Alan Sitomer's Blog – November 2009 Archive (22)

The Stuff We Hear From Our Students

Part of what makes teaching so awesome is the stuff you hear from the mouths of your students. I only wish I wrote down more of what came at me from my kids because it seems like at least once a week, I hear something that is just so brilliant, so insightful, such a twist on the English language that I never expected, well... it just never fails to tickle me.

Here's one that just got passed along to me. (Always good to mix in some giggles about our profession,… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 30, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

I immediately like this Buccaneer Scholar guy!

Though I have not yet read this book, I immediately like this guy. Apparently he is an icon in the field of software testing, a guy who dropped out of school but was viscously determined to become "self-educated"... and his exploits are, from what the web says, "legendary".

Here's what Publisher's Weekly has to say: "An informative and entertaining… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 28, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

The plan I always craft on the Friday after Thanksgiving

As much as I want to just chill on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I know that it really is in the best interests of my students to dedicate at least 45-90 minutes to school.


Because I need to make sure that the month of December ROCKS!

See, classroom minutes are precious and the fact of the matter is, it's way too easy to allow December to slip away into a "we are almost at the Holiday Break" mode... and class can all-too-easily devolve into a… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 27, 2009 at 6:00am — No Comments

Giving Thanks for this Ning

It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and goodness, gracious do I need to give me some thanks for this ning. I mean wow! It’s changed my professional life.

Last Thanksgiving, I am not sure if I even knew what a ning was. This Thanksgiving, I am pretty resolved at this point to not even bother to write any more professional development books (even though a host of publishers are asking me to do so right now) simply because I am pretty much scratching every “write a book of… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 25, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

The exhilarated exhaustion

There comes a tiredness with having attended a big conference, a sense of exhilarated exhaustion that inevitably catches up to almost all attendees that do not live in the host city.

However, it’s the good kind of “spent”, the kind that comes with having tapped into a host of personal reserves.

For me, the draining derives as a result of a few different things.

1) All the energy inside the conference itself. You can just feel the buzz on Day 1. By… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 24, 2009 at 6:00am — No Comments

Teaching teens is good stuff

As we enter Thanksgiving week it really is a time for me to recognize how much my students mean to me. I truly am a better human being because they are in my life.

They make me smile, laugh, hurt, angry, and tear up. They also make me proud, ashamed, hopeful and fearful.

And sometimes they do this back to back to back as if it's all happening in the same day.

But without a doubt, the kids in my classroom make me remember what it's like to be a kid...… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 23, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Watch What You Tweet!!

So people are now being sued for libel based on the content of their tweets. And while the courts are struggling to keep up with technology -- and how free speech plays out in evolving social networking mediums -- there is a lesson for all to be learned, I believe, in the idea that "slander is slander".

This article raises some interesting ideas. Worth a read.

A quality… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 20, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

I just SOLD a New Book of YA Fiction: More on the Writing Process

I couldn't be more fired up to say that I just got a bid for a new book of YA fiction of mine from a HUGE publisher -- one of the biggest -- and to say that I am tickled would be a gigantic understatement.

So how did it happen? Here's a backstage look at the process. (Maybe it'll be of some benefit to you on your own quest to do the same thing if that's your aspiration.)

1) I wrote a book.

I can't tell you how many people I meet that tell me… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 19, 2009 at 6:55am — No Comments

All FIRED UP for NCTE in Philly!

I am all FIRED UP for Philly! The truth is, I just love NCTE. It's simply a home-run experience every time I attend the annual conference and I always leave a better teacher as a result of having made the trip.

Why? The people. It's that simple.

NCTE provides me a chance to be in the same room with some of the best minds in the world of English Language Arts. I mean where else can you go to hear Carol Jago, Kylene Beers, Jim Burke, and on and on and on and on?… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 18, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

At what point does it simply cost a kid 7 "mow-the-lawns" for an Algebra I credit?

So when I read a story like this, about how students who have repeatedly struggled with a "core class at school" (i.e. they didn't pass) being able to use computers for credit recovery so that they can graduate, I like the idea.

And I do believe that there is a place and space in public education to address this need in this type of… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 17, 2009 at 12:41pm — 2 Comments

The Lords of District Oversight that Ban the Reading of Novels in English Class

Is there such a thing as an English class that doesn't read a single, real, whole book over the course of the year? I mean I know there is. Some places -- WAY TOO MANY in fact -- have the The Lords of District Oversight that Ban the Reading of Novels in English Class

That's right, they mandate that NO NOVELS be taught.

It's all excerpts, pieces taken from anthologies, worksheets, scripted programming and... biggest of all, practice tests to prepare for the real… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 16, 2009 at 6:00am — 2 Comments

Why We are Throwing A Bash to Celebrate Kids and Literacy!!

Look, I could rail on and on and on about why I believe it is entirely appropriate to throw a HUGE bash at NCTE to actually celebrate students.

But instead, I am going to let a student do the talking. (Please know that she is but one of the young poets you will see on Saturday night at NCTE in Philly if you come to the event... and when you are done, I'd ask you to reflect upon the question, "Isn't it about time we did a better job of validating the aptitudes of our kids in… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 14, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

Invite to a Special NCTE Bash on Saturday Night

So a really special opportunity has come up for me to offer 50 free tickets to a private literacy bash that is going to be off the chains at NCTE 2009 on Saturday night.

What we are gonna do is celebrate literacy, words, and books the way it oughtta be celebrated.

I wanted to open it up to everyone who wanted to come -- all my ning friends -- but since the food is free and the drinks will be flowing, my book publishers decided that the cap for my ability to… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 13, 2009 at 6:30am — No Comments

A big shout out to Sesame Street!! (It's 40!)

Sesame Street turned 40 years old this week. To honor the show which game me my start as a lover of literacy, here's a big ol' shout out to Big Bird, Oscar, Ernie & Bert, and of course, the character that still represents to me the height of personal achievement and excellence, COOKIE MONSTER!

Here's a list… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 12, 2009 at 7:54am — No Comments

The Conundrum of Student Farts

So what is to be done when a student farts in class?

Hey, don't laugh, this is a serious academic issue.

The way I see it, there are a coupla options.

1) Try to pretend it didn't happen. Of course, if it's stinky one, the boys sitting in and around the -- let's pretend I teach in a church -- the boys sitting in and around the "pew" are gonna keep disrupting whatever progress you want to make in your lesson with commentary and insights… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 10, 2009 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

The "However" category of 21rst century skills

There's a part of me that feels as if the discussion I raised the other day about how using technology in way that simply adds up to "digitalizing worksheets" devolved to a place where I feel I wasn't quite paying heed to the idea that I really do recognize the potential -- if not obvious -- merits of technology. I have seen Smartboards, airliners, wikis, webquests, nings and the such used in a manner that absolutely legitimizes the credibility of the argument for 21rst century… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 9, 2009 at 6:30am — 2 Comments

Skeptical of drinking the 21rst Century Digital Future Kool-Aid

There was something exceptionally cool going on in Indianapolis this week during the NMSA annual conference where I just presented. Yet, it was also exceptionally troubling.

In the back of the exhibit hall somebody had set up a “Classroom of the 21rst Century”. Essentially, what they had done was bring in a class of real middle school students from a local Indy school and had them spend the day in an exhibit hall area that had been fashioned into a “21rst century… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 8, 2009 at 1:34pm — 2 Comments

Is the Race issue dead?

I think people have become numb to the issue of race in our schools. And to bring it up, I think people just roll their eyes and feel a bit exhausted by it all. It's like we've all heard about the Achievement Gap and we are all familiar with Kozol and we are all aware… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 5, 2009 at 6:49am — No Comments

The billions on national standardized testing that will be spent... and the profits.

This article in Education Week calls attention to potential "conflict of interests" between educational publishers and those that are behind the scenes of the national standards push.

Essentially, here's the thrust of the article...

The Literacy Research Association sent a letter Oct. 21 to the groups overseeing the… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 4, 2009 at 7:38am — No Comments

My Decision If I Were Principal (Part VI)

Ultimately, if I was a principal charged with the task of distributing my teachers, I think I'd try the following...

(Caveat: my thinking below is just part of the reason why I have little desire to be a principal in this day and age. I mean hats off to the people that tackle this task -- it's crazy, grueling, almost thankless work -- but the way you are almost forced to think doesn't seem like it always harmonizes with the way I believe kids ought to be taught or… Continue

Added by Alan Sitomer on November 3, 2009 at 6:30am — 1 Comment


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