Tag Archives: classroom tips

The Purge – Catalogue


The Purge – Catalogue

Tucked away in the SkoolHaze back alleys are about 15 drafted reviews for the books I read this summer. I was on a reading binge from July to September. Initially it started as a #Read40ADay challenge. I was doing pretty well, reading on average about 70 pages a day until maybe… early August. My mind and eyes got tired and…. the world started to slow down. I was still able to get through quite a few books, many of which expanded my thinking and gave my brain great distress. For example, Paul Robeson’s Here I Stand and W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folks were extremely tedious and difficult to get through. Not only did I have to translate their formal language into something I could comprehend, but I also had to try to put myself in their time. The Souls of Black Folks was written in the early 1900’s and I felt the need to put myself in Dubois’ world in order to truly understand his story. This is sort of how Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children felt when I tried to read it before having taught a day in school. I picked it back up right after finishing my first year and it felt like Ms. Delpit was speaking to my soul. Other books like Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow forced me to analyze every word of every sentence that described the evolution of our criminal justice system. It became a sad soap opera that I couldn’t put down, and recommend everyone read.

Thankfully I’ve used a lot of what I consumed in my teaching practice and grad school papers. One day I may actually finalize the reviews and post them for your all. Until then check the list out below.

What are you readin?


Recommended Books – I highly recommend these books. These are all titles that I ended up creating my own table of contents as I knew I would be returning back to the book years later for sources and tips.


The Mis-Education of the Negro – Foundational Text for anyone educating black children or people. If you haven’t read this book and you teach African American students you should really take a second to see what Elder Woodson has to say. Its probably the most profound things I’ve heard about education theory for Black students, and it was written over a century ago.

The New Jim Crow – Great read for anyone who’s work or life is impacted by the criminal justice system. Compelling argument that highlights how the criminal justice system for over 200 years has worked to create poverty and a caste system in minority communities.

Trying to Get There – Great story about fighting for your own success in a market that isn’t used to your culture. I just loved being able to get a piece of Roderick’s story. And have actually taken to wearing bowties at work because of him.

Eleven Rings The master coach. I admit the sexy cover sold me! Phil replays his youth as a basketball player and how it helped turn him into one of the most successful coaches in history. It was great seeing him make teams from players of individuals. I’m still hopeful I can use some of his tribe influenced techniques in my classes.

Other People’s Children – Amazing read that puts cultural communication differences into perspective. I would say read this if you have at least taught 1 year in a school setting. It made so much more sense once I was able to recall my own work-related situations where communication just simply wasn’t the same between my students and coworkers.

A Handbook for Teachers – Fan of Baruti Kafele’s work. He actually came and spoke at one of the conferences my old job put together. Motivational book that gives the reader so implementable tips for working with Black students.


Good Reads – Outside of The Narrative, these books are all a bit more specialized. I recommend them if you’re looking for specific tips and strategies in the areas listed.

Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males Great book that highlights some strategies on working with Black male readers. As a Sped teacher its been a bit more difficult to implement these in an ICT setting. But I do feel like this book gave me a better perspective to assess my student’s literacy skills.

The Black Man’s Guide to Graduates School I read this after I had already finished my 1st year of Grad School. Shout out to co-author Corey Guyton who got his Ph. D. from my alma mater Indiana State University. Great read if you’re thinking about going to grad school but not sure where to start. Book offers multiple perspectives from 6 different guys who all had different journeys to meet their success.

Narrative of Frederick Douglas I read this in high school, but didn’t quite remember it. Great perspective builder for anyone who needs a refresher of Black/American history – how far we’ve come – and how far we still need to go.

Motivating Black Males to Achieve Another book from Baruti Kafele. I’m in the middle of reading this now. I love that he approaches this work form a surplus perspective. It shows in his writing and its refreshing reading about Black youth from that perspective.

Unlabel Motivation Maker. I’ve been reading this book for a while. It talks about Mark Ecko’s rise to fame with Ecko clothing, Complex Magazine and all his other business ventures. I love this book because every time I read it I end up putting it down to go work on SkoolHaze. Definitely worth the money.

Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys Perhaps one of Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu’s founding works. Dr. Kunjufu is a voice for the Black Male scholar to speak about his own condition in society. The book was written in the 80’s and reflects some of popular black opinion from that time. But overall a great read for anyone wanting a deeper look at issues that may be affecting Black male success.



General Collection – These books didn’t give me groundbreaking new information, but they were interesting reads.

DreamKeepers – So, at one point we were asked to read a book that I didn’t agree with in our grad classes. The title of the book related to scare tactics that I just couldn’t stand behind in class. I went to the professor and she offered to incorporate an additional text for me and others. This is that text. I like DreamKeepers it kind of touches on the teaching and communication differences between White teachers and teachers of color.

Coming of Age: Rites of Passage I would recommend this for people who have been through a Rites of Passage program themselves. The book gave me a language to use in describing and thinking about the pro’s and con’s of the process. I don’t know if it will be helpful to anyone without an intimate knowledge already though.

To Be Popular or Smart – Easy read. To be honest I can’t remember much from the book.

Motivating and Preparing Black Youth Easy read. To be honest I can’t remember much from the book.

Teaching Matters Great book written by two education scholars from my alma mater Indiana State University. They talked about how educators owe it to their profession to be and bring passion to their work.

The Warrior Method This is a book I just started. It gives basic information about raising strong Black boys. The title is what caught me the most. But I haven’t read enough of the book to really speak about it.

The Alchemist A book I’ve always wanted to read about reaching your personal legend, and creating doors where there were no doors before.

Angry Little Men Oddly enough I didn’t have a problem with this title even though its similarly framed from a deficit standpoint. I don’t remember much about this book, but in the margins I wrote “This book answers how African American children (boys) can have a high academic self-concept even if they don’t perform well academically.”

Empire State of Mind Anecdotal review of Jay’Z’s rise to fame and stardom. The authors interviews people close to Jay-Z and uses old newspaper articles to piece the story together. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re looking for more first hand information on Jay-z.

Juggling Elephants One of the first books I read two or 3 years ago that began my library. It was the beginning of me figuring out how to effectively use my time to get what I want.

Fraternity I’ve been eyeing this book forever. It’s the story of the group of Black men that were recruited to attend Holy Cross University on scholarship. The class was part of an integration push by the school officials. Some members of the cohort include Clarence Thomas, Theodore Wells a successful defense attorney, and Edward P. Jones a Pulitzer Prize winner. I started reading this book, but haven’t been pulled in by the story yet so I put it down. I plan to return one day.

Prince Among Slaves Last but not least a book about a former African Prince sold into slavery here in the states. I loved learning about Ibrahima’s story. I haven’t finished the book yet but its historical facts mixed with anecdote.



Click here to view other posts from The Purge

Post Springbreak Update Soup

Somehow its been almost a year since the fellowship officially began. Here is a much needed Update Soup for you guys. 


Spring Break was March 23 – April 2. Of course the break didn’t seem long enough, but it gave me the much needed rest I needed to help me get through the rest of the school year. Each day is still a struggle. Getting through the day is cool – I mean once you walk through the front doors you have to drop whatever barriers/doubts you have in your head because its countdown to first period. And trust me there are plenty of those days.

My biggest battle right now is with sleep. I’ve mentioned a few times here that my body has been training me for over 15 years to go through life with as little sleep as possible. Well its finally caught up with me. Its been really tough waking up each morning. Not because I don’t want to face the day – its more like my body has just been passing out and resists any urge to wake up. I feel like I dont even know what my alarm clock sounds like anymore. I never hear it in the morning. In the past two weeks I’ve been late to school (which is a huge no-no.) School starts at 8:20. I woke up at like…. 8:15, and hopped on the train at 8:30. I snuck into the school around 9, and of course it was the day when there were some major behavior issues that my co-teacher had to address alone. Just Thursday I woke up at 8:05, luckily I put a shirt on, jumped in a cab, and made it to school by 8:18. I paid $40 to go to a Brooklyn Nets game with my co-workers the other day. I think it was the last game of the regular season. I went home to take a quick cat-nap, and woke up in the 3rd quarter. SHITTY! Most recently some of my friends from YouthBuild came through my school to run a College workshop. They did an AMAZING job, and my students have been talking about them ever since. Afterwards we were supposed to meet up in Time Square at Dallas BBQ’s. Again, I went home for a quick nap – and I eventually woke up 2 hours after we were supposed to meet. Shitty again!

I saw one of the fellows mention in our Facebook group that she was dropping balls left and right, and that’s really the best way to describe how I feel right now. I try, try, try to stay on top of everything, but life right now is just a mess. I’m able to get through most of the teaching, and grad school parts of my life by just making it work. But I’m far behind when it comes to taking care of all of the Special Education and IEP paper work.

We’re in the final trimester, which we call Cycle. This Cycle I’m teaching Math, English, 3 Reading Intervention classes, Math Intensive (which is basically like a Math Intervention). This is my first time teaching math since we had to teach summer school for the fellowship. Initially I was a bit nervous about learning a new content area. I haven’t done serious math since high school – where I went from honors math to general math because I refused to do math homework every night. However, It’s honestly been a beneficial experience. I see many of my Just Words students in my math classes. It’s crazy seeing that students who may have deficient skills in reading/writing/English, can excel and actually enjoy the challenge of math and vice versa. As a teacher its also been interesting witnessing how students behave differently with different teachers, peers, and subject areas.  Students who may be wild/uninhibited in one situation can be relaxed and focused in another. I’ve tried to use this to my advantage. Basically channeling their focus and restraint from one content area over to the next. Again, its all about challenging them on their leadership.

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 8.18.40 PM

Here’s a quick glance at my teaching schedule this cycle

I’ve started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone in my Just Words class. The Just Words curriculum is beyond dry right now, and the students needed a different challenge. We do A LOT more one-on-one reading check ins now than we’ve ever done before. Pretty much everyday I’m grabbing about 2-4 students to read with me individually. It’s proved useful to get a sense of where my students’ reading confidence and abilities are. I use the time to build deeper relationships with my students, highlight their strengths/growth areas with their reading, and encourage them to read at home. I’ve also used the Harry Potter text as a read-a-loud text for the entire classroom. Many of the students are shy/nervous/self conscious about reading out loud. Right now my Just Words classes have 12 – 15 students. When we’re reading out loud generally only 3-4 of them volunteer to read. I’m working on getting more of them to jump in. One strategy I’ll try to use is pre-selecting paragraphs I want the less comfortable students to read. I’ll let them know as they walk through the door about their section. This way they can practice/review their sections a few times before they’re called. Hopefully this works, but I’m sure it will take more prodding than just this. 

I feel like I’m developing into a stronger teacher. The art of teaching is a lot more natural now. I mean pretty much I come with a plan, tell the students the plan, initiate the plan, deal with inevitable student pushback, then push them to comply – or trick them into complying. It sounds robotic, but I call it calculated. Teaching, is really a game to get students to do what they didn’t want to do ten seconds prior. This looks different in the classroom everyday, and actually student-to-student. But the end goal is to get them to try something new/challenging so that they can learn. Some respond to a simple look into their eyes and a raised eyebrow, some respond to positive reinforcement, some respond to a reminder of classroom expectations, others respond to deeper private conversations – with a quick reminder of those conversations in class.

I haven’t met with my mentor all Cycle. You guys have heard about the lack of contact for a while… I’ve gotten used to it now. Not just with my teaching mentor, but I guess I’m just used to having to figure out situations for myself in general. It still sucks that I feel like I have to push myself with this work though. It’s partly why I “overachieve” or at least try to. LoL, like I said earlier though I’m dropping balls everywhere so I’m not quite the overachiever people think I am.

I still have no idea what I’m going to do about the LGBT group my students asked me to lead. Perhaps I should start with the Principal/Administrative team and see what they think. Actually that’s what I’ll do. When stuck, always ask/alert the powers that be. That’s what non profit life taught me. They should be able to help us figure something out what a next step should be.

I took about 3 weeks off from working out. March 31 was the last time I was in the gym before this week. If history has taught me anything life falls apart when I’m not in the gym. I’ve just found my way back this week. My goal is to go 3 times a week. Saturday and Sunday are pretty much a given. My schedule has been to go to LIU’s Library from noon – 6 when it closes on weekends. From there I head to Planet Fitness, followed by Barnes and Nobles or Starbucks. Around 10 o’clock I head off to catch a movie at the theater next to Barnes and Nobles. It’s usually my weekend treat to myself. I’ve seen Evil Dead (thumbs up) and Oblivion (so-so) in the past couple of weeks. Today on my agenda is 42.

Even with all of this I’m still enjoying my time here in NYC. Every day is still a new opportunity to grow. And unfortunately growth isn’t easy. One of these days I need to take some time to evaluate my goals and how I’m moving in correlation to them. Moving to NYC quickly put many of my goals within reach. I don’t think my vision for myself has kept up with the progress I’ve made. Anywho, I’m not sure how to end today. I just wanted to give a quick update about some of the things that take up space in my brain. Stay tuned and stay positive, and don’t forget to share Skool Haze with a friend.

Reading Comprehension Workshop Notes

On Wednesday I attended a reading comprehension workshop at my grad school. Luckily I had my iPad with me. I went along and ferociously typed notes as the presenter enlightened the crowd of tutors about the ins and outs of why so many students have difficulties with their reading. I figured it was an important time for me to start learning more about what my students challenges were. It was a really amazing 90 minutes. i walked away feeling as though I learned so much. I actually ran into the guy who runs a few educational programs for the university which was cool. We exchanged info and I also found out he was greek too. A Sigma to be exact. He was a former History teacher turned College Career Counselor. I gave him my card. Told him about my efforts to help other young men of color understand some of the ins and outs of teaching in this type of environment, and grabbed his card in return. I’ve sent him an email thanking him again for welcoming me to the workshop, restated my goals I talked about the night before, and let him know that I have a college tour scheduled next week. And that it would be cool to introduce him to my students when they were on campus if he had time.

I’ve attached the notes in pdf form. Enjoy: Reading Comprehension Workshop notes.examples

I also want to add that something I plan to do with my students is simplify the Casual factors for weakness in reading comprehension, and ask my students which area(s) they feel strong in, and which areas they feel are growth areas. It would help immensely if I knew what they thought their strengths and weaknesses were. It would help me go in with a more catered game plan as well a higher rate of buy in form my students. If I rememberI’ll share whatever I come up with.

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Lesson Plans: Usain Bolt Invention Project

Interestingly enough I think today was one of my better lessons. It was very free. Extremely free even. I knew what we were going to do – I would opened with some quick videos of Usain Bolt!

Wednesday I showed the kids this –


And they had the nerve to not understand why lil homie in the back was so excited for that moment in his life right there. Imagine if Usain Bolt gave you dap before he won the 200m Olympic Gold medal in London. That’s a once in a lifetime experience right there. They needed to be schooled!

So, For today’s lesson I opened with a few video clips I found during 1st period’s English class on Vimeo. I had of course forgotten to find clips on youtube these movie links:

Usain running the 200 Final in London Olympics – http://vimeo.com/47280401

Usain doing a quick documentary of his 100 meter gold medal run – http://vimeo.com/46634479

I also reviewed this picture and compared Usain’s speed to the animals shown here.


Interesting Media clip of the day: After watching the videos the kids were in awe of Usain and seeing him in action against some of the world’s best athletes. I walked us through the previous 5 world record holders and through all of the animals. By this time I had honestly forgotten that I was supposed to tie this into the first slide. Luckily, when I shifted back to the powerpoint we returned to the slide with the gif file. Then, the kids were able to see why the young man was so excited to share that moment. Usain Bolt gave him dap before one of his big races infront of thousands of people. That’s really freaking dope!! LoL.

Launch: Finally after realizing and admitting I had wasted far more time than I thought I moved on to our launch:

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 1.23.49 PMJW Invention Launch

What goals do you want to accomplish before you graduate high school? What do you think will be the first step you need to take to make this happen?

After what was scheduled for 5 minutes drifted into 6/7 minutes of writing or so I asked them to share out. 2 of the 6 students volunteered which was cool. I never forced them to share if they didn’t want to. But I always created the space for those who did want to share for the day.

Project: At this point I directed the students back into their Invention Projects. They complain constantly about not wanting to do the boring work in the class. So, I decided to let them create an invention that they could use to do their classwork for them. The invention could be anything they wanted as long as they tied its features to the tips and strategies we’ve learned in the class. For example: closed syllables, open syllables, tapping, marking, ect… In reflection, I was wayyyy to lax on pushing them on linking their invention to an actual skill we’ve learned. And next time I plan to use an example to show them the kind of features/evidence I expect them to create. But overall they were really engaged and I was able to individually check in with each of them to set them on a path to decent projects.

The students were responsible for creating an (a) illustration of their invention along with a description of the inventions features (b) a narrative/commercial explaining and introducing their invention to an audience and justifying why we should purchase it. (c) a student on self/teacher on student grading rubric for the project (d) a marking/syllable worksheet that they would use to show their invention worked. Which was really just a ways of me saying….Yup. I’m still making you do worksheets, too. LoL

Intro Invention Slide Illustration Slide Narrative SlideGrading Rubric

This entire assignment is inspired by a project from last semester’s TAL 855 class that I currently have an incomplete in… Yes I’m that far behind, and no I’m not really sure why that’s my current crisis I’m trying to figure the fuck out right now. I got chewed out by one of my professors on Monday. It was deserved… but it still felt like crap. She letting me turn in my reflection assignment that I had no idea I was so late on until 2 weeks ago go figure. As I’ve stated many times grad school is a wreck right now. And I’m still probably under-exaggerating how bad it really is.

Halfway through my lesson my principal comes in with two guests. I can’t remember if they walk in and walk out. Or if they walk in and sit down unexpectedly. But at some point I realize they had probably listened to me ramble for 90 seconds and had actually sat down to stay for a bit… and had no idea what the hell I was talking about. So instinctively I grab a set of worksheets for the two visitors and my mentor to explain what the lesson was about. I didn’t realize it until later on, but I literally jumped in and treated these people like students in my classroom. I gave them the quick 30 second explanation and directions, asked them if they understood, got an affirmative and even gave them both 2 starbursts each, like I had given all of my students without missing a single beat.

(Quick Sidenote – I actually normally only give my students healthy snacks. Earlier in the year a student laughed that I was giving them starbursts/candy in class because I was essentially treating them like babies and fattening them up on candy every single day for giving simple answers and participation. From that point on, lets call it October/November, I’ve been only giving fruits, almonds, and granola bars to students every few now and then when I decide to bring them snacks. I’ve even brought cups for them to go get water before. This was the frist time I decided to go with candy, and it was because the students really had been participating a lot recently and truly deserved a treat for once. Students love dry almonds from Trader Joes in the individual packs and Spanish crackers from the bodega across the street. Food can really calm a brooding classroom of children.)

Anyways I dont know what message that sent… But here I am a young black guy. Teaching this class in an aloofly-organized way. So caught up in the act of teaching my brown and black students and mentor in my classroom that I automatically engaged other visitors into the learning that’s trying to take place. We acknowledged these two white professional visitors as guests, we wanted them to be a part of our experience as well. They eventually left after probably 3 minutes max. One of the students alerted me that they didn’t even take their starbursts. I looked over, first noticing their absence, then realizing that they hadn’t taken the handouts I had given them either. I halfway hated seeing that… I mean you stepped into my classroom to see something… you should really take the worksheet I give you with you so you can continue to process even after you’ve left. Especially if I take my time to pull you into what we’re doing also! Anyways… the students swiftly asked to get the starbursts they left behind and I obliged… LoL



Somewhere within the last 20 minutes I did a few marking examples on the board for the students who needed a little practice while doing their projects. Interestingly enough my two female students who almost went to serious blows 2 weeks ago in class were the only two interested in my mini lesson. It was so crazy how well they communicated about the work with each other in a friendly way just weeks after I literally had to pick one of the girls up and carry her down the stairs in order to diffuse what was almost a sure fire nasty fight in the 2nd floor stairwell. I ended up carrying one of the girls away from the fight to diffuse the situation. And now these girls are best buddies in class… That’s the craziness teacher deal with every minute of everyday.

I got them to come up to the board and construct their own marked up examples from memory and with no pushback. One of the girls even gave detailed explanation about vowel marking as the other young lady openly listened and processed.

I supplied the class with colored pencils, markers, gel ink pens, construction paper, glue, scissors, and story cubes to help them express their creativity in whatever way they could. At the end of the day I went to my mentor’s room to debrief. She expressed that she enjoyed the class, and almost felt sad to leave. She especially liked how I had one of the girls so involved in the lesson. She noted that the same young girl was very insecure about her English abilities during the first marking period. She plans to spruce up her notes and send them my way within the next few days. perhaps I’ll post them for you guys too.

Lesson powerpoint – JW Invention Lesson Ppt

There was an additional worksheet that I copied out of the students Just Words Workbooks.

Insomnia Thursdays: Yes, I’m up right now…

This might seem OD, but yes I’m up right now. Its 3AM, the Friday back from christmas vacation. School started back Wednesday, January 2, 2013. I’m already back to being knee deep in activity. Productivity definitely isn’t the right word to use here.

Either way, I’m figuring it out. I just thought of a few games I want to try in Just Words and Rewards, my two reading intervention classes. I’ve been trying to think of ways to get the students to understand that they can help each other learn how to correctly decode and read. I’ve had them do writing activities to test out their ability to metacognate (to think about what they’re thinking about) on what they’re doing while spelling. I think having them think about their thinking in their heads was confusing them. So instead I’m going to try to have them say what they’re doing as a part of the game in order to get points. I’m hoping that the competition of the game will help peak their interest. While the rule to audibly tell the class how you’re translating the sounds into written letters while spelling will help those students that still have gaps in their knowledge. This way they can discreetly fill in those gaps while still participating in the game.

My frat brother and I are having what I intend to make an important meeting tomorrow after work. I want us to start a business together. So I’m trying to prepare a few speaking points to make sure I cover all of my important ideas. We have a solid business energy between the two of us, and I want to make sure we capitalize on this as much as possible while we can and while we’re energized to make moves.

The grades were due today for the first grading period in second trimester. I’ve gotten pretty good at calculating grades. I’m lucky though, my intervention classes have a fraction of the benchmark (grading categories) that the other traditional classes like Math and English have.

I finally finished an IEP that was about 2 months late tonight. Along with an email to my principal, special ed coordinator, and special ed coach thanking them for their patience. As well as the lessons I learned about being more aggressive in seeking teacher feedback, and continuing to view my IEP’s as priorities just as I do my daily lesson plans.


I’m reading an AMAZING book that has already impacted my teaching practice and I haven’t even had it for a week yet. Keeping Black Boys Out of Special Education by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu. Literally a work of educational art in my opinion. I’ll be done with the book in a day or two and then I’m off to read either The Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Getting the Right Work Done by the Harvard Business Review Press or The Envy of the World: On Being a Black Man in America by Ellis Cose. I’ve decided to focus on reading again. For some reason reading makes me feel high on knowledge which in turn makes me feel energized to knock out work even when I’m too tired like right n…

Stay tuned for a review of Dr. Kunjufu’s book by the way. It really has changed the scope I’ve used to view this work in a huge way in less than 7 days. It’s humbling to read another Black man’s words about what can, should, and will work to help influence change in our young black boys out there. Even if his ideas are wrong, which I highly doubt, I truly just appreciate being able to read this man’s ideas to allow them to contribute to my educational tool belt so it’s called. I plan to reach out to him via email to learn more about what he feels we educators can do to help train our young boys to grow into positive men.

This is the year to take it to the next level! I’m speaking it into existence, and pushing myself from behind to make it my reality.

*Edit – I know what you were thinking…. where were the book order links… that’s why I added them for you 😉 Yikes, I should really start proofreading as well, LoL

Presentation lessons learned from Super Tuesday news coverage

My roommate and I sat down on November 6 like everyone else and watched the coverage of the election results on CNN. Halfway through I jokingly told him to turn it to MSNBC so we could see how much better they were covering the results. There was a drastic difference between the way the two stations utilized graphics and visuals to convey the election results. The teacher in me instantly noticed the difference and actually tried to identify why one was more effective than the other.

I was mesmerized at how the CNN graphics caught my attention and got me to understand the information within seconds of seeing it. They used vibrant colors that caught and held my eye. John King was able to expand his images and go into details to help us understand exactly why specific states were voting a certain way (county results). I also noticed that CNN used the bulk of the screen to showcase their results. Their presentation was dynamic. I couldn’t not pay attention even though I tried a couple of times. I’ve included pictures and a video of the results.

MSNBC on the other hand used dull colors. They seemed to use only half of the space available to them to convey information to the viewer. Their images and visuals were unappealing to my eye. I found myself looking at the screen for several seconds, and still not coming away from this with any information about the election.

Teaching is big on Smartboard presentations and powerpoints these days. I’m planning to use CNN to as a model for how I make my presentations in the future. What do you think about the CNN vs. MSNBC graphic usage?

Also – thanks to the amazing and talented Alicia for reading my blog. And yes, I miss and think about my Boston and YouthBuild family everyday.

Sketching my way through school!

The other day I went on a 10 minute tirade in my Just Words class discussing the beauty of Art, and how everything we do in life is in fact, Art. In the previous class my students groaned in unison when I asked them to make a drawing for some of the key words we were learning. As a result I brought in the notebook I used for my summer grad school classes. Over the course of the summer I made quite a few sketches in class to help me pay attention to the discussion going on. I figured this would be a perfect way for me to share a bit of myself, and teach them something outside of literacy.

In my head – building my students’ confidence in their art is a sure-fire way to help them grow into confident learners, explorers, and thinkers. Its also a tool I want them to use to deliberately hieghten their ability to focus in important settings. Oddly enough, I remember the idea of doodling coming up quite a few times at my old job. The idea that there were studies produced that supported the fact that doodling during meetings helped people retain more information eventually helped me become better at recalling details in our team meetings. Plus it was just a fun way to express what I had going on in my head at the time.

Here are a few of the sketches I’ve snapped pictures of. I hope to add more this semester, so stay tuned. Oh, and I’ve actually been trying to encourage many of my students to continue to doodle during class, as long as they can prove to me that they’re able to pay attention while doing it. I try to use it as an in to learn more about them and engage them in something they clearly like doing.