(My piece was the lead-off in this education newsletter, which is pretty neat)
I wrote my latest column at MiddleWeb about our science-based research project, in which I tried to balance an openness for students to choose topics while digging into elements of research itself. I think the results from students were pretty strong in terms of writing and researching. Plus, they did media projects as extension activities.
I helped co-write an article over at Middleweb about the development of a summer youth program through our Western Massachusetts Writing Project that explored a relatively unknown resource in our backyard: the Springfield Armory. The summer camp brought middle school students from urban Springfield into the only National Park site in our region, and it is quite an eyeful to walk in and see walls and walls of guns and munitions, let me tell you. The Organ of Muskets will make you pause, I guarantee it.
The article provides resources for connecting with local National Park sites. The camp was funded through a grant by the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. My role was as a documentarian, not a leader of the youth program.
My review of Building School 2.0 by Chris Lehmann and Zac Chase is live over at Middleweb, and I highly recommend this book for its smarts, and its philosophy of education and learning, and for the lively writing and musings of these two talented educators.
My latest column at Middleweb is a humorous take on an ethnographic study of my four classes of sixth graders. I was trying to have some fun, even as I was thinking of the trends of class characters that can emerge after a few weeks of teaching into the new year.
Over at Middleweb, I reviewed a new book about “connected reading” by Kristen Hawley Turner and Troy Hicks. They push our thinking about the ways that Connected Learning principles can take root with adolescent readers.
It is a thoughtful book that looks at classroom practice and the ways in which Turner and Hicks were doing the “connected reading” even as they were writing the book itself. (I am sucker for that kind of reflective writing)
The comic I share above was my way of putting connected reading practice into reality, as I mapped out how I came to review the book and then am asking readers at Middleweb to extend the conversation even further.
My latest column over at Middleweb is an interview with my Western Massachusetts Writing Project (and musician) colleague, Michael Silverstone, and his writing partner, Debbie Zacarian, about their new book, In It Together, that looks how to establish and build school partnerships with families and organizations in order to enrich the learning lives of all students.
Here are a few quotes that I think speak to what they are talking about:
… expending energy in the direction of collaboration leaves you with more energy than you started with. It’s kind of a paradox. I’ve come to know that isolation depletes my energy sooner or later. I’ve had supremely satisfying times in my own little classroom world, but after a while, going solo gets draining. — Michael Silverstone
Tapping into the experiences of our families greatly helps us in building these connections, and the possibilities for doing this are wonderfully endless. For example, some students might have a parent or sibling who is deployed, and others might have a family member who fled their home country. Both groups have depth of knowledge on this topic of study and can greatly help our instruction to come alive. — Debbie Zacarian
I think the Q&A format brought out some interesting insights from Michael and Debbie that is worth a read as the school year begins and we look to the community of our classroom and beyond for support and inspiration.
My recent post over at Middleweb is a collaborative writing piece with two teachers at an urban middle school. The article captures a year-long professional development facilitated by the Western Massachusetts Writing Project that centered around classroom inquiry projects, and what we all learned.
My latest blog post over at MiddleWeb explains how I asked my students to assess me as their teacher. I used Google Forms and collected responses, trying to get a handle on how their school year has gone from their perspective.
My latest post over at Middleweb is about a poetry project in which my students not only write digital poems, but learned about the use of image and citation, and the underlying structure of the Internet itself: the hyperlink.
Speaking of technology and writing, spend a few minutes watching this video. Brad Wilson gave a short Ignite talk at MRA (Michigan Reading Association) on how to shift away from talking about technology itself and instead, to talk about writing. He lays the blame for students not fully engaging in writing in a digital age to teachers, and then shows a potential path forward.