Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Diversity, Our Greatest Gift {Cyrillic Lesson}

It is often said that our diversity is our strength. This is often uttered as a general statement of multiculturalism, and I couldn’t agree more. It is also true that being a public school teacher can provide a unique experience with a widely diverse array of students - each from a unique background.
So yesterday, in my AP World History class - we were discussing the Christian Schism of 1054, and the development of the Cyrillic alphabet by the missionary Cyril (mid 9th century). We discussed the spread of Orthodox Christianity throughout Eastern Europe , and how the modern Russian language still uses the Cyrillic alphabet - partially as a result of that early history.
One of my students, whose family is of Greek heritage, walked us through her experience in the Orthodox Church- and patiently answered questions. And today, one of my students who speaks Russian- brought in her children’s book that helped teach her how to read the Cyrillic Alphabet. It made for an incredible few days in class, full of meaning and personal stories.  I always open my class by discussing the need to find the ties that bind, the need to learn from each other, and the need to be inclusive.  This week, watching my students ask each other questions about their experience, in order to better understand it was heart warming. 

And this is how we can learn. This diversity among our students is our greatest asset. So we must nurture it, and insure that every kid feels that her individuality is valued and encouraged. Not only is it something we should do, it is something that we have to do.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dance of Days

I recently read the book Dance of Days (Anderson and Jenkins), a history of punk rock music in Washington DC.  Music and history are my first loves, so this book certainly checked many boxes.  At the end, the author wrote an eloquent paragraph addressing the question of why we need history.  Contrary to popular myth, it is not "so that we won't repeat it," because often times we absolutely want to repeat history.  We want to make beautiful art, love each other, start peaceful and meaningful revolution, and grow.  And history is most often the ground from which inspiration grows.

He writes,"...The past can provide the raw material for new life, new adventure, new answers, and new hope.  Those memories can be our lesson, our fuel, our foundation, the gift left by the generation before, waiting to be discovered and put to use, to fertilize the ground of renewed struggle, to shine a light true and strong, defeating the darkness.  This is a way, then, that books of history might bring us life, not entangle us in death or distraction."

I couldn't agree more.  I can't wait to get started.

Friday, May 31, 2019

2019 Champions

Another year. Another chance to celebrate some kids who rock out history. 

The 2019 Champions.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The First Five

We have just completed our First Five months together in AP World, and it has been a treat.  What an amazing semester we have had so far!  I brag on  my students all of the time, but this year's kids are special.  They are energetic and fun, yet academically motivated - and always answer the call when it is time to put in the work.  It has made for an incredible experience as a teacher, and I hope that the students are having as much fun as I am.

We have successfully balanced the hard work with the fun.  We have now taken three major exams, worked diligently on our biography project (by making "historical cereal boxes" and writing papers), and even completed a Trans-Atlantic journey (through the hallways of our school) to better grasp the 16th century Atlantic Trade System.  (We traded a Robo-Cop action figure for an adorable blue penguin).  We've learned to write Short Answer and Long Essays, and even had a "Vans Day" - and have kept a class history of all of it! 

Next semester will inevitably bring about new challenges and adventures for us, but we will be ready to meet them all. 

Thanks for a great first five months kids.  I can't wait for the next!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Model the Learning {Adventure Time!}

Bodie Island
I believe that teachers must model the power of constant learning and growth for students.  To that end, I try to share with my students when my family and I travel to new places - and have new experiences. 

It is my hope that my students will see that I am living a life of adventure, and that I am constantly trying to learn new things, and find new inspiration.

MLK childhood home.
Over the course of the last year, my family and I have traveled to Bodie Island Lighthouse, enjoyed the Lost Colony play, sat on Martin Luther King Jr.'s front porch in Atlanta, and saw Hamilton.

I feel so grateful to be able to experience these amazing opportunities to live into new experiences.  It is my hope that by sharing it with my students, it has the potential to transform my teaching in a manner that will enable my students to better understand the power of learning and growth, reflected in my passionate commitment to teaching, and a continued life of adventures.

But it will not end with my travel.  We will once again take two busloads of students to Philadelphia, Washington DC, and the University of Virginia this May.  Why?  To learn new things, and find new inspiration.

I can't wait.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

World View Conference Presentation

I had a blast presenting at the World View Global Education conference last month, with my good friend ( and amazing teacher) Amy White. 

She teaches Foods and Pro Start, and we worked together to rock the history of global foods, and how to best incorporate it in the classroom, for maximum impact among our students.  We focused on coffee, chocolate, and sugar.

I  loved it, and look forward to more opportunities to bring what we do in our classrooms out into the wider world.

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