I was in my head all of last week. As always, it was quite dark in there. Interestingly enough, what brought me out was an exercise in introspection suggested to me by the priest at my new church. It turns out, I’m clearly an enthusiast. I really do want nothing more than to be content. When I find something that makes me feel happy, I become enraptured by it. I become so deeply enthusiastic that I get things done! Unfortunately,

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This will be my third and last post as a Teach For America corps member going through institute. As you may know from the previous two posts, it’s been far from a walk in the park. As one corps member that will be teaching in Kansas City put it, “YOTO – you only Tulsa once.” But I’m joyously laughing out loud as I write this.

Last week Wednesday marked the beginning of a revolution in my reading class. My co-teacher and I stopped “taking turns” teaching and became a real team. We started jumping in and out of the lead teacher role. We stopped giving our scholars long worksheets that years of being “behind” in school have taught them to fear and fail. We turned assessments into games. Like moms who do weird things like add ground vegetables to brownie mixes, we started hiding rigorous writing exercises in between fun kinetic activities, like crumpling pieces of paper and throwing them to the front of the classroom (“snowball answers”). Our class average hasn’t been below 72% since.

And today…today was the best! Our kids, some of which read a grade or two above their 4th grade level, and most of which read one or two levels below that, completed a writing activity that falls at the two top levels of Bloom’s pyramid of intellectual behavior!!

The objective was to have the scholars find out if Sophie, a character from Roald Dahl’s The BFG, had changed throughout the story.  In order to do this they were to ask and answer questions about the character. This may sound foreign to you as an advanced adult reader. I know, because before this summer I rarely, if ever, thought about how I managed to understand what I read, but this is one of the ways I do it. Think about it sometime and you’ll see you do too.

So anyway…these Scholars did it! They wrote questions to ask Sophie that would allow them to decide whether she had changed throughout the story. This is cool because in order to write appropriate questions the students needed to understand, truly, how the character had changed, and what her answer to the questions would be. Does that sound exciting to you?! It does to me!!! I’m not getting blank stares anymore. These little people are with it!! Here are some of my favorite assignments turned in today. Hope you enjoy as much I did.

Sophie are you scared? yes or no - I love this because she's really imagining she's talking to Sophie and expecting an answer.


Sophie, iva you scared in the ear? - This little girl wrote only in Spanish or not at all the first week of school. Now she feels confident writing and will code-switch for the sake of completing an assignment.

By my most advanced lady.

My most advanced gentleman.

My most improved gentleman. - I love this!!! This student wouldn't even pick up a pencil 4 weeks ago, because he was so sure he would fail. His goal was to improve his independent reading skills by 3 points, he increased by 5. Most of the words on this paper he sounded out and spelled himself.

I will be forever proud of the work my co-teachers and I have done this summer. I hope these children will also be forever proud of the work they’ve done this summer.


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