Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What are your top concerns for English Language Learners?

I've gotta say, that my ESL Colleagues in Chatham County are pretty passionate about our work and our students. I crowdsourced them for their top concerns and ideas they believe are keys to student success.

The compilation is below, and out of all the responses, our top 3 areas of focus for solutions are:

  1. teacher training (pre-service), and ongoing meaningful professional development
  2. appropriate, timely, and credible assessments
  3. recognizance that ELLs are intelligent, despite language gaps

What can you add? How can I make this graphic a better representation? What would your top three ideas and areas of focus for solutions be?


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Using Mobile Phones in the Classroom

Read the following article, then respond to the following prompts in the padlet below. "How smart is it to allow students to use mobile phones at school?" 1. Describe the most common ways you use your mobile phones during school. 2. Explain the pros and cons of students using phones during school. 3. Lastly, explain what you wish teachers and adults understood about your use of mobile phones.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thinking More About Success

You know how I am about goals. I always ask you to think about your goals, on a daily basis, and for your future. Along the way, you know you will face obstacles. Instead of putting yourself down, how will you adjust in order to succeed?  What will you value most?  Can obstacles also motivate you?  What do you most want others to appreciate and understand about you and what you are trying to do?

Click on the link below. Then watch the video for inspiration, and see how these people overcame their obstacles in order to succeed. Then write your response using at least 5 of the words in red.

HapYak - The Script - Hall of Fame ft. will.i.am

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rejecting the Single Story

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delightfully entertains listeners in one of my favorite TED talks, ​"The Danger of a Single Story". In it this is what she says: “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”​ And that, of course, is what is dangerous. This collection of poems is a delicious rejection of the single story. Highschool students, many of whom have recently entered the United States, and for whom the English language is not their first, give you a glimpse of their thoughts. I think you'll enjoy them. Please scroll down below the map.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Nepali Karmic Circle of Generosity

It is the year 2072 in Nepal, one week after a devastating earthquake and aftershocks. Nestled among India, China, and Tibet, Nepal abounds with rich dichotomies and unparalleled altitudes. 8 of the 14 highest mountain peaks in the world are found in Nepal (a country barely larger than the state of North Carolina), crowned by Sagarmatha, “Mother of the Earth”, better known as Mt. Everest.


As many of my readers know, it was two years ago that I was able to visit and work with Govinda Panthy and his SAV School, as well as Chan Shrestha at a  Buddhist monastery, and with the Volunteer Society Nepal.


Despite life steeped in tradition, new and forward thinking abounds, and from mythical Yetis to tiger preserves, it is a land of contrasts. It is home to 92 languages and dialects. It is a land where Hinduism and Buddhism coexist, a land where there are “as many Gods as people”--incredible and tangible evidence of spiritual harmony. There are nearly 300 temples, 1200 monasteries, and altars on even the remotest ledges--it is about the puja, the honor with which they thank their Gods for what they have. They are people who are deeply spiritual and culturally proud, and astounding in their awareness.

Govinda Panthy is one Nepalese man whose entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. With 500 species of butterflies in his home country, it’s not surprising that he understands and embraces change so deeply.

His journey began decades ago with a vision. He envisioned a school that would motivate all kinds of learners and he began his work amidst crowds of naysayers. His determination led him to begin teaching in a single room schoolhouse and rebuilding 2 more times. Please read his story in depth here.  
SAV School
Just this year, he has nearly completed his latest school in another village where he feels he can be of even more service--he is a man who never quits. He seeks and finds opportunity in the most unlikely of places, and with the events of this past week, his new school has become a refuge for those in need. His newest school has larger classrooms and each room can hold about 30 students; one more classroom was scheduled to be built in June. The new school year just began in mid-April; his goal is to have more than 80 students this year. Knowing what I do about him, he will find a way to meet that goal, then exceed it, in spite of the latest odds.  


Right now, though, his school has another purpose. A haven and refuge built through generosity and courage, now provides the same for others.  
Govinda's newest school. 
Tripur Kinder Academy
One of the new classrooms--carpet and lots of space!
Govinda’s persistence makes me think of the Greek poem ‘Ithaka’, and about Odysseus’ journey home from Troy.


Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
So you’re old by the time you reach the island,
Wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way.


Govinda’s personal experiences, and those of his family are not yet done. His journey has taken him places he had never imagined, and just like a sherpa, he’s braved challenges that many cannot fathom. But yet, he carries others through sheer optimism, buoyed by the knowledge that helping others is what truly matters.

Although Govinda is Hindu, one of my favorite rituals to witness in Nepal was the spinning of the Buddhist prayer wheels. Generally, the wheels are spun clockwise to mimic the movement of the sun across the sky. As the wheels are spun, prayers are sent out to manifest wisdom and good karma, while destroying the bad karma. After spinning the wheels, if you have any “extra” good karma, please, do as the Tibetan Buddhists do, and dedicate it to others who may need it.

I am trying my first fundraiser--and although it makes me nervous to ask others for money, this is for such an important reason, and for people who will appreciate it. Please visit my GoFundMe site to donate.