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

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.



Dec 29, 2018

Help Alleviate Human Suffering by Supporting Oxfam's Mission to Supply Water Wells to Impoverished Communities around the World

Today is my birthday and I want to raise awareness about people around the world who do not have access to clean water supply. Donate to Oxfam and help a family build provide water to their homes.

Dec 27, 2018

Photo: Street Scene from Queens (My Favorite Instagram Pic from 2018)

A mother and her son await the arrival of the Queens Pride parade in Jackson Heights.
So. I went through my Instagram profile and chose this photograph (above) as my favorite from 2018. Since it was Gay Pride Day in Queens on the day I took this picture, I was strutting my stuff on the Avenue taking pictures of anyone who’d say “yes”. I must have taken like thirty photos on my phone. I like this picture because it’s instantly noticeable as a New York scene: notice the “A” Health Inspector sign in the window of the restaurant in the background. If you look closely the boy is wearing a Superman t-shirt - and he serves as the focus of the image. I wonder what he’s eating - crackers or chips? The woman looks happy. And of course - there’s a bunch of people-moving going on. It was a busy day but oddly this photograph marks the day as peaceful and I’m grateful I was able to capture some of it on my digital camera.

Dec 25, 2018

A Roselli Family Christmas Photo Circa 1995: "Run for Your Life!"

A scanned family photograph of three Roselli brothers opening their gifts one Christmas morning (ca. 1995)
A Roselli family photograph from a Christmas morning (ca. 1995) in Southern Louisiana.

Merry Christmas! In the tradition of a truly Americanized holiday, my brothers and I tear into our gifts on Christmas morning. I love how my younger brother (pictured front and center wears a tee-shirt that reads "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!". Upon closer inspection, the shirt is from a fundraiser for the local Episcopal School.

My older brother and I, pictured on the right, seem a little more subdued (or just really tired). We had a ritual in our family that every year one person was picked to be Santa Claus - which meant you had to go and find everyone's gift one at a time and deliver them. I am thinking, in the year this picture was taken, all of us were playing Santa Claus?

Nov 11, 2018

Lesson Plan: Teaching the Industrial Revolution Using William Blake’s poem “London”

William Blake illustrated his book and this is an example of an illustrated page of his poem "London" .
I like to teach history through literature. Recently I taught a lesson to High School students on the Industrial Revolution using William Blake's poem "London". We had already been studying the Industrial Revolution in Europe. So students were familiar with the concept - the idea that people began to move to urban centers to work in dirty, factories - without the labor laws we have today. Child labor was common and a general disregard for human life was horrifically rampant. Disease was widespread and a scourge on the populace.

But I like my students to work with primary sources. It's important to show students how historical events mattered to the people living at that time. What would it have been like to live in London at that time? 


So I planned two 45 minute lessons (total of 90 minutes) to look at William Blake's poem "London". I have taught Blake before - but for this lesson, I wanted to show how Blake use poetry to criticize society and the inherent hypocrisy he witnessed in 1790s London when he was living the capital.


We read the poem together and I made sure students see what the poem looked like when Blake published it. One cool thing about Blake is that he was a printmaker and he self-published all of his own books - and illustrated them. 


We look at the illustrated version and I ask students to point out what they notice. We then read the poem together and then using a document camera we work on annotating the text. I have prepared a bunch of my own annotations to guide the process but I make sure that students add their own insights as well! 


After we annotate the text kids work in small groups to work on further diving into the text using 11 reading comprehension questions I prepared. They then report back and we have a class discussion using 9 discussion questions I came up with to help students make more connections from the text to the world.


I'm proud of my students thinking and I'm thinking if you want to try teaching "London" to your student you can download the resource I packaged as a printable PDF on Teachers Pay Teachers.


I hope you enjoy using this resource and of course I'd love to know what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Nov 3, 2018

Compare and Contrast: How the Song "Teenage Dirtbag" was made into a Choir Version to Advance a Documentary on Bullying in American Schools


It's a rather heteronormative narrative - but I have a crush on this song - maybe because the song talks about "getting into tube socks" and references "Iron Maiden" - and its an elegy to unrequited love - with a twist at the end. This is to all the teenage dirtbags out there. Also - Wheatus's song was the song attached to the movie Loser - as you can see by the music video.

A couple of years I went to a professional development workshop on peer-to-peer bullying in American schools. The presenters screened the documentary film Bully. The opening song is a choir version of "Teenage Dirtbag". I immediately recognized it and I thought it was an apt song to cover the phenomenon of bullying as it relates to school life.

As a teacher, I often encounter bullying. What pains me the most about bullying is that often the targets of bullying are exceptional children, "the teenage dirtbags" that often go unnoticed.

Watch the following choir version and hearken to the facts. We can be a voice for those who are tormented because they are gay, different, or just don't fit in. 


Oct 28, 2018

GIF: Teachers Do Lunch Duty!

Teachers sit together at the lunch table.
I don't like doing lunch duty. However, I love the teachers who I do lunch duty with every day. One teacher has been a teacher for forty years. That's an accomplishment. The other teacher is my work wife. We're married. The other teacher is my roommate. We share a room, boo. And the last teacher is my science homeboy. Love you! *besos*

Oct 27, 2018

On a Trip to Mystic, Connecticut I Ran into Versions of American History

Crossing the Whitestone Bridge into Queens, you can faintly see the New York City skyline.
Can you see Manhattan?
I have just returned from a sleep-away trip with Seventh graders. We went to Mystic, Connecticut — me and a couple of teachers and nineteen kids. I had never heard of Mystic — even though I saw the movie Mystic River  —which apparently has no connection to Mystic, Connecticut but there is a B-movie with Brad Pitt called Mystic Pizza - which apparently is real - the pizza. Not the story.

So, what did we do in Mystic? We stayed at the Mystic Seaport Museum which is really a cool place - much more relaxed than any museum I have been to in a long time. It is a reconstructed nineteenth-century seaport town. It's replete with an apothecary, a maritime general store, a slew of interpreters who pamper you with their stories of sea life, whale blubber stories, and facts about forecastles, moorings, and ghosts. Our crew — including me — slept on the Joseph Conrad — which is a wooden Danish training vessel that at one point sunk — killing twenty-two boys — then resurrected from the sea — then a U.S. President salvaged it and christened it as a National Historic Landmark - so it is permanently moored at the Seaport. I like history, and I like even more how history gets told, gets packaged, and is applied to how we think about the world we live in today. There is the ship Amistad moored at Mystic. It's a slave ship that was the site of a slave rebellion. Today it sits gleaming and speaks of liberty and the promise of change. However, its rewarding story belies the tragedy of the Middle Passage that claimed millions. Mystic also has a reconstructed version of the Mayflower - it is called the Mayflower II, and it is being revamped and polished for a celebration in 2020 celebrating the original ship's voyage four hundred years ago. The kids on our trip know these stories, and they see in these stories a symbol of religious freedom. However, I am confident that the Europeans who came to the New World were not as pure in their pursuit of liberty and the right to equality as we would like to paint them as in the history books. You can also see a whaling ship in Mystic - and if you are a good sailor, you might get to talk to a re-enactor. We met a jolly lady who was presenting herself as an immigrant to Mystic who arrived in the 1870s. She had left Alaska after it was sold by the Russians to the United States. She spoke of her voyage, a trip from the islands of Alaska, down to Panama, through the canal, past Jamaica, and then up the Atlantic coast to Long Island Sound. I liked hanging out with the kids. They're city kids — most of the lot — so they were into running around, kicking a soccer ball on the village green - and feeling the cold October air in their face. It is kinda crazy to be chaperoning twelve-year-old kids for forty-eight hours straight, but I loved their energy. Kids that age are full of energy but no focus. It's refreshing. Hey. If you know all the answers, then you're a fool, right?


Image Source: Greig Roselli © 2018