I started this blog in 2015, mostly because I found serious discourse about students, teaching, learning, and curriculum in the school in which I served at the time left a great deal to be desired. In the first three years I maintained this site, in other words up to July of 2018, I published 1,000 posts. Since last July, I have published 1,000 more. I’m not sure how I did it, but here we are.
What I do know is this: when I feel dissatisfied with the professional environment in which I am working, I tend to use these pages as an outlet for my professional curiosity and, yes, I suppose, ambition. If I am to be honest, I also turn to this blog, as I once did to personal journals, when I am anxious.
Last November, I made the grievous mistake of accepting the position of “literacy interventionist” (I don’t speak or read bureaucratese; if I did, that position title would have been a dead giveaway for what came next) in an utter disaster of a school, the High School of Commerce, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Starting from my first day of work, when the principal who hired me was absent, and had left no word with her subordinates–or anyone, really–that I would arrive, I have been both professionally dissatisfied and anxious: the former because this school is a place where professionalism and engagement are pretty much subordinated to mindless personal ambition; the latter because I am concerned, as I have been similarly concerned in the past when working in troubled schools led by less than competent principals who can destroy a teacher’s career with their own incompetence, that I had inadvertently put my career at risk.
So, you can see why I produced 1,000 posts this year. I am in the last part of my working life, and at this point I just want to work in a school whose administration and faculty doesn’t see children as abstractions, as data points on a graph, to advance their own careers. I became a teacher to help kids, not play power games and office politics.
In any case, here we are at Blog Post 2000. I have a number of documents to post, all from the first third of my career, when I was just figuring out how to assess students’ abilities and design instruction that challenged them, but didn’t frustrate them.
So, for starters, here is a learning support on the kinds of questions that drive research projects.
Next, here is a learning support on writing notecards for research papers. I don’t know if teachers still require students to keep analog note-cards in the real world, but the social studies teacher with whom I taught sophomore global studies in Manhattan at the beginning of this (2018-2019) school year still–to his credit–required them. Whatever you do in your classroom, perhaps this structured note-card blank will help students learn and master this task essential to the craft of research.
This sample outline learning support and this style sheet on using structured outlining blanks, you will notice, are basically the same material. The style sheet accompanies these structured outlining blanks.
Finally, here is a document I call the research paper in miniature. I use this document to show students, in essence, what a research paper is, why the authors of these kinds of papers must cite sources, and even ask them to infer the argument (i.e. the origins of rock and roll are in the blues and other African musical forms) from the paragraph they read. As I write this, I realize that I have a lesson plan to rationalize the research paper in miniature, so I’ll post that as a Weekly Text sometime over the summer when I have a chance to revise it.
That’s it. I emptied out the folder for Blog Post 2000. Now to start working on my next thousand posts.