I’ve let the cobwebs collect around here again! All I can say is the same old thing everyone says: time. I always say people make time for things they feel are important, so for one reason or another, blogging has had to retreat to the background for me. I am always thinking about things I want to write about, but making time to do it has been a challenge. That’s not to say that I don’t feel the urge. Obviously, if I’m writing at the moment, I feel like I need to be writing.
I have several things on my mind, any number of which might make an interesting blog post:
I discovered in August that I have an underactive thyroid. I’ve been on medication for it, and I feel almost like a different person.
I have my first New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE) conference coming up in a couple of weeks. I am actually presenting at my first one—on my digital storytelling project. Speaking of which, I have an article in English Journal coming out in January on the same subject.
I am visiting Atlanta for the first time in over four years, when I moved from Georgia to Massachusetts, when I go to NCTE. I’m really, really excited.
But I’m also concerned about NCTE. It’s becoming an echo chamber, and, honestly, cliquish. I don’t like to see it.
I am having a blast with my AP Literature class, and I’m doing a much better job the second time around. Plus, I have some cool tools to share. I haven’t participated in #aplitchat in some time. I need to make time for that.
I’m teaching 9th grade for the first time in a while, and it’s been interesting in some ways. My freshmen are a lot of fun. I also have a new advisory group of freshmen as well, so I feel like a part of that class.
I have an office. This is a very interesting development. My previous school gave me an office, but I elected to use the common desk space in the computer lab with my colleagues instead because I felt lonely. My new office is not cut off from the rest of the people in my building, so I don’t feel lonely. Plus I am super-productive. I can’t even compare the difference. Part of is a new organization scheme (plus a place of my own to put things).
I went to Know your School Night, and just about all of my daughter’s classes have 30-ish students. That’s too many, but it’s not just her school. It’s the norm. That’s wrong when we know what we know about class sizes and effective instruction. I heard over and over (listening between the lines) about classroom management challenges my daughter’s teachers face because of the size of their classes.
Also, I am noticing another issue with my daughter’s school that I have encountered before: grading behaviors instead of student work. That’s a whole blog post, for sure, but folks, we can’t hand out a list of rules and give a quiz over the rules. It shows students right off the bat that what you value is compliance and not learning. Come on. Do better.
All of these thoughts probably merit a post on their own. If you want to have some fun, you can vote below. Which one do you want to read about the most? The poll will stay open until midnight on October 9, 2016.
What do you want to read about first?
How much better I feel (25%)
My concerns about NCTE (25%)
AP Lit (25%)
Class size concerns (25%)
My NEATE presentation (0%)
Returning to 9th grade (0%)
My office and new organization scheme (0%)
Concerns about grading behavior instead of work (0%)
Total Votes: 4
Fun fact: I have tried to spell “behavior” the British way twice while writing this post, and I have no idea why my brain did that.
I have been trying out quite a few new things, and I don’t know where to start in terms of talking about them here. Take a look at this list and let me know in the comments which topic piques your curiosity, and I’ll do my next blog post on the topic that generates the most interest.
Using Google Docs to create rubrics
iMovie book trailers
(Almost) Paperless Classroom with Google Docs and Schoology
Carving out a hybrid position (or how I’m teaching two English classes and working as a Technology Integration Specialist at the same time)
Writing Workshop: going beyond peer editing with partners
Some visitors, particularly if you read the site and not the RSS feed, may have noticed that this site is enhanced with Apture. Apture is really beneficial to me because it enables me to create links to information really easily. I’m not sure if it’s of any benefit to users or not, other than you can view information in small popup windows before deciding whether you want to leave the site to go look at it.
Apture has released a new function that I have been dithering about adding called the Apture Site Bar. Here you can read some more about it. If you visit the site and scroll down, you can see an Apture Site Bar in action. Please go check it out and come back.
How would you feel about visiting this site with an Apture Site Bar at the top?
I think it would add some functionality to the site. Go for it. (86%)
It wouldn't bother me, but I don't think it adds any functionality. (14%)
Thank you to all of you who voted in the poll. It was a close one, but in the end Kelly Gallagher’s Readicideinched past Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them by a single vote. The final tally was as follows:
Because the voting was so close, I’ll probably read/revisit the books in the order of voters’ preference. I am going on vacation next week, so I’m not sure if I’ll do Readicide before or after, but it won’t happen at all from July 6-10.
OK, just for fun, I thought I’d conduct a quick survey. I will finish Traci Gardner’s wonderful Designing Writing Assignments later today. Which of the following books do you think I should read (and reflect on here) next? Vote in the poll. You can only vote for one choice. Voting will close at midnight on July 2!
Which professional development book should I read next?
Readicide by Kelly Gallagher (33%)
Revisit and finish Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle (29%)
You need to finish Blending Genre, Altering Style by Tom Romano (21%)
Revisit The First Days of School by Harry Wong (13%)
Genre Theory by Deborah Dean (4%)
I think you should read something else (suggest in the comments) (0%)
I am curious as to your policies regarding late work. Will you take a moment and answer this poll (if you are so inclined)? Feel free to elaborate on your answers in the comments if you wish. The poll expires Monday evening.