Archive for Culture

Some Resources for teaching Critical Literacy

Tamir Rice. 12 years old.

Some Resources for teaching Critical Literacy

November 24, 2014  |  Culture, Teaching  |  34 Comments

…so Mary and I are at it again. We’ve spent the last year lifetime thinking about kids and their reading. One of the things that Mary often says is that our profession spends too much time preparing kids for other English classes and not enough time preparing children to read the beauty and complexity in their own lives. That complexity is delivered by the second — media, friendships, adolescence, family, school, and community all communicate with a gravity that can steamroll children who are not armed with the critical tools to analyze, critique, and to question.

Avoiding hard topics — gender, race, class — has never been an option for us.

This has been especially resonant for me as I watch my young ones wait for a grand jury to charge Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Or as I consider the weight of Akai Gurley on Thursday or Tamir Rice on Sunday. (And that’s just this weekend.) How do I help the students that I serve to process these things on Tuesday?

We’re leading a study group today that looks at the last 18 months in media, specifically Hip hop, and we’ll be practicing how to use it as path to critical reading and thinking.


What you need to know about School Testing in the USA

Is it all about this?

What you need to know about School Testing in the USA

October 16, 2014  |  Culture, Teaching  |  No Comments

So I feel “some kind of way” about standardized testing. (I’ll save that for another post.)

Feelings aside, though, I do believe that access to information is power, and because many of our states use these tests, I wanted to share the latest info from the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessment consortiums. These are the two organizations that write most of the testing for school-aged children in the United States.

What you will see here is standards and sample tests from each of these companies. This represents their latest public thinking as they prepare to assess students in the spring of 2015. (HUGE shout out to Janet and Mary for sharing this with me!)

If you are a teacher, this is another thing that can help you to decide how to use classroom time.

If you are a parent, this can help you to think about the language that your child is probably hearing at school.

— Corn

What I LOVE about Ms. Kass

Kass & Corn throwback wedding photo. Feels like yesterday...

What I LOVE about Ms. Kass

July 25, 2013  |  Culture, Family, Teaching  |  1 Comment

This week Kass and I celebrated another wedding anniversary. We were married during NYC’s Restaurant Week on the day before her birthday. That means 2-for-1 vintage wines, steaks, lobsters and infinite tasting plates EVERY anniversary dinner — for life. (Who knows how to save money like Corn!?!? Living #likeaboss — on a budget.) That also means mega fun multiple day birthday & anniversary celebrations each year.

Young Kass. Young Corn.

Young Kass. Young Corn.

Mostly, though, this gives us a wonderful opportunity each summer to pause and reflect on love. …to think on the work that we came together to do, to celebrate our accomplishments and to recommit ourselves to our shared future as a unit and our collective future as members of this community and this society.

My Pop used to tell me that if you are the smartest person in the room, you need to find a better room. He believes, as I do, that we must constantly be apprenticing ourselves to incredible people. We don’t die when we stop breathing. We die when we stop learning. Being married to Kass feels like that. Like I’m a lifelong apprentice to one of the most incredible people around. Here is not just what I learn from my partner, but how I learn from her — just some of what makes her awesome.

  1. Kass is fearless in her pursuit of fairness. Her advocacy work for kids with disabilities is the most gangster thing I’ve ever seen. As we’ve grown together, her work has intensified. What impresses me the most about this is that she consciously seeks to expand her knowledge of our community and of history. When we moved from Red Hook to Sunset Park, she immersed herself in the culture of the new neighborhood striving to learn as much as she could about Chinese and Mexican cultures. Many of our neighbors and students are from there, and who she has become in service to them is rooted in that learning. I love Kass because she understands that you cannot seek to make an impact on others unless you are boldly willing to be impacted by them.

    Word up.

    Word up.

  2. Kass gets that it is not just about us. She always reminds me that who we are and the the things that we enjoy are not ours alone. She sees that we are connected in intricate ways, not just to the people around us, but to history. Even in celebrating our anniversary, I was reminded that a small milestone like ours was made possible because of the incredible work of others. Notably, the Loving family, whose 1967 Supreme Court Case against the state of Virginia struck down the 1924 Racial Integrity act and made interracial marriage legal in the United States. We can never repay them, so what we owe them, we pay forward to the the LGBT community by continuing to work toward marriage equity. I love Kass because she understands our privilege. In that, she gets that no one is free if we are not all free. She is a fierce ally.
  3. Kass laughs (at me) a lot. As I’ve sought to learn with her and to be a good partner to her. I have made a lot of mistakes. I burn the rice. I don’t eat the vegetables (ever). I forget don’t want to clean the cat litter. I don’t wait outside the dressing room when I’m supposed to wait outside the dressing room. She has helped me to see that the world does not end when I fail, and together we’ve constructed some powerful lessons (and some incredible jokes) upon those failures. She is flexible and forgiving in her belief that one cannot know success without first knowing failure. I love Kass because she embodies the saying that “if you fall two times, get up three times.”

Clearly, I’m a lucky dude.