A Priority: Changing How We Talk About School

The following post first appeared on my Bluegrass Dispatches blog at the Center for Teaching Quality. In 2008, one of my first published articles challenged the dominant discourse in education. I was fed up with the way many of my colleagues and administrators conversed about teaching and learning, believing their words stifled innovation. I heard grades, standards,…

Show Me Respect, Or Else!

A few weeks ago, two students showed up for English class a few minutes late–not the first time–and shuffled into their seats, smirking and tossing their backpacks to the floor. While I began to explain the lesson, a hand shot up from the back of the classroom.  “Mr. B, can I go to the bathroom?”…

Classrooms Without Borders

Imagine a 30 by 30 room, with students sitting silently in rows, ostensibly listening to lectures, text messages covertly being sent inside hoodie pockets, and whispers here and there.  Eventually, completion of multiple choice exams at the end of an instructional unit measures learning.  Sadly, this probably sounds familiar.  While there is a time and…

Reflections: Is Grammar Worth Teaching?

I teach English and I write professionally, but I don’t remember how I learned grammar.  I’ve always been a reader, and my father is an excellent editor who helped me with many high school and college papers.  But as far as former classroom instruction goes, I have zero recollection of effective teachers and teaching methods…

The Digital Literacy Curriculum Gap

Are most teenagers inherently wired to seek out and use the internet for good?   Absolutely not.  Would I have harnessed the amazing connectivity and community-building power of the internet, had smart phones and tablets been prevalent while I was in high school in the late 1990s?  Probably not, especially if I didn’t have a…

The Myth of the Super Teacher

I prepared for my first teaching gig undaunted by my lack of experience.  After all, I had a literature degree from a prestigious liberal arts school, I had been mostly successful at everything I had tried, and I knew the students would appreciate my compassion and creativity.  I’d be a great first-year teacher. I couldn’t…

The Power of Student Voice

One of my goals in our Unleashing Digital Storytelling elective course is to help elevate student voice through authentic media creation.  Taking matters into her own hands, Kaylie created this video, highlighting a journaling/discussion activity we do in class and the poignant voices of some of her classmates.  Sadly, what teenagers and other students have…

Thoughts On Writing Well

“All writing is ultimately a question of solving a problem.  It may be a problem of where to obtain facts or how to organize the material.  It may be a problem of approach or attitude, tone or style.  Whatever it is, it has to be confronted and solved.  Sometimes you will despair of finding the…