Day One Hundred Forty-Four

Today started with APUSGOV. I collected papers on civil rights policy-making (I asked them to argue for a policy change that would advance the cause of civil rights, so I got papers about prison reform, mandatory minimums, paid maternity leave, additional protections for transgendered people, etc… all very well written), went over the FRQ quiz they’d done last class, gave out some AP exam study materials, and let them have the rest of class to work on Policy Projects.

I admit that not a ton of work got done. Students were absent (it’s a group project), it’s the day before spring break, the looming exams are making us all a bit silly… But it’s all right. They did enough, and they’ll pick it up after break. 

I taught the same lesson in World as I did yesterday (the one good thing about the snow day on Monday is that it allowed us to end this week on the second day of our schedule rotation), and it went well. I didn’t have as many questions as yesterday, so the discussion wasn’t as rich initially- and I figured that would happen because these are my quieter two classes, and, again, it’s the day before break. In my Block 3, at least, though, the questions all came in the last ten minutes of class; I wrapped up the lesson, and hands went up, so… awesome. 

I spent my lunch supervising Mrs. T’s class so she could go to a meeting. A bunch of my activist students spent their lunches writing letters to Congress about gun violence- and encouraging others to do so- because it’s the anniversary of Columbine. They opted for that instead of another walk out, and I support their efforts.

Kids are gonna change the world. 

And now? Spring break!


8th grader, on Mr. Van Daan: How can he smoke if they can’t go outside?
[in which I explain that indoor smoking hasn’t been banned that long and isn’t banned everywhere. . . I can’t believe they didn’t know that]


::8th graders discussing how if they were Mrs. Van Daan (in Anne Frank) they’d cheat with Mr. Frank in the bathroom::
8th grader, who often reads the role of Mr. Van Daan: Oh, no. If that was happening I’d need my cigarettes. The devil is a liar.


8th grader: Miss, can you be born with dreads?

Day One Hundred Forty-Three

So I went from being hot mess to teaching ninja in a 24-hour span. Like, yesterday I felt like I could hardly make words come out of my mouth in a coherent order, but today I was on fire. 


What’s hilarious is that I was mostly winging it.

Last class, my World students examined different things (a Powerpoint, a National Geographic documentary, and two readings) in order to learn how decades of destruction have impacted Afghanistan. I knew I wanted them to use that information to talk about the current war, but I didn’t decide exactly what I was going to do until about ten minutes before my first class started. 

First, I had students get in small groups to compare their findings on their assignments. Then, as a class, we discussed the living conditions in Afghanistan at the start of the US invasion, and the US efforts to improve those conditions as part of counterinsurgency. I fielded some great questions about why the results of those efforts have been so mixed. I told Laura’s story, too, as I do every year because it highlights how fragile the situation is. and by the time we finished chatting, students really understood why the country’s instability is prolonging the conflict- and how hard it is to make an unstable place stable again. 

We also discussed ways in which the situation in Afghanistan is a destabilizing force in Pakistan. I showed a quick news report about the Pakistani Taliban, and my sharp-eyed students observed a significant difference in development in the western regions where the Taliban have entrenched themselves and the eastern regions they often target. There are massive and unfortunate inequities, and when my students asked why, I told them that would be our next lesson. 

Stay tuned till after spring break, kids… 

It was a GOOD class both blocks. I’m so pleased.

And I’m pleased that my candidate visit went smoothly during Block 5! Remember I was worried no one would show up because I had to reschedule it after the snow day? Most of my APUSGOV students were able to make it, and they brought friends, so we had a full room. And they had a lot to say, so it was brilliant! One thing I love is that a sophomore who was in World last year was bitten by the political bug this year, so she joins this room full of seniors engaging in complex, political conversations with the candidates, and she gets right in the middle of them, too. It’s so cool to watch. 

Eighty minutes of Q&A later, the afternoon bell rang; they may have kept going if it hadn’t. The candidate was so complimentary of the students- as he should be, they’re amazing- and so glad he’d gotten to talk to them because they give him hope for the future. I said that’s what’s so great about seeing them every day. It’s good for the soul.

When administration makes a suggestion that wi…



8th grader, listening to a cd playing “Oh Hanukkah”: Ooooh yes. I could do the Cha Cha Slide to this. They should put this on the radio.

[We read the Hanukkah scene in Anne Frank today]

Day One Hundred Forty-Two

Student A: Why are Pope names so boring? 
Student B: They’re saint names and stuff. 
Student A: If I was Pope, I’d choose a name that stands out. Like Glamorous. Pope Glamorous I. 

I have no idea why my APUSGOV students were discussing Pope names, but that’s what I walked in on before the morning bell. It was good to have something to laugh at because otherwise I was just a hot mess this morning. 

Seriously, I don’t even know what was wrong with me, but I could not get it together. I burned my fingers, I tripped on the stairs, I put my car in reverse instead of drive when I headed to work (Luckily, I didn’t hit anything!)… And then, in APUSGOV, I just felt so scattered. My students took an FRQ quiz and I assigned a project, and it was all fine, but I couldn’t shake that feeling.

World was a lot better. I was clearer with the instructions for the Afghanistan assignments than I was yesterday; I took up less time, and fine-tuned how I explained the objectives of the work. So that’s good.

I spent my prep time doing scholarship recs because tis the season. Unfortunately, it’s not yet the season for warm weather, so it was another cold day on the track. My sprinters said they, too, were all discombobulated today- nice to know I wasn’t the only one- and blamed the weather. But we made the best of it. We always do!

When one student does the work in a group proj…

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