7 Ways to Strengthen Democracy Through Language Arts

This political season has me thinking about the importance of teaching democratic skills to children. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it with the kind of¬†starry-eyed civic hope that maybe only elementary school teachers can summon. It’s the kind of hope a person gets when they are in position to do something about something thatContinue reading “7 Ways to Strengthen Democracy Through Language Arts”

Look and You’ll See: Observation as Writing and Social Practice

We began this year by doing observational writing. I took my classes to different places — a community garden, a meadow — and had them write down things they noticed. I asked them to only write down things they had observed, not their own opinions, and we talked about the difference. I see a greenContinue reading “Look and You’ll See: Observation as Writing and Social Practice”

Why Is English Spelling So Weird?

English spelling is undeniably chaotic. There is an exception to pretty much every rule.¬†However, while it doesn’t follow orderly rules, English spelling does have patterns. I think that learning a little background about how English spelling came to be is both fascinating and helpful.* There are about 44 phonemes (distinct sounds) in English, depending onContinue reading “Why Is English Spelling So Weird?”

Dada in Our Hearts: teaching French Surrealism and Dadaism to children

Last week, I introduced the class to French Surrealist poetry and Dadaism. This sounds very highbrow, but actually this poetry is right up the kids’ alley. Why? Because it’s totally nuts. Basically, these poets were responding to the insanity of World War One by deifying nonsense. But lots of it is very lively, wondrous nonsense.Continue reading “Dada in Our Hearts: teaching French Surrealism and Dadaism to children”