November 30, 2022

What I'm Reading & Teaching in December

With the start of a new trimester, I'm starting a new unit on "Facing Fear" plus some choice writing to keep students engaged up to winter break.

My school operates on trimesters rather than marking periods, and our new trimester started when we returned from Thanksgiving break. My units align with our trimesters it's been nice to start something new upon returning from break. 

The end of first trimester was a bit of a let down. Despite all of the supports I have built into the essay writing process, the quality of many students' essays did not match what I expected to see after two weeks of work and many, many small group writing sessions. Similarly, the quality of students' final projects was also disappointing despite the step-by-step brainstorming and templates provided for students. Many projects were submitted incomplete and some students just didn't turn in anything despite knowing it was one of two of their final grades for the trimester.

That said, it's likely no surprise that my October frustrations with teaching haven't magically disappeared, but I am continuing to hold fast to my plans of keeping activities shorter and simpler to match student skill levels and stamina, using reading sprints to break up independent reading time into more manageable time chunks for students, and taking the time to deal with even the small behavior issues to keep things from spiraling. To help myself focus on the positive and not feel totally overwhelmed by the negatives, I also set a goal of sending home two good news notes per class period each day. 

November 27, 2022

14 Stories That Center Native American Voices

A list of books by Native American authors, recommended by middle and high school ELA teachers, for you to feature in your classroom library.

November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is also referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The month is a time to honor the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to recognize the important contributions of Native people. 

One way to educate your students about different tribes and the challenges Native people have faced in the past and continue to face in the present is to make sure books by Native American authors and focused on Native American characters are present on the shelves of your classroom library. You may also want to reconsider including books on your shelves that tell Natives' stories and history, but are told by non-Native authors. 

Below you'll find books by Native American authors, recommended by middle and high school ELA teachers, for you to feature in your classroom library. To mirror the diversity of Native tribes and experiences, included is a variety of fiction and non fiction, fantasy and dystopia, humor and realistic fiction, short stories and novels in verse. Click on the Instagram handle of the person recommending the book to read their recommendation.