Teacher Talk


By Gillian Schneider, a teacher at Neuqua Valley High School and the recipient of the 2016 Penguin Random House Maya Angelou Teacher Award for Poetry.

maya angelouSitting at the NCTE secondary luncheon in November 2015, I found an application for the Penguin Random House Literacy Awards, including the Maya Angelou Poetry Award. I did not have a concrete idea of what I might propose, but by spring, I decided that I would make every effort to come up with something to support poetry awareness. I asked colleagues to read my application and suggest changes, and I asked students to help me with letters of support and haiku. The grant idea for “So You Want Me to Love Poetry? YES!” began as an appeal to students to stop saying “No” to poetry and start saying “Yes!” Once I submitted all of the required elements, I distracted myself. (more…)

9781594746376T. S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month”—and William Shakespeare may be apt to agree with him, as he died on April 23, 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon shortly after his fifty-second birthday. However, though the Bard himself passed away, his work and his words have proven immortal. It’s impossible to know if Shakespeare was cognizant of the way in which his tragedies, comedies, and histories would persist throughout the centuries. Who knows? Maybe he wouldn’t have been surprised in the least that in the twenty-first century he still takes center stage in English classes across the globe (or that his plays are still performed at that other Globe). Still, could he, in all his wisdom and piercing insight into humanity, ever have predicted that someday there would be a Shakespearean retelling of Star Wars? Probably not. (more…)

9780553418026In this essay, Gillian King-Cargile speaks to how The Martian was incorporated into the curriculum in Northern Illinois University’s creative writing program and STEM summer camps for high school students. Campers had the opportunity to participate in a virtual visit with the book’s author, Andy Weir.

For some students, being in the classroom is a lot like being stranded on Mars. They feel isolated from the content. They have difficulty connecting with the subject, the teacher, or even other students. Whether they’re reluctant readers, reluctant mathematicians, or just plain reluctant, some students need a creative catalyst to get excited about learning. (more…)

9780553393057A message from Dr. Lisa Damour, author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood (Ballantine Books, February 2016).

I’m often stunned by what people say to me when they learn that I’m a psychologist who specializes in working with teenage girls:

“You work with teen girls? There should be a medal for that!” or they shake their heads and say, “Teenage girls … I’m so glad I only have sons.”

When talking about adolescent girls, adults are quick to fall back on stereotypes. Too often, we describe girls as being mean or marginalized, wild or mild, stressed or buoyant. But anyone who spends time with teenagers, anyone who really knows and cares about them, can  tell you that most teenage girls could fit all of these descriptions, and more, on any single day. It’s time to address how dynamic and intricate girls really are.

It’s time to shed light on their inner lives and do so in a way that honors girls and the intelligence of the adults who care about them.  As the mother of two girls and a psychologist who consults to schools and treats girls in my private practice, I wrote Untangled to replace our two-dimensional stereotypes with a sophisticated framework for understanding adolescent development. (more…)

9780385494229Erin Gruwell, author of The Freedom Writers Diary (Broadway Books, October 1999) reflects on her recent trip to Israel

I recently returned from the Middle East, and I feel compelled to share. My trip to Israel and the West Bank was inspiring and eye-opening. I did over 20 events in Israel on behalf of the U.S. Embassy and 7 events for Palestinians Authority in the West Bank on behalf of the U.S. ‎Consulate General.   All told, I worked in over a dozen cities, addressed audiences of thousands and hugged hundreds. I will never forget the faces, nor the stories they shared.

I was fortunate to present workshops at major universities in the region, engage in difficult discussions with thought leaders, motivate high school students, ask and answers complex questions with NGO’s and banter with both Israelis and Palestinians–many of whom are talented teachers, intellectually curious students and passionate people who are hungry for peace. It is possible. (more…)

9780307464972A letter of appreciation from Sara Brown, Library Media Specialist at Portage High School in Portage, Michigan.

It is my honor to write in behalf of Mr. Max Brooks, the guest speaker at our first ever Portage CommuniTEEN Read event on November 12, 2015.

We asked Mr. Brooks to be part of this inaugural event in our community to help lay a solid foundation for years to come. He is a fantastic speaker who engages his audience by lacing important topics with humor. We had almost 1,000 students attend his presentations; many were 9″‘ graders. Max kept them engaged and interested which was evident by the 20-30 hands that were raised anytime he asked if there were more questions. Based on participation, adults were no less engrossed. (more…)

teachereventCOVERCalling all Tri-State Area Educators! You are invited to the Penguin Random House Seventh Annual Author Event for NYC Educators. Please RSVP as soon as possible to reserve your spot; space for this event fills up quickly!

Held at the Random House building in midtown Manhattan on Monday, October 12th from 1-4pm, the event will feature nine authors who will each discuss and sign free copies of their book.

The featured authors are: Ian Doescher, Shakespeare’s Star Wars series; Dana Alison Levy, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher; David Lubar, Sophomores and Other Oxymorons; Naomi Novik, Uprooted; Robert Repino, Mort(e); Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, Choosing Hope; Lance Rubin, Denton Little’s Deathdate; Jon Scieszka, Frank Einstein series & Guys Read/Guys Listen; Rachel Swaby, Headstrong; and Clive Thompson, Smarter Than You Think.

Click here for the official invitation. Click here to RSVP.

Questions? Email teacherevent@penguinrandomhouse.com.

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