NCTE17 New Attendee Orientation Review (Blog #6)

The New Attendee Orientation at the NCTE convention was not at all what I expected it to be. The yogurt parfaits and fresh coffee was as promised, but the informal atmosphere was not. I entered the room expecting to be quiet while a speaker clicked through PowerPoint slides that provided helpful tips and tricks to navigate the zillions of sessions (and magical exhibit hall!). Instead, I was seated at a table with a college professor from Florida, a teacher from Tennessee, and a teacher from Indianapolis. There were no handouts or directions, instead we simply… talked.

The professor had been coming to NCTE conventions for I believe thirty-something years. She accidentally thought my coaching minor was for literature coaching, and she had strong opinions on the elimination of tenure for teachers in Florida. The Tennessee teacher worked in a small town where she stated a number of her co-workers graduated from the same school they now taught in. The Indianapolis teacher was relatable. She was just beginning her second year of teaching at a small Catholic school in what sounded like an urban portion of the city, and wasn’t afraid to admit she was still learning the ropes.

This is going to be a short blog post. I don’t remember any of their names, but I do remember one moment. The Indianapolis teacher was talking to the Tennessee teacher, and I may have been kinda-sorta eavesdropping as I sipped my coffee. The Indianapolis teacher was explaining that she had been working two jobs—waitressing down the block in the evenings—but had recently quit. When delivering this news she said something to the effect of, is having money but constantly being stressed really better than scraping by but being able to spend time doing what I love? That spoke to me. In work, school, and my personal life if I am so stressed that I have forgotten why I am doing what I am doing then something needs to change.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see the Indianapolis teacher again, but if I do I will thank her for allowing me to see life through a new perspective. Connecting with other English teachers can be a profound experience, even if only in passing.

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NCTE17 Secondary Section Get-Together Review (Blog #5)

My first ever NCTE convention started off strong at the Secondary Section Get-Together Thursday evening. After waking up at 4:00 a.m., making our way through the Denver airport (which gives me the creeps… I once pulled an all-nighter before my first high school two-a-day practice watching DIA Conspiracy videos on YouTube, not my best decision ever), flying an hour and a half to St. Louis (this girl is also scared of heights), traveling backward on a metro train, and then intimately orienting ourselves with downtown as we hunted for our elusive motel I was ready to have my socks knocked off by the first session. But I was apprehensive too—what should I expect?

Turns out, I could expect Laurie Halse Anderson to be the keynote speaker! However, before she took to the podium in Lois Lowry’s stead she was introduced by a fellow teacher who talked to us about sensitive issues in language arts. This is a topic that has made me nervous since I decided I wanted to be an English teacher. What if I assign the wrong text at the wrong time? However, a quote the teacher shared from one of her 10th grade students eased my mind: “There really aren’t sensitive issues if the teacher handles it well.” Death, racism, religion, sexuality, violence, and abilism are all topics that are bound to come up at some point or another. If I am prepared to competently handle the topic and any issues that may arise, they can be delivered in a mature fashion that promotes student learning. According to the teacher, one of the best ways to accomplish this is through discussion. If I facilitate the language students need to navigate difficult topics in a respectful but comprehensive manner, then adolescents will be equipped to embrace these tough topics autonomously. As the teacher stated, “Learning flows in a sea of talks.”

Laurie Halse Anderson effortlessly picked up the theme set before her, contributing hilarious stories that were firmly grounded in a simple yet resounding message: good teachers are important. Some of my favorite takeaways from her speech were as follows:

  • “Always look for the helpers” ~Mr. Rogers
  • “The real obscenity is the people who don’t have the balls to give high schoolers what they need in high school”
  • Don’t be a teacher who has their head stuck in the canon!
  • Often, books are challenged by the parents who are broken by fear and do not know how to talk to their children (Sidenote: THIS!)
  • There are a lot of lost kids wandering the halls that need to be reached out to.

 

Just like that, the tone was set: my tiredness was forgotten (well, at least until I got back to the motel and remembered I had homework to do) and I was inspired to learn as much as I could over the next 72 hours at NCTE17… which is precisely what I did.

P.S. Laurie Halse Anderson also liked and responded to one of my Tweets! How amazing is that!? I know, I know; pics or it didn’t happen. See screenshot below.

Laurie Halse Anderson Tweet

Much happy, many excitement.

Second Time’s A Charm (Book Review #2)

Holy smokes… I am HOOKED. It literally took me an hour to read Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and now I need to read the next one. And the next one, and the next, and the next! Because currently there are seven volumes. I’m thinking there might be some early Christmas presents from me to me in the near future.

Saga Christmas Tree

You may have thought I was joking when I said I was going to buy the other volumes as an early Christmas present to myself, but I am very serious. To prove it, here is Saga beneath my tree (that has been up since November 2nd). Yay, Christmas! Picture is my own.

Okay, now let me attempt to summarize what I just read. This story begins in the middle of a war between planet Landfall and its moon, Wreath. The people of each planet are different, kind of like races. Though the origin of the war is still unclear, the races of each place despise one another. However, the comic begins with a baby being born… between a winged woman from Landfall named Alana, and a horned man from Wreath named Marko. They are married. This is a big no-no. As a result, multiple groups of beings are out to kill Alana and Marko. I don’t want to give much more away, but the rest of this first comic follows their journey to outrun their would-be assassins.

Of course, it is not this simple. The story is written in real time, but thanks to gentle interjections the reader knows that Alana and Marko’s daughter, Hazel, is actually narrating the story. Though she is a baby in this first volume, she is looking back and telling her story, which at that point is her parents’. It’s fascinating to get not only the plot at hand, but the foreshadowing plot of what is to come through Hazel’s words. As if that is not enough, I have a suspicion that parts of the story that focus on a different character (The Will) are somehow happening both in the future and in the present of the story (although I cannot confirm these suspicions until I read the subsequent volumes!) Either way, this comic is an excellent use of interwoven plot points that are seemingly separate but not.

Here’s the deal: if you are a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, comic books or all of the above then this first volume is absolutely for you. However, I do not think I would house this volume on the shelves of my high school English classroom. On the back cover there is the rating “M/Mature” and it is there for good reason. There is a LOT of graphic violence and sexual nudity throughout the entire work. It all serves the plot, but it is there nonetheless. I understand that graphic themes of this nature appear in many other novels, but it is tricky when images accompany it. I am an adult, and there were a few pages that made me feel extremely uncomfortable. That being said, this first volume covers some important concepts such as war, sex trafficking, interracial marriages, corrupt power… the list goes on. I love what I just read, but I do not think I would feel comfortable handing it out to my students.

As for myself, though, onto volume two!

A Swing and a Miss (Book Review #1)

Recently I took the plunge and read my first ever graphic novel. Until this year, graphic novels had not been on my reading radar. I know that my high school library had them because some of my classmates loved them, but I never hopped on board. I was (and am) more into the likes of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, and the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin—and that’s totally okay!

However, one day I was in the library with a fellow special methods student (shout out to Regan!) and she recommended the graphic novel This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. First, she pointed out the illustrations (which are done in beautiful blue ink), and then she told me that the tale is “haunting” which is a fair adjective to describe this book. It follows the coming-of-age story of a tween girl, Rose, who goes to her family’s summer vacation home with her parents. On the beach, Rose’s life is a realistic one filled with a steadfast friendship where sometimes nerves are frayed, parents who are in a complex relationship, as well as various other typical teenage drama. Within the text tough topics are tackled such as teen pregnancy, suicide, and miscarriages.

Now for my confession: this graphic novel was a swing and a miss for me. The pictures were vivid, I appreciated how quickly I could take it in, but This One Summer failed to pull me in as a reader. My biggest issue was the story line itself. I found that I simply could not relate. I cannot blame this all on the book because it has been quite some time since I’ve fully immersed myself in young adult literature. That being said, I felt at times it was trying too hard and this made it feel very stereotypical to me. In addition, it was very… negative. Have you ever read or watched something that made you feel weary because of the weight it was placing on your shoulders? That was this book for me. An unpopular opinion I’m sure, but I want to be honest.

Still, I could see how this book would resonate with teenage readers. I did not entirely enjoy the characters or plot, but that does not mean that my students won’t too. I loved the strategy my professor shared in class yesterday of a teacher who challenges her students to read books she doesn’t like, and then encourages them to tell her why she is wrong. Perhaps This One Summer will still find a place on my classroom shelf one day where I can challenge my own students to let me know what I am missing. Until then I will continue the search for a graphic novel that makes me say, “Wow!”

Common Sense (Blog #4)

This afternoon I had the pleasure of watching two incredible TED Talks. They were not memorable because of their humor (although I’m fairly certain I earned a few odd looks from laughing out loud while watching in the library), nor for their spot-on deliveries. What made these two TED Talks stand out to me were their profound common sense— something that is increasingly rare in our world today.

The first video, embedded below for convenience, was Sugata Mitra’s “The Child-Driven Education.” In his speech, Mitra described to his audience the ongoing experiment(s) he had been working on for years. His research started with a simple concept: place public computers in third-world countries for children to interact with. The results blew me away. Not only were kids figuring out how to utilize the technology on their own, but they were also working in groups in order to both learn from and teach others. As Mitra explained, “Groups of children can learn to use computers and the internet on their own irrespective of who or where they were.”

How amazing is that? However, before hearing his results I must admit that I had doubts. Occasionally I’ve come across Internet forums that ask the question “What jobs will never be replaced by machines?” Each time I read it I tend to laugh self-satisfactorily to myself and think, “Educators for sure.” In my mind, teachers have always been an invaluable presence. They are the encouragers and facilitators to authentic learning. But is this really the case? Are teachers actually irreplaceable? These are tough questions, and I will pose my answer like this: though teachers can provide a positive presence for students, it makes sense that they do not necessarily need to be present for learning to take place.

After all, learning occurs every second of every day. Did a teacher make me complete a worksheet when I learned how to shoot a basketball or throw a discuss? Did a teacher make me take a quiz when I taught myself how to make eggs benedict? Did a teacher require me to deliver a speech when I visited the memorials in Washington D.C.? No, no, and no.

So the biggest question then is, how will this thinking affect my future classroom? Before I explain, let me first examine the second video: “The Puzzle of Motivation” by Daniel Pink. His video is interesting due to the fact that his intended audience is actually business people but everything he states applies just as well to education. In essence, his argument is that intrinsic motivation is better in a 21st century work environment than extrinsic motivation.

This is not just a personal opinion either— keeping with his law theme, he has plenty of evidence to back it up. However, my favorite supplemental piece of his argument isn’t that which supports it, but rather the proposed solution to it. The new intrinsic approach for motivation that he outlines consists of:

1.) Autonomy— Pink defines this as, “The urge to direct our own lives”

2.) Mastery— Pink defines this as, “The desire to get better and better at something that matters.

3.) Purpose— Pink defines this as, “The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves”

It is in these three characteristics of intrinsic motivation that the similarities between these two videos lie. To answer my aforementioned question, what this information means for me and my classroom is that in order for students to be intrinsically motivated they need to be interested in their learning which will be achieved by allowing them to be autonomous. Easy enough, right? Though I have fully understand this general idea, it is more difficult working out the finer details. That being said, I do know two great places to start; in order for students to have control over their learning, and therefore enjoy it, they need to be able to choose both what they read and what they write. If my students do these things, I firmly believe that the rest will fall into place. At the end of the day, it all goes back to common sense.

Nervous (Blog #3)

ABC

Not quite as easy as 1,2,3. Or 100, 97, 93. Picture is my own.

I am just going to come right out and say it— I am very nervous to “grade” as a teacher. I wrote a little bit about my own history with grading in my first blog post of the semester entitled The Battle of Assessment & Why I Will Be Fighting Back, but as I’ve mulled over the concept of feedback this week I’ve come to another realization. In high school I thought I had my English grades all figured out. I would have a long string of 100% papers, maybe a 97% here and there, very rarely a 93%. I would be able to say, “Oh, I had some awkward sentences in this paper” or “The content was amazing in this paper” and I would know that’s why I earned the grade that I did. To my teacher’s credit, along with a number grade she would provide each of us with a paragraph of narrative feedback as well.

However, as I look back from the perspective of a soon-to-be teacher I get extremely overwhelmed. A barrage of questions are firing in my mind, one after the other. What is the difference between a 100% and a 97%? Is a mistake worth 1 point or 5 points or 10 points? If one student maintains their writing but another student largely improves their writing, how can I give one an A and the other a C? How do I measure subjective content? How do I put a number on creativity?  How do I distinguish between a strong voice and a good voice? How do I, how do I, how do I…

Like any education major, I’ve been taught the basics. Make sure you have measurable objectives in your lesson plan, always create a rubric, grade on the curve, etc. The thing is, what if I don’t want to do any of those things? The other thing is, what if I am required to?

After this week, there are a few approaches to grading that I know I will implement in my future classroom. These include providing students with positive statements only, asking lots of questions in regards to their writing, as well as implementing a conferencing system. These concepts can all be applied under any already-established grading system. I also want to implement another grading approach— eradicating number grades altogether.

That is the one that gives me anxiety. I am afraid of the “what-ifs.” What if students take advantage of this no-grading grading? What if parents complain to the school? What if my principal reprimands me? What if I lose my job because my superiors find me lacking accountability? I already know the solution to these scenarios. Do my research. In order to run my classroom in the best way I know how I need to read voraciously, develop professionally, and network unceasingly. It is crucial for me to learn all that I can about the English classroom, and then be ready to present my findings at any given moment.

I’m just going to come right out and say it again— grading still makes me nervous. It is easy to balk at the unknown, but that’s when I need to remind myself to just keep pushing through. I have learned so much both as a student and teacher, and now all I need to do is keep learning. Because as much as I worry about my own future, my biggest concern is that I will fail my students. As funny as it sounds, it is within these fears that deep down I know I shouldn’t be afraid. I worry because I care, and caring is the cornerstone in any profession. At the end of the day as long as I keep seeking information so that I can be the best teacher for my students, I will be accomplishing what matters most. 🙂

Walking Tacos and a Vision (Blog #2)

This past weekend I went home to visit my family. On Friday night, I watched my brother play football. Before the game, the Booster Club was putting on a Walking Taco feed. As I sat with my mom in the student center, Doritos bag in hand, I began to talk her ear off. Sometimes when this happens, I think she likes to tune me out (like when I get on my JFK assassination conspiracy theory rants… word to the wise, don’t ask me about JFK’s death unless you have at least an hour to spare) but this time I could tell she was listening intently. Between bites of cheesy, oniony, sour-creamy goodness I sincerely told her, “Mom, it only took three years but guess what? I finally have a vision of what running my classroom will look like day in and day out.”

I described to her how I want to devote one day a week to reading in my classroom, how I can spin required material into interesting mini lessons, and how I can format unit plans in a myriad of different ways. It is truly exciting after the image being blurry for so long to have the puzzle pieces start sliding into place. I have always been passionate about English and education, but having actual stepping stones to follow has reignited my desire to be in the classroom. Knowing that in order to build successful educational plans I will need to think big— year plans, semester plans, quarter plans— before focusing in— unit plans, daily plans— is invaluable. Knowing the different categories of unit plans and unit activities is invigorating. Will I organize my units by genre or theme? At the end of a unit, will my students read examples or craft a project? The possibilities are overwhelming in such a good way. Most importantly, knowing how to structure a class period (mentor texts and workshop time for the win) is practically ineffable. I could probably find some more words that begin with the prefix “in,” but I’ll sum it up like this: for the first time as a college student, I have a slight inkling of what my chosen career will actually entail. And that… that is a wonderful thing.

P.S. While home this weekend, I also went garage saling (my processing software is telling me that “garage saling” is not in fact a recognized phrase, but it totally is as far as I’m concerned). Which means I bought books! Lots of books. Except on this shopping spree, my mind was focused not necessarily on my own reading preferences but rather which books would be good for my future classroom library. That being said, a few that I am looking forward to reading are: Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff, On the Rez by Ian Frazier (this one takes place on the Pine Ridge reservation), A Glory of Unicorns compiled by Bruce Coville, and A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard.

Garage Sale Books

A few of my lovely garage sale finds. Picture is my own.

The Battle of Assessment & Why I Will Be Fighting Back (Blog #1)

I can say with utmost honesty and sincerity that I have learned as much (if not more) information that will pertain directly to me and my future classroom during the first fortnight in my language arts special methods course than I have during my first two years of undergraduate study. It is absolutely astounding how much my mind and heart are bursting with new ideas to contemplate for my future classroom. Eeeep, I love it! In order to avoid being too effusive in my praise, I will get straight down to business. Let us (well, me… it just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi) reflect on the abundance of learning from this past week.

To start, I will readily admit that I am extremely glad I am not currently on block like some of my fellow English majors. It seems as though they are fighting battles with educational superiors that I am not quite ready to fight yet. I can say right now that I will be very thankful to have this course under my belt when it is my turn to “push back” against what has become the educational norm. I’ll expound on that— by educational norm, I mean in particular the practice of assessment and it’s connection to both letter and number grading. As my professor put it, “Why are we reducing something infinitely complex to something that can be measured and assessed in a single class period?”

It is a good question, and one that I don’t believe I have an answer to other than a shake of my head. My own history with grades as a student is a long one. In high school, I thrived under both the letter and percentage grading systems. It was always a goal to maintain a 4.0 GPA, a goal to be (co-)Valedictorian, and a goal to earn college scholarships. I accomplished all three, but at a seemingly great cost to my collegiate self. For the last two years I have struggled under the weight of my former hyper-perfectionism. Where once I soared, I now cower. I often find it difficult to complete assignments out of fear that they will not earn a perfect grade and live up to my life’s work until now. This fight against myself is no fun (0/10 would not recommend), and I definitely don’t want to aid my students in accumulating the same pressure.

My current conclusion? It is absolutely essential for me to develop a system of authentic assessment in my classroom that either avoids letter grades and percentages completely, or at the very least leaves them out of day-to-day learning whenever possible. I want my students to be able to focus on being learners who embrace creativity, curiosity, and individual thinking so that they can carry these traits throughout their lives. I need to do more research in order to suss out exactly what new form assessment will take in my future classroom due to these revelations, but I will be careful to make sure that it is something that works for me and my responsibilities, as well as my students. A daunting task, but a necessary one

All in all, what will be done in my classroom boils down to three foundational actions according to my professor:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking

It really is as simple as that. As an over-achiever who tends to convolute nearly everything (“why, oh why must my writing be three times as long as the required word count,” I lament week after week) this is crucial for me to remember. So, I envision a large poster with those three words on it in my classroom’s future. 🙂 Actually, I envision a small army of posters that all contain quotes from this special methods course. Here is to fourteen more weeks of AWESOME teacher preparation!

Fin

My senior year of high school I wrote about a million scholarship essays. In nearly every single one I was asked to describe what I was planning to major in at college and why. Each time I would type out an answer describing how I was planning to major in secondary English education because I wanted to someday be able to instill a love for reading and writing in others like it once instilled in me. Though I still hope to (at least once) be the catalyst that allows a student to go on to have a lifelong love for the world of books and taking pen to paper, this semester has taught me that this won’t always be the case. English class, particularly writing, is going to mean something different for each of my students. It is my duty to respect and support that. This is just one lesson of many, however. As the semester draws to a close, here are three highlights from Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing.

1.) Learning about the (More Complete Version) of the History of Writing

In high school my two favorite subjects (besides weights class, shout out to Mr. K) were English and history, so it was quite enjoyable to blend the two together (as if they weren’t inextricably connected anyway). My area of research was 19th century rhetoric and the teaching of writing (check out A Super Niche Post, Just for You!), and it was fascinating for me to simultaneously see how far we have come in writing education while also realizing how much farther we have to go. In addition, back in January and February it was fun diving into a class where we (the students) were the one’s teaching our findings. Learning about Liberty Rhetoric from Miah, Madeleine de Scudéry from Carlie, literacy among slaves from Regan, and many other topics was a delightful experience. It not only gave each of us in the class a taste of what is to come in the years ahead with our chosen careers, but it also provided each of us an opportunity to read, support, and gain knowledge from the writing of our peers— an opportunity we may not have otherwise had.

2.) Exploring the People and Disciplines That Have Shaped Writing

Had I ever heard about bell hooks before this class? No. Am I glad that I know about her now? Yes. Is it because I will now someday write my own pen name in lowercase letters? …Maybe. Seriously, it was fascinating to learn about some of the most influential people in the realm of the written word. Whether they staunchly believed in conventions (Adams Sherman Hill), fought radically for African American women’s rights (bell hooks), or created incredibly complex theories on power (Michael Foucault) each had an impact on the world of writing in their own way. It was important for me to learn of their contributions because soon when I am making my own contributions in the classroom I can be a well-informed teacher.

3.) Discovering My Own Teaching Writing Pedagogy

This had the most impact on me. Based off of all of the information that was presented to me over the last sixteen weeks, I was able to craft my own beliefs of what the teaching of writing should look like. I know exactly why it was my favorite assignment; it is something tangible that physically shows how close I am to achieving my dream of becoming a high school English teacher. In a few short years, I will take my pedagogy (and my letter, and my principles) and use it as the foundation of my classroom. Thanks to this course right now I know more about writing education than I ever have before, and I am grateful to have gone through the learning process with so many other wonderful future teachers.

Though I no longer have the belief that all students will one day love writing like I do, I now have something that senior-year me did not have— an understanding that writing is a unique process. This concept has been demonstrated throughout the history of writing, throughout the people who have shaped writing, and now it will continue to be carried out in my future English classroom. It is safe to say my ideas on writing have been revolutionized. Soon I will take those ideas out into the great beyond, but for now I will apply them to myself in my own education… focusing on changing my own little corner of the world for better.

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That’s all, folks. Photo CC by Sean MacEntee via Flickr.

Rule 24, Now and Before

Rule 24&.jpg

I dare you to say the word “squiggle” three times and not smile. Picture is my own, created through Canva.

I know I’ve said it 852 times, but I cannot sing her praises enough. My high school English teacher was the best teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure to learn under throughout my entire educational career. Since I’ve come to college to pursue my own career path in English, the great professors and classes I’ve experienced have forced me to look back and examine what exactly made her so great. I strongly believe one reason is that though she was delivering instruction within the realm of state standards, we never once felt confined. My favorite semester being her student was the fall of my senior year when she focused both quarters on composition. Sure, she taught us the basics of different genres of writing but she also let our creativity run wild. During those three months I wrote a descriptive essay on Hogwarts, a humorous personal narrative of the hell that was lifeguarding class, a research paper on Christian discipleship, and a short story about a mysterious stalker. Though I enjoyed writing before, she allowed me to fall in love with it all over again, and allowed my classmates who didn’t enjoy writing to explore it in ways that were relevant to them. How awesome is that?

This class (theory and practice of teaching writing) is quite similar, though at the opposite end of the spectrum. In high school, my teacher struck a balance with guiding us through the standards while also letting us roam the concept of writing. In college, my professor struck a balance with letting us self-instruct while still making sure we meet the standards. Like many of my fellow classmates have confessed, I did not acquaint myself with the Rule 24 Outcomes at the beginning of the semester. Each day I may not have been aware of how the work we were was meeting the outcomes, but looking back I can see clearly now (the rain is gone). 🙂

There are two standards that particularly stand out to me in regards to this course, number four and number seven. Let’s start with the former. Number four deals with creating assessments, and while we didn’t do this so much it is the first element beneath this standard that I believe applies well to this class. “Candidates use their knowledge of theory, research, and practice in English Language Arts to plan standards-based, coherent, and relevant composing experiences that utilize individual and collaborative approaches and contemporary technologies and reflect an understanding of writing processes and strategies in different genres for a variety of purposes and audiences” (Miller). Theory, research, and practice. Between learning about 19th century teaching of writing, expanding my knowledge of digital literacy, exploring the idea of writing workshops in a high school setting, and listening to the findings of my peers I feel as though I have gained invaluable knowledge that can now be translated from my mind into application for my future classroom. Even though we didn’t make concrete lesson plans, this class helped us instead to build up the experience that is the foundation of those lesson plans.

Standard number seven reads as follows, “Candidates are prepared to interact knowledgeably with students, families, and colleagues based on social needs and institutional roles, engage in leadership and/or collaborative roles in English Language Arts professional learning communities, and actively develop as professional educators” (Miller). Other classes have told me what it will be like to interact with others as an educator, but this is the first to (holy smokies) actually make it real. The way we completed our assignments, through blogging and the class Weebly site, fit this criteria to a T. This entire time we have been learning how to interact with a world that is bigger than ourselves. Going a step further, beyond simply interacting with others we have been sharing incredibly important information that other educators might be able to then apply to their own classrooms. On a personal level, one blog post in particular— Dear Students, Dear Parents— was my favorite assignment I’ve completed this entire semester because I knew that it was an artifact that I would physically take with me and utilize in the “real world.” Though at times this class made me feel like a blind woman being asked to describe in detail the colors of a painting she had never witnessed, I now feel as though I can go out and paint my own picture.

So, Rule 24 now and before (who doesn’t love a good rhyme, am I right?) My marvelous high school teacher may not have been teaching towards the Rule 24 collegiate standards specifically, but the effect was still there. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of more than one class in my life that gamed the system in such a subtle, lovely way. Not all standards are good, and not all standards are bad. Either way, they often work towards backing people into a corner they don’t belong in. As a teacher, it is important to recognize this and create a force field of creativity, curiosity, and diversity around your classroom… Like senior composition or theory and practice of teaching writing. That’s what teaching writing is all about— making small sacrifices for the future, for the creation of a nation of explorers who take in anything and everything about the world around them, for a generation who use their own thoughts and ideas to leave this world better than they found it.

Works Cited

Miller, Lee. ENG 331.0100 Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing Syllabus. 2017. English Dept., Chadron State College, Chadron, NE. Microsoft Word file.