Sunday, December 19, 2021

Back in the Saddle {I love teaching school}

Returning to the classroom after a year away has just been incredible.  Wearing masks and following various protocols has been challenging of course, but just being in the classroom with smart, curious kids still fills my cup like few other things.  Having conversations that teach us new ideas, dancing together, dressing up in class, learning how to do hard things, and making art to grow has just been so refreshing.

In addition, for the first time ever, I have my son in my own class this year.  I have been teaching this class much longer than he has been alive, so it is really cool to have him in there.  

Many of his childhood friends are in this class as well (whom I have also known since they were tiny), and it has made for a constant free-flowing conversation everyday.  It is just cool to be in a room with smart kids with whom I share a long history.  As a result, we are functioning more like a family now, with a long history.  With this year's familiar group of kids, we get more of each others' references and it is making me a better teacher.  

I'm also back in the building with many of my best friends (fellow teachers).  I am a social animal, so being around these great dudes in the hallway keep me laughing and on my toes.

Here's to family in the classroom, in more ways than one.

Noah's cereal box biography project

Extra Credit to see UNCA's School of Athens

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Anthropocene Reviewed {John Green FTW}

It is not everyday that you find a book that speaks to you on so many profound levels.  But this past week, I started reading The Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green, and it is incredible.  

I first discovered John Green when he started making his Crash Course video series on world history.  One of my students introduced me to them, and I have since used them almost weekly in my classes.  They are hilarious, informative, and so interesting.  From there, I discovered his books (YA fiction) - which I began to steadily read.  It became clear that not only are Green and I about the same age but also share a deep love of history, music, and soccer.

So I have been particularly anticipating this new collection (his first work of nonfiction), as it covers many of these shared subjects. And in true form, this book consists of a series of essays about the human experience basically.  The format of each essay is essentially a review of that particular experience, so it concludes with a 1 to 5 star rating.  It is at once hilarious, and also deeply heartfelt and poignant.  Anyways, I love every word of it.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I both laughed and cried while reading this.  

I give this book 5 stars.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

2021 Wrapup {Lightning Bolt Edition}

It has been a strange school year.  Crazy schedules that shifted every few weeks.  But returning to in person school (for most students) in March turned out to be a great antidote.  If nothing else, I have been reminded how much I love being a teacher.  Getting to know these kids and diving in to all of the history together has been so much fun. 

We (once again) wrapped it up with some class hoodies, featuring our new classroom editions: lightning bolts.

Monday, April 12, 2021

DBQ for AP World History, How do I write this?

In some ways the pandemic forced me to rethink the way I do things in the classroom.  One of the biggest benefits has been trying to distill the best practices into something that can translate to an online, virtual education.  To that end, my son Avery has been an absolute godsend in the way in which he can edit short films, a passion of his.  

So, when it came time to teach essay writing for my AP World class, a video format was needed.  Filming at school, and learning from my 12 year old how to edit - we came up with this.  Pretty proud of it.  Hope it helps anyone who needs it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Four Agreements


A couple of years ago, I came across this book, The Four Agreements (apparently it was quite popular some time ago, and I am extremely late to the party, by I digress).  Written by Don Miguel Ruiz, it is allegedly about an ancient Olmec belief system of spiritual philosophy. The Olmecs were a notable Pre-Colombian civilization in Meso America.  They are known for their spirituality and incredible carving of massive human heads out of stone. 

Anyways, it is basically a collection of simple guidelines for living a contented life, and being a nice person.  

Though it is all pretty great stuff, numbers 2 and 3 continue to speak to me: Don't take anything personally, and don't make assumptions.  These may the most crucial elements to reaching students as well, and making sure that we are remaining open to the new ideas and experiences of these kids.

IN this looooong wait during this pandemic, these ideas are even more apt for me, and a helpful reminder to say centered.  

It remains a wonderful way to think about the world, especially in times of uncertainty.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Alexander the Grape

For years when I have taught about the Hellenistic age and the conquests of Alexander the Great, I have referenced the famous pun-named candy "Alexander the Grape."  I LOVED this candy when I was young, and consumed way too much of it for my own good.  So, one can imagine my dismay when it disappeared from stores sometime in the 90's.  

I often referenced it during class whenever Alexander came up though - both for a funny anecdote, and to help kids remember the importance of the Hellenistic era - for which Alexander is most responsible..

So, He's back.  Let's all hope that more historically themed candy can crawl back into our lives asap.

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