Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Standards

This year, new English Language Arts Standards are put into place.  The newest twist from the old standards to the new standards include Minnesota Indians - I'm not quite sure why they are not worded as Minnesota Native Americans - but the standards say Indians...

  These standards are to be implemented this year in my classroom:

You can find the exact wording of the standards here:


Mostly the Department of Education has noticed a lack of knowledge about the plight of Minnesota Objibwe and Dakota - Why they don't word it that?  I'm not sure, but as I researched lesson plans for these standards I've learned a lot about Minnesota History that I hadn't paid attention to before. 

Jason and I took the girls to Itasca last week to research Native American perspective in Itasca - I hadn't thought of the perspective that even though Schoolcraft was given credit in finding the headwaters of the Mississippi when, in fact, he had a Native American guide who helped him find it.

We saw Burial Mounds and wild rice.  I was just realizing that I didn't even know what I didn't know yet.

Last night, I came across a Minnpost article by Paul Udstrand.  University of Minnesota students have made an effort for us to understand the Dakota War of 1862 and the ramifications it had and has on Dakota and Objibwe even to this day.  The article gives a link to a documentary on YouTube - written and produced by these students.  For an amateur documentary, An Overdue Apology gives a lot of great information.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hester Prynne's Facebook Profile

This year, my Practical English class will be reading The Scarlet Letter. I hope they find the treatment of Hester Prynne as horrifying as I did when I was a freshman in college.

I hope they find the double standards in their own world.  I hope they look beyond their own worries and wonder what judgments they place on other kids.  I hope the lesson sticks.

Of course, many teachers have found the idea of the Facebook Profile as a characterization assignment to go along with any book.

I am curious on how they will portray Hester's relationship status - will they list her as single, married, or "it's complicated"?

I hope they make the connection on how they view others' facebook profiles and offer judgment to the way the townspeople judged Hester.

I guess the learning ought not stop with the students.  I guess I should think about my own condescending view of my own morality.  Maybe, I ought to learn a lesson from Nathaniel Hawthorne, too..  I hope that lesson sticks, too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


This summer has been a busy summer for me.  Everyday has been devoted to reading my material for the coming year.  I will be teaching seventh and eighth graders along with a section of Practical English for eleventh and twelfth grade.

In college, I was always so excited to create my own material and pick the books my students would read.  The fact is that I inherit work from the previous instructor. What I didn't count on is that even though I didn't personally pick these books out, I've been forced to look at books in a new light.

 I never would have read Call of the Wild by Jack London.  It wasn't my "type' of book at all. I taught the book in a previous district and found that I loved it.  I found that it forced me to grow not only as a teacher but as a person, too.  It forced me to look at nature in a new light.

This summer, I have read The Pigman, A Day No Pigs Would Die, and Treasure Island.  I am delighted.I get to think beyond my own tastes. 

Even though I consider myself to be a well-read individual, I'm surprising myself with new reads all the time.  I'm  delighted with "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce.  

And to think, I haven't even come to the fun part!  I haven't even started writing lesson plans to go along with these treasures.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mothers and Daughters

Source: google.com via Kristie on Pinterest

I remember, not so long ago, being a teenage girl and not having a mother who listened to me. It seemed like we were always at odds.  Her brain always seemed to be turned off to my ideas or she seemed to only be half listening.

Now that I'm a mother with a teenage daughter, I can see that even though it seemed as though my mother wasn't listening, she already knew what I was thinking.

I'm finding that I need to grow as a mother.  I have to communicate to my kids that I'm listening to them even though I most likely know what they will say. My daughters need to feel as though I'm listening to them.  They are individuals who are in command of their own lives.  I'm not the owner.  I'm only the mentor.