In My Brain // Presidents' Day Weekend

I'm spending the weekend catching up on grading, planning ahead for the ridiculous number of projects I've somehow said yes to, and running in the cold air and sunshine. 
Here are some of my distractions from the Internet:

PEAK READING/SHINE THEORY CIRCLE // Kate Petty's Fish Jokes (read now) --> featured in Ann Friedman's newsletter --> blasted by me on Twitter --> used as a testimonial the following week
(Sidebar: This week's Call Your Girlfriend is terrific.)

THIS OLDIE // Last week my 12th grade film studies students began The Graduate. I always love seeing how this film still resonates with kids today. And even though I've seen it over a dozen times, I'm always catching new things and learning more from fresh eyes. This year I can't get over how tight the writing is. The image above is from here: Here's To You, Mr. Nichols: The Making of The Graduate

THESE FUNKY EARRINGS // On sale and coming soon to my face

REALITY TV FOR LITERARY FOLKS: a good laugh, plus the embarrassing realization that you'd catch me watching these

THE FEMALE PRICE OF MALE PLEASURE // I keep rolling this piece around in my mind

DESIGN MATTERS // turns out that "one of the world's first podcasts" is new to me, and so happy I found it!

Seems like everyone hates this holiday except for me.

Which is why I shamelessly illustrated my likeness and dropped a handmade Valentine into each mailbox in the staff room.

(Not one to shy away from commitment, I am wearing the exact outfit pictured in this card today.)

And if I'd had more time, I would've busted out the sewing machine, like I used to do back in the day (because paper happens to be my favorite thing to sew). And then dropped dozens off at the post office and sent them all over the planet to all the folks I love and miss.

I'm cynical about a lot of things. Valentine's Day isn't one of them.

Which isn't to ignore its problematic consumerism and obnoxious and harmful emotional messaging.

I'm just choosing to celebrate things that matter to me always: friendships and feelings and handmade things and pleasant mailbox surprises.

So -- happy fake holiday to you. Hope it's full of things that matter to you always.

Our Philadelphia, Our America

When I read Claudia Rankine's Citizen last year, I immediately wondered what my students would have to say about it.

In her writing, Rankine captures her experiences and observations of race in America. The lyric poem explores what Rankine calls her "self self" and her "historical self." It's a moving account, from the microagressions to the national outcries, and students had a lot to say about this text.

Earlier in the year, my colleague, Josh Block, and I wondered about how to engage students in the current world around them. The culminating project that we came up with was Our Philadelphia, Our America. In both of our classes, we asked all of the 12th graders these essential questions:
  • How can we respond to this moment in time?
  • What new narratives can we construct in order to re-imagine future possibilities?
  • What does it mean to be a citizen?
  • What does it mean to be a young person in Philadelphia?

Here is the full project description.

Students grappled in a variety of ways with ideas of citizenship and identity. The structure of this project gave space for students' voices while pushing them to create their best work to share with a wider audience.

It was an important reminder:
Sometimes the best thing we can do for student learning is to get out of the way.

There are too many great Field Notes to share, but here is a sampling of some stand-outs:

This is a tiny selection of awesome student work, but you can see many more Field Notes on our evolving website.

At EduCon last weekend, Josh and I led a session called Citizenship and Radical Hope, where we invited several students to share their work on this project with conference attendees.

My favorite part of the entire weekend was hearing students read aloud snippets of their writing. Their voices sounded different. There was a fire behind the words that I didn't hear from other class assignments.

Something to ask myself more often, perhaps: what's my role in tending that fire?