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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

edcamp Malden is October 15, 2016!

Hi, all. Please consider signing up for edcamp Malden! It's our third event, and there's no theme this time, so let's pack the schedule with topics that matter to you! Register at

Happy back to school, everyone! I'm getting mentally and emotionally prepared now . . .

Friday, July 15, 2016

Happy Vacation!

Hi, all. Long time, no write. I'm living with a lot of non-blog-writing guilt, but it is what it is. Hope everyone is well and enjoying vacation. I am both relaxing and staying a bit busy. It's nice.

I'm writing to tell you about this free event in August that I'm organizing as part of a grant I won to promote teacher learning.

Please come and/or spread the word! Twitter has completely changed my online life as a teacher--so many resources, so many friends. Whether you're complete new to Twitter or a pro, this session will help you dig deeper.

Feel free to contact me at or @abbeydick with questions. Keep enjoying that summer weather!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

#sitxybooks: Books #4-8

Hello, and happy February vacation! I've been reading but neglecting to blog. Here's what I've been reading!

#4: Feed by M. T. Anderson

I teach this book every winter in my 10th grade classes, and I LOVE it. I usually hate sci-fi stuff, but I am obsessed with this book. It tells the story of Titus, a teenager with a chip in his head (his "feed") that does everything a smartphone can do. He falls in love with Violet, another teen who likes her feed but actively tries to resist it. The audio book is amazing because the characters speak in this crazy vernacular (just as crazy as my students' slang). It's an awesome satire that I don't mind rereading every year.

#5: Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind

I read this book with my newly formed book club of English teachers. This book is PERFECT for me and my school and gave me lots of tips for structuring my classroom, my lessons, and my language for my students. It gave me some structures for understanding my kids and helping them want to be in the room and focused. I'll definitely reread it this summer before the new year.

#6: The Wild Truth

This companion piece to Into the Wild was written by Chris McCandless's sister, Carine. She details the physical and emotional abuse rained upon Chris and Carine by their parents, and it provides a motive for Chris's journey into the wild. I avoided reading it for a while, but it's quite well written and gave me a much deeper understanding of Chris and his mindset before his journey. It turns the conventional wisdom of feeling pity for his parents on its head. If you believe Chris was insane to abandon the status quo and divorce his parents forever, this book will change your mind.

#7: The Man of my Dreams

I LOVE Curtis Sittenfeld. I read Prep and American Wife in the past and have been saving this one. Hannah is a young woman who never expects to have a boyfriend but keeps ending up in relationships and trying to figure out the guy and herself. Sittenfeld writes brainy women so perfectly. Lots of laughs and heartbreak here. I love how the book is structured into vignettes.

#8: Sisterland

Also great is this book about twins with psychic powers. They've struggled with their different personalities as they grew up, but as adults they both remained in St. Louis. One sister, Vi, feels a small earthquake and predicts a much bigger one is coming, making her briefly famous nationwide. The other sister has to deal with the consequences: does she laugh it off, or start buying batteries and bottled water? A great meditation on motherhood and sisterhood.

Next up, for my book club, is In the Best Interest of Students, by Kelly Gallagher. Can't wait to dig in. I always love Kelly's stuff.

Friday, January 29, 2016

#sixtybooks: Book #3

Hello! I've gotten though another book! It's hard to find the time to read, but I really look forward to it.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

This book has been on my radar for a while, but I was disappointed. I'm a big Salinger fan, mostly of Catcher because I've read it so often. When Rakoff was in her 20s, she became an assistant for Salinger's agent, so she fielded phone calls from him (he slowly became more friendly to her) and answered his fan mail (sometimes with a canned response, but sometimes she went rogue and answered letters on her own). One time, he walked by her desk and she shook his hand.

Is this tenuous connection with him enough to make a book? It's a coming of age in New York City publishing, and she has a bad boyfriend, but I'm not sure there's a story here. It was pleasant to read, and I learned a little more about Salinger, but I forgot Rakoff's POV the minute the book was over.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Breaking News: EdCamp Boston is early!

Hello! EdCamp Boston just announced their 2016 date (March 5) and when tickets are available (Sunday!?!). They will be gone in hours, so if you live in New England and want to go, check it out ASAP!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#sixtybooks: book #2

Hey, there! School is back on, and it's midterms time, so my fun reading plan has gone down the drain for the most part, but this is the last book I read on vacation (mostly on the plane).

I know Carrie Brownstein from the TV show "Portlandia," which I love, but she is best known as a musician in the all-female band, Sleater-Kinney. This memoir explores her childhood in Washington with an anorexic mother and a closeted gay father. She struggles to find her place in the world and makes friends in the girl rock scene. She then starts a band and deals with her own sexual identity and enduring the life of touring. The band broke up and then reunited recently.

Brownstein is a terrifically adept writer, especially about concerts and her many famous musician friends. The world she describes is so insular--it's cool to see it from the inside. I was disappointed that there was nothing in the book about "Portlandia" and how she developed her comedy writing and performances. The book did make me yearn to see Portland, Olympia, and the Pacific coast!

Currently reading and attempting to finish before book club dates next week!

Also, I'm taking an online class by Brene Brown, of TED talk and Oprah fame. Good stuff about being yourself and taking risks.  The title comes from this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Saturday, January 2, 2016

#sixtybooks: book #1

Hi! I'm trying to read #sixtybooks in 2016. Follow that hashtag on Twitter for more info. I honestly don't know if I can do it--I struggle to read for fun during the school year--but I will try!

For book #1, I totally cheated. I started Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer last week, and I've read it many times before. I wanted to read it again because I hope to teach it to my AP Lang. students this spring in some sort of unit about returning to nature, abandoning materialism, something like that. I haven't flushed it out yet, but I'd like to do one whole book together.

Also, my class is HUGE, about 31 kids, so I might take out the sophomores (about half) and have them read Feed by M.T. Anderson instead and do an already-theorized technology unit. They need a refresher on fiction for the MCAS 10th grade long comp, PLUS no one should get out of reading Feed. It is mind-blowingly good.

Anyway, I've reread this book a lot because I admire it so much. It's a terrific work of non-fiction, blending a true-crime-ish story with personal anecdotes, historical context, and more. Chris McCandless left detailed journals and photos for Krakauer and the world to explore. I'm not hiker or nature lover, but I can understand McCandless's desire to abandon all society and try to live as freely as possible. I think the book provides lessons for parents--if your kid has a lifelong rebellious relationship with you, explore it before it's too late. Also a lesson for young adults whose brains aren't fully developed yet: before you make a drastic, risky decision, talk to someone.

Later this year, I'd like to read The Wild Truth, by Chris's sister. She explores the abusive relationship the kids had with their father, which definitely adds a new layer of intrigue to the story.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your book recommendations for this year at @abbeydick on Twitter or