Little Boxes on the Desktop: Keeping Writing Small

I went to a pretty good conference last weekend. It made me think of the old folksong, “Little Boxes on the Hillside” (scroll down to the bonus audio). There was a lot of writing involved in sessions throughout the day, which is always a good thing. But in each session I attended where writing was involved, I got a handout with boxes on the page. […]

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Where Does News Live?

Her nails are always perfect. She uses clear polish so you don’t always notice them. Until she starts tapping the cell phone sitting on the table between you. Then you notice the perfect shape, the perfect cuticles. Today her perfect index finger jabs at the phone. “I think I am the only person who still reads a real newspaper,” she says. “Now it’s all in […]

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What Are Friends For?

I’m lucky to have friends who inspire me. Creative, brilliant, entrepreneurial– and unafraid to put themselves into the world of education in order to make a difference. To make things better. Sometimes what sparks new thoughts or clarity in my own perspectives is the fact that I see things differently. Sometimes the truest gifts of a friendship are the ways in which we don’t align. […]

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When a Project Gets Sidelined

The room buzzed with voices and movement. Students hovered in small groups around workstations, talking, pointing to the computer screens, gesturing. I had given what I thought was a simple assignment: find images that will bring to life a new layer of meaning in the poem you received at the start of class. It was one of the first classes of the semester in a […]

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Free-sliding into NCTE

My friend and colleague, Rick Kreinbring and I have been working on our presentation for the November NCTE convention in Houston. Yes, we know we’re not typical (in this and other ways 😉 but we know how we work; we need time to think, then reel in our thoughts. In line with the theme of this year’s convention, amplifying student voice, we’ve called our presentation […]

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“You are not the boss of me:” Talking Back to The Technologies In Our Lives

There’s a time in the lives of young children when they toss their heads, place their hands on their hips, jut out their little chins, and announce, “You are not the boss of me.” It usually happens when a parent is trying to get out the door, or wants the toys in the living room put anywhere but in the middle of the floor before […]

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When An Hour Lasts Forever

Along the edges of the room sat five or six kids who didn’t look up the entire time, or had their hoodies so tightly cinched around their faces only their eyes showed. Another knot of kids chatted loudly as they draped themselves across seats in the back corner of the room. A table to one side held a kid I’d talked to on an earlier […]

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When Theory Breaks Your Heart

I recently spent time in the classroom of a newish Language Arts teacher. He works in a high school school in one of the poorest parts of the city. Every life story of every student is hard to hear. The day I visited, fewer than half his students were present; he says that’s typical. This teacher finished school to earn his teaching credential less than […]

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If A Tree Falls In The Woods, Will Robert Frost Be Surprised?

I. We promise magic, we teachers of writing. A kind of electromagnetism that will connect writer and reader; a moment when words, ideas, and intentions collide and BAM: meaning explodes. Once upon a time, we teachers asked kids to write on paper, pass it in, then we would hand it back. Then we asked kids to write for more than just the grownups. We asked […]

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