First, a bit about me . . . I was the kid who loved school and everything about it. In early elementary grades, I cried on the last day of school before holiday breaks and summer vacation. Literally. I spent summers setting up a classroom on a blanket in the corner of the living room and creating schoolwork for stuffed animals – and later for siblings and neighborhood friends. In 4th grade, I announced that I would be a teacher when I grew up . . . and I never considered anything else.
I started teaching in 1992. After a brief stint in 6th grade, I settled into 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts and I love it! Middle schoolers are both fun and funny. They are curious about the world and their role in it; they exaggerate nearly every experience and emotion, and they are wildly optimistic about their possibilities and futures. They keep me on my toes and I thoroughly enjoy working with them!
In life outside of school, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, theatre and museums, weekend getaways, photography, and getting lost in good books.
Speaking of good books, one of my favorite books to teach is The Giver by Lois Lowry. I can read it over and over again and never tire of the story and the many meaningful discussions it lends itself to, and I always appreciate students’ thoughts about diversity, individuality, freedom of choice, wisdom, the importance of preserving memories and learning from the past, the possibility of creating a utopian society, and the advantages and disadvantages of sacrificing personal freedom to gain a more peaceful society. Middle schoolers have a lot to say about these thought-provoking topics and their insights never fail to amaze me! The Giver is an absolute must in middle school!
Speaking of school, it’s that time again . . . time to plan and prepare for a new year! I love the excitement and anticipation of a brand new school year! One of my favorite back-to-school activities is having students work in teams to design and build a new toy! Though you'd probably never hear them say it aloud, middle schoolers still love playing with interlocking building bricks! Ask them to get busy creating with a few friends, and they think they've just had the best school day of their entire lives! They think this activity is the bomb!
I also think it's the bomb because it fosters team-building, critical thinking, collaborative problem-solving, communication, and social skills amongst students. It's collaborative and hands-on, it integrates other disciplines, and it allows me to start understanding students' learning and communication styles right away. While this is not your typical "get to know you" activity, it truly helps students get to know one another and connect with one another right away -- and it helps me get to know a lot about the students in my classes, as well! In fact, I'm so crazy about this back-to-school activity, that I've made it free! Grab it here and enjoy your first week back with students!
I know you’ll enjoy hopping through these blog posts and getting to know a few other super-amazing secondary ELA teachers as much as I have!