Teaching with Hope: Fairness, Justice and Empathy

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What matters isn’t how a person’s inner life finally puts together the alphabet and numbers of his outer life.  What really matters is whether he uses the alphabet for the declaration of a war or the descriptions of a sunrise — his numbers for the final count at Buchenwald or the specifics of a brand-new bridge.”

-Mr. Rogers

There are many reasons why a person would choose to become a teacher, but for me, being an elementary school teacher is all about hope. Spending my days with children who are still piecing it all together, still shaping their views on the world and how to navigate their way through life, is a privilege I don’t take lightly. In a society where there is so much hate and violence, teaching is an act of hope that the world can and should be better.  When you teach from a social justice perspective, you are always looking for ways to help children understand, empathize, recognize when something is unfair and ultimately take action to make changes.  The very best way I know how to do this is through reading books aloud and discussing them. Read more…

Best Year Yet


I want you to have your best year yet.

I want you to share the amazing things that happen in your classroom. I want you to let others know that teaching is full of grace, accomplishment, and pride. And if we celebrate the things that we do well, we can show the world just how meaningful teaching is for us and for our students. 

If we do this — you, me and everyone else willing to submit themselves to a larger community of inspiration — we can be positive models of teacher-leaders. We can overcome the naysayers. We can prove just how strong we are. … Read more…

Three Troubling Reading Statistics… And What We Can Do About Them

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1. The Home-School Relationship

“The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average – a gap of 74 points.” reference

Solution: Start a PT Camp (Parent-Teacher Camp).

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5 Non Fiction Articles to Pair with Classic High School Novels

5 Non Fiction Article to Pair with High School Novels

Are you searching for new ways to inject some life into the teaching of your novels? Have the staples of your curriculum grown stale? I use the pocket app to save great pieces of non fiction that I come across. Typically, I go back each month and revisit some old classics that get pushed further down the line with each article that I add. Here are five favorites from the last few years and some suggestions about the novels with which they can be paired.

It is not an exclusive list. As you will read, many of these articles are so well written that they can apply to a number of great novels. I encourage you to share your ideas on how they would fit into your curriculum in the comments below.

1. I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything

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#72 — Penny Kittle: Engaging Readers and Building Better Writers

Penny Kittle's Podcast interview

Penny Kittle is an English teacher, literacy coach, and director of new teacher mentoring at Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire. She teaches 10th, 11th, and 12th graders each fall and also occasionally in the alternative night school for adult students.

Penny is also currently the National Council of Teachers of English Policy Analyst for the State of New Hampshire. You can follow her at www.pennykittle.net

In this episode you will learn:

    • Penny’s travels as a teacher and educator in various states throughout the country
    • Her time as a woodcarving teacher
    • What it takes to be a good coach in sports and how that is transferrable to coaching teachers
    • The impact Donald Graves had on her teaching
    • The importance of teachers existing as writers
    • Mini lessons are most efficient and least effective and conferring is least efficient yet most effective.
    • How to turn dependent learners into independent thinkers
    • What type of feedback matters to students
    • The two books that are fascinating her right now:


  • Why teachers need to help students set specific, measure goals
  • Why every teacher needs to feed his or her own curiosity and fascination
  • How the Book Love Foundation has come to define her professional life and serve as her biggest source of pride.

August Choices

In July, there were over 100 threads on Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, totaling well over 700 comments.

That’s what we do in the TWT Summer Book Club. We read, discuss, share, and learn. It is a community that is rich and supportive, and we want you to vote for the book that will create a brighter, bolder, better you in the classroom. Join us this August as we prepare for back to school and help you craft a better, bolder, brighter you in the classroom. To be a part of the group, just submit your email at the bottom of this post.

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#71 Michael Dunlea — Listening to Student Voices

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Michael Dunlea became a teacher for the same reason most did, he wanted to make a difference. He decided to become a teacher via the alternate route after working in restaurant/hotel management for over 20 years. He was a finalist for the NJ State Teacher of the Year, which set him on a path of teacher leadership that included becoming a Teacher Fellow with America Achieves in 2012 and Hope Street Group in 2014.

In this episode you will learn: … Read more…

Books on the Nightstand


By day I’m working my way through Go Set a Watchman. At night, I turn to professional books.

Here’s my summer reading checklist as a teacher. What’s on your nightstand  I’d love to read about it in the comments below

Is Homework Helpful: 5 Question Every Teacher Should Ask

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This post first appeared on edutopia.org

The Common Core has asked teachers to increase rigor by diving deeper into the material. Consequently, everything has been ramped up, classwork and homework no exception.

My nephew, a fourth grader, has 40-50 minutes of homework a night plus independent reading and projects. When you include a snack break, the distractions from his younger sister, and his fourth-grade attention span that is bound to wander, that time often gets doubled. He is hard working and conscientious, but many nights result in distraction, frustration and anxiety.  … Read more…