Friday, November 22, 2013

Teach with and to the Times

I am sitting in an awesome session by Sarah Gross (@thereadingzone) and The Learning Network editor, Katherine Schulten titled "Ripped from the Headlines." The room is packed. We're nearing the end of our time together. It's been a drive across times and topics touring the paper and how to put it to use in our classrooms. The herd has started to get restless.  At the culminating turn and talk task we are looking at the paper and making connections to what we teach. Four ladies to my left rustle about, get up and walk out. I hear the herd behind me shifting and packing. I want to still them--the wrangler in me sees their movement too early as (mis)behavior that could  endanger the herd.  I want to turn and talk about the paper and what we teach! Two ladies to my right indulge my desire to complete the task and talk, briefly. With a nod they angle themselves away from me and talk to each other about something else. It's nearing the end of the conference day. Brains full. Backs stiff.

I turn back to the paper and lose myself in the headlines, words and images. How could they--these particular two pages-- connect to what I'm teaching right now? I get excited about the 14-year-old gypsy bride and start thinking about child brides and Juliet and what the image says about youth, love and power.

Then I flip to the back of my page to find the "Inside the Times" piece and realize I could use this in a variety of ways. As a teacher, I could use this feature to preview, plan and connect to curriculum. Scanning this list I see "A Diet Fit for a President" (page A16) which I'm going to pull to add to our Are You What You Eat? unit in January; "Putting Robots to Work" would dance well with the Kapek's Rossum's Universal Robots

So many ways I could use and systematize how I use the New York Times in my classroom. I'm thinking about habits. How to cultivate and maintain my own curricular habits and how to build nonfiction reading habits in the teens I serve. 

Now to dig deeper into the paper's features--features  I did not even know about! I've got my eye on the Tupac Topic Page  Katherine demonstrated on the spot in response to a participant's inquiry. Oh the graceful timing delights me. Our school-wide, lunch time book club (Chat and Chew) will read and discuss Tupac's The Rose that Grew from Concrete in April. The Times Topic page will be a good starting place and resource share for teachers.   I'm singing inside--so glad I didn't rush back to the barn! What a perfect session this has been for me.  Energize, refreshed, excited--don't you love NCTE? Now to get lost in the idea world for a bit. Time to head down the rabbit hole!

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