Teacher Talk


9780804189354By Karen Kingrea, STEM Director at Immaculata Catholic School

Growing up outside Houston, Texas in the ’60s and ’70s, it is no surprise that I developed a love of space exploration and NASA. During my thirty-five years in education, I have furthered this passion whenever possible by attending NASA workshops and conference sessions across the country. Thus, it was with great excitement that I read The Martian by Andy Weir last summer. The book was everything I hoped it would be and more. My only regret was that it was not appropriate for my middle school students to read. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to learn that a classroom edition of The Martian exists. After seeing the movie as well, I knew that Mars would be our theme for the 2016–2017 school year. (more…)

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9780812978186By Krista McKim, AP® Language and Composition teacher at Rockville High School in Rockville, MD

On March 24, 2018, 40 students from Rockville High School came to enjoy a performance of Ragtime at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Each student received a copy of the book by E. L. Doctorow. They read the book on their own time, and they all came together to talk about it before they saw the play. After the performance, Stephen F. Schmidt, an actor who played various characters and who is also a  teaching artist at the Ford’s Theatre, came to visit and give them a glimpse of the show from behind the scenes. As a result of these experiences, students thought deeply about the choices writers and directors make to bring a book to life.  They analyzed how Doctorow integrated historical and fictional characters, and they learned how a book goes from the page to the stage. (more…)

9780804189767 (1)By Ricki Weisfelner, an art teacher at Woodward Parkway Elementary School who utilized President George W. Bush’s Portraits of Courage as a teaching tool for her students.

Inspired by former President George W. Bush’s book, Portraits of Courage, a collection of paintings of and essays about U.S. veterans, I thought it would be a great idea to have veterans model for our young artists here at Woodward Parkway and use George W. Bush as the artist of inspiration. My idea: while students were painting the portraits, they would interview the veterans and create a short biographical essay. Several classroom teachers helped students prepare questions to ask the veterans, read stories of vets, and encouraged the children to wear red, white, and blue to their next art class. The administration sent a letter to parents, soliciting volunteers to model. We had the help of many school families, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, and my own personal family and friends. Twenty-two veterans came to pose for the twenty-three classes I teach. (more…)

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…)

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