One morning, the principal pulled…

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Oct 25 2009

Building Street Cred

Every effective teacher needs street cred.  Most students will consider with suspicion anything a teacher without street cred says.  I mean why shouldn’t they? Street cred means proving to your students (especially the ones that are–no joke!–21 years old) that they should truly consider you a teacher, as someone whose advice and ideas are worth…

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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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Oct 20 2009

A Letter Assignment and a Response

I recently taught my students how to write formal letters.  As a homework assignment, I asked them to draft a letter addressed to Michelle Rhee, on a topic of their choice.  Students wrote about a number of things, including broken windows, “mice turds in the back of the class,” the disgusting cafeteria, the Reduction in Force,…

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Oct 18 2009

A Picture (Worth a Thousand Words)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I say, “true.”  But I also say that there is actually something more powerful than a picture worth a thousand words.  That would be a picture worth a thousand words and some words to accompany that picture. Before the words, the picture:

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The “Where I’m From” poems somehow seem to unlock my students’ minds.  There must be something particularly stimulating about searching deep inside one’s soul for the language to express one’s identity.  As previously discussed, I had my summer school students write “Where I’m From” poems.  ER’s poem was excellent.  But, now that I have more…

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Bowties are such wonderful things.  In a previous post, I mentioned that I was contemplating busting out my bowtie collection.  What kept me from wearing this wonderful accessory was that I was never sure how my students would perceive me.  I am enough of an “outsider” as it is; there really should be no reason…

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

D.C. Region
High School

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