Category Archives: writing

Freedom Writers

So, I have to admit…when I went to Long Beach on Friday morning, I was skeptical. I didn’t know what to think. I’ve seen the Freedom Writers movie. I’ve read the Freedom Writers Diary. Both were touching. Both were almost too incredible to believe, but after teaching a few years in an urban setting (though my city is not a BIG city, it’s still a city and I’m at an “urban” school), I knew that those types of occurrences or situations can happen.

I never expected to be affected like I was. I cried, a lot. Some of it was in response to hearing from actual Freedom Writers. Some of it was in reaction to stories and situations that struck too close to home.

Erin Gruwell is THE MOST POSITIVE/UPBEAT person I’ve ever met in my life. My friend Susanna from high school is a close second. She is so committed to what the Freedom Writers Institute is doing and their methods. I want so badly to be able to have some of that positivity.

I wish that I would have written this post 2 weeks ago, or whenever it was that I just returned from CA. I feel as if I’ve forgotten so much. Plus…there’s only so much that I can say. As part of my training, there are many things that I have to keep confidential. But…I have more ideas on how to teach and how to reach my students.

Let’s hope the $25 I spent on notebooks (230 of them!) will pay off…I have a lot to do this week. (We start with kids on the 16th).



Filed under beginnings, books, expectations, instruction, planning, writing

Next Year

Well, right now, I’m sitting in my living room listening to the wind blow, the rain roar, the hail fall, and the thunder rumble. My part of my state is experiencing a huge late-day storm (we usually get them at night, as far as I can remember) — my parent’s house (they live north of me) has no power. Thankfully, my parents have a non-cordless land line phone.

We had our “plan time” for summer school today — as far as teaching goes, this will be a cake-walk. On one hand, this is not a program that is what you’d want to see happen in a classroom during the school year. However, this is credit recovery. These kids are here to earn their credit — they need buckle down, do the work, and as Larry the Cable Guy says “git er done!” So, this plan to have them work independently (as much as they’re able) and to essentially prove they can demonstrate their mastery of standards via this work — I’m okay with it. Also, the lack of planning that is necessary on my part is fantastic.



Next year, this is what I’d like to accomplish in my junior English class. Let me know if you think it’s do-able.

September/January: 1 essay, 1 speech (memorized poem recitation)
October/February: 1 essay, 1 group presentation (4 to 5 minutes & 4 to 5 people) **Feb = state writing test
Read 1 major work by this time
November/March: 1 essay, 1 partner presentation (4 to 5 minutes)
December/April: 1 essay, 1 speech (solo! — 4 to 5 minutes) ** Apr = state reading test
Read 1 major work by this time
August — winding up stuff (short works, etc)
May — winding down stuff
So…2 major works for each semester, which will be supplemented by various other texts: speeches, essays, short stories, poems, etc.

Remember, I’m on the 4×4 block, at least for one more year — rumor has it that our new principal would like to change our schedule to A/B Block. M&W=A, T&Th=B, Friday = all (meaning each class would meet for about 45 minutes). We couldn’t change it till the 2011-2012 school year. I personally LOVE the idea of an ABAB/All schedule.

Side note: don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching juniors. I love that age group (even when I don’t). But I HATE that the feds have decided (or our state has decided?) that this is the age-group that needs to prove they know what they know. They are tested up the whazzoo. It’s ridiculous.

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Filed under block schedule, credit recovery, juniors, lesson planning, planning, preparation, quarter schedule, reading, state writing, summer school, testing, work, writing

Teacher Nerd Books

So…what have I been buying? These are the books I’ve purchased within the last year or so, actually, since I’ve started teaching…related to teaching. First, I’ll make the list. Then, later on, I suppose I’ll have to review them, eh? Oh…some of these are books I’ve been given too.

Reading Reminders by Jim Burke
Tools for Thought by Jim Burke (he’s kinda my hero)
Hip Hop Poetry by Alan Sitomer
Woe is I by Patricia O’Conner
English Teacher’s Companion by Jim Burke
Teaching English by Design by Peter Smagorinsky
Plagiarism by Barry Gilmore
Whose Grammar Book Is This Anyway? by C. Edward Good
Teaching Outside of the Box by LouAnne Johnson
Teaching with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk
Freedom Writer’s Diary by Erin Gruwell
The Essential 55 by Ron Clark
Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert Mackenzie
A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne
How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You by Bonnie Davis
I Read it but I Don’t Get It by Cris Tovani
When Kids Can’t Read by Kylene Beers

Ok…that’s it that I can think of for now…impressive, huh?

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Filed under books, English, reading, teaching, writing

Post 67

Once upon a time, I was a good blogger. Actually, once upon a time, I was a GREAT blogger. This was before I began this blog, to be truthful. It was before I got wrapped up in teaching and everything else. It was the year 2005, to be specific. (Maybe even 2004). It was a few blog servers/providers ago, and I can’t help but think today (not sure why) about how much things have changed.

My old job/career, I sat at a desk for most of the day. I was glued to the internet and many times had nothing better to do than be online. When online I did a gazillion things, none of which were horribly important. I would MySpace while making phone calls. I would blog (incessantly — apparently I thought I was really interesting back then) while making phone calls. I would avoid paperwork to be online.

Now, I have a job where I don’t have that kind of time. But, I’m happier. My job feels much more important to me, in my heart. It’s a frustrating job, but yet I’m convinced most days (9 out of 10?) that what I’m doing matters. And, when it comes to days like today, I feel like I rock!


Today, in my junior English class, we finally began talking about the Puritans. I still might go back to teaching that first. I’m so much more comfortable with teaching it — I know it better. I feel like today I was a good teacher. I knew my stuff, and while there was a lot of talking, today it was actually about the material we were discussing. My lunch class with my juniors — well, let’s say that hasn’t felt like that much yet this year.

Meanwhile, in my class of seniors, I gave a test. I think it went well. I think (I hope) it was pretty easy. I tend to, for most Multiple Choice questions, put at least one silly ridiculous answer as an option. For example — Beowulf and his men were greeted by a) a Wal-Mart greeter…haha. I think I’m funny and that’s what matters, right?

I have so much grading I need to do. And, I need to assign another essay. I want my kids to get used to writing. However, I think I need to do some modeling first. Bleagh.

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Filed under juniors, Puritans, seniors, writing