Tuesday, October 8, 2013


at Two Writing Teachers!
This fall, something has been different in my classroom.  Yes, the room is completely mine this year, and I gave it a massive makeover.  Sure, I have some new students mixed in with some of my students from last year.  Certainly, I'm more confident in my teaching and more comfortable in the building this year.  But there's something else...

Something buzzing.  Something humming.  Sparks.  Magic.  DELIGHT.

It started with the postcards.  (By the way, today I got a letter in my school mailbox from a would-have-been incoming freshman who ended up withdrawing before school ever started. I never even met her, but she loved the postcard so much that she wrote me at school to say that she's sorry she can't be in my class!)

Then I carefully cultivated our writing community, and the StoryBox helped it blossom.

In the midst of pre-assessments, meetings, and plans, myriad little moments with students sparkled with joy and reminded me that, while I'm exhausted, it's worth it.

Last week, the sparks came together into a bright shower of fireworks as we began the Global Read-Aloud.  This is the first time I've read a novel aloud, and I just love the experience of talking and thinking through a story together, day after day.  I love the incredible discussions that Sharon Draper's Out of My Mind is generating.

I love wondering and predicting and finding more information together.  I love noticing great words and phrases as we read.  I love composing tweets as a class as we connect to the larger shared experience of the GRA.

Most of all, I love how students walk into my classroom already chattering about the story.
 "Could you believe how mean Dr. Hugely was? What a jerk!"
"There's a girl kind of like Melody in my math class!"
"I can't believe how people treat Melody just because her body doesn't work right!"

I love that before the bell rings at the beginning of class, they grab their notebooks & vocabulary sheets and scurry to the open area on the floor... whether or not the whiteboard actually says read-aloud is first!  (And I love that they whine if it's not!)

I love that when someone has been absent, I don't have to ask students to fill her in... because they're already re-capping what happened!  "D, you missed the funniest part yesterday!  Melody's mom went crazy!"

Last Thursday, I hadn't planned to read aloud because students buddy-read an article about cerebral palsy that another class had tweeted out.  I wanted to reserve the rest of class for writing our StoryBox pieces.  However, after reading and discussing the article with their partners, my 6th period students started begging to still read aloud!  

"I was so excited to come to class today to read this book," one student whined. 
"Me too!  I couldn't wait to come to this class!" another interjected.

"Don't you want to keep working on your writing for the StoryBox?"  Ever since we started the StoryBox Project, they've been begging to write every day, so I couldn't believe they wanted to skip writing to read together, especially when they just spent the first part of class reading an article!  However, the begging and whining was pretty priceless, so I put it up for a vote.  Every single hand went up in favor of reading more of the story together!  Their eyes twinkled as they looked around the room and looked at me.  How could I deny such DELIGHT for learning?

"Ok, let's go back to Melody's world... we'll write tomorrow!"  As I grinned and mentally began re-arranging the next few days of lesson plans, they scampered across the room to fight over the pillows, claim the rolly chairs, and situate themselves on the floor.  

The icing on the cake?  Three Korean doctoral students were observing my class for the first time that day.  For several of them, it was their very first time seeing an American high school class.  They thought I was magic!  I think the magic was mostly Sharon Draper... but I also know something special is brewing in my classroom!  


  1. It sounds like delightful magic to me too! Have fun!

  2. I am 100% sure that the Korean students were right in their thinking that you are magic! Just look at all the things that you have already done this year! I did not hear about the GRA in time, maybe next year.....

  3. Such an inspiration you are, Jennifer. I'm really happy that someone was watching, like those Korean students. You are spreading the DELIGHT! Thank you!

  4. Sounds beautiful! I want to be in your class!

  5. Every time you write about the happenings in your class your DELIGHT comes through loud and clear. Isn't it great the power of a book? This is a special year.

  6. Jennifer,
    You, by far, are the one of the best educators that I know. Passion, Energy, Enthusiasm, Delight and most importantly LOVE makes the difference in your classroom. Passion and persistence and an unrelenting focus on learning and love makes the sparks. I should know-- I was your very first pupil. :) Love, Mommy PS: I am so proud.

  7. There is a delicious energy brewing in your room. I love it when students are so into a book that they would rather read than do anything else. Have you read My Name is Mina ( And I Love the Night)? It may be a great next book for you and your readers.

  8. I love reading about deilght in learning. Too often we hear about the joy being zapped from students' learning. There's so much "delicious energy" (as Robin said) in your classroom. Looking forward to hearing about what else happens this year in your classroom!


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