Revisiting Banksy (Again): Leveraging Visual Literacy & Documentary to Promote Critical Thinking


As part of working on a publication that comes out later this year, I worked closely with my colleague and friend, Glenn Chance, in his classroom where he trusted me to help him implement work with visual literacy and connecting it to the work he was doing with memoir. Since I currently do not have my own ELA classroom, I truly appreciate Glenn allowing me to invade his planning and class time. There were several goals of this project and unit, but in today’s post I am only going to concentrate on how we developed visual literacy skills for students and how we partnered them with both memoir, author’s purpose, and documentary. Inside the post there is a breakdown of what we did and or reflections on those actions from our planning and class time in hopes what is shared can help you in your classroom or at the very least continue the conversation for the value of the explicit instruction of visual literacy. For anyone attending GCTE this year, we’ll be presenting this information there as well. Continue reading


The Studio Reunion 2.0: Revisiting the Impact of an Immersive PBL Classroom

Happy New Year!

With a new year comes a renewed focus on the blog, beginning with a very special first post of the year. Nearly two years ago I sat down with four students who were part of my very first cohort of students who were in my completely immersive cross-curricular, project-based learning  classroom. Today I share with you a another conversation made up of five other former students who were part of the second cohort of students. Much like the group before, they are in their final years of college, and they are all on the cusp of entering the job market. Continue reading

Remembering My Own Advice: Student Growth Takes Time, Patience, and Care

I have spent some time on this blog this fall lamenting about the state of some of the employability skills of my intern students. At the end of this past week, I received an email that put my concerns in perspective and reminded me that change and growth are directly tied to time. There are times we all find ourselves ignoring our own best advice and understandings of the human nature. I speak often and candidly to teachers early in their careers about how it may take a semester, a year, or years to see the caring work we put into a student to pay off or to show dividends. While it took a long and at times arduous semester, this small part of the email response below reminded me why I believe what I do about students, and why I give the advice I do to other teachers:

“I promise I will! You’ve been so helpful through me having my first job and giving me advice. This program has given me a real look into real life working and I appreciate it!”

To provide some context, this is in response to a final plea from me via email to follow through on a series of assignments and paperwork required for the course. Essentially, this student had been ignoring much of the work and my outreach for nearly two months.

Now certainly, the student’s words speak to the ego I think all teachers have, but what I admire most–or want to believe the most– is how the student speaks to how the program has given the student “a real look into real life working.” That, my friends, is what it is all about.

Preparing Work-Based Students for the Interview & Seeking the Value of LinkedIn


A few weeks ago I met with my work-based learning students to address some of the concerns I shared in two recent posts about their current skill set in concern to communication and professionalism. You can find those original posts here and here. When we met as a class, I did not admonish them or use the time to berate them due to my concerns. I wanted, instead, to have them actively engage in the process of working on those communication and professionalism skills. To help in this endeavor, I enlisted the help of Taylor Rogers, an account executive for Randstad and a former mentee of mine when he was in high school. (Have I really been teaching that long already?!) Taylor, in kind, enlisted the help of friend of his, a financial guru and serial entrepreneur, Alexander Brown–who most recently launched the start-up app Draw My Hunt.  Continue reading

Studio Reunion 2: #PBL Chat w/ Former Students

Adobe Spark (13)

I’m excited to announce that early next week I’ll be posting another conversation with another group of former students who were part of my Studio program–a fully immersive project-based learning (PBL) classroom. You can see last year’s conversation with a few students here.

The students I’ll be meeting with are mostly students who entered the program after our inaugural year (and after we had learned a lot!). They are all in the midst of their college careers and will be able to speak to how a PBL environment in high school shaped (or didn’t shape) their post-secondary experiences. Look for the post to be up Monday afternoon.