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Showing posts from 2011

Cute site for Grammar Posters: Oatmeal.com

I love the resources on the Internet and while trying to edit  a document for work, I came across this hilarious grammar site that can help students and make them laugh too.
I was looking up semicolon rules and they have it in kid friendly, clear text, hilarious sample sentences and cartoons (my personal fave).

They also offer the cute posters for a reasonable amount, so if you want something to put on your walls for a chuckle, check them out.

The State of Education

Visual Synectics Strategy: Beyond the Icebreaker

To get professional conversations going, one strategy is the visual synectics strategy.

The purpose is to select a visual and generate comparisons as a way to foster professional conversations within the table.
Our visual options were: Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, Peter Falk from Columbo, Michael Jordan, Winston Churchill, Oprah Winfrey.

The cloze passage for the day was: Learning with other professional educators is like_______________ because_______________.


Our tongue in cheek response:
Learning with other professional educators is like Dorothy because sometimes we need to realize that we're just not in Kansas anymore, embrace the change, learn through the process, and only then can we find our way back home.

Why is this strategy  better than an icebreaker?

It's not busy work.
It guides participants to start thinking as a professional.
It's not personal.
The word icebreaker connotes that there is ice to be broken.
People have choice, but i…

Starting the Year Write

It's the first week of school in Hawaii. Have you been reading to your kids? I saw a post on Martha Stewart Living that listed favorite back to school books so I decided to make a list of my own. Please add on.

These are children's books meant for all grade levels (everyone deserves to be read to), with an emphasis on nurturing writers.

Harold and the Purple Crayon has been around for more than 50 years, but the power of a pen - or in this case a purple crayon - still sticks with me.


The dot is a cute little book about a student who does not feel like an artist until her teacher "publishes" her art and has her own it by signing it. This recognition spurs her to do better and in the end she is able to mentor a child who also does not believe in his abilities.  Yes it's about art and not writing, but the students get it and it sets a good tone for writing expectations and the kind of environment they can expect to work in.

These two books by Doreen Cronin clearly and …

The Value of Place-Based Education

I'm posting this late, but I wanted to make sure that I answered the question. I'd like to blog about the South Africa lessons I learned too, but it has been a while since I had access to a computer, so I wanted to talk about the question of what difference does place-based education make for our students (Tamara's question)?
There are tons of scholarly articles on place-based education, and if you want to read more, I included a link, but on a gut level, do I think that place-based education makes a difference? Yes. From an indigenous point of view, students must know their "mo'o" before they truly know themselves. They need to understand their moʻokūauhau (their geneology), their mo'olelo (the stories of their 'ohana). In the same way, they also need to know the mo'olelo of their  one hānau (the sands of their birth). They should know the name of their mountain, the name of their wind, the name of their rain, the name of their wai and their kai. …

Wondrous Words

Wondrous Words, a photo by cathy.ikeda on Flickr. I brought some books with me to leave at the Durban Writing Project site and I've been rereading this Katie Wood Ray classic. Even if you don't teach in the elementary, you won't go wrong with this book that balances pedagogy with practicality.

One part talks about selecting books to read aloud, not only to model good reading, but to get the sound of good writing into students' heads (79). For as many pieces that are chosen for students that will appeal to them as readers, we need to fill their diet as writers by including books with stunning, rereadable language.

What pieces do you gravitate towards as read alouds with beautiful language?

After 20 years of teaching, I never get tired of Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street. Her imagery still leaves me breathless. I also enjoy the different kind of imagery in Juliet Kono's "love" poem "Tongue" although I admit to not reading the last line b…

What to do with 5 hours

, a photo by cathy.ikeda on Flickr. I'm at the airport again, faced with another five hour layover. Here's what I learned:

• A one day pass for the lounge is worth it if you have a lot of time. It keeps you away from the chaos of the terminal and you usually get free wi fi, drinks and snacks.

• The Delta sky lounge in Atlanta, concourse E has a shower.

• Hawaii has no exchange site to exchange South African rands. Perhaps it's because there are no direct flights to South Africa.

• After the first two hours and a 1/2 hour nap, things get really slow. Buy a book that you're willing to donate to the plane or hotel room.

• Use the slow time to actually go over the work you brought. Perhaps, like me you will find out that the large article I brought called "Working with Second Language Learners: Answers to Teachers' Top Ten Questions" only has 8 answers. Doh! Not only that, but when I actually read it I had a "duh?!" rather than an "aha" moment…

South Africa bound

I am not, by nature, a cocktail party person. I am introverted, more comfortable on the sidelines, and I do not, like engaging in small talk. Writing Project leaders, though, by nature are outgoing, friendly people persons. What do Writing Project people schedule for their first activity at a new site director's conference? A cocktail party of course. An introverts strategy at a cocktail party is to stick close to the person you came with, and if you find yourself separated, then find one person you connect with and stick to them.

That's how I met Cheryl Canada Logan, director for the mid Ohio writing project. Something just clicked with us. She was just back from Jamaica, having worked with teachers there. I talked about my interest in culture-based education and we hit it off. Who knew that the encounter at a cocktail party in Arizona would turn into an opportunity to join Cheryl in South Africa two years later, but that's how things seem to happen in life, so I'm j…

There's No Magic Bullet

Thank you to Barry Lane and Kelly Galagher for reiterating that yes, there is no magic bullet that will "fix" education. The only way to "fix" education is to support dedicated teachers, like these two gentlemen, who are willing to do the hard work.