Iowa Council of Teachers of English

I Am a Teacher

I Am a Teacher

January 13, 2019

The other day in my high school creative writing class we were talking about identity. I told my students that our identities are often determined by our place in society. I asked them to consider this when developing characters for their fictional stories. I shared with my students that I had worn...

Two Poems: “Reluctant School Reader’s Lament” and “I Never Thought I’d Be a Writing Teacher”

Two Poems: “Reluctant School Reader’s Lament” and “I Never Thought I’d Be a Writing Teacher”

December 3, 2018

Reluctant School Reader’s Lament: A Found Poem* Man, school’s a prison. No freedom to read what interests me. No purpose to English. It’s about NOTHING. Just going from assignment to assignment to assignment to assignment to . . . And I’m totally against textbooks. There’s n...

Get Kids Talking About YA Books

Get Kids Talking About YA Books

November 25, 2018

There is strong support for teacher book talks, a practice I learned about from Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle and later in Penny Kittle’s Book Love. While I am totally in favor of the teacher book talk, one of the best ways to get kids reading is to get them talking about books. “To foster a lov...

Butterflies

Butterflies

November 18, 2018

I believe in butterflies. Not a monarch, nor something that flitters by on a warm spring day.  But the awakening that happens in a student when he or she does “that one thing”. I teach high school English and Yearbook, and many times, I don’t get to see that moment of my caterpillar students...

Does Anybody Have a Map?

Does Anybody Have a Map?

November 12, 2018

As I was driving home from another amazing ICTE Annual Fall Conference, I was reflecting on my weekend and my first few years of teaching. As per my usual, this reflection took place against the backdrop of Iowa interstate roads and Broadway showtunes blasting out of my car stereo. This year I found m...

Rethinking the Persuasive Research Paper: Combating Fake News, Media Bias and Polarization of Ideas Through Teaching Media Literacy and Researching Opposing Sides

Rethinking the Persuasive Research Paper: Combating Fake News, Media Bias and Polarization of Ideas Through Teaching Media Literacy and Researching Opposing Sides

November 3, 2018

The author argues that in order to create a more cohesive, compassionate, and educated society, students must be taught to use objective, reliable sources in studying multiple perspectives on an issue. Students are often asked to argue their opinion in school, but far too seldom are they asked to ...

If You Build It: Classroom Libraries Create a Nation of Readers

If You Build It: Classroom Libraries Create a Nation of Readers

October 21, 2018

One of my favorite Edu-Twitter moments from the past summer was witnessing, in real time, the emphatic and unified voice of American libraries and readers in response to an ill-conceived Forbes opinion piece titled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” In the article, which...

Homecoming

Homecoming

October 7, 2018

There’s toilet paper streaming from the trees in my front yard, chalk paint covering car windows all over town, and long-lost familiar faces wandering the streets. It’s homecoming season. First the high schools, then colleges will cycle through the time of year when we go back to our roots, celebr...

A Dying Wish

A Dying Wish

October 7, 2018

A Dying Wish Inspired by Ray Bradbury’s, “All Summer in a Day” Annabel was more tired than she had ever thought possible, and yet she had done nothing to cause her to feel this way. She had woken up, eaten breakfast, and had lain in bed the entire day. There were no more trips to the dining r...

Two Poems: ‘Keokuk to Fairfield’ and ‘On the Edge of August’

Two Poems: ‘Keokuk to Fairfield’ and ‘On the Edge of August’

September 23, 2018

KEOKUK TO FAIRFIELD Passing beige, darker brown and black Corderoy nubbled cornfields Sliding by on my far left And near right, Grooved into a Lee County 218 North, January Iowa late morning. Red barns, silo rust, Salem Road, The environs jump out like characters From a Sherwood Anderson da...

Dear Extraordinary Child

Dear Extraordinary Child

September 9, 2018

Dear Extraordinary Child: It is difficult to be an extraordinary child in a world that not only accepts, but celebrates mediocrity. In a nation where we measure academic achievement with BASIC skills tests and set mere proficiency as a worthy goal, it is a challenge to be the child who shines brightly,...

First Days: Capitalizing on the Start of School

First Days: Capitalizing on the Start of School

August 20, 2018

Several years ago, I began thinking more intentionally about the first day with students. I used to begin with introductions or ice breakers (which largely fell flat, especially near the end of the day) and we covered the syllabus. By the end of the day, I was exhausted.  My voice was loudest in the r...

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