Spread the Word to End the Word…

We opened my Literacy in Middle Grades methods class today to wonderful viewing of Hope College mission to Spread the Word to End the Word “retard,” a descriptor casually attributed to those who have mental handicaps and struggles. Sadly, the “R” word is used often without thinking by otherwise tolerant and upstanding folks. Please view this amazing video made by our Hope College students and featuring many in Hope’s Ready for Life program. Below the video link I have linked to the national website for Spread the Word….so, do all that you can to spread this important word–to ban the “r” word from both casual and intentional conversation. it’s ugly. It’s so far from the truths. It hurts. (Thank you Mikayla and Hannah!!)


The national website link




Great current events (free) resource…

Read closely…Think critically..Be worldly...this is the message from an unlimited access new site–Newsela— that posts nonfiction current events articles that you can download for short text reading comprehension. Articles are even connected to standards. It’s worth taking a look!!


Quickwrite strategy

…to get writing juices flowing in class

Materials: Student writer’s notebooks; Happy Campers :0)

Quick: One sentence about yourself you think is true of everyone in this room

Quick: One sentence about yourself you strongly suspect is true for only you

QuickRead ReadAround: Around the room students read their first Quickwrite; around the room again, students read their second. (Following rules of ReadAround–just read, no response comments)



Hashtag summaries

When teaching my preservice teachers methods of making quality use of benign textbooks (when they must use them)..I give them a chapter from a middle school History textbook. Benign because…dense text, voiceless, boring….I ask them to read it as groups and then summarize the chapter with hashtags. No rules other than that. Here is one from last semester—can’t wait to see what this semester group does:

The chapter below focused on the Pilgrims.

Here are their hashtags:

#Mayflower   #pilstruggs  #missingthemotherland   #demWampananagos   #originalThanksgiving  #churnthatbutter  #Jesus4life  #Squantowho?   #workingafarm   #wigwams4ever   #seriouslongwinter     #allinaday #nomoreboattripsplease #Plymouthrockrocks #BFFSquanto #worstcasescenario #thankfulforSquanto #sickonaship #praytheedontkillus #holierthanthou

Results: Well, for starters there is always a whole bunch of laughter and fun. But, they do get it. We ask kids to summarize, summarize, summarize. When it is not so important that they write ample amounts, why not allow some levity and have groups hashtag summarize short texts? They will capture the critical points and their hashtags can launch class discussion.