Sunday, November 17, 2013

Caroline Hackmeyer

This has been a busy year for me: undertaking National Board certification, chairing my department, teaching a couple of new-to-me courses.  It may be my seventh year of teaching, but—as always—I feel a little bit like a rookie trying to figure things out.  My family and friends outside the profession say I’m a perfectionist, but I see myself as always being in the midst of the very messy process of revision.

  
I’m always trying to get better:

·        How can I get my kids past the raw comprehension of Othello and into the 
         study of Shakespeare’s language choices?

·        How can I move students from making inferences as they read to recognizing 
         patterns throughout the entire text?

·        How can I create student independence in the thinking and writing process?

·        Etc. Etc. Etc.    


Now, as I embark on my newest endeavor, leading the GWP’s study group on Writing Craft, I find myself asking more and more questions:

·        What books should we study?

·        With the push towards argument and informational writing, where does 
          narrative writing fit in?

·        How can we make room in our classrooms for narrative writing despite our 
         other time constraints?


Narrative writing is something that English teachers have always excelled in, but we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Over the past few months, I’ve begun to realize that my baby might be long gone.  The thing is, the rest of the community and our administration haven’t even realized my baby is missing yet.  I’m being contacted left and right about this writing contest and that guest-poet, told second-hand of my administration’s full commitment to our students taking advantage of these opportunities, and left wondering how I am supposed to do it all.


As teachers, we deal in the currency of time.  A mandatory assembly here and test-prep lesson there are time spent that can never be recovered.  Yes, perhaps it is an investment, but will we ever see the return?  And what about the bills we have yet to pay: critical reading and analysis, argument writing, informational writing, performance tasks?  Is there any time left to budget towards narrative writing?


Tough questions.  I think the answer is that we have to make time for narrative writing.  So, how do we do this?  And how do we convince the rest of the world that class time working on narrative writing is time well spent?  I hope these are questions our Writing Craft Study Group will be able to answer.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fifty (Thousand) Frantic Words


 
November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for those who have never summoned the courage to try it...for those who are (bluckbluckbluck) chicken.
 
Yeah, courage. I'm trying to rile you up. Is it working? 
 
What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? It's a network of writers all over the world who are hoping to tap out 50,000 in November. It's simple to begin. You create an account, and beginning November 1, you work on your novel. The site keeps track of your word count, along with updating little bar graphs that show your progress (or lack of, if the bar doesn't grow for a few days).
 
It's also simple to physically connect to other NaNo-ers. All over St. Louis and St. Charles are write-ins and get-togethers aimed at keeping you on track.
 
Unfortunately, it's also simple to crash and burn. I've had two years where I've wrapped my novel around a huge tree trunk, and ended up going up into the sky in a enormous fireball. Last year, I got to 42,000-something, which makes me a loser, but in my opinion, I was a winner. During that short month (which has a major landmine--Thanksgiving--but I'm sure your family won't mind if you drag a plate back to your lair so you can keep on writing while you ignore the family festivities and hey--if you are supposed to be responsible for cooking the holiday meal, just shriek repeatedly, "I am writing a book! Leave me alone!" They'll understand. And they'll be content with some cold hot dogs straight from the fridge), I made a great deal of progress on my story.
 
And this year I'm back. I'm hoping to finish my novel sometime before January, so I can start to seriously revise it in the spring.  
 
The big surprise is once you begin writing, and once you banish your inner critic to another solar system for the next 30 days, the surrender leads to the story writing itself. Different plot twists rear their heads at surprising spots. You're not in control of the story any more. The story is rolling out in front of you on its own power. You no longer scrutinize every word as you write--"Just get the story down," becomes your mantra. And NaNo helps you develop discipline (if you don't already have an overabundance of the stuff). Writing every day becomes a habit.
 
So be brave. Go to http://nanowrimo.org to get more details. 
 
But most importantly, write...
 
 
 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

GWP Teachers as Writers Group

GWP Writing Marathon Report

The Teachers as Writers group of GWP has held writing marathons exploring various parts of the metro area.  At each event teachers use the time to write and be inspired by the environment.  At the end of the marathon, everyone gathers for lunch and writings are shared on a volunteer basis.  Additionally, all teachers leave the event with a take-away activity they can use in their classes.

On Friday, June 14, a dozen GWP members met at Picasso’s in downtown St. Charles for the spring marathon.  The temperature was in the low 80’s outside, the sky was clear, and there was a general enthusiasm in the air as Angela Muse reviewed the procedures of the activity.  To help inspire creativity, she provided each person with a map of historic Main Street and pointed out a few areas where people could sit and draft. Jeff Church distributed an outline which included times.

Before everyone scattered to write, Kim Gutchewsky shared her takeway: a triolet. She explained that a triolet is an eight-lined poem with one line appearing three times and another one appearing twice.  Her handout broke down how to compose the poem line by line and included three samples.   

For the next two and a half hours, the ideas and environment took center stage as the small crowd broke up so people could explore and write.  At noon, writers regrouped at Winery of the Little Hills to share their writings over lunch.  It’s worth noting more than a few of the participants wrote triolets during the marathon.  I’ve included one of mine at the end of this post.

Caroline Hackemeyer shared a handout outlining how place-based writing aligns with the Common Core. Her handout was a linear flow chart on one side which broke down the steps a teacher can use to facilitate a writing assignment.  On the other side, various components of the Common Core Standards (CCS) were discussed as well as how writing creatively can help prepare students for the performance tasks in the CCS.

Besides their personal writings, full stomachs, the joy of sharing and hearing the works of other teachers, and the classroom activities, everyone received a certificate of attendance to include in their personal portfolios.  As Angela Muse noted, “This is professional development.” 

In the fall, the Teachers as Writers group will have another writing-centered event.  Stay tuned.

Overenthusiastic Tour Guide (a triolet)
A tourist at home showing off
The sights and sounds of her hometown.
She ignores the boredom cough,
A tourist at home showing off.
“Here was So-and-So’s water trough.”
Pleasant smiles slowly turn upside-down.
A tourist at home showing off

The sights and sounds of her hometown.

by Linda Barro
GWP writing marathoner, Kathy Lewis writes by the Missouri River
in Frontier Park in St. Charles

Diane Scollay composes in Frontier Park

Caroline Hackmeyer, explains how creativity fits into the Common Core to the group as
 Kathy Lewis and Donna Nix listen

 Lauren Flecke and Jeff Church look through one of the take-aways from the marathon


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Maggie Klonsky



This I Believe Project

            During Summer Institute one of my colleagues mentioned using NPR’s “This I Believe” pieces in her Language Arts class, so I decided to develop a project using this great resource within my own classroom. The past couple of years, I’ve used this with my eighth-grade students at the end of the school year, as we all know, a challenging time to keep students engaged. But because these projects were of personal importance, they became invested and worked tirelessly through several drafts to complete finished products that they could be proud of and hopefully cherish for a lifetime.
First, I immersed my students in samples from This I Believe II that we annotated and discussed. Since these essays were very different from the more familiar content-area essays, we spent a lot of time discussing the structures, the craft of the authors, and how they were able to weave their themes throughout the pieces. As we looked to these mentor texts, I encouraged the students to start thinking of their own guiding philosophies, beliefs, pet peeves, passions, interests, etc. They also had to decide on the tones of their pieces, humorous, light-hearted, cynical, or serious.
We spent time brainstorming in small groups about potential ideas. Once the students narrowed down their topics, we worked on incorporating autobiographical anecdotes to portray their themes. The students posted the pieces to their blogs and received feedback from their peers on how to strength their writing and they frequently looked back to the published samples for guidance. 
After finalizing the written pieces, the students shared their works to the student body as words of wisdom during our daily school assemblies. This was a great opportunity for the eighth-graders to showcase their work and to serve as leaders to our younger students.
To add richness to these projects, the art teacher and I have collaborated. The first year, the students created dioramas of buildings or spaces in their future communities using their writing pieces as anchors. This past year, the students were given disposable cameras to take self-portraits and other pictures that represented themselves.  Many of them also took pictures of family and friends or important objects. Then, we took the cameras to Laumeier Sculpture Park and the students looked for sculptures or objects in nature that characterized aspects of themselves.



One student knew that she wanted her piece to be about writing being her outlet, so she wanted to reflect this in her self-portrait.

            Once the pictures were developed, the students created collages with their writing pieces in the center. We used large frames with plenty of white space on the edges. This way the students could select from their photos and other mixed-media to create pieces of art.


             Finally, we displayed the final products at their graduation dinner so that the students and the families could celebrate the creativity and uniqueness of the students and their pieces.


Below is a sample from Lauren:

This I Believe
I believe in fairytales.
            When most people are children, they hear magical stories of princesses and wizards and talking animals. We learn about a jolly old man who brings us presents on a cold December night, a fairy who leaves rewards when our teeth fall out and we hide them under our pillows, or a human-size bunny that leaves eggs filled with treats in the spring. And we believe in these stories, because why shouldn’t we? A child wants to believe that there can be more, that there is more. They want to be the knight in shining armor that saves the day. They want to be the regal queen who rules her kingdom fairly. So as a child, we strive for this more.
            But as we grow older, this “more” dies within us. We look back at these stories we read as a child and say, “I believed in that?” Looking back at the tales of magical beings, we call them childish and stupid and not real. Why is that, though? When did we lose touch with what was important to us, what we made every effort for? When Reality set in. As we grew older, we were told to believe what was factual and what could be proven. Who cared what we wanted to believe, it was all about what they wanted us to believe.
            When I was little, I had a strong adoration of mermaids. I loved the idea of just being able to swim and swim and swim and not worry about anything at all. But as I grew older, that idea seemed unrealistic to me. My views changed, and I thought, ‘That’s never going to happen; I was so silly to ever believe that.’ Then my outlooks changed again when I first learned about Eric Ducharme. For a living, he made mermaid tails that people could swim in. He’s said that people always thought what he did was weird because most people thought of mermaids and never mermen. But he said he did it because it was something he loved to do, and he could have fun doing it. He helped me to start thinking, ‘Maybe being a mermaid is possible after all.’ He helped me to get my beliefs back
             Maybe if more people had someone to tell them, “Yes, this can happen! Believe it can happen!” they would still hold on to these visions of magic and love that always works out and a near perfect story. Or maybe just the possibility that their dreams can come true.  Because of society, we’ve been told that the fairytales we heard when we were younger was a bunch of bull. We need to begin to encourage ourselves and others to never stop believing, whatever we want can happen, including our dreams and our goals.
            I believe my letter to Hogwarts was lost in the mail, and that it is on its way. That if I travel to the second star on the right, I will find Peter Pan and Neverland. I believe in princesses and knights and dragons and animals with human characteristics. I believe that anything and everything is possible. And because of these beliefs, I want to push for that more so that I can end up with the fairytale ending God wants for me.
“Every man's life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers.” –Hans Christian Andersen



Monday, May 27, 2013

Sioux Roslawski


  A random autobiography is an autobiography--in free verse form--with tidbits of our lives arranged randomly. I've likened them to a 3-D movie. Events from our lives come flying out at the reader in an unpredictable way. Look out! Duck! There goes another thing zinging at us from our past.
         
          After we talk about what an autobiography is, and what random means, we do some brainstorming. What kind of happenings can we include? The contributions that usually come up are things like:
 
  • a trip to the ER
  • a special holiday
  • the death of a friend/relative
  • a memorable gift
  • having to move
  • losing a pet
  • a incredible vacation
       Below is a kid-friendly random autobiography I recently shared at a writing festival for students in the 3rd-5th grade. I was quick to say that it was still rough, and I was not at all happy with the ending yet (the conclusion is just kind of crammed in there), but the young writers gave me some ideas.  One student noticed that nature is a major theme, so when I'm revising it, I might include that as a "thread."
 
     I suggest, if you haven't already, working on a random autobiography on your own...and then having your students work on one.
 
 
A Random Autobiography
 
When I was 7 or so, I caught a stingray.
We were fishing in Florida, and since it wasn’t a fish,
my dad cut it loose.
(I was furious.
Still am.)
It dangled from my fishing line,
its sleek gray body thrashing as it tried to get away.
Once my father took a pocket knife to the plastic fishing line,
it glided away…out of my life forever.
 
Once, my brother brought us home a puppy.
We already had a dog—Lady—so we had to hide it overnight
in our garage.
We put the little girl pup in a box, with a bunch of blankets.
When our parents heard strange noises,
they discovered our secret.
At first they said, “No more dogs,”
but we begged them to, “Look at its face”
and they fell in love with her.
We named her Jen Jen,
and she was a member of our family
for the next fourteen years.
 
Words on paper have power.
When I was 13,
I got a spot on the school newspaper.
The other kids laughed at my humorous stories.
How exhilarating.
I loved the idea of my writing
making people chuckle.
 
I still get excited over it.
 
I discovered at recess that I was definitely not an athlete.
I think I was ten.
No matter how the kids yelled at me
or how hard I tried,
I could only swing…and miss
(and I missed every time)
when we played baseball.
To this day, the thought of playing ball
makes me sweat.
When I was eight, I got to ride on an elephant.
It happened an hour or so before the circus began,
and my mom and dad paid $20
for me to sit on top of that huge animal.
 
I rocked back and forth,
Like I was on a six-ton rocking chair.
 
still remember how its skin felt.
Wrinkled
and dry,
with wiry hairs
sprouting out here and there.
 
I traveled through the Smoky Mountains
with my family
in our old station wagon
and saw bears come right up to our car window.
I once fell off the high diving board
and broke my arm,
and I’ve hunted for crawdads and snails
in the creek across the street.
 
What I’ve found—so far—is life is great.
When Jen-Jen died, I sobbed for days
but when I saw my byline
(my name!)
on the front page
of our school newspaper,
I squealed with joy.
 
Yes, life is good…

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sioux Roslawski

Slits. You never saw more of his eyes than what the narrow slits revealed. It seemed his eyes mirrored his heart. This student was always wary, and never opened himself up to a teacher. The youngest of three, his older sister and brother had both paved the way for him. None of them were smart. None of them could read. None of them could succeed academically. Or so they thought. From their perspective, the only way any of them could "excel" was as class clowns. Thorns in the sides of their teachers. Each of them engaged--hourly--in disturbing their classrooms. And they were good at it.
           
My student was working on a research project, along with his peers. He had chosen to write about wolves, and was using a deadly-dull nonfiction book to get some factual information for his piece. The book's text plodded along, although there were some great photos.
           
On his piece of notebook paper appeared the line, "A wolf's eyes are like hunks of gold." It was a line I wish I had written.
            
I screamed. I yelled. I swooned. The whole class heard this young man's brilliant image by the time I was done. And for the rest of the school year, I got a grin out of him every time I mentioned what an incredible writer he was. And then, with that little nudge, he was willing to put forth a little more effort for me.
            
Celebrate the small things. The beginning lines. The well-crafted similes. The clever word choices. Cheer your students on as they take baby steps because as they get stronger and more confident, they'll walk all the way across the page...on their own.

Monday, April 22, 2013

We Need Your Help!

We do not have a post this week. If you or a TC you know is willing to share a short piece about what they are doing or thinking concerning writing in education, we would love to share it. Email us at stlgatewaywritingproject@gmail.com to participate.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cindy Pulley


Are You Five Years Out?
by Cindy Pulley

The other day while I “multi-tasked,” the Final Four NCAA Basketball Tournament was airing, and I would look up from time to time to see the score, until an ad for Arrow, a young networking company aired. “Are you five years out? Most people live in the present. You know, the world of now. But a handful of us work in a unique world that doesn't quite exist yet.  My thought was how parallel that is to educators as we hope to prepare our students and ourselves for a future at least five years out.  That caught my attention as the ad promoted the company’s ability to help its various clients across disciplines prepare for a future shaped by technology and how we use it.  For me, personally, five years has changed my life… a lot. And I wouldn’t doubt that the same goes for most everyone else. From one perspective, the period of five years has changed my role in education because of my involvement in Media Literacy. It has helped me in my online and face-to-face classroom settings as I have moved from teacher to facilitator. And as a doctoral student, school program coordinator and health policy specialist, it has introduced me to the use of media education curriculum to engage teachers across disciplines and turn youth and adults into voices for addressing disparities or other issues in their own communities. This field of study is not just the encoding or decoding of words and symbols associated with reading.  It isn’t even the “schoolish” idea of the conventional classrooms, although its principles are easily adapted to experiential learning.  Media literacy is a useful term for giving critical thought and reflection to anything attached to print, image or sound. Versions of its definition have been applied to the public arena in the areas of policy, cultural, parenting, gender studies, pedagogy or from the pen of well-known media analysts like Marshall McLuhan. It is well-known that media technology drives our culture and we are shaped by our use of it, and likewise, that we humans re-shape its purpose and importance in our culture at warp speed.  Its ever increasing inventions dictate the need for the core principles of Media Literacy that blend well into the new Common Core standards and across disciplines regardless of the technology platform used.

Media technology used to change every 30 years.  Now it changes every few months as companies roll out new generations of e-readers, tablets and smart phones to a gadget-hungry public.  Most often that public includes the youth and their families, those whose brains are wired to adapt quickly to new digital conventions. And in terms of how communication media will evolve, there is no real way to predict the exact developments in the next five years.  Historically, changes in technology have often been met with ambivalence.  But we have long moved past the point where educators decried the priority to stay relevant and digitally literate. With new crops of “mobile-me” teachers and with the experienced faculty committed to learning the latest applications, schools at all levels are embracing the very technologies that in the past had subverted teaching and learning routines. Media is now used in such a way that students partake in digital connectivity as part of their newly-tooled classroom experience. Professional development typically includes a lesson on incorporating technology. The field of education is also keeping pace through teacher association sites like the “Digital Is” page of the National Writing Project. This particular blog keeps teachers abreast of how to guide students to create meaningful multi-modal text. They become coaches of student media producers who not only understand how to read the combined texts, but they also know how to use media to apply knowledge from diverse subject matter to solve problems or engage their communities as productive citizens.

Despite these enthusiastic efforts to keep pace, the nature of technological advances continue to ensure there will be lag time between broad consumer use of new technology and education’s eventual…and effective…adoption. Recent history tells us the semi-annual innovations are here to stay, so what might be the answer for coping with change while catching up to the more mobile rhetorical spaces of students and their families? How do we transcend the unearned fanfare of some new digital toy that doesn’t always promote its responsible use? How do we bridge that gap? How do we get students to move past the “alone together” hours they spend or make them savvy to the intent and technique behind the message?  How do we teach them to use the technology and their time to become whole individuals who are collaboratively connected online and off to improve brick and mortar neighborhoods or physical and virtual communities? These questions are important to address. While there is probably no way to fully anticipate what learning and communication will look like in five years, the critical analysis inherent in media literacy’s core principles can help students analyze, adapt and create their own meaningful texts against the backdrop of  their own personal or family values. Most groups promoting the various genres of literacy--family, financial, science and health, and digital--recognize that we have evolved beyond the definition of literacy that a little more than a decade ago merely included the ability to decode or encode meaningful texts. Now literacy, as it is presented in the Common Core Standards, includes decoding multi-media text beyond its physical traits. It requires an understanding of where the content originated, by what means, by whom and for what purpose. In terms of thinking about media applications, one might ask how students of all ages can keep pace with the information and come away with a basic understanding of audience and authorship, representation and reality, and meanings and messages.  Admittedly, media literacy may not be the only method for critical analysis, but certainly it offers a simple and effective means for analysis. Its core principles can guide a media consumer or student on how to frame the layers of information in a multi-modal text against five questions. These following five questions appear in various forms on websites and publications of various media literacy associations, and they can be used in any value system, in any discipline or with any technology:

Who created this message?
What techniques are used to attract my attention?
How might different people understand this message differently
from me?
What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or
omitted from this message?
Why was this message sent?

These questions reinforce the idea that media literacy isn’t just about the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a variety of forms. One must also be able to know the context of the message as well and develop the skills to engage the medium of the message in meaningful ways.

Media literacy may be considered a new field of study, but its origins, the application of analysis to media, dates back nearly 40 years, and its historical underpinnings are linked to principles of classical rhetoric that could be traced to ancient Greece. The philosophical framework for media analysis changes, depending on scholarly presentation. One author, James Potter, said after conducting an analysis of various research regarding the topic said  media literacy is really the convergence of three huge bodies of knowledge: media studies (the industries, content, and effects), human thinking (how people attend to messages and construct meaning), and becoming educated. In the technology-driven society we live in, these bodies intersect in the rhetorical online spaces of students. Their activities of literacy are spent outside classroom contexts as they engage online and mix and re-mix a variety of text, technology, art and sound into new conventions of communication. To the credit of the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Writing Project and the parallel professional associations of other disciplines including STEM and the arts, threads of media literacy core principles are already in place, they are just have different names.  

My purpose in writing this short blog is to ask those who have integrated media literacy (whether they call it that or something else) is to teach some of the core principles in their subject matter, How is that working for you? and do you think it will make a difference five years out? For more information about media literacy’s questions and its core principles, I have included the following links. Many others exist and I invite you to respond and add others you something about.

Gateway Media Literacy Partners-St Louis (Local- Register for the mini conference, Pedagogy to Production, June 7)
Site has some great essays to share with your friends and students.

National Association for Media Literacy Education
Look for the Core Principles of Media Literacy on this site.
Take a trip to LA this summer. National Conference is $365. There are discount offerings and CEUs for K-12 teachers and one-day attendees. 

Media Literacy Clearinghouse
Frank is often the go-to-media literacy expert for the National Council for Teachers of English

Common Sense Media
Great Media Literacy Curriculum Resources

Center for Media Literacy
One of the original Media Literacy sites that contains a lot of the intellectual history of Media Literacy
USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab
              Lab is directed by media innovation expert Henry Jenkins

Monday, April 8, 2013

We Need Your Help!

We do not have a post this week.  If you or a TC you know is willing to share a short piece about what they are doing or thinking concerning writing in education, we would love to share it.  Email us at stlgatewaywritingproject@gmail.com to participate.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kimberly Gutchewsky


For me, one of the biggest mysteries in education is why in so many buildings, The Faculty Lounge is where Joy Goes to Die.  I’ve learned that the last place to take my positive energy is where groups of people, often fantastic educators, hang out.

That being said, I admit I’m kind of geeked about some of the changes the Common Core might bring us.  While new standards can cause quite a lot of anxiety, the folks at the Gateway Writing Project have offered some quality professional development to let me see what the coming changes can do for kids.  In addition to seeing possibilities in a curriculum that uses uniform language across disciplines, I feel energized when I am reminded of how powerful it is to work with other professionals to sift through common goals.

My next steps, how I engage others to join me in my enthusiasm, is tricky.  I have to squash my impulse to announce at lunch, “Hey Everybody! I went to this workshop and it was soooo awesome! Everyone needs to sign up now to learn how to do things even better!”  That would send that workshop to the slaughterhouse.  My faculty isn’t unique, of course.  We are composed by the same percentages that every school faces: a percentage of “Been There Done That” cynics, a handful of Nice-Enough Isolationists, and Pollyanna Cheerleaders who face change with enthusiasm.  I’m sure I do not need to self –identify. 

The implications of this grouping for professional development purposes, though, is what concerns me.  Trying to sell people who do not naturally value PD is a poor use of resources, but to only concentrate on the Cheerleaders rarely creates the momentum needed to effect school-wide change.  One way my district has encouraged growth and collaboration is through professional development cadres.  Much like a professional learning community, this model utilizes a trained lead teacher who then trains others, who then train others, and so on.   Our first use of this model occurred when we focused on raising ACT and other test scores; improving reading instruction was noted as central to that goal, but very few of us in the high school felt competent to teach kids how to read.

That led Joanne Curran, our reading teacher at the time, to apply for a grant that allowed her to be trained in Silver Strong reading best practices.  She was trained to teach others how to use strategies across the curriculum, and she then invited a handful of interested freshman teachers to attend two summer workshops and a handful of release days during the year.   Together we discussed our practices and how we perceived the results.

The model worked.  Mostly because teachers invited to participate in the cadre had something in common:  ninth grade students who could be more successful.  And as our participation was voluntary, we allowed ourselves to feel excited, vulnerable, and at times confused, without apology or enduring eye rolls.  We did not have to wait for our district PD committee to find money for speakers or create a calendar for SMART goal alignment, etc. We owned our process, and as we made our discoveries public, we generated interest in our cadre, allowing our numbers to grow.

As we countdown to the Common Core becoming the real deal, I am hopeful that this cadre model can work for districts. If there are a handful of teachers in a building willing to attend workshops or participate in book study groups, they can carry that energy and interest to a small group of teachers willing to learn and grow together.  Anything you learn about the Common Core as applied to your district’s curriculum and students will inevitably spark attention seekers.

A grass roots approach to something as seemingly intimidating as new national standards will keep the learning curve in our hands and under our watch as we support each other.  Being reminded of Margaret Mead’s famous words, I know that a handful of dedicated people can change the world. Changing the faculty lounge culture, though, is something I’ll have to leave for others.