Sunday, March 8, 2015

Best day ever!!

On March 7, I went with our school librarian and another teacher with 9 students to the North Texas Teen Book Festival #nttbf15. 

It was the BEST DAY EVER! We don't have to mention that it was on a Saturday or on the first day of our Spring Break.  We don't have to mention that there would be no compensation for this day.  We don't have to mention that food options were scarce (one tiny, tiny cafe on site and NO walking options). We don't have to mention that it was roughly a 9 hour day.  It was the BEST DAY EVER!

There were over 50 authors of middle grade and young adult books. There were something like 3000 participants, mostly kids. There were kids running and screaming.  But, they were the best behaved kids I've ever encountered. They were so happy and so excited.  It was a very geeky, fan-girl day for me.  Kids came away with books, posters, t-shirts, buttons, and more. They got to get stuff signed by authors, pictures with authors, and to talk with authors.  

I could not have asked for a better way to start my Spring Break.  It's been a long time since I had an entire day of no-stress fun. I enjoyed every bit of the day. I enjoyed time away from the school with my peers and students.  I was really enjoying life. 

Thank you to all of the organizers, vendors, volunteers, staff, etc. It was the best day ever.

Next year, I want to take my mom, my daughter, and my niece and nephew. I can't wait for next year. It'll be the best day ever! #nttbfest

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pushing students out of their comfort zone

I've had students blogging about their books of choice for several years now. It's SO much better than telling me in some way, creating some product for a class report, or even standing in front of the class.  None of those strategies brought about real discussions about books. Blogging does. Adults and kids all over the world blog about books. They put up reviews and recommendations, and that is real for my students.

This semester, I am pushing them. I've asked them to find an article about ANYTHING that relates back to something they've learned in one of their classes this year. I want them to know that math is relevant in the real world. Science is relevant; history is relevant; all electives are relevant. I want them to see that adults are writing about those topics, and my students rose to the occasion.

I've also asked them to find an article about social issues. A few people warned me off the assignment - it could go south.  But, my students rose to the occasion. We also talk about how to disagree and how to have conversations that still respect others.  Even when students had opposing opinions about hot topics, they were respectful.  I'm proud of them.  We will take some of those issues and have them go further with research and calls to action in the next few weeks.

Lastly, I asked them to be creative in a post. I wanted it to relate to anything about this 8th grade year for them, but they could create poems, songs, raps, and word clouds. They've talked about lunch, stress, procrastination, and what high school will be like.   They rose to the occasion.

They got to talk and share with each other in different ways, and it was great.  The best part is that we'll do it all again in this next six weeks. In future years, this will be my new blogging norm.