Apr 7, 2019

Lesson Plan: Teaching New York City with the Musical "On the Town"

I created a fun, engaging lesson for Middle and High School students
inspired by the Broadway-turned-MGM-film-classic "Our Town."
    If you like New York City (it's where I happen to reside) and if you love musicals then you may know there is a famous musical produced in the 1940s about the Big Apple. On the Town is a fun day-in-the-life story of a trio of sailors who take a tour of the city and find love and hijinks. In 1949, MGM  made the Broadway hit into a movie.
    Inspired by the film and the song "New York," New York" I invited my students to plan a one-day itinerary to explore the Big Apple. The kids were surprised by how this old-school song is still humorous today. The lyrics are also fun: "The Bronx is up, and the Battery's down" and people "get around in a hole in the ground." I asked my students some trivia questions, too. Do you know where Grant's Tomb is located or do you know the best way to get to the Bowery?

    We then learned more about the history of New York City and then as an extended learning project created itineraries to explore the city on our own terms (in which I encouraged everyone to share their creations with their family and friends who may not know the city very well). 
    I created a lesson plan based on my classroom experience that is three days long, and I used it for my English Language Learners (ESL), but it also fits for a Humanities, English Language Arts, or Social Studies lesson.

My lesson plan includes the following features:
  • Lesson Planning Guide and Calendar
  • Cloze Passage Worksheet
  • Lecture Notes for the Teacher
  • Guided Notetaking Organizer
  • Editable Google Slide Templates
  • 2 Color NYC Landmarks Contact Sheets
  • NYC Itinerary Template
  • NYC Map Template
  • NYC Map Resource List
  • List of New York City Regional Transit Maps (including the New York City Subway)
  • *Google Classroom / App Friendly Resource*
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com
Suggested Classroom Use:
  • Unit on New York City History
  • ESL Class for English Language Learners
  • Middle School Humanities
For other resources using maps and geography check these out:
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Mar 31, 2019

Video: The Marshmallow Test


If you are unable to access the Marshmallow Test on YouTube try this version on Vimeo.

Essential Question:
What does this experiment tell us about success?

Does Delayed Gratification Have a Correlation with Success?
The children who wait - what kind of people are they? The experimenters claim that in a longitudinal study, children who were able to delay their gratification and wait for the adult to return were more likely as adults to complete difficult tasks, manage long-term projects, and were, in general, more successful at life.

What do you think?
If you arrived at this page by using one of my Philosophy in the Classroom task cards, please leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts about this famous experiment.

Mar 27, 2019

Teaching Eleven and Twelve Year Olds How to Conduct Online Research is Fun

Working Every Day With Kids
I'm a teacher. I don't have a classroom of seventy kids. My largest class has twenty-three students. I work at a small school. There is a lot of interaction between teachers and students and I'm often in the middle of things every day. Because of my schedule, I get to teach several different subjects to different age groups. I teach two different groups of Sixth graders once a week. We've had this schedule since September. 
Working with computers
You still need paper and pen even if you're working on a computer.

Teaching Kids How to Research Online
I teach a class called Research. We do activities in the computer lab. I make them create customized Google Maps. We use Google Earth. For one lesson the kids created their own Encyclopedia Britannica online account. I teach them how to find good resources online. I make them take notes on Google Docs. I talk about Internet safety. Sometimes we play silly HTML games online. It's an easy class to teach because we’re doing stuff I like. Give me an encyclopedia or an atlas and I'm lost in it for hours. I'll forget to eat or take a shower. So I'm in my element twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. It's the closest I get to feeling like a librarian. Also, I get a kick out doing Internet-related stuff with kids. It's interesting finding out how much they know. Eleven and Twelve-year-olds are also really hilarious and curious. 
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com
Creating Surveys to Teach Qualitative and Quantitative Questioning
Leveraging my students' insatiable curiosity, I made them create their own Google Forms. We did a unit on qualitative and quantitative questions. How many hours do you spend online? That's a quantitative question. How do you feel about going to the dentist? That’s a qualitative question. And I talked about the differences between open and close-ended questions. Using those two concepts we created surveys. A large percentage of the kids wrote survey questions about video gaming habits. Elliot wrote a survey collecting information about eating-out habits. And another kid named Amber wrote a survey that used Google Form’s redirect feature to make the survey different based on answers respondents gave to questions. It was the first time I had ever made kids make their own Google Form. So I was happy. Sending out the Forms to others took some work, though. Kids had fun emailing the persistent link to friends, teachers, and family - but, to be honest, the kids who had their parents post the link to other adults via social media garnered the most results. I was impressed that one savvy researcher amassed 70+ results. Most of us managed only to get twenty. But the goal of the lesson was in designing and creating the survey - not in its popularity. So I praised kids’ design efforts over popularity. 

Creating Google Forms With Students
If you want to do a similar lesson with kids keep these things in mind:
  • The first question should be required:
  • Set the Google Form to not collect respondents’ emails. And disable required Google login to take the survey.
  • Turn off quiz mode. There are no right or wrong answers.
  • Make a snazzy visual header.
  • Brainstorm lots of ideas. Look up and model good examples.
  • A survey on BBQ versus Hot Pot is a better survey than just FOOD.
  • Use lots of relevant images!!!! 
  • Divide your survey into sections.
  • Use the grid question type in Google Forms.
  • Make your kids use all the question-types.
  • There is a difference between a checklist question and a multiple choice question.
  • Make your kids create at least one linear scale question.
  • Don't make all questions open-ended.
  • Have kids explain their questions. Not everyone understands what Fortnite and dap mean.
Other Things to Consider: 
Explain to your students that they're conducting research using qualitative and quantitative data and exploring general interests and preferences. They're not collecting personal information. Don't collect first and last names, addresses, emails, or birthdates with month, day, and year. 

If your school is not set up to use Google Apps don't worry. If kids are thirteen and older they can create their own Google accounts. If kids are under thirteen, they'll need parental permission to make a Google Account for kids. 

Proofread your kids’ work before allowing them to send it out to the world. Once you decide a survey meets your standards make the student draft a Researcher’s Letter and save it to Google Docs. That way they can be like real data scientists. 

An Example of Student Work
Dear Friends, Etc.,
I’ve created a qualitative and quantitative survey to represent students in Middle School and their favorite things (this survey only applies to students in 4th, 5th and 6th grade.). I’m conducting this research for a school project. I am not collecting personal information. Thank you for taking this survey!
What Has Been Your Experience Teaching Kids Online Research Skills?
Thank you for reading my blog. I write a lot of stuff about different topics; so, I hope you enjoyed this one about using Google Apps in the classroom. Let me know in the comments if you've ever experimented with Google Forms in a classroom setting.

Mar 11, 2019

Mental Health Check: Writing Soothes the Rumble of Anxiety

I play this game, designed by a
Korean game-maker, on my mobile phone

Today, I'm thinking about anxiety, creativity, and the need for the self to reach out to the other. And I give a shout-out to the most relaxing video game ever!

It’s March. That time of year when living things churn. That time of year when upturned dirt gives off a familiar, redolent odor. Winter dirt is inert. Summer dirt bakes. Fall dirt is wet. Spring dirt! - now that's the stuff. Waking up this morning, I relished the fact that I had an hour to get ready. Time went by quickly, though. I brushed my teeth, jumped into the shower. I sometimes need to tell myself "relax". It's a feeling of anxiety I've had for a long time. If I don't attend to it, my anxiety just rumbles underneath. I guess for everyone anxiety ripples differently. For me, it's a quiet destructive force. I'm not sure why. It's that slow rumble I feel when I want to concentrate and create but can't. For example. Right now. Creativity is shredded by anxiety - more like bully whipped. To write. To create. I must feel free. I have to feel sympathetic with my own being. Otherwise I enact a kind of bad-faith dance with the world. I don't know how to use my power. I feel unsure. So, writing is my go-to salve. I fumble for words, for a means to codify that feeling of unrest. Writing is a kind of organizing of experience. Without it, experience is just there - out there. I reign it in. 

Today, I went outside during recess. Two kids I know were dribbling a soccer ball. I joined in. Let myself feel free. Allowed myself to kick a ball around. It felt good. The last layer of ice was melting on the pavement - from last week's snow. The sun felt warm. But I was dressed for cold - a blue hoodie draped over a buttoned up shirt and khakis. I could have been in a tee-shirt and shorts and happy. Give it a few weeks. There's cold still in the air.

Walking home after school today I ran into a student of mine. He's a pianist. He'll be a Senior next year. He was jogging with a friend and we both stopped when we noticed each other. We talked about high school, homework and the latest update to "City Buildit" - you would only know what I'm talking about if you play city simulation games on a mobile device. It's madly calming. That and "Cats are Cute". Try it if you haven't played it. I left my former student feeling proud of him and happy we had had a serendipitous meet-up. I'll go to his piano concert later this month. I've marked it on my calendar. It's Springtime. It's that season. 

I feel better already. Anxiety is less a rumble and more an underlying (and slightly undulating) condition of my being. What will tomorrow bring?

Here is my list of things to do when you're feeling anxious and don't have time (or money) to take a day off:
  • Go off your routine a bit. Eat lunch outside if you're normally inside.
  • Get out of your head.
  • Feel the anxiety. Take a deep breath. Drink a cold, refreshing glass of water.
  • Do your job standing up.
  • Avoid stress. Avoid people who heighten your stress.
  • Notice your triggers.
  • Write it out.
  • Notice your destructive thoughts and actions.
  • Take a walk around the block.
  • Be okay with minor hiccups and failure.
  • Don't take your anxiety out on others.
  • Actively listen to others. I notice when I let myself listen to other people it helps soothe my brain because I'm offsetting the mental energy I'd otherwise put on myself.
Sometimes the anxiety is there right in your face and you can't just pray it away. I was in a room filled with Sixth Graders this morning (who were loud) for my first period class. Before I told them to be quiet I allowed myself to feel how I was feeling. I could tell I was anxious. That little self-realization didn't make the anxiety go away but I was able to better deal with the situation.

I hope you enjoy reading stuff on this website. Leave a comment if you like. I'd like to know how you deal with anxiety in your life.
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Feb 27, 2019

Quote on a New Orleans Setting from The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Moviegoer1

The swamps are still burning at Chef Menteur and the sky over Gentilly is the color of ashes (p.17). 
Walker Percy, American Novelist and Writer 1916-1990


1Walker Percy. The Moviegoer. Bantam Paperback. 1960

Feb 24, 2019

Icarus Falls to his Death; a Cautionary Tale from Greek Mythology

"Icarus", Henri Matisse
How many stories exist about a father who loses his son? How many stories are there of a son who fell away from his father? How many stories are there about a father, a flawed father, whose ambition causes him to lose sight of what’s closest to him? Of a son whose first taste of freedom is so great, he cannot contain it?

Visualizing the Story of Icarus in Art


Image source: Icarus (from the Four Disgracers) Hendrick Goltzius, 1588.

The story of Daedalus and Icarus is one such story. It’s a cautionary tale that originates from the Grecian isle of Crete in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Ovid and Apollodorus are the writers we have to thank for not allowing the tale to extinguish into non-existence. I prefer Ovid’s telling of the story. But both writers tell the basic plot. It’s not spoiling it to say that Icarus dies at the end. It’s the part of the story most mentioned and memorialized in commentary and in art.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, one can see Hendrick Goltzius’s engraving of the tale (from an ignominiously titled series “The Four Disgracers”). Goltzius’s Icarus depicts a monstrous-looking body plummeting to its death (which the viewer witnesses in a neat trick of visual toe-on perspective). This Icarus looks up at the sun, his hair blown wild, and his face a contorted mix of rage and regret. His body is massive, too much weight to bear in the air. His rage is palpable - directed towards the sun as if the sun is a villain. Yet looking closely at the details of the engraving, the viewer sees Icarus forever fixed in this position, as if he is similar to Sisyphus who rolls the rock to the mountaintop only for it to fall back down again. We see Sisyphus at the top, almost there, almost victorious, and we freeze the frame. Goltzius does the same. We can almost imagine Icarus is victorious in his flight. But there is a clue to the tragedy of the tale. Daedalus is drawn into the image, placed visibly far way, and the shape of his body shows that he remains in flight, while his son, too brazen, will be banished by the sun’s blazing glory.

In Célestin Nanteuil’s depiction, and perhaps many like it, Icarus is a stretched-out angel, his body perfect and unscathed, but his wings are broken. Icarus lies dead on the craggy rock. The setting of the scene is the sea and not the sky. Icarus’s body looks dainty as if he were never meant to fly. Nanteuil’s print reminds me of a video game incarnation of Icarus.

Kid Icarus from Nintendo

As a kid, before I knew anything substantial about Greek myths, or ancient gods and goddesses, my brothers and I played Kid Icarus, a 1986 Nintendo gaming system title that featured a boy angel named Pit; he had wings, but he couldn’t fly (or had lost the ability). He looked more like Cupid, the baby child of Aphrodite, the goddess of Love; than the tragic son of Daedalus, the ambitious inventor of Crete. In the video game, Pit had agency despite his clipped wings; he carried with him a bow and a plentiful armory of arrows. The game was a side-scrolling 2D affair; the player collected hearts and I believe, if my memory serves me correct, there was a princess. And the goal was to regain Pit’s ability to fly. I think. Yet. It’s funny because the game actually has no link to the original myth at all - except for the wings. And in the myth, unlike the game, Icarus has no agency. Like most children, he is limited by the agency of his parents. And, in fact, the myth of Icarus really is about the limitations of parenting, and the sometimes destructive relationships that can arise out of dysfunctional family dynamics.

The Origin Story of Daedalus Foreshadows the Fate of Icarus
Film still from Jim Henson's "Storyteller" version of the Icarus Myth
Some sources say that Daedalus, Icarus’s father, was born in Athens. He fled to Crete after accidentally killing his nephew (yet Apollodorus’s account of the story suggest foul play). In the Jim Henson Storyteller version of the myth, this event is connected with Icarus’s later death. Daedalus’s nephew was amenable to learning and generously caught on to the craft of possibly building a machine that could fly; this may have caused Daedalus to have envy and it is this envy that arose in Daedalus a moment of insanity when he lifted the boy up to fly at the top of the Acropolis and he tragically fell off the roof to his death.

In Crete, Daedalus starts a new life in Crete. It is during this time that Icarus is born (most likely the result of a relationship between Daedalus and a Cretan slave named Naucrate). After the events of the minotaur, Icarus is confined to a cave with his father, held there by the mighty king Minos, who, after Daedalus had constructed a miraculous maze to entrap his son, the half-man, half-bull minotaur, kept him in Crete on indefinite retainer. Reading the original sources, the story of the Minotaur, of Theseus, the hero who slays the creature, Minos, the king, and Daedalus the inventor are very much tightly knit together. It is Icarus and Daedalus who lead Theseus out of the labyrinth, with Ariadne to freedom. Yet that’s another story (for another blog post). Myth has a tendency to radiate out into different spokes. But for this story, the story of Icarus and Daedalus, the central conflict is played out between father and son. Imagine Icarus grew up amazed and bewildered by his father’s inventions, but as he grew older, and approached adolescence, he grew cagey and restless. In the Jim Henson version (which I love) Icarus is portrayed as fragile and clumsy, almost incompetent and difficult to love. Icarus had lived his entire life constrained, so when his father drew up a plan to build him wings so they both could escape Minos’s grasp, the news must have felt like a dream, and a relief. But if you grow up never experiencing even a little bit of freedom, once freedom is granted, it’s like how first-year, coddled college freshman feels after being raised by careful, plodding helicopter parents. You’re going to break bad fast. And that’s exactly what happened to Icarus. Tasting the salt in his mouth and feeling the tang of the ocean air, once he was aloft in the mechanical wings his father had constructed for him, the exhilaration was too intense. Icarus had tasted freedom, and like an addictive drug, he wanted more. Daedalus had warned him: “Fly too low to the sea and the salt water will saturate your feathers weighing you back to the earth. Fly too high, close to the sun the warmth will melt the wax that keeps your wing enclosure intact. It will fall apart”. Icarus most likely replied, “Yes, father” and flew off. Teaching restraint to a teenage boy is like asking a child to not eat the chocolate ice cream or giving him an iPhone loaded with video games and telling him to do his homework.

What is the Moral Message of this Greek Myth?
Traditionally, the story ends with a cautionary warning that those who do well to refuse to listen carefully to their totally well-meaning father will find peril and destruction. He should have listened. Why didn’t he listen? To return to the Jim Henson version of the story (which I love!) the connection is made to the beginning when Daedalus killed Talos, which in turn killed something inside of Daedalus which was also unconsciously transmitted to his son. When Talos fell, so did Daedalus and Icarus fall. That’s some deep generational toxicity. Should the son pay the sins of the father? It reminds me of another ancient tale, of Abraham and Isaac. While Abraham doesn’t slay his own son, he is about to do it (when at the last moment the angel stays his hand). There is something electric in the concept of the “sins of the father” - of this idea that the father’s downfall sets the stage for the son’s eventual demise. Is there a way to break the chain? I think this why this story resonates so strongly. We want Icarus to fly and survive, to thrive. No one wishes, deep down, that Icarus dies. We want an alternative narrative. We want to see a story where Icarus and Daedalus live happily ever after. In this story, however, things would have had to have been different from the get-go. Icarus would not have grown up in the shadow of his father’s guilt. He would not have felt so constrained. What would this Icarus look like? It is a good question because so often I see the Icarus-effect. And as a son myself, I see how we as men are often tied up to our fathers (even when we do not consciously recognize it).

The Story of Icarus Resonates With Me Personally
Cultivating agency is the stuff of adulthood. To go away from Icarus and to become something different, something alive and thriving is hard. To fly away from the comfort of the nest. How does the expression go? He flew the coop. I do think of another story of fathers and sons - which comes from the Christian New Testament Greek writings. Jesus talks about a son who flies the coop; he leaves the nest and squanders his father’s inheritance; yet, he comes back poor and laid low. The father forgives him and takes him back. His sins are forgiven. At any stage of life, I feel like, one is between this prodigal son feeling and the need (and want) for redemption and the fear that I can be burnt up by the sun if I fly too far.

I say “I” because of the story of Icarus, of the Prodigal Son, and other stories of freeing oneself from the nest is a powerful one. I can relate to it and I am sure many can. I think about my own upbringing, and how I grew up; I learned from my parents how to live in the world, for better or for worst, and then at High School graduation I was thrust into the world. I had a second upbringing. Then I graduated from College; lived in a monastery for a while; then, I left and became a school teacher! I look at the successes of my adult life, my teaching, my career, projects I have completed and articles and stories I have written and I compare those things to how I was as a kid. Did one lead from another? Is it possible to trace who I am now from who I was then? The line is not continuous; there are broken lines; new lines drawn over old ones; and lines that are going in opposite directions. That’s probably why, as a teacher, I have gravitated to teaching this story a lot in my career. I have taught it to Sixth Graders, and to Ninth Graders. Kids like the story, and they are appalled by the tragedy. But they all say they would never fly too close to the sun. Or, they remind me, “Mr. Roselli, why didn’t Icarus just use better glue?!” Good point!
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com Teaching the Myth of Icarus to your Students in a Middle or High School Classroom
The story of Icarus and Daedalus is a powerful one. So, I put together a simple 3-day lesson plan that teachers can implement in their classroom with kids (preferably Middle or High School students). There are a ton of books that have reprinted the myth and there are a ton of artistic representations. I like using Edith Hamilton’s Mythology by the book Parallel Myths is my favorite. There is a gorgeous children’s book version of the Icarus myth that is fabulous because the illustrations are evocative. Use my lesson plan with any text of the story and guide your students through this remarkable tale.

Feb 10, 2019

On Being Unfinished: Reflection On Starting Something You Never Completed

Michelangelo never finished this sculpture of a
crouching boy intended for a decoration in the
Medici Chapel of San Lorenzo in Florence.
source: wikimedia 
Reflection: How many times have you started something you never finished? Probably a lot. And what does “Being Unfinished” say about you?

The Unfinished Professional (For me that's being a teacher)
As a teacher, I start projects I never finish. I have a folder on Google Drive of several unfinished projects. There is a unit on Charlotte's Web I haven't yet completed and my Google Keep is filled with ideas I have not yet implemented. I have tests that are half-completed. I have units that are missing chapters. I have lesson plans that are missing lessons; and, I have piles of unsorted papers on my desk. I have projects without rubrics and I have rubrics without projects (really). I have quizzes I never graded, assignments I never checked, units I never finished. In my mind there is an imaginary Google Drive folder that contains all of the lessons, rubrics, tests, and quizzes I'll ever need. Will this  imaginary folder ever become reality?

The Unfinished Person (For me that's being a bit creative)
My unfinished teaching bleeds into my unfinished creative life, too. There are books I never finished reading and unfinished puzzles lying on the floor of my closet. I have a coloring book from my childhood that has two or three pages colored. I bought an adult coloring book for Christmas (A gift to myself) but I never started it. It's quite beautiful, really. The pages are a display of black lines and clear, empty spaces. I have one-hundred pages of a novel I was trying to write last Summer that still sits unfinished in a Manila envelope in my desk's third drawer. Work often brings me dread because I am caught thinking of work I have not finished. There are letters I want to write to friends and emails that have gone unsent (I am embarrassed to show you my drafts folder). But, what does being unfinished really say about a person?

Having unfinished projects probably means:
  • You are always thinking
  • You enjoy work but dread it at the same time
  • You like to be creative
  • You enjoy the process
  • You are a maker
  • You are productive
  • You are seldom bored
  • You value ideas
  • You keep to-do lists
  • You have a TON of FINISHED projects 
Consider:
Think about the projects you have completed. What do they say about you? What projects have you started that have gone unfinished? Do you judge yourself more harshly than you judge others? Let us know in the comments.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Jan 27, 2019

Technology in the Classroom: How to Create a Digital Editable Document with Google Docs for You and Your Students

I made this Greek Mythology resource shareable and editable!
I like to share with my students and I recently noticed that my digital file type of choice are PDFs and I most-often work with Google Docs when creating. However:

  1. PDFs are static and it is hard to edit them
  2. A Google Doc is editable; but, how can I share what I have created but still keep the integrity of my originals?
Here's what I have done (by following a simple Google hack)

Jan 17, 2019

Teaching: 5 Middle and High School Lesson Plans You Can Use in Your Classroom (Right Now)

Hallelujah! Look at Some New Stuff I Created: A suite of lessons in a series I am creating called Philosophy in the Classroom and some gnarly lesson plans I am making about an American Girl living in China in the 1920s - it's called Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz . . .



Why I Use the word "Love" all the time

I read a long time ago (in an ancient teaching book of which I conveniently forgot the name) that educators should avoid saying "love" or "I love" to their students when discussing their work. For example, you're not supposed to say, "Hey, I love that paragraph you wrote!" Well, I disobey that rule. I love my students and because I teach Ethics and Language Arts to ELLs; so, I am always using the word love.


Can you climb out of the cave?
Can you climb out of the cave?

Check out some gnarly resources I just made:

I am building a Philosophy in the Classroom series of resources so teachers can introduce their students to philosophical thinking even if they themselves do not have a philosophy degree. I have three resources up and running (it's a work in progress - but, damn, the three things I just made are really good :-)). Do my kids love 'em? Of course. Do yours? They will!

Novel: Check out the first two chapters of Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz
I just taught the novel Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz to my English Language Learners (they range in grade level but most are 9th and 10th-grade Mandarin speaking ELLs. They loved the book. But I this book is also amazing for Sixth graders (or advanced Fourth and Fifth graders) - however, my kiddos loved it because it was just the right reading level they needed - not too easy but challenging enough to keep them on their toes!

Let's hear from you!
I have been a teacher for ten years, and it never gets old. I love kids, and I love talking with them, discussing ideas, and seeing where a lesson will go. I am privileged to share my resources with you, kind educators. Be real. Gotta go.


My teacher's store: Stones of Erasmus
My Pinterest: Greig Roselli

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Jan 16, 2019

On Carnival Wins, the Ephemeral Nature of Childhood Toys, and Short-Term Goals: It ain't pretty!

Who can relate? I can!
I sometimes wish I could pull a tape of tickets out of a machine and win. Win big. Don't you? It's an analogy. The analogy is something like this. Just like playing games at the arcade hall will garner you tickets (that win big!), once you go home you put the toy away; you forget about it. How many carnival game toys have you won and treasured? None. But I bet when you won that damn thing you were as hot as dry ice. You were stone cold happy. Winning a stuffed bear at the shoot out booth or scoring some plastic dinosaur from the crane game made you goofy happy. And you loved it. Sure. I remember going to the parish fair (we call state counties parishes in Louisiana) and feeling like I had won it all when my dad gave me a crisp twenty dollar bill and instructed me to play some games. I won a bouncy ball and a stuffed lizard. It was euphoric. I was so mad crazy over winning games I remember once my aunt took me to the arcade with my brother and we spent way too much money playing Smash TV. Quarters into tokens. Tokens add up. So do quarters. I took a recent troupe of students (I am a teacher) on an end-of-the-year trip to Dave & Busters. Those kids were as happy as the proverbial pigs in slop with their hard-earned won trophies. Plastic guns; plasticine bears; laughy taffy; yo-yos and other knick-knacks and treasuries that sure did seem like treasuries to them. I was just happy that they were serving lunch for the adults too; we got to eat crap-food on a Tuesday. Priceless.


Jan 12, 2019

Video Repost: Braden Gives His Bubblegum Book Report in Season One of the Mickey Mouse Club Reboot (circa 1990s)

I was never a fan of the Mickey Mouse Club reboot on the Disney Channel - mainly, because I am not sure if we had the Disney Channel in my house or not (I honestly cannot remember). However, I came upon this trite little gem - it's a cute little skit - and it reminds me of the innocence I recall from circa 1990s television craziness. I cannot put my finger on it - but television in the 1990s was just plain cotton candy madness. It was sweet - and totally unreeled from any kind of substantial aesthetic. I love how the above skit takes place on a stage with a live audience - kind of like how Nickelodeon did its shows back in the day - and a kind of tween version of Saturday Night Live. Now. I love how the girl gives her sterling report on Moby Dick. Great job. But why does she give an apple for the teacher - isn't that a bribe? And then comes Braden's report - one of the stars of the early reboot days of The Mickey Mouse Club. His report rings true for me - because I can remember a classmate pulled a similar stunt in a class once. He tried to give a class report on one of the elements of the periodic table and he passed out a brochure he had made with the name of the element printed on it - he was so proud of his ersatz report that I remember it still to this day. I guess it is the same for our man Braden. I would remember his report - and he gives it with such Americana teen bravado that I was surprised that the teacher was scowling. And in a kind of teen rebellion-cum-audience mob effect - the live action crowd is totally into it. Go Braden! A+


Jan 2, 2019

Reflection: Another Year Goes Away and a New Year Begins


My friend and I lit a candle
at Saint Thomas Church in Manhattan
Sometimes life is like a circle. I could go on and give examples - and I will - but I feel like E.B. White did it best in an essay he wrote about circus performers.
      It’s been a while since I closely read the essay but I remember its thesis poignantly. Time is like a circle. White focuses his writing on one performer specifically who takes command of the circus ring. He notices she is in counterbalance to another performer, older, who is also in the ring. White imagines the younger performer is at the crest of her career, illuminating and graceful yet the other performer is also she - less graceful and aging. That’s what I remember. White manages to place an idea of recurrence - of repeating and twinning that resonates with me even now. Perhaps it’s because it’s the beginning of a new year - 2019 and I just recently celebrated a birthday. In a year from now, I’ll celebrate forty years on earth. I’ve been out of school long enough to miss it and I’ve been working just long enough to see myself getting better at what I do - but I can see my older, aged twin on the other side of the circle. He waves at me but I can’t figure out if he’s happy or not.  If I zoom in too much on the daily details of my life it’s all a bunch of minutiae - picking up the trash, sipping a cup of coffee, placing dirty clothes in the hamper. And if I zoom out a bit more - like in that book - where each page is a zoom-out or zoom in of the universe - I see bigger picture things like how much time I spent teaching or how much time I spent writing. And if I zoom out even further I see myself as a generation among generations, and further out too I’m a speck - not even significant. Yet this is what amazes me about human beings. We are persistent in our urgency to slam into the earth some smattering of meaning. And it feels worth it when I’m introspective and desperate when I’m barraged by life’s demands - yet it’s a life. At the start again. So - happy New Year.



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