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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Awesome Flipped Classroom Infographic from @Knewton!

Love this Flipped Classroom Infographic The site has some interesting comments and conversations going on, too!

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


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Engaging Students-10 tips that we use & love from @Edutopia

Several friends posted a great list from Edutopia on Facebook this weekend. I also kept seeing it pop up in web searches. So, I had to check it out!

Ten Tips for Engaging Underperforming Students

The list is great & I think everyone should read it!

So many of us do these things without even thinking about them. We use activating strategies, use higher order thinking skills and questioning, we write EQ’s on the board (either from habit or as part of administrative directive), we get our students up and moving, we center our rigorous lessons around the students to make sure they have buy-in to the lesson. We do these awesome things and more every day and that makes me happy.

The list is especially awesome to be because it focuses on students at Cochrane Collegiate Academy, in Charlotte, North Carolina who have made a huge turn around. They call these tips IL (Interactive Learning) and they go into every lesson, every day. While I am never a fan of mandates that say tell teachers things that they must do daily in their classrooms, I can’t argue with the fact that these are 10 things that should be happening in every classroom on a daily basis. They shouldn’t just happen in classrooms that need to improve, either. These are 10 simple (and pretty much free) ways to get students to participate, fully engage, and take learning seriously! Who wouldn’t want that?!

As always, I’d love to hear your ideas!

What do you think about the 10 IL tips?

Do you use them?

Do you have others to add to the list?

Have an awesome week!   ~Mandee

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More great info on Common Core-this time from ASCD

Here’s a great list from ASCD Inservice on Common Core Resources:

I especially like the state resources. I love looking at what is already out there!

Let me know what you think of these and other Common Core resources you’ve found!


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Great outlook on the Common Core

There are no miracles, but there are teachers: An educator’s view on the Common Core

This is a great read on the Common Core from Darren Burris on The Hechinger

Darren Burris

Here’s my favorite part:

So the report should not be taken as evidence that standards are useless, or that the Common Core State Standards are a step in the wrong direction. In fact, I find its message ultimately empowering for teachers if we write ourselves into it—empowering if:

1. We marshal the experiences and lessons learned from the classroom and bring them to bear on the national conversation about education reform.

2. We see this as an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration and the sharing of best practices.

3. We turn the conversation toward enabling and supporting quality teaching in our schools.

4. We connect the K-12 conversation to the demands of college and the workforce.

Read it and let me know what you think!

Have a a great week!


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Confessions of a Bad Teacher…a MUST READ!

Angry me after reading this article!

Please stop what you are doing and read this. Really! Right now!

It made me angry. It made me sad. And then I just sat there with that “what the what?!” look on my face. So I read it again!  I don’t get mad often-I’m actually a look on the bright side 99% of the time kind of person, but this makes me ANGRY!

This really has to stop! I wish I knew the answers to things like this. I know that moving schools saved me, but that isn’t (and shouldn’t) be the fix. Thankfully, I am now in a school where I am expected to teach all day long–really, that’s my job and what is expected of me. I call it teaching nirvana! My administration knows what our kids need and they love our kids. This should be the case at every school, for every teacher, and for every student! Ugh!

At a time when teachers are constantly under the microscope and under the gun, I think we need to make the shift to looking at the absurd things we are often forced to do by administrators that (all too often) left teaching because they weren’t good at it.

Teachers: You are doing an amazing job. If you really aren’t happy, get out. Administrators, so many of you are awesome. Help those that aren’t!

As always, your thoughts, experiences, and feedback are welcome!

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A Flipped Classroom in Action!

I am so intrigued by the idea of the Flipped Classroom!

Here’s an awesome article & link about how one school is making it happen!

Here’s a link to a cool Flipped Classroom how-to guide from TechSmith:

What do you think about the Flipped Classroom? Something you’d try?

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Great read from @EducationWeek: A Flawed Approach to Reading in the Common-Core Standards

As I strive to be positive about the Common Core, I realize that I must also be realistic.

I will always do what is best for students, so articles about the Common Core fall into the “Must Read” category for me!

Making the shift from only reading for enjoyment to academic reading has to happen, but I would never want to dampen a child’s love of reading for pleasure! Joanne Yatvin shares the same concerns in her EdWeek post. The idea that anything outside of the Common Core should be completely eliminated just doesn’t sit right with me. There are also specific guidelines/approaches for teaching that don’t appear to include all of the research and best practices.  That worries me, too.

Another huge concern of mine-spending (already drastically limited) funds on shiny new “Common Core Approved” packaged literature-is also addressed by Yatvin. I have never found an entire program that met the needs of all of my students or one that matched my teaching style. That is, after all, the main reason why I can justify being a master hoarder. There isn’t one awesome think, book, lesson, technology, or gimmick that is going to fit everyone! And I thought we were moving away from that!

Read the article here:

I’d love to hear what you think!


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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Flipped Classroom Follow-Up!

I really like the Flipped Classroom idea!

I wrote about Greg Green’s Flipped School successes here:

He’s back today with a follow-up to answer the most common questions about the Flipped Classroom/School concept.

Check it out here:

You can see my original post by clicking here.

What are your thoughts on the Flipped Classroom?

I’d love to hear from you!

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