Showing posts with label high school english teacher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label high school english teacher. Show all posts

28.7.22

Teaching Peter and the Wolf: 2006 Oscar Winning Suzie Templeton Short Film

In this post, I talk about teaching the short film "Peter and the Wolf" in my Eighth Grade English Language Arts class in Queens.
Mr. Roselli's students attend his 8th Grade English Language Arts class in Queens
A typical day of learning in Mr. Roselli's English Language Arts classroom.

I Needed to Teach Something Quickly; I Chose "Peter and the Wolf"
It's interesting how I come across content to teach. Usually, deciding what to teach is not a problem because I spend a good chunk of the weeks leading up to the new school year mapping out my courses. However, this past year, teaching my Eighth graders, there was a day that I needed to fill with an engaging lesson. We had just completed a forty-day mythology unit. I say "forty days" as if we were in the desert or something, but it was forty discrete lessons, each about forty-five minutes in length. So I had a "free day" before we started our new unit. So, hence, Peter and the Wolf!

Suzie Templeton Short Film "Peter and the Wolf"
Suzie Templeton is a gifted director, and her animated short film, "Peter and the Wolf," is based on Sergei Prokofiev's famous score. The movie is only about twenty-five minutes, perfect for my lesson. Also, because of its fairy tale elements, it fits nicely with a unit on mythology.

Do Now: Setting a Work of Literature to Music
I like to get my kids' gears turning, so as they entered the class during the passing period, I asked them if they were to set a story or play or myth that they had read to music what would it be. I was hoping for something like Orpheus and Eurydice set to "Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water," but I got Daphne and Apollo set to A$AP Ferg. I'll take what I can get. Also, I was keen to set my lesson to a reading standard that states students should analyze a representation of a subject or a pivotal scene in two different artistic mediums (Reading Literature Standard RL.9-10.7).

Watching the Movie and Answering Questions
We watched the movie in class -- and I was surprised by how quickly they got into the story. I think what works is that the animation is so unique. It's not the standard, glossy Pixar style my kids are familiar with. It's a quirky, stop-motion animation-style feature. And the kids noticed the exciting way the animators brought the story alive, zooming in on the setting, a small town nestled in a somewhat cold rural landscape. The character of Peter is sufficiently adolescent, and the Grandfather and the boy's big fat cat serve as comic relief. There also isn't a lot of dialogue, so you have to pay attention to the visuals to follow the story's narrative pacing.

While watching the movie, students had to complete a worksheet, which included sixteen "right-there" viewing comprehension questions. It's just a way to keep them focused, and later, they turn it in as part of their grade for the lesson. As a teacher, I learned long ago that doing activities where students have to write and show their thinking is valuable. Not only is it an excellent way to show what you are doing in your classroom, but it also serves as a snapshot of students' overall thinking. I also like to use the Adobe Scan app to capture their work. So I have an archive of sorts.

Discussing Foreshadowing, Visual Imagery, Identity, and Other Themes
After watching the film, we talked about the movie. The first big English Language Arts point I wanted to convey was foreshadowing. And the kids definitely picked up on that one. There are images and references to wolves from the beginning, opening shot, and end. And another interesting discussion we had was why Peter let the wolf go in the end. I received several answers, but I remember one of the boys in my class commenting on how Peter understood the wolf. And I agreed, which led to a discussion about identity. If I say so myself, very much in keeping with my students' socio-psycho development.

Writing Activity: What Message Does the Movie Convey? 
And finally, at the end of class, I told the students to pull out their notebooks, and they wrote independently about what they thought the film's message was, and I made them include details from the movie to support their answers. Having completed the viewing questions helped to jog their memories. As they left the classroom, they had to turn in all of their written work, and I had them each tell me orally the gist of their writing exercise.
Finally . . .
Do you teach short films in your classroom? How does it work for you? I'd love to hear your comments.

10.7.21

Teacher's Summer Diary #2398: On the Tedium of Making Educational Digital Content (And Why a Walk, a Stretch, and a Sip of Water is Essential)

In this post, I talk about making educational resources for the middle and high school classroom and why distraction is my friendly passenger (although they don't always feel so friendly).

Author as a Gif
As per my last email (don't you hate it when you receive a message that begins that way) — or, shall I say, post — I've learned some new tips. First — there is beauty in
"Wish You Were Here  B.O.B.B.Y" Spray-painted on the side of a freight train car (pictured somewhere in Queens, New York
A message spray-painted on a side of
a train car.

small details. But my iPhone finds it challenging to capture the subtle beauty, so you'll have to contend with the bigger picture.

I read a quote today that I like — about achievement — "Before the gates of excellence, the high gods have placed sweat.”

I'm attempting to complete a monumental task this week, and I feel overwhelmed. I want to expand the teaching resources I created under my @stonesoferasmus brand — I have to go and proofread my inventory of 137 digital downloads I've created. I like the “making part” of the process — using design skills and creating incredible resources that middle and high school students can use. It's just very time-consuming. So to inspire me, I take long walks — hence the photos you see — and eat healthy — and stretch. Also — I got a bigger monitor for my computer. OMG. Having a large screen to work on makes a huge difference when creating digital stuff. OMG.

My goal is to have 200 products reviewed and created by the end of Summer. And on top of that, I'm taking a class on Special Education and Differentiation at Hunter College. The course is good — it solidifies some things I already knew about teaching and has already given me good ideas to move forward. Next year I'm teaching a section of Eighth Grade English, a World Religions class, a New York City history class — paired with Tenth and Eleventh graders in a combined section. Whew. I better get to planning. But. Oh. I see a bird in a tree. Ohh. Let me check this out. *Loses thirty minutes*. By the way, @kfs0520, is the last picture in this post an excellent example of Nantucket Red? Inquiring minds want to know.
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

28.6.21

When You’re at a Crossroads: Take It from Me, It’s Okay to Feel Lost (Notes from the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest)

In this post, a high school English teacher gets lost in the forest of northwest Washington.
I am stuck at a crossroads — which way to go? Following the course of the Foss River in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, I’m allowed to be lost, a wanderer. I’m happy I found a rock to sit on so I can gather my thoughts, drink some water (from the mountain creek, of course). If you don’t hear from me, it means I’ve taken up residence in the forest. I’ll come out when I’m dang ready.
Foss River
The Foss River

12.5.21

Why Wednesday Is the Day of the Week to Send Messages (Because of Woden, or, as the Greeks Call Him, Hermes)

Wednesday is named for Woden — the Norse parallel for the Greek and Roman messenger god Hermes.

In Jackson Heights, Queens

Ephemera
I’m obsessed with messages, epistolary novels, and journeys and undertakings. I never 👎 skip by a note or love letter. Even a torn letter I see on the sidewalk. I'll pick it up. And save it. And I love to eat tears and swallow joy.

My friends say I’m constantly flexing. My students want the school year to end. I’m listening to lots of books on tape and cooking lots of sausages and egg salad.

Achievements
I’m proud of my student @jukycheng, who got accepted into a Summer engineering program at NYU Tandon in Brooklyn. Congrats, Juky!

And I’m also excited for the Summer—those dog days. But I’m into May. With its warm afternoons and occasional showers.

Let's Chat!
How are you holding up? Need a hug? Here’s one. Need a nudge? Here’s one? Need a ride on a white swan? I don’t have that, but drop me a message if you want to chat about YA novels and the best place to walk in New York City.


Mr. Greig Roselli, Teacher, Writer, and Philosophy Sprinkles Maker!

9.4.21

On Positivity and How I Am Dealing With Teaching and Promoting Anti-Hate (#stopasianhate #stopblackhate #love)

Girl Fish GIF
"Girrrrrrllllllll!" is my general mood as of late.

Two people told me today, “You are always so positive.” The first was a colleague — and they always encourage me to be myself. The second was a student —

Greig Roselli wears a yellow mask in Jackson Heights, Queens

.... she came to me after class and was like, “Thank you for always being positive.” And I was like, “Well. I can embrace my sadness. But it's important not get distracted by the negative.” Like. I mean — I'm not oblivious to the Rainbow of emotions. But I like to infuse joy, especially with adolescents. It is the way I connect, and it's the glue to keep a classroom together. That and reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Teachers Amira Esposito and Nancy Massand wear pink.
My two English colleagues and besties.

It’s been a stressful year — Covid-19. A disrupted school year. And a tragic time. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Say their names. And Asian Hate 😡. 


One of my kids said this week, “I don't like coming to school. I like school. It's just getting there. Should I bring mace?” I told him — “Your feelings are valid.” And we talked about strategies to signal for help if a hater ever comes at you. Pretend to talk on the phone. Don't travel alone or on a lonely street.

All this hate takes its toll. It's toxic.

What are you doing to help folks feel safe? What should we be doing? Am I right to spread positivity? Even when I'm sad or broken, or I feel like I can't find the energy to teach or do whatever. I got this.

Mr. Roselli and a student start class off with the high attitude
Start Class with the Right Attitude
Love you all!

12.3.21

A Year Ago Today: Going into Lockdown Because of the Coronavirus Outbreak in the United States (and the World)

Greig Roselli poses for a photograph in a back alley in Jackson Heights, Queens
Greig Roselli poses for the one year anniversary
of living through Covid-19 in these United States.

One Year Ago Today

Today is March 12th in the Year of Our Lord Twenty Twenty-One. Last year today, I was in a faculty meeting. “We’re not closing school,” they said. By Sunday, we were in lockdown. And the rest is history.

I feel like I’m living through a historic moment like folks who lived through the Great Depression and hoarded pennies in their mattresses. 

What Will Future Generations Say?

Future generations will ask, “What was

The Corner of 37th Avenue and 79th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens
On the corner of 37th
Avenue and 79th Street
 in Jackson Heights, Queens

the Twenty Twentys like?” My friend Amira’s child, who is now ten months old, will want to know what he did during the quarantine. “Mostly eat and sleep,” Mom will say. “But it was a long time before you saw real people besides the doctors who birthed you and us.” And Sam will say, “OK. I survived a global pandemic.”

Recognizing That This is a Deadly Virus

As of today, 532,466 people have died in the United States; and, worldwide over 2.5 million people have perished. I recognize I’m privileged because I’m vaccinated and generally healthy (although I need to lay off the potato chips and ranch dressing). The pandemic has disproportionately hit the most vulnerable of society. I realize I’m in-person with students — so there’s always a risk I can be infected. But think about folks who work essential jobs and live in small apartments where everyone is working, coming into contact with many people. I can slink away to the haven of a more-or-less safe space in my apartment.

I think this global crisis has revealed just how fragile the ties that bind are. I’m grateful for today. I mourn those lost to Covid-19, and I’m hopeful for the future.

Kristen Ahfeld waves for the camera in the courtyard of the Garden School in Jackson Heights, Queens
Kristen Ahfeld is a
First Grade Teacher in Queens.
How was your Covid-19 lockdown anniversary — and how are you coping? Let me know in the comments. ⁣

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#covidkindnesswes #covi̇dkindness #covıdkindness #covidkindnesseverydaychallenge #covidkindnessstories #covidkindnessplease #covidkindness🙏 #staysafe #covidkindness🙏🏽 #stayhome #covidkindness💙💛 #covidkindnessneeded #covidkindness❣️ #covidkindnesss #covidkindness🤟🏻🙏🏻❤️ #covidkindness1 #quarantine #covid #covid19 #covidkindnesses #socialdistancing #covidkindnesscookieproject #covidkindnessnailcollab #covidkindness❤️❤️ #love #covidkindnessau #covidkindnesswmbg #covidkindnessuhp #coronavirus #covidkindnessca

PDF for Printing

7.3.21

Subject: Hello, March! March is for Mars! And It's Springtime in TeacherLandia (And I Have a Freebie for You)

In this post, I talk about how I have been crazy obsessed with making mythology-related content for the middle and high school classroom.
Greig Roselli does a live video chat on WhatsApp
It's March, and I've been teaching 
either from home or in a classroom. Hey, Y'all!

March is For Mars, Right?

It's March. And what that means for me is that I get to ask my students, "What god from mythology is the month of March named for?" And, you know what? Don't feel bad if you can't immediately come up with the correct answer. It's one of those questions that is obvious once you know the answer. *Spoiler Alert*Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com for stonesoferasmus The Greek god Mars (Or Ares in Latin). And I have a lesson for you. I have a freebie that helps students build vocabulary through Greek and Roman mythology. Myth is to Language what Recipes are to Food! You cannot have one without the other.

FREEBIE!: All About Mythology for the Middle and High School Set

I guess I am obsessed with myth. It's probably because mythology is just really cool, and I am determined to not make learning about myths just a Percy Jackson thing. Myths are actually exquisite artifacts to teach in High School (even though they get relegated to elementary and early middle school curricula). I just made a ton of myth-related resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. And to celebrate March and Spring (and the god Mars), I made my dazzling lesson on Prometheus totally free. So you can see a sneak peek of what I am doing in the realm of educational digital resources for middle and high school students. Some of the best things I have made related to mythology are designed for the late middle and high school classrooms. And I think that's really cool. And oh, if you are more of an Amazon person, I have a store there too!

Prometheus Bound for the Classroom

Prometheus Middle and High School Classroom Lesson Plan

It's based on the story of Prometheus, the Titan who befriended Zeus. His name means “forethought,” which is kinda funny only when you realize his brother Epimetheus's name means “afterthought.” This gets even funnier when you realize that according to the myth, Prometheus had the forethought to warn his brother, "OK! Zeus is going to gift you with a beautiful woman named Pandora! Don't accept!" But since he was an afterthought  when the time came  Zeus said, "OK. Here is a gift for you, Epimetheus." And the rest is history!

And Why New Orleans is a Decent Inspiration for Mythology

I am originally from New Orleans. It’s where I got my first jolt of mythology because during Mardi Gras season — all the Krewes are made up of references to Greek mythology. You have the Krewe of Orpheus and the Mystic Krewe of Momus and Comus and Rex (Latin, not Greek, I know). And having read lots of William Faulkner, you know life in the south can mirror a Greek tragedy (or comedy!).

       How do I keep it woke? How do I make ancient Greek or Latin myths relevant to living in the Americas in 2021? Easy — lots and lots of text-to-text and text-to-world connections. Did you know that March is named after a god? It's because of Greek and Norse mythology that the days of the weeks are what they are? The more you know, right?

So keep a lookout for a new product I am creating based on New Orleans, Mardi Gras, and Mythology!

Thanks for reading my blog. It's been a labor of love for over ten years. Can you believe it! XOXOXOXO

Greig Roselli (from Stones of Erasmus)



6.3.21

Another Day of Concurrent Teaching: Covid-19 Pandemic Teacher Journal #2

Get Lit
Mr. Roselli wears a "get lit" tee.

I teach teenagers concurrently in person and kids learning remotely. To build community, my co-teacher @amiraesposito5585 and I call the in-person kids Roomies and the distance learning kids, Zoomies. 

Roomies got a hard lifeBut not all the Roomies are complaining.


American teens aren’t reading less — they’re just reading fewer classics. They’re reading on their phones, on the Internet — listening to stories via audiobooks and podcasts. Literacy is changing, and I’m excited about it.

The tee-shirt reads, “Get lit.” Get it? I struggle with authenticity. How real is too real? Where do I go to find folks who look 👀 like me, act like me, think 🤔 like me? Literature. In my classroom. Young people. People who think differently. Radical openness. It’s something I teach. But it’s also the ultimate pleasure. Literature — it’s the best tea. And whether it’s Satan being emo in Paradise Lost or Rashad in American Boys (@jasonreynolds83) reflecting on his blackness in America or Felix in Felix Ever After (@kacen.callender) navigating high school as a trans boy in New York — characters in literature come alive for me.

5.11.20

Share Word Power With Students (Or, Watch a Frenetic Teacher Talk About Latin Roots)

In this quick post, I talk about how I teach the Latin root for "star" and how this root has permeated our language. Also, it is quite a rowdy lesson. Mainly because of me!
Word power-knowledge. I have way too much frenetic energy. And to think I was feeling vile about the proceedings of the day — until our Ninth Grade Writing class got my spirits up. After the first period today, I had thirty seconds, so Rajveer in Ninth Grade took this video of our discussion of the Latin root "aster-" or "astro-" (for star) and how it appears in the English words asteroid, asterisk, astronaut, disaster, and astronomy. Thanks to Ariadne for being the model student and Theo, Pema, Ryan, Mia, Luna, Lucas, and Ava for the inspiration. Tag, share, comment on, cast, or copy this video. It’s insane.
Teacher wears a mask in a classroom.
Mr. Roselli captures a selfie.

Foot on a desk
All in a day's work.

Aphrodite
Aphrodite as Depicted in Chalk on a Chalkboard

Athena
Athena with a shield.

Goddess
Just your garden variety love goddess.

20.10.20

How Diligence Paid Off Cataloging Indigenous Plant Species of Louisiana (And How I Came Upon the Secret of Motivation)

In this post, I wax nostalgic about a class I took in high school and how it taught me something about human motivation.

"You'll need to collect one-hundred specimens of native flora from Louisiana to gain a perfect score for this project," intoned our Biology teacher — I was in Eleventh grade. I had opted to take a class called Biology II rather than Environmental Science. It was unlike me. Having gravitated more to the arts and humanities, even in high school, taking an advanced science class went against the grain. But it was one of the most immersive courses I took in high school. I liked the botany unit. We had an entire semester devoted to exploring indigenous plant species of Louisiana. I had even gone as far as to purchase a used copy of a field guide to plants of the state; "Don't collect invasive species," our teacher had said. So I wanted to make sure I knew the difference between Kudzu and an indigenous Wood Sorrel. 

Flora
Look around you. There is a
        world to catalog and discover.

I put my heart into the project. With my field guide in hand, I combed the thin strips of woods that separated neighborhoods; I examined plants and looked closely at leaf and stem characteristics. I learned words like "deliquescent" — the word to describe a tree that has developed a finely developed branch covering resembling a cup (most often happens when the tree grows in an open field without competitors to challenge its airspace). Or that a leaf that has a soft "hairy" layer is said to be tumescent. Looking up these words in a standard dictionary, I found that these terms, while having a general meaning, also have a specific sense in botany. For example, I can say deliquescent to describe how water absorbs evenly into the soil from moisture in the air. And use the word tumescent to describe the soft hair that covers a newborn baby. Words are so multifaceted, I thought to myself then — and still realize to this day. It's a concept I often try to impart in the classroom: "Kids, vocabulary knowledge is closely tied to how it is used in the text."

What drives motivation? What made me so motivated to pursue a task that before I had taken it, I would never have followed on my own? Most likely, it was the challenge of the project. Something about discovery: and the idea that I had to explore areas outside the boundaries of my neighborhood or looked closely at the familiar. I don't remember what my classmates did for the project; I don't recall working with a partner.  

I had my parents purchase for me a ginormous three-pronged binder and a bunch of styrene protective covers. To successfully save a plant specimen, it is necessary to place the plant parts into a book or under a newspaper fastened with something heavy — like a book or a rock. It can take days for the specimen to set properly — our teacher had specifically said that if you don't let the plant sufficiently dry out — it will rot and produce mold once you seal it in the binder covering. The first few plants I had picked out delivered such a fate — I didn't press them long enough — so afraid of having points deducted from my project, I did them over again. 

I was diligent and methodical with this project — I managed to collect about ninety-eight specimens — everything from Sweet Bay Magnolia to a Pitcher Plant. I noticed how invasive species could completely take over an area, their massive and quick growth, quickly suffocating plant diversity in the area. This specific invasive plant called Chinese Privet — I found lots of those everywhere around my backyard. Seeing the ubiquity of certain herbaceous plants made me realize the destructive force of nature when human intervention is too rapid, and Mother Nature cannot keep up.

Motivation is tied to relevance. If you can tap into the significance of a task, then you have your student's attention. Make a task too easy, and it loses its relevance; make a task unattainable, and it becomes a chore. I like how my teacher implied that the project had a perennial aspect to it; I still have that binder from high school. And I still have the plant species; they are labeled correctly and nicely preserved.     

It wasn't an easy task, but it promised discovery. So finding a rare plant species proved to me a gleeful moment — filled with joy, as on a particular jaunt into the woods behind my mother's house in Madisonville, Louisiana — I found a Devil's Walking Stick — properly named because if you pluck it you will automatically be stung by its many sharp prongs that line its length. Walking deep into the woods, I came across a bayou that flooded its waters often when rain fell heavily, which gradually seeped back into the ground or wended its way back to a tributary and then into the Tchefuncte River and then finally into Lake Pontchartrain, which is an estuary that opens out into the Gulf of Mexico. Everything is connected. I knew then and know now.

As a teacher myself, I now give students projects and written assignments, as one is wont to do as a teacher. I have never given out a botany project like the one my science teacher did for us — but I marvel at what motivated me to complete such a project so painstakingly. I sometimes joke with colleagues that if someone were to crack the code of what truly motivates people to be industrious, creative, or simply do work — especially work that at first glance does not seem necessary — they ought to win some kind of Nobel Prize for Ingenuity. I never went into Botany — heck, in college, I only took a handful of Science classes. The bulk of my undergraduate course load was filled to the brim with Dante and Kazuo Ishiguro — with ample servings of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Shakespeare — can you tell I went to a heavily Western-centric liberal arts college? But I never forgot my foray into botany. That project stayed with me over the years. I still remember the scientific names of certain plant species — for example, Live Oaks and White Oaks — and all oaks — belong to the Quercus genus. And figs are in the ficus family. And if you take a walk with me in the woods, I will revel in the joy of discovering a field of Crimson Clover — it's still a beautiful flower.

Photo by Dmitry Grigoriev on Unsplash

12.9.20

First Days of School in the Covid-19 Era — Report from a High School English Teacher

Some schools have already been back in session for three weeks now and New York City Public schools have not even started but in our small school in Jackson Heights — we just started this past week. Here's my first day of school report — 2020 edition.

Greig Roselli Bitmoji

Deep Thought Freeze Frame on Zoom

"I think she's in deep thought," a curly-haired kid in the front row said. "But's she's been like that for a long time." I checked the computer screen — a laptop on the teacher's desk where I could see kids that were learning remotely from home. "Can she hear us?" I asked. ""I think she's frozen, Mr. Roselli." And sure enough, she was. Whatever she needed to say was caught out of joint, still. 

That's a snapshot of my first couple of days back at school. I am a high school English teacher at a private school in New York City. About twelve percent of the school has chosen to go remote. The rest of us are at school, wearing masks, properly podded in classrooms, with orchestrated arrival and dismissal times, lunch delivered to classrooms, temperature checks, and everyone in the building has been tested for Covid-19.

A Kind Eighth Grader and a Lesson on Lipids

I start my day before school checking my devices, making sure I don't have a laptop or Chromebook at a low battery level. "Make the first days of school fun," a friend says. But it doesn't feel fun. The excitement of the first day lost its allure this year. In homeroom, I take attendance, but I have to make sure the students who are learning remotely have logged on. Then I have a planning period in the morning. And then, I monitor the eighth-grade study hall. "How are you doing, Mr. Roselli?" one of the eighth-graders asked me, and my heart melts a little bit because I know this kid, and I was touched by her small gesture of empathy. She tells me in a free flow of words how her day has gone, her troubles with Google Classroom, and why soap and water kill the Coronavirus. The whole class then suddenly stops and listens as I give a deliberate explanation of how the cell wall of a coronavirus is made of a lipid layer — and that soap is basically a lipid — and when soap hits the surface of your skin, any virus material that may be on it gets canceled out by lipid action. Soap is basically fat. I say.

After lunch, I teach three classes back-to-back, and they are all in separate rooms with a different technology set-up. One place is near the main hallway, and it has a blackboard only, a teacher's desk that I won't need to use, a bunch of maps (that I won't use), and no smartboard. There's a laptop hooked up to the Internet, and I sign into the school Zoom account to admit the remote learners into the room. I tell the kids who are actually in the classroom, "While I set up Zoom open up Google Classroom on your device. Respond to the group discussion question, and we'll get started in five minutes." I had forgotten that over the Summer, I had made "podcasts" to go along with some of my lessons. I am kinda glad I did because it's given me a sense of control of my courses. One of my students, a quiet kid who always answers my questions correctly, but I cannot understand him (because he speaks very softly), is sitting in the front row listening to one of the podcasts. I hear my own voice emanate, and it feels surreal. "That's Mr. Roselli's voice. Do you like the sound of your own voice?" No, not really, I think to myself.

A Feeling of Split-Screen Reality

There's me in the room, kids in the room, devices, a chalkboard, kids on Zoom — and I forgot to take the daily attendance. So I open a new tab on the same laptop that's streaming the Zoom, and I realize I need to log-in again — but I don't have my password handy, so I take out my phone that has all of my passwords. But I am wearing a mask, and the phone prompts to login me in with face recognition. But I don't have time to lower my mask for the phone to capture an image of my face. So then I need to key in the phone's password. And by this time, I feel that tinge of stress that radiates from your neck down the small of your back. Too much cognitive functioning going on!

I jump back again to reality — by saying, "Let's talk about representation." A brunette girl who had been listening intently to my audio says, "Yeah. Like politics." And we talk about how senators or representatives represent us in Congress. But I explain that in Art History "representation" has a slightly different meaning. And then I feel like the class flow is streaming (and no one is frozen on Zoom). But then I want to show the class a painting of Pocahontas that was done in 1616 that depicts her as a European — when in fact, she was an indigenous person.

So I pull that up — but then I realize, "Wait. The kids at home cannot see it." So I need to share my screen. And then I feel stressed out again. For some reason, I cannot share my screen — and I promise to put the picture on Google Classroom later so everyone can see it. Later, when I add the graphics, I notice that in my Twelfth Grade English class a boy named Adam has posted, "Let's get it, Mr. R.! Keep it up with the same energy!" 

Why You Have So Many Websites?

If a kid thinks I have a surplus of energy, I think, let's get it, then. The last two periods of the day go well — it's sometimes funny to see how the kids on Zoom interact with the kids in the classroom. I make a joke with the class about how I feel like the kids on Zoom are not really real — because they are postage-stamp-sized moving images — a bit pixelated and blurry. But there are real kids in the room. And they are like kids. Feeling anxious and worried and also a bit expectant about the beginning of the school year.

I don't like this set-up. It makes me feel inadequate. It's a compromise — to open school, and to allow options for kids who want to stay at home. But it's going to run me down to the ground if I don't devise a plan.

So, first. I am going to keep up the idea of making podcasts. They are easy to make, and they help me as a teacher to organize my thoughts for each lesson. In March and April, I listened to a ton of podcasts, and they helped me get through the darker days of the pandemic. So I want to recreate that immersive experience of listening to someone's voice. 

"Why so many websites?" a sixteen-year-old boy asked me, with a tee-shirt that said "Phoenicia" on it. I didn't understand his question, so I asked him to explain. "Oh. He said. Like you have so many websites on your Google Classroom." I realized what he meant. I have a website for the class, and then there is the Google Classroom page, and I use Vocaroo for my podcasts, and Quizlet for flashcards and FlipGrid for presentations — it all becomes quite intense quickly. I’m suddenly feeling I could use a vacation in Phoenicia right about now.

Your Class Feels Like A Lot. Because It Is 

Over the Summer, I didn't know what I would be teaching until late August. And once I found out what my course load was to be, I immediately started planning the year. In the Eleventh Grade English class that I teach, I have thirteen weeks of material already set up. I thought it would make me feel organized — and it did! I do not regret doing it — but one of my students, an awesome kid, said, "You have thirteen weeks already set up. That's a lot. This class is going to be a lot."

And I guess she's right. It feels like a lot this year. That's why I had fun on Friday doing an activity where I had asked everyone to send me in advance a "fun fact" about themselves that no one knows about so we could share it in a fun lesson at school. "I have a Guinea Pig,"; "Follow me on YouTube,"; "I want to be a recording artist,"; "I want to be a Psychology and Business major,"; “I hiked the southern rim of the Grand Canyon when I was eleven.” — and I shared a story about my pet hamster named Hammy. We would take him outside, and he would eat the clover leaves until his cheeks were filled. And then out of nowhere, one of the kids on Zoom — which had been quiet most of the class period — piped up, "Now — you had a lawnmower as a kid!" Everyone started to laugh. "Yeah. He said. Your hamster was like a lawnmower!"

Ohhhhh, Girl!

And at dismissal, I heard a loud noise emanate from the street outside — it was the sound of a fire truck — and I yelped, "Ohhhh, girl." And one of the Eighth graders said, "When Mr. Roselli gets scared he goes like 'Ohhhh girl!'"

That made me so happy.

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