Shopping List for Monday’s Classes

I could not be more excited for next week. It is the culmination of a design project from my classes this week. Yes, I’m an English Teacher, but language isn’t all about books, and a lot can be learned from taking a chance. My favorite conference in recent years has been Constructing Modern Knowledge in…

Two minutes in defense of reading

Last night was the annual curriculum night, and I went off book a bit. I didn’t use my three minutes to tell the parents what I teach; they have the curriculum guide for that. I used it to defend reading. So here goes: A recent study from Emory University titled “Short- and Long-Term Effects of…

Learning About Learning: Varnishing

So what does refinishing three old doors teach me about teaching and learning? This is one of those projects that we put off. For years. When we renovated our old house (built ca 1860) in 2000, we didn’t use crappy new doors or expensive, authentic new doors – we used all the lovely old raised…

Three Plantations

We started the day at Whitney Plantation. This is the only one of the tours that we have been on that tells the story of antebellum Louisiana from the point of view of the slaves. Narratives here have been constructed from the stories that were collected by Alan Lomax and the Federal Writers Project. Because…

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing

  by Walt Whitman I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing, All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the branches; Without any companion it grew there, uttering joyous leaves of dark green, And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself; But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves, standing…

The Mansions of Natchez

  Natchez. Pronounced like Matches. Compared to a city like Jackson, MS, it is a tiny little speck on the Mississippi. But that speck is OLD (one of the oldest settlements in the lower Mississippi), and because it was not held under siege for 47 days like Vicksburg, it survived mostly intact from the war….

Windsor Ruins

Evocative. Haunting. Unstable. Unlucky. Quiet. Windsor survived the Civil War only to burn to the ground, victim of a casual cigarette smoker. We were the only people there mid-morning. It was peaceful, lovely, and a bit sad. It’s a must visit.

Vicksburg Battlefield

I have never considered myself a Civil War geek, although my house was built in the 1860s, but I have always been interested in US History. When I was in four I created a pageant for my class of Lincoln’s last fateful trip to the Theater, and when I student-taught I had an American Studies…

Traveling down the river

  A good friend of mine who teaches at a private school in NYC invited me to join her on her summer ramblings. She teaches Huck Finn, and she wanted to get closer to the River and to Twain’s Life on the Mississippi. She was starting in Cairo, IL and driving down to New Orleans….

CMK15: Day Three – inspiration and wisdom and changing course a bit

Day three at Constructing Modern Knowledge began with some project work. In the morning we were treated to a panel discussion between Edith Ackerman, another MIT Media Lab connection, Deborah Meier, and James Loader from Australia. I have always admired Meier, and it was a real pleasure to hear Ackerman talk so passionately about the…

CMK Day Two: Contradictions

Yesterday has me thinking about equity and access. I had two very different experiences while listening to the featured speakers. Dr. Leah Buechley was the keynote speaker yesterday. A former MIT professor and the inventor of the LilyPad Arduino tool kit, she speaks as an insider about those who are excluded from the maker movement. She…

Day one – CMK15: Learning

This year’s Constructing Modern Knowledge is big. There is so much energy and enthusiasm, and there are some growing pains as well. The use of space is transformative. I was not here last year, and as I understand it this was a move they made last year. Being able to use this huge area to…