Saving the World Through Literacy!

Nicholas Kristof’s Contest on Bullying @TeenInk for ages 14-19

Check out this awesome contest open to ages 14-19 which closes on April 30, 2012.

Nicholas Kristof’s
Contest on Bullying

You must be aged 14 to 19 to participate.

Nicholas KristofEarlier this year I reported on Lady Gaga’s campaign against bullying, and learned that experts and the federal Department of Education increasingly see bullying as a huge education problem. So I’d like to consult the experts — American teens — by holding an essay contest about bullying.

Please help spread the word by encouraging young people to apply by writing an essay of up to 500 words about bullying or how to address it. Teachers are welcome to make this a class assignment. It can be cathartic to share these experiences, but also embarrassing, so think this through carefully. And remember, too, that this is for a newspaper and must be the truth – no exaggerations whatsoever! If you’re talking about someone else, you can use just a first name or initial, to protect their privacy.

So, teens, help us understand the problem by sharing your experiences and insights. In all seriousness, we have a major national problem with bullying, and we need your help to understand it and figure out how to make headway against it. That’s where I’m hoping your essays can help.

I’m holding the contest in partnership with The New York Times Learning Network and with Teen Ink magazine. Send in essays of up to 500 words by the end of April. Teen Ink, which has lots of experience publishing teen writing in print and online, will select finalists for me, and then I’ll choose the winners. There’s no real prize, except immortal glory: I’ll publish excerpts from the best essays in my column or blog. Some winners will also be published in Teen Ink and on The New York Times Learning Network.
— Nicholas Kristof, op-ed columnist, The New York Times

Submissions must be received by April 30, 2012 and cannot exceed 500 words. One submission per person. Nicholas Kristof has sole discretion to select which submissions, if any, will be posted.

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Looking for a few good WRITING CONTESTS!


I have amazing authors in my classes. And poets. And comic makers. And artists. And all around awesome kids.

The world doesn’t always stop to recognize them.  That’s a shame!

I am looking for some cool contests that my students can enter.

Below are the contests that I know about:

Promising Young Writers:

New to me–Barron Prize:

I am the chair of the Leslie Walker Memorial Essay Contest (Georgia only):

I also subscribe to this awesome Writing Kid mailing list:

I love River of Words:

What am I missing or forgetting about?

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When to Fight for What: Common Core, Ted Talks, & Literacy

Warning-This post rambles a bit, but I think it is worth hanging in there!

I’m just going to say it–popular or not–Good teachers go with the flow. Great teachers embrace it.
We all need to fight for what is best for our students. That’s a given.
But sometimes we need to leave the hand-to-hand combat to those who are have the energy & time.

Hear me out on this one:

My number one job is to be the best teacher I can be in my classroom. I have to. It is sometimes all I can do to focus on the unique needs of my students in six classes. Sometimes I just need to put all of my thought and energy into that. When that happens, I do make sure to support those who are out there fighting the fight for all of us. Often the are fighting full time, work in a different kind of school, or have more energy that me! It is ok. I’m not hard on myself about it. I’m embracing it and doing what I do best–being there for my kids!

On that note…

The Common Core is coming. It is already in place for many of us. I’m not fighting it. I’m going with it. There are great things about it & there are things that need some work. But, it is happening either way. Personally, I’m encouraged by the great amount of resources out there to support the Common Core.

The bottom line is this: Good teachers do what is best for their kids. Great teachers always find a way to be what our kids need!

Here are a few great Common Core resources:

This article from edutopia by  Heather Wolpert-Gawron is awesome! Common Core + Ted Talks = My idea of a great lesson!

The Kentucky DOE has been busy publishing tons of Common Core info. This list of Literacy Strategies (complete with many Word & pdf printouts, is great. Check out this link then explore the rest of the sight! So much of the work has already been done-why not use it!

So, are you a fighter or a supporter? Either way, we’ve got to make our kids the #1 priority!

If you are fighting, thank you!     If you are supporting those that fight, thank you!     If you are just an observer, jump in!


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We Tried It and Here’s How: Newspaper Blackout from @AustinKleon

I posted to Twitter that I finally tried Austin Kleon’s Newspaper Blackout with my writing class.

Newspaper Blackout by @AustinKleon

They LOVED it!

An awesome teacher, Kathy in AL, wrote to ask me how I did the lesson with my class.  She also reminded me that I’ve been on Twitter a lot, but haven’t put anything here in forever. Thanks for that, too, Kathy! I’m going to get back to this blog!

Here’s what I emailed to Kathy:

Hi Kathy,
I showed my 8th graders several of his videos to start.
Here are the links (I showed them in this order):
Next, I read several of his poems and showed them to the class.
We then did a few together on the smartboard (I scanned in a few newspaper articles that I thought would work).
We talked about how Kleon searched, skimmed, and scanned the articles for good words. We practiced circling words with pencil first–using the marker first was tricky (I found this out the hard way!)
I did a few of my own to show them.
Some kids really got it and others just liked writing with the black markers on the newspaper! 🙂 Either way, I think it was a valuable writing activity.
It did take a lot longer than I thought it would. I planned it for one day, but they worked on it for several days.
I’m going to scan and post some of them soon (in my free time *smile*)
I hope you try it. My students loved it! =)
Let me know if you try it with your students! 

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