Showing posts from 2021

Remembering bell hooks: She signed my books but wouldn't let me take her coat

Earlier this month, we lost the physical presence of a great intellectual, bell hooks.  I had two memorable encounters with this amazing woman. The first happened while working at UMass Boston. The second was at Goucher College. Prior to teaching, I worked in public relations at several organizations. These positions afforded me opportunities to meet and listen to some phenomenal thinkers, scholars and entertainers. At UMass Boston in 1998, hooks had visited the university to discuss Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. I covered the event for the University Reporter, the campus newspaper.  The article was titled "bell hooks Addresses Packed Faculty Club." In the piece, I mentioned that the venue was so packed, guests had to sit on the floor. Clearly someone had underestimated the popularity and reach of bell hooks. University Reporter - Vol. 02, No. 08 - April 1998 I can't honestly say that I remember much about the event. But I recall being impressed with so much about bell

Look it up! Paper Dictionaries Offer Perks

I recently wrote an article titled " How to Teach World Language Vocabulary with Flashcards: The “Old-School” Strategy Still Works ." The post prompted me to think about how I approach vocabulary learning in my own home and what I can do to help build my own children's vocabulary. Back in the Day When I was a kid, the dictionary sucked me in -- kind of like the way video reels on social media hook our children today. We always had a good dictionary in the house. And by "good" I mean a huge, unabridged beast of a book that was too doggone heavy to carry around. It rarely moved from its place on the cluttered family desk that we all shared but where nobody ever seemed to actually sit. My siblings and I also kept smaller, student-style dictionaries in our bedrooms.  I would frequently approach the dictionary to find a word or two while doing homework or reading for pleasure. I'd often look up and realize that I had spent the equivalent of a sitcom engrossed in

5 Ways to Help Your Child the Night Before the SAT

My 11th grader recently took the SAT for a second time. Her older sister, a college sophomore, took the test four times in high school. As a frequent proctor for the Saturday-morning exam, I view the SAT with an unusual, trifold perspective: as the mother of test-takers with very different learning styles; as a teacher interested in seeing students perform well; and as a proctor hoping to provide a comfortable testing environment for nervous teenagers who are often stressed out about the test. Getting your high schooler ready for the SAT can easily feel overwhelming for a parent. Many of us haven’t engaged with algebra in decades. And for some of us, the SAT is a not-so-fond memory. In addition, as this NerdyTeacherMom can attest, even when you know a thing or two about grammar, test-taking or academics, chances are your teenagers won’t want to listen to your advice. I’m here to tell you that you are NOT helpless when it comes to preparing your child for the SAT! I tell my daughters fr

Lessons don't always go as planned, especially when your kids are the students

My 17-year-old and I recently traveled to Raleigh, N.C., for a soccer tournament. The event was a college showcase and welcomed high-school girls and college coaches from all around the country. Many of the participants arrived by plane or drove hours and hours. While our 300-mile trek paled in comparison to that of many others, the trip was a big deal to me. I did not love the idea of missing school, but I looked forward to bonding and exploring with my daughter on a journey to a new place. For many teachers, the thought of taking time off is dreadful. First, there are the “sub plans.” Creating lesson plans for substitute teachers is time-consuming. As a Spanish teacher, I try to leave plans for substitutes that require little knowledge of the language, while still creating activities that will feel meaningful and help students improve their knowledge of the language and its associated cultures. This is no easy feat!  Once the sub plans are created, it’s time to cross your fingers and