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"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all" –Aristotle

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U.S.-Vietnam Student Book now available on Amazon!

La Porte High School seniors in La Porte, TX and The Olympia Schools 10 X-cel students in Hanoi, Vietnam, worked on a year-long cultural study that culminated in their own published eBook. The book is the product of their discussion, collaboration, and learning over the course of the school year. Reflections is now available online at iTunes (search Reflections Global Connections), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Book Country, and now Amazon.

All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to International Rescue Committee (IRC), a charity that operates in more than 40 countries and 26 U.S. cities to provide humanitarian aid to people affected by conflict and natural disaster.

Click this link to learn more about their work and achievement.

Students published their book “Reflections”

Facilitator Daniel Rymer with GCXN students
Facilitator Daniel Rymer with GCXN students

At the beginning of the school year, I wrote about Global Connections, a group of sophomore students at The Olympia Schools in Hanoi, Vietnam, and senior students at La Porte High School in La Porte, Texas, who initially began their interactions by studying Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (GCXN, Part 1 and GCXN, Part 2). However, as their familiarity with each other grew, they asked to take on a much more monumental project: to write a book that explores their cultural similarities and differences and that provides a platform for their voices to be heard. They were undeterred by our warnings that a project of that magnitude would take patience, focus, hard work, and stamina. Well, as anyone with any experience with teenagers knows, when they put their minds to something, they do it. And they certainly did! Continue reading “Students published their book “Reflections””

Differentiating Instruction through Reading Choice

IMG_5112In my previous post Building a Culture of Reading through Choice, I discussed how teachers might create more avid and willing student-readers by offering multiple texts from which students may choose rather than one compulsory text read by the entire class. I received many emails asking how I implement this in my classroom, how I choose books, and how I facilitate student learning when there are several different texts. Since so many people were interested, I thought why not just write another post? As any teacher knows, if one student asks a question, there’s probably 8 or 9 others who were wondering the same thing but were too shy to ask. So–to those of you who emailed: I hope this helps; and to those who were too shy to ask: don’t be! (I know–completely unhelpful advice).

As I stated before, I don’t like being told what to read, especially if I’m told to read it because it’s a “classic” and “canonical.” On my own, if still a bit begrudgingly, I decided to read Moby Dick and David Copperfield because peer pressure still has some power and I had to see what Continue reading “Differentiating Instruction through Reading Choice”

Judging a Book by its Cover: Teaching Theme

Things Fall Apart Cover art
Theme seems like a no-brainer–it’s the universal truths we find in a text that make it relevant to the human experience. Yet teaching theme can be quite challenging. Students have difficulty grasping the concept, and I am not sure if it’s because they don’t know how to phrase a theme statement or if they simply don’t have quite enough life experience to recognize grand human truths (we’ll set aside semantics for now and operate on the premise that there are “human truths” by which we live). Continue reading “Judging a Book by its Cover: Teaching Theme”

Building a Culture of Reading through Choice


Getting students to read can sometimes be a monumental task. With so many other engaging multimedia entertainment options for children to choose, assigning chapters to be read for class often results in students arriving in class without having completed the required reading. I can’t say I blame them. In my own education, I’ve been assigned some texts that were real snooze-fests. And if we are being totally honest, I am much more unlikely to read a novel that is assigned–perhaps there’s a bit of passive-aggressive behavior in that. I don’t like being told to read something because it has “literary merit” and is part of the canon. Continue reading “Building a Culture of Reading through Choice”

Renovating Teaching Strategies


I have had occasion in the recent present to think a lot about renovating. In fact, I’m hiding upstairs in a small nook I’ve cleared of construction dust and grime while the flooring guys are laying wood floors downstairs. I don’t know if it’s the heady perfume of new carpet, freshly painted walls, or floor glue, but the complete renovation–upstairs and downstairs–of our 20 year old house has me waxing philosophical about many things.

Firstly, you never really fully appreciate how much stuff you collect in 20 years of marriage until you have to move every. single. bit. from room to room in the inevitable Construction Shuffle. Nothing is left untouched. Questions like “When did we get this?”, “Have we ever used this?” and “What the hell is this?” get asked often, usually by me. My rule of thumb: throw it out if it hasn’t been used or worn in a year or if the technology is obsolete. My husband, however, is a hoarder. The only people I know who Continue reading “Renovating Teaching Strategies”

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