Tuesday, March 24, 2015

AP Conference 2015: Teaching Diverse Novels

I received an email and in the heading it stated: The 2015 AP Annual Conference Program Is Available.

I instantly opened the email and scrolled through the sessions, and my session was there:

Teaching Diverse Novels

Location: ACC--Lvl.4, Rm. 17A
Session Subject: English Literature and Composition
I will use the novels Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid to demonstrate how AP English teachers can use these novels to explore characterization, coming of age, the use of symbols, and culture in order to get a deeper meaning from these and other culturally diverse novels. Toni Morrison and Jamaica Kincaid both use culture and symbols in order to develop characters and drive the plot of the novel, and to tell coming of age stories. With both novels, I will show creative ways that a teacher may use these novels to teach about different cultures and how an author uses "place" in order to develop a plot. 
  • Jacqueline Stallworth, Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, VA

When I saw my name and the description that I wrote, I instantly became excited. I have presented at the AP conference before, but I presented with a colleague, but this time, I will be ALL BY MYSELF!!!

It's really happening: I am presenting at the AP Conference.

This is one of many things that I am excited about today!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

I am a huge fan of Paulo Coelho, and when I heard that he had written a new book, I had to try it...

This book is about a lady named Linda who is in her thirties, she has "a wonderful husband who is madly in love with her, and he is one of the three hundred richest people in Switzerland.... She has two children who are her reason for getting up....She is a highly regarded journalist at a respectable newspaper that can be found in almost all of the news kiosks in Geneva." However, she wakes up one day and ask herself: "Is this it?"

Coelho goes on to tell us that Linda "feels that she is wasting the best years of her life in a pattern that will be repeated over and over until I die; and sheer panic at facing the unknown, however exciting and adventurous that might be."

As I was reading this novel, I thought about the idea of living a life with someone, or even by myself, where I would do the same things over and over again without spontaneity or passion; I think that I would go crazy....... 

He paints a picture of her life being perfect but something is missing; however, I instantly thought that passion is missing from her life. He does not tell us about anything that Linda loves passionately outside of her family: swimming, fishing, reading, hiking etc. It appears that Linda has not found that passion that gets her out of the bed everyday. 

Paulo helps the reader to understand what is going on with Linda by referencing works such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Louis Stevenson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, The Greek Myth of Eros and Psyche, the story of David and Bathsheba from The Bible, and he quotes from the book of Corinthians from The Bible. If you are unfamiliar with these pieces, then it may seem as if Coelho is rambling, but if you know these pieces, you will recognize how Coelho cleverly uses these pieces to fully develop this story line and give us a deeper understanding as to how Linda was feeling. 

Linda goes on to take the risks that she needs to take, and Coelho ends this novel with the idea that "our goal in life is to learn to love.... love is a constant process." And, can I add that I think that we must learn to fall in love over and over again with hobbies, people, life, places etc., in order to having a fulfilling life.

This book was challenging and stimulating, and its just the kind of book that I love; it made me think...... 

If you want to think about life and love from a different perspective, on a whole 'nother level, read Adultery by Paulo Coelho.

By the way, I'll be reading The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty in preparation for my upcoming book club meeting.

Happy Monday, My People!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Good Night by Nikki Giovanni

Remember that little book of poetry that I absolutely love?

Well, here is another wonderful poem from that book...

"Good Night"
           Nikki Giovanni             
It is late
I stand
In front of your desk
Saying something inane
You fiddle with papers
Not looking at anything
Works is over yet
We stay 

I smile
You are, after all, very cute

We leave the building 
Like it doesn't matter

There is a beautiful moon 
We say Good Night

I unhurriedly stroll to my car 
Humming some 1950s love song

I speed-limit home
Walk my dog
Give fresh water to the birdbaths
Eat my dinner
Choose my clothes for tomorrow
Set the timer
Slide between my bamboo sheets
And dream
Of you 

Nikki has a way with words.....

Try this awesome little book!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Arlington Reads 2015: Jesmyn Ward and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Super excited that these two authors are visiting Arlington, Virginia very soon....

Here are links to books by Jesmyn Ward that I have reviewed:

Where the Lines Bleed
Salvage the Bones

And, here are links to books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I have reviewed:

Purple Hibiscus
Half of a Yellow Sun

Consider reading something by these ladies and meeting me at Central Library in Arlington, Virginia.

Writer's Rock!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

One of my student's recommended that I read this book, and of course I had to give it a try....

Lies We Tell Ourselves is about the integration of schools, and we get to hear from two narrators: A Black girl, Sarah, who is integrating a White school and a White Girl, Linda, who was against the integration of the same school.

Now, many of you have seen the pictures of Black children being escorted into schools that they were integrating:

Ruby Bridges integrating a school in the South

However, I never really thought about what happened to the children once they were inside of those schools.

According to Robin's website, she did a lot of research and paints a very vivid image of what could have happened once some of those schools doors were closed. My people, I see the children who integrated schools so differently now; my respect could not be greater.

Sarah, one of the protagonist, and the other Black students who were integrating the schools in his fictitious town in Virginia, endured horrible treatment, everyday and all day at these schools and were put into remedial classes so that they would not slow down the White children.

I did not read a summary of this novel before I read it, so I was completely caught off guard by the modern twist in this story. I am strongly encouraging you to not do a lot of research on this story before you start to read it. (I think you will enjoy this book so much more without knowing the twist.)

Robin does a good job of giving closure to this story, but she also sends a clear message that the struggle would continue in that small town.

This is a book that is quite painful to read; I hate the thought of children enduring such harsh treatment just to attend school, but I think that it is a book that should be read and read over and over again, because this is a part of the American story that needs to be told.

A good book should always make us want to read more books, and this one does exactly that. After reading this book, I am interested in reading some first hand accounts of children who integrated schools. So, I will be on a hunt to track down some of those stories.

Consider putting this one high on your reading list.

My next read is Adultery by Paulo Coelho!

Until the next time!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

This Little Book Right Here: Bicycle Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni is hands down one of my favorite poets of all times.

She writes about things such as love and family, and she uses eloquent, simple language and rhyme schemes which always evoke some type of emotion from me.

I picked up this wonderful little book of poetry, Bicycles Love Poems, a few months back, and My People, it is delightful from the first page until the last.

Here is one of my favorite poems from this very special book of poetry:

I Am A Mirror
Nikki Giovanni

I am a mirror

I reflect the grace 
  Of my mother

The tenacity
Of my grandmother

The patience
Of my grandfather

The sweat
Of my great-grandfather

The hope
Of my great-great-grandfather

The songs
Of my ancestors

The Prayers
Of those on the auction block

The bravery
Of those in the middle passage

I reflect the strengths
of my people
And for that alone

I am loved

This little book of poetry is totally delightful.... Try it if you dare!

Friday, March 13, 2015


Kindness #1

It was a normal day of school when a student asked if he could come during my planning period to make up an essay that he missed the previous week.

During my planning period, he crossed my mind, but he did not show up. However, I got an email from him that stated that "he fumbled." He forgot to come, and wanted to know if he could write the paper the following day.

Now, I am very particular about students doing things in a timely fashion, but I've learned to not sweat the small stuff; children will be children.

I sent him a note that said something like, "No problem, see you tomorrow."

I didn't check my emails anymore until the next day, but he sent me an email to ask how much sugar and cream do I like in my coffee, and he brought me coffee and sat it on my desk.

This made grading that late paper so much better...

Kindness #2

I have a student who has seizures.

He has had two seizures in the classroom so the students, my co-teacher, and I sort of know what to look for that indicates that this student is going to have a seizure.

One day, a student saw the sign of the seizure, and he lightly tapped my co-teacher, and we were able to get help right away.

He quietly noticed and took action!

Kindness #3

The bells sounds and the students are in the classroom and in rolls my student who is currently in a wheel chair.

We have a routine that we do when he comes into the classroom; someone will get up and move the desks so that he has room for his wheelchair and a place to write.

Now, when he rolls in, without me having to say one word, the students seamlessly do our routine so that this student can be comfortable and in his rightful place.

Train up a child in the way that he should go.....


In schools and the world, there are so many things that happen daily that are not good at all, but I have decided that I love the good things and will focus on them and allow them to grow.

Happy Friday!!!

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