Saturday, December 28, 2019


Image result for sapiens bookOne of the things I love most about being a teacher is the constant push to learn more. Every semester presents another opportunity to dig a bit deeper into topics.  This just never gets old, and I still look forward to learning more about ...well, everything.  And if everything works out correctly, I get to share it with my students, and hopefully light a spark that interests at least one of them.  As a result, every day is a new opportunity to grow.  What a great job!

So, over this last month, I have been reading Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind.  I have had to walk away from this book, and return to it several times - mostly because some of the theories presented take time to digest.  But overall, I am captivated by it.  Essentially, the writer delves into the specific things that separate Homo Sapiens from all other species.  The most important transition is what he terms the "cognitive revolution."  Basically, something happened between 70,000 to 30,000 years ago that allowed Homo sapiens to communicate at a level never seen before in language. This, in turn, enabled sapiens to cooperate in large numbers.  This cooperation may be the key to everything that humankind has accomplished since.  It is captivating.

And it has started to turn my wheels, and inspires me to add some new questions to my class discussions.  It is fitting that we are at the start of a new semester, as I can't wait to get started.  My brain is filled with new ideas, and I even got a new pair of shoes - so let's go!!

Friday, December 13, 2019

I'm Lovin' It

I love being a teacher.  It is an intense job though, and it requires a lot of me to be good at it.  We are lucky that there are breaks built in to the calendar, because being on one's game, working with 20-30 students at a time all day is exhausting - but exhilarating.  And I just can't imagine living without it. 

My classes this semester are made up of super cool kids.  I love to spend these days with them, learning new stuff, asking questions, and laughing our way through it all.

I am grateful for the opportunity to do this, today - and everyday.

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

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What is Punk Rock Pedagogy?

The most valuable preparation that I ever received for teaching history in a public high school was from punk rock bands.  Growing up in Win...