229. i thought i knew/i don’t want: Elisabeth Hewer

Why do we deny the truth when it is not only staring us in the face, but punching us in the nose over and over and over? When my son was two years old he had a seizure.  After the first doctor visit I was in denial.  For two weeks he was falling down and... Continue Reading →

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228. Introduction to Poetry: Billy Collins

Reactions to Dead Poets Society are mixed.  Some romanticize it--people did when it came out.  I was learning to be a teacher when the movie came out and suddenly everyone wanted to teach kids to rebel and stand on desks.  More recently, I listened to a podcast where the hosts described the film as a... Continue Reading →

220. Good Bones: Maggie Smith

What makes something go viral? It's a good question to ask your students.  If you ask them about "Literature with a capital 'L'" they won't know what you're talking about.  Classics?  Old books?  Books librarians shove in your hand, that have gold seals on them and are not good but good for you?  Personally, I... Continue Reading →

216. Briggsflatts: Basil Bunting

Why, no, that is not a made up name. Remember Dire Straits?  "Walk of Life"?  "Money for Nothing"?  Great band with a lot more going on than those two hits (but they are great songs).  Mark Knopfler, the founder and guitarist of the band, knew Basil Bunting.  The not-yet-frontman was working in a newspaper while... Continue Reading →

215. Fire Safety: Joshua Mehigan

Another poem exploring safety, from our year-long look at Maslow (each stage a unit). Three things to take away: First, how does Mehigan capture an everyday object? Why use such a ubiquitous object as the subject of a poem? After looking at this poem, ask students the next day if they noticed the fire extinguishers... Continue Reading →

214. Grip: Jericho Brown

We are in the midst of a unit called "Safety".  It's part of our Maslow year.   What's interesting about "safety" is that everything connects to it, but nothing does directly.  When we did our first unit, Survival, we read "The Most Dangerous Game" and "To Build a Fire" and kids took notes and it... Continue Reading →

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