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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

One week left!

Hi, all. School starts for me next week, so while I hope to blog, it might not happen for a while. You know how it is! Once you get sucked into the vortex of a new school year, you can't get out. I hope to surface by Thanksgiving.

Since I didn't travel, I did a lot of professional stuff this summer, and it was very good. I feel really focused on the coming year. It's year 14. I feel so old!  Older, but wiser hopefully.

Here are the priorities I am thinking about for the fall:

1. Get kids' writing back to them ASAP. The longer I don't provide feedback, the more worthless it is.
2. Try really hard to be a good co-teaching partner. I learned a lot last year and want to do what I can to really have a 50/50 relationship.
3. Start using Google Classroom. Our kids are getting Chrome books, so I'm hoping to streamline what I do.
4. Do work at school. Lugging bags of papers back and forth from home is silly because I'm too tired to do it when I get home anyway.
5. Make concepts more concrete. Though English is skill-based, get more specific so students have something to guide them more than vague suggestions.
6. Conference more. I'm planning on scheduling after school writing conferences. Once students try it, they will love the individualized attention.
7. Raise my AP scores. I'm not crazy about scores, but I KNOW I can do better this coming year.
8. Make students more aware of their Lexile levels and how to improve them. Help them find books they like and can actually read.
9. Do a better job with parent contacts for both good and bad reasons.
10. Step it up with formative assessments. Make students more accountable for processing what they are learning.

I know 10 are too many, but I hope to make some progress on all of them!

Before I forget, EdCamp Malden is October 17. It's just a morning: 8 am until 1230 pm. It will be a great day, especially if you work with ELLs. If you've never been to an EdCamp before and you live nearby, this is a very manageable one to try. The raffle prizes are remarkable; companies and authors have been very generous.  Get a ticket!

Have a great school year, everybody! As always, contact me with comments, questions, and suggestions! My personal email is

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oh my god it's August

Hey, all. I'm starting the hyperventilation that is August.

We go back August 31, and the kids start later that week. My ESL teaching program ended, and now I have four weeks left, during which there are nine days of PD (five days with AP Lang. people, two days of co-teaching planning, and two days of Google 1:1 training).

So far, summer has been awesome and relaxing. I've enjoyed Twitter chats and connecting with teachers. I've also read three AMAZING books I wanted to talk about. I know they came out a while ago. During the school year, it's really hard for me to read, so I'm always catching up on bestsellers years later!

Wonder (790 L): I used this book for read aloud in my ESL class and read the whole thing on my own in a day. It's about August, a kid with facial deformities who starts 5th grade in a real school. It has some twists in the middle and comes together nicely at the end.  Lovely!

The Maze Runner (770 L): I read this book on my own in a day because we showed the movie to our ESL students. It's awesome, and now I have to read all four in the series. So suspenseful and visual! I raced to finish it. The new movie comes out next month ("The Scorch Trials").

The New Kids (1140 L): I'm in the middle of this book now. It follows a handful of immigrant teens at their school in Brooklyn. It reminds me so much of Malden High School. Although I'm not exactly on the front lines of helping ESL students and immigrants, I am so touched by the bravery and empathy of these teachers. Their hard work is remarkable. I feel like everyone in public education should read this book. A terrific read!