Finding Joy in Our Work

This blog is being re-posted from the blog – Jane Trkay, a Teacher Consultant in the North Star of Texas Writing Project, is quoted in this blog. Joyful Practice! It’s All in the Details Posted on April 27, 2015 | Leave a comment

In a human system, most of us follow a short set of “simple rules” that set conditions for the patterns we want to see across the whole system. These rules may be explicit or unspoken; they emerge from the system and work for everyone in the system over time (unlike “norms” that we might decide to follow for a particular event or in a particular context). In Radical Rules for Schools, we suggest some examples of these “rules” that seem to set conditions for authentic inquiry where everyone is learning. One of those rules is this:  Engage in joyful practice!

Recently, we asked colleagues to tell us how they sustain joy in their work–even in the face of oppressive mandates and urgent student needs. Jane Trkay, Lewisville, Texas, a Teacher Consultant in the North Star of Texas Writing Project and teacher of students who are learning English, writes that her joy is in the details–not . . . → Read More: Finding Joy in Our Work

Recent Posts from TC’s

Here are a few recent posts from Teacher Consultants for North Star of Texas Writing Project. Enjoy!

Craft Study for a Monday: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, again by Amy Rasmussen

Best Questions for Writing Conferences by Jennifer Isgsitt

On the Fly by Whitney Kelley

Last week I taught with no voice. Why? by Amber Counts

Using Science Content Appropriate Reader Response Strategies to Measure Student Growth

This is re-posted from the Literacy in Learning Exchange – Write for Texas — South Texas and the Valley group February 12, 2015 – 12:13pm | sarahunderbrink

In my last blog post I examined how science teachers can use levelled texts from NewsELA in their science classes to support content development and build that reading rigor necessary not only for life but for passing those all-important standardizes tests. A commenter questioned how a teacher would measure the gains student make using these techniques. Very important piece, thank you!

As science teachers our ultimate goal is always student’s engagement and understanding of our content. So while measuring their improvement as readers and writers is, of course, a worthy aim, always we must measure this progress within the lens of content area growth. So go ahead and google teaching science reading, or measuring science reading, or even science reading strategies. I’ll save you some time – there’s not too much. Narrow it down further and look for help for secondary students. Yeah, that’s actually a tumbleweed that just blew by. Bet you didn’t know Google had those. General reading strategies just simply don’t work when applied as advertised to secondary content . . . → Read More: Using Science Content Appropriate Reader Response Strategies to Measure Student Growth

Bringing in Creative Writing into a Reading Classroom

This is re-posted from the Literacy in Learning Exchange – Write for Texas — South Texas and the Valley group March 3, 2015 – 4:51pm | thotchkiss

When I started this exploration of writing five years ago I was at a loss. Writing to me was a full process of first draft, revising and editing, and final draft. In my 7th grade reading class that lasted 45 minutes with not enough resources to send books home, there was not a lot of time for the full writing process. However, since my district has Language Arts split into English and reading classes, I was torn. I knew we needed to write to allow the students to see the connection between the two, but I was already fighting a battle trying to meet all the requirements I needed to.

Each year I tell my students who say “I don’t EVER read” that they do all the time! They read emails, articles, billboards, sports stats, text messages, Facebook posts, Instragram comments, and so many other things. I then realized, that we can write all the time like this too. Writing does not have to be so formal and can often times be a . . . → Read More: Bringing in Creative Writing into a Reading Classroom

What our TC’s are blogging about!

Here are a few recent blogs from our TC’s. Keep it up!

Aim Higher™: A Case for Choice Reading and a Whole Lot More in AP English by Amy Rasmussen

Found Poetry – A Letter from the Birmingham Jail by Whitney Kelley

The following posts are in the Literacy in Learning Exchange. We have several TC’s who are blogging in the Write for Texas — South Texas and the Valley group. To join this organization, go to There are some great resources there.

Bringing in Creative Writing into a Reading Classroom by Taylor Hotchkiss

Using Science Content Appropriate Reader Response Strategies to Measure Student Growth by Sarah Underbrink

Constructivist Theory or Sociocultural Theory by Kyle Thompson


Recent posts by our NSTWP TC’s

Check out recent blog posts by some of our NSTWP TC’s. They are amazing!

On the Possibility of the Perfect Learning Environment by Kelly Mogk

Teach Like an Artist: Focus by Jennifer Isgitt

Illegal Poetry by Heather Cato

TCTELA 2015 by Cynthia Alaniz

Embedding Poetry in Core Literacy Instruction by Amy Rasmussen (with Heather Cato)


TC’s Blogging about Teaching and Learning

Check out some recent blog posts by NSTWP TC’s:

Poetry in AP Lang by Amy Rasmussen

What is Disciplinary Literacy anyway? by Marla Robertson

Infographics – Alternative to Traditional Essays by Kyle Thompson

Inquiry: Questions and Learning Quests by Leslie Patterson

Spelling Practice by Mrs. Kerbs

Vanishing Borders: Project Immigration

It’s a busy month at New Tech High @ Coppell for Mrs. Boyd and myself. The Rookies are investigating the question: How could immigration reform affect “us”? 

They started by viewing the two films The Other Side of Immigration and They Come to America. After viewing these two perspectives, learners participated in a Harkness Discussion to address the driving question.

Further research included reading various immigration poems for push/pull factors, issues surrounding immigration, and the immigrant experience. Learners also read and shared findings of various articles and created Found Poems using these texts.

KQED’s DO NOW is focusing on immigration this week so learners responded to articles and other postings from people around the country. 

This all culminates in learner-produced short films. Selected films will be chosen to represent NTH@C in the Thirteenth Annual Media that Matters Film Festival.

Overall, not a bad way to spend April!!! Can’t wait for them to finish their . . . → Read More: Vanishing Borders: Project Immigration

Civic Engagement Insights from the Harry Potter Alliance | NWP Digital Is


From fandom to activism.

From story to “cultural acupuncture”.

The Harry Potter Alliance is propelled by the passion of individuals to unite and create movements for social justice. It is Connected Learning.

Connected Learning Infographic | Connected Learning


A goal… a transformation… a need.