The Art of Manipulation

I teach my students to manipulate others (sarcasm). It's pretty cool. If you wanna know more, watch "The Art of Manipulation" (Vlog 1).

If you get bored with the student examples, skip to the last 2-minutes. The thing I still don't understand is, "Why did only around 50% of my students turn this assignment in when 99% were actually working on it?"  Give me your thoughts and questions below!

***Slowly beginning to get more screenshots turned in***

The Wall

This blogging thing is working. Students who don't write are writing. Students who have spent years of their life avoiding are engaging. Students are beginning to flex writing muscles that haven't been used for a long time.

This doesn't mean, however, that there haven't been issues. I'm not talking about technology hiccups. I'm talking about how to appropriately engage with another human being kind-of-hiccups.

I've been extremely honest with my students about my hopes and fears with this experiment. My hopes are simple - that a new writing culture would be sparked and we would learn to write with purpose. I've also shared my fear that blogging could be used as a tool to spark drama, intentionally or unintentionally.

The unintentional drama has begun.

I'm sure it's hard to believe that a group of completely mature, intelligent and well-mannered 8th graders would use this as an opportunity to act like adults on Twitter, but they did. Honestly, whe…

Writing Culture

We are blogging.

For whatever reason, it sounds ridiculous to write that. I'm not really sure what I'm getting into, and I'm pretty sure we're building the plane in flight, but what the heck, right?
This whole blogging business is happening because of the work we're doing with Dr. Utecht and a book I'm reading by John Warner titled, "Why They Can't Write" (coupled with my own sense of adventure and curiosity). And my 8th graders are freaking out right now - freaking out excited and freaking out nervous. The idea that their writing is open for every 8th grader to see is nerve-racking, and I get it. Making our writing public takes a level of trust and vulnerability that has the potential to backfire. It also has the potential to spark a new writing culture at school and beyond.  Here's what I wrote to my students in my first blog to them if you're interested: Buckle up!.
In John Warner's book, he writes about our writing 'crisis'…


I have become a skimmy-dipper. Whether it's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ESPN, Bleacher Report, RELEVANT, Runner's World, CNN, Fox, NPR, blogs, student work, etc., I skim. If I'm honest, I skim because reading (and my purpose for reading) has become all about me and my interests and my time and my instant gratification and my evidence-seeking-to-back-my-opinions kind of reading.

I didn't think twice about skimmy-dipping until I came across an article that appeared in The Guardian titled, Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound by Maryanne Wolf. Wolf makes some thought-provoking claims that have serious implications not only for my classroom but for society as a whole. In it she writes:
The possibility that critical analysis, empathy and other deep reading processes could become the unintended “collateral damage” of our digital culture is not a simple binary issue about print vs digital reading. It is about how we all have begun to read on any …

KISSing: A Shared Experience

This week, I was going to write about skimmy-dipping and how we've become a culture of skim readers and its impact on students and blah blah blah. I was going to write about getting a call from my wife mid-run asking me to buy some wine to 'cook' with, then running home with a bottle in my hand and somehow connecting it to my teaching. That was all too complicated and last week happened, and this week happened, and today happened, and then I decided to write about KISSing - cause who doesn't like to KISS?

I'm regularly reminded that KISSing is where it's at in education. In the past, and currently, I overcomplicate learning for my students. I’m a much better teacher when I'm KISSing - when I keep it simple stupid. And that's how I approached the past couple weeks while reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. Here's a quick synopsis of the KISSing that went on:
I started the unit asking students to list three things that would make our country a better place.…

The Importance of Mission

I have some strong convictions and some not-so-strong convictions. I believe my job is to create a classroom that is equitable, rigorous, and relevant. I believe relationships are foundational to learning. I believe the question, 'What thinking work am I asking students to engage in?' is one of the most important questions I can ask. I believe technology is simply a tool. And I believe having a clear mission is crucial. My mission is clear - students will learn to read critically, write consciously, speak clearly and tell their truth - thank you, Clint Smith.  
As our district looks at ways to authentically integrate technology into our classrooms, I was struck by Drew Perkins article, 15 Questions to Ask About Your Tech Integration. In it, he asks an important question: How does this tech align with my school, and class mission and vision?  This question caused me to pause and consider my mission in lieu of technology. Here are some thoughts about how my districts technology…

The F-Word

Day one of this new adventure is done. My noodle is noodling and the F-word has crept in. It's hard to get away from the F-word on days like this when everything is new and there is a new mountain to climb.  It seems that with all the busyness of life, to add one more thing is to give the F-word new life, knowing that it will happen at some point or another.  But apparently, we're supposed to embrace the F-word and even celebrate the F-word.  So here's to failing and failing well, because the F-word will happen, but the risk is worth it and the F-word is worth it.

So let us fail together, learn together, and innovate together.

F-word-it-all and let's crash through the big frickin' wall!