Diversifying Your ELA Curriculum in 2022

By Sharon Kunde

In addition to resting and recharging, the weeks leading up to the New Year are a perfect time for reflecting on our practices as educators. This year, I encourage ELA teachers to consider the diversity of the authors and works represented in their syllabi. Teachers who seek greater diversity when planning an English Language Arts syllabus may face a number of hurdles, including lack of time in an already jam-packed curriculum, difficulty in choosing between an abundance of options, or a lack of knowledge of what options there may be. Below, I explore a list of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth century poems by African American authors that can easily be included in existing secondary classroom syllabi, or that could form the backbone of a more involved unit-long or semester-long course of study.

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Schools survived the worst of the pandemic, but will they survive the aftermath?

By David Nurenberg

Across the nation, students and teachers are back in classrooms for the 2021-22 school year. Remote instruction is largely a thing of the past, and the pandemic, while hardly over, has become a familiar, normative part of daily life. With teachers and all but the youngest of students eligible for vaccination, COVID-19 has, for many schools, become more of an inconvenience than an object of dread. But teachers are reporting higher rates of burnout, experiencing less job satisfaction, and resigning in greater numbers now than during the worst times of last year. Studies by the Rand Corporation, the National Education Association, the Brookings Institute and others show record teacher shortages that are only predicted to rise. The Rand report concludes that teachers are “more likely to report experiencing frequent job-related stress and symptoms of depression than the general population.” Why, when things are looking up, are somewhere between a quarter to a third of all teachers looking to leave?

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Online Opportunities: The Continuing Benefits of Remote Instruction

By Stephanie L. Moore

This week, K-12Talk presents an excerpt from Stephanie L. Moore’s new book, SEL at Distance: Supporting Students Online.

A note from the author:

In SEL at a Distance, one idea I share for how we can frame thinking about how to use learning technologies to support SEL is “affordances.” When making decisions about technologies and designing online learning environments, it is important to think about what learning opportunities different technologies afford (or do not afford). The following excerpt provides several examples around common questions I hear, reframing the question of which technologies are “better” into instructional considerations in online learning. One of the paramount considerations at this uncertain time, as most teachers and students have returned to school buildings even as new variants of COVID emerge, is how to leverage the tools teachers have at hand to center their pedagogy around students’ needs.

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Shifting from Instructor-Centered to Student-Centered Pedagogies:

Online (and blended) learning afford you the ability to shift your pedagogical practices so that you spend less of your live or in-person time with your learners as the content delivery vehicle and more time focused on feedback, support, and interaction. We often rely on ourselves to be the primary information delivery channel, by way of lectures. Unfortunately, in the rush to move online during the spring of 2020, many schools tried to replicate live lectures, not realizing this took the least advantage of the online learning environment. Lectures are something you can readily record and let learners watch on their own time. This could be a lecture you provide or an available video you find online and want your students to watch. Rather than taking up precious together-time with learners for this, have them watch it on their own then show up ready to engage in active learning with you. This makes much better use of anytime, anywhere content delivery that the internet is good for and reserves live time (whether in a class or online) with your students for meaningful interactions.

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Celebrating Our 2021 NCTE Virtual Convention Authors

Today on K-12Talk, we’re celebrating our authors who presented sessions at NCTE 2021! We invite you to take advantage of the generous Convention discount on professional resources for English teachers—by these authors and others—from Norton Books in Education.  You can access these discounts atWWNorton.com/NCTE2021

Featured authors:

  • Renee Hobbs, author of Mind Over Media
  • Antero Garcia, author of Everyday Advocacy
  • Alex Venet, author of Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education
  • Troy Hicks, co-author of Creating Confident Writers
  • Andy Schoenborn, co-author of Creating Confident Writers

Wishing you all a restful holiday break, filled with feasting on both food and books.  

How to Partner With Your Local Library

By Jonna Kuskey

Our high school, like many across the nation, has eliminated its library. To fill this void, our English department has worked intensely over the past several years to obtain books for our classroom libraries by applying for grants, writing numerous Donors Choose projects, asking teachers and friends to donate books, and scouring the bookshelves of secondhand stores. Still, we have a fraction of the books that our old school library housed, so we put our heads together to brainstorm solutions to this problem. We realized we were ignoring the most obvious solution, one that was free, easy, and right under our noses: our local public library.

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Grateful to Be Teaching In Person

By Ariel Sacks

Some people thought the pandemic would propel us into a new era of online learning, replacing many teachers with computer programs. But for me, it’s pretty clear that my students need community and connection, and virtual learning simply did not facilitate these two needs. I continue to believe that being together in the same space with their teachers and classmates positively impacts all aspects of students’ learning and socialization. I am so happy to be back with my students in person every day—after a year and a half of teaching middle school ELA remotely—and my students are thrilled, too.

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16 Books for National Native American Heritage Month

By Kasey Short

November is National Native American Heritage Month, and as the month approaches I am considering how literature has the power to broaden my students’ understanding and appreciation of Native cultures and traditions. Whether your students delve into fiction written by Indigenous authors or discover nonfictional accounts of Native history and figures, all students’ learning can be enriched by exposure to Native American cultures. The books below represent a range of Indigenous experiences and include short story anthologies, poetry, novels, picture books, and nonfiction. As an 8th grade teacher, I am always looking for middle grade and young adult books to recommend to my students, but I have included books across the K-12 range. My 8th grade students enjoy having picture books read aloud to them and those I have listed below are not only suitable for elementary classrooms but also offer opportunities for deeper conversations with older students. I also include at the article’s end some free online resources that provide further insight, information, and suggestions for effectively engaging students with National Native American Heritage Month.

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Three Lessons I’ll Carry Forward from Virtual Instruction

By Kathryn Nieves Licwinko

As soon as someone finds out I’m an educator, they immediately want to dig into my feelings about teaching from behind a screen. In fact, virtual learning seems to dominate most of my conversations about education. Even after I returned to in-person instruction, discussions shifted toward wondering if (or when) we would return to remote instruction again. As I and my colleagues teach amid uncertainty of what the rest of the school year holds, I continue to consider the lessons I learned from teaching online. I not only think about which virtual teaching methods were successful and what I would do differently if my school were to return to online learning; I also consider how I can apply the lessons I learned from virtual instruction to my traditional, in-person classroom. 

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How to Sustain Hybrid Learning Models

By Kyleen Gray

Over the past year and a half, nearly every school on the planet has upended its format of delivering education. Some have stayed in classrooms with significant physical distancing restrictions, while others have completely left the physical classroom in favor of full distance learning. Many more have found a (somewhat) happy medium in hybrid learning, with some students learning in the classroom environment while others learn from home, either due to illness or a desire to stay safe in a physically distanced environment.

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