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“By the donzerly light,” wrote one student. Another actually wrote, “José can you see?” Others butchered the lyrics in their own 8th grade way, thinking they knew the Star-“Spankled” Banner like they knew the latest lyrics to their favorite song. The day was just like any other---near the beginning of school, past the getting-to-know each other stage, and already into a class novel. The book I chose to start our year was Nothing but the Truth by Avi, an interesting tale about a boy who embroils his school in a lawsuit regarding his response to the daily playing of the National Anthem. We had not started the novel, so, on that day to “prime the pump”, I asked the students to write the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner. I quietly watched as my eighth-graders looked around the room, scratched out a few words, looked at the ceiling, sighed, and wrote some more. A knock never preceded the door flying open, and a fellow colleague stood at the door saying, “Turn on the TV. Something horrible is happening.” In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have touched the TV because the visions my students and I saw at that moment and throughout the day have invaded our nightmares since that time. People leaping from the first building which was hit. Throngs of people running through the streets of New York City. Billowing, blinding, black smoke rising above the city. These were scenes we could only imagine from a movie. Yet, here we were, in Room 303 at Eldorado Middle School seeing horror brought about by hatred so deep-seated that thousands of innocent lives were lost. It was a day that brought us together, that made us notice what gifts we’d been given, that made us want to somehow spread love and not hate. This was, and would forever be, 9/11.
Posted by Guest  On Sep 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM 24 Comments
  
It's fair to say that, after 17 years in one school district, I was accustomed to a particular manner of "doing school." I think it's also safe to say that the last couple of weeks in a brand new district, teaching a different level of students, and learning a contrasting manner of "doing school" exhausted and invigorated me all at once. As of Friday, every student had self-selected his or her first book of the year. I was excited to introduce some of my favorite, well-loved books to a new group of students. Sitting next to a few students and talking about the book they chose has already challenged me to carve out as much time as possible for independent reading. Research by Stephen Krashen and others shows that free-choice reading improves test scores more than teacher-created lessons on reading. Does that mean we won't have lessons? Absolutely not! However, I want to strike a balance in our reading community between independent reading and teacher-lead reading. I'm actually looking forward to Tuesday. Thank goodness I have Labor Day, though, to craft our lessons for the week.
Posted by Guest  On Aug 31, 2014 at 8:51 PM 20 Comments