Word Jam

Originally published via Ms. Willipedia Writes via Willipedia Media.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and Wild Main Blueberry Jam (June 2015)

My best friend’s husband excitedly bounded up the stairs from the basement to present us with his latest discovery: leftover wild Maine blueberry preserves that they had made the year before.  My eyes feasted upon them first before my tongue even felt anything to taste.  The smooth, dark indigo substance paired well with the freshly made strawberry rhubarb compote that was already on my breakfast biscuit.  I took a bite and it was heaven. The differing levels of sweet and tart melded together in tasty layers.

My thoughts, of late, have been such a mixture.  I have wanted to say one thing, but then found myself stuck.  Then another wave of inspiration hit, but then another creative roadblock occurred.  So many layers of interesting things have happened in my life and the world outside that it feels a little insufficient to present just one.  It reminded me much of what observed my students felt whenever we discussed political topics, or themes in literature, or even when they were challenged to put their thoughts into written form through our poety unit.  Teenagers are good at that.  Teenagers are good at having so much to say that it gets jumbled up and they don’t know exactly how or where or when to say it.  Other times, they have such clarity that many adults still lack.  There is, though, like the mixture of blueberry preserves and strawberry rhubarb compote, a beauty in the mess and the layers of flavors.

What’s wrong with being white?  I asked myself this and began sculpting a response, from the point of view of an educator of diverse students, to the story of Rachel Dolezal who for years had been leading people to believe that she was a black woman.  Her desire to partake in the African-American experience is perplexing yet admirable.  Her deception through all of it sullied the perception of her possibly meaning well.  I mean, there are many white people who have “championed the cause” of Civil Rights thorughout the ages.  Why did she feel she had to deny her actual ethnicity to support another?  Did it help?  Did it hurt?

On the other end of the week, and social spectrum, came the mass killings in Charleston.  I found this reminiscent of the Charlie Hebdo killings earlier this year as well as shootings at Columbine, Newton, and countless hate crimes and killings that have ravaged our country, our communities, and our entire planet.  For what reason do we allow the cultivation of such destructive ideas and thoughts?  Why is it ever thought to be okay to take the life of another especially if they have not threatened the lives of others?  More importantly, at what point, and with what event will all of our politicians stop politicizing the issue.  No, gun control is not the answer.  No, loosening gun restrictions is also not the answer.  We are the answer.  The problem is that not enough of us seem to really be asking the true question…then again, I don’t know what that question or series of questions should be.

At this point in life I am not a parent, so I think about how I would address these topics with my students.  They are complex issues that stem from a lack of logic, compassion, and love.  I would, address them as I would any other controversial topic, in an open forum discussion.  I would ask my students questions.  I would have them try to see things from the points of view of others.  I would have them create and ask questions of their own.  More importantly, I would challenge them to see how the would work to make this world a safer, loving, and more appreciative place.

And so Another Year Ends…


As the buses rolled out of the parking lot for the last time this school year, I was so excited to see my school babies go and grow.  Those eighth graders, who entered my classroom a mere nine months ago, who had made me laugh, shake my head in disbelief, and sigh repeatedly, were going on toward their next chapter in life.  I smiled widely.  I felt proud.

I genuinely feel pride toward all students who have moved through my classroom, but having previously worked in a school with a highly-transient population, it felt more challenging to cultivate a true family feeling in each of my classes.  This has been my goal for years, and this year, at my current school, it felt possible.

It seems so cliche’ to say that I am proud of my students, but this group was an extremely unique one.  In all of my years of teaching (admittedly much shorter than those of others at seven years) I had never taught a group of students that were all so mature, driven, hilarious, and felt like my own children on many occasions.  Thanks to our numerous classroom discussions and explorations of written media, my students tried their hands at poetry, article writing, filmmaking, art, and more all with the central focus on English Language Arts.  Thanks to our Genius Hour projects, my students delved headlong into their own interests and shared them with their classmates.  It was such a beautiful experience, and we did Genius Hour twice.

Next year I know will be even better because this group of students, like the ones I have taught before them, have made me a better educator.  Not only were my students open to approaching class differently and trying new lessons, but the relationships I established with each class and with each student have left me with more wisdom, compassion, and awareness than before.  For that I am eternally grateful.

Next year, as this year’s eighth graders navigate the halls of their chosen high schools and embark upon their ascent into adulthood, I hope that the lessons they encountered have made them better students.  More importantly, I hope that the experiences they encountered within the walls of ECMS have helped them become better versions of themselves.  In the end, I know that I have become a better version of myself from having met, worked with, and taught all of my students throughout the years and especially this year’s group.

Summer Reading for Wheeler H.S. 2015-2016

This is, in essence, a re-post from March of this year.

For those students headed to Wheeler High School in August, you must be sure to read the texts outlined in the link below:

Summer Reading 2015-16


From March 2015:

I just received information about the Summer Reading Requirements for the students attending Wheeler HS next school year and have copied and pasted them below.  Please do not hesitate to get these books sooner than later.  Besides, it will make for a more restful summer. 🙂

9th Grade Honors

  1. All students must read and prepare outline (provided on Wheeler’s web site) on The Woman in White by Wilkie
    Collins. ****All students must prepare a TYPED outline for submission to Turnitin.com the first week of the semester on this book.

    1. Each heading and subheading must have at least two parts. Do not exceed 2 pages typed using 1”
      margins and Times New Roman 12 point font.
    2. Be consistent. Use either complete sentences or brief phrases, but do not use both.
    3. This outline will be submitted to www.turnitin.com once information is provided by the teacher at the beginning of class.
    4. Be prepared to discuss this novel and participate in novel-related activities the first two weeks of the
  2. All students will select a second book to read from the On-Level 9th Grade Reading List (see below), then be prepared to write an in-class essay on the novel the first week of the semester.
    • During the essay, students may use one handwritten 4 x 6 index card containing notes on
      characters, plot, setting, etc. The card is NOT required, but if students use a card, it will be
      collected and kept at the end of the essay test. Typed and/or cut and pasted notes are NOT acceptable.

9th Grade Reading List

Should I receive or find information about the summer reading requirements for any of the other Magnet schools, I will be sure to update and republish this post–links and all!

-Ms. W.

Food for Thought (and Discussion)

With the end of the school year mere days away, today’s lesson took a slightly less-structured approach.  With their devices in hand (or through the use of a classroom computer), the students chose from the articles below.  They then got into groups to share what they had read, their thoughts on the article, and how they think those would relate to their lives.  The instructions that were provided to the class are below.

“Food for Thought” Lesson


  1. Choose from the articles below (some of these are available in printed form at the front table) and read it thoroughly.
  2. Next, join your classmates at the pre-determined locations around the room.
  3. You will each take turns to give a three-point synopsis of each of your articles.
  4. Finally, you will conduct a group discussion about the ideas your articles have in common.  Be creative in seeing how the articles relate to one another.


8th Grade Field Day!

Today was an amazing day filled with much spirit, enthusiasm, and great sportsmanship.  My students worked so hard preparing for field day.  First, with a superhero-themed Field Day this year, we had to get our uniforms into tip-top shape.

We were representing…ICEMAN!!

It was 90s day for the staff, but I still got down to business helping the kids decorate their "ice"-themed shirts!
It was 90s day for the staff, but I still got down to business helping the kids decorate their “ice”-themed shirts!

After we had our shirts in order, we had to come up with our spirit-showing materials.  The students made an “Iceman” poster, and we choreographed a dance to the 80s classic “Ice Ice Baby.”

We started the morning off with a bang in gaining 10 points for spirit with our beginning-of-Field-Day chant.

Though we did not win at as many of the events as we would have preferred, we did win in the Super Soaker relay and our performance at the beginning and the end of Field Day will certainly go down in ECMS history.  Our latter performance garnered 71 points which was unheard of!  The next-closest team came in at 55 points.  All-in-all, my homeroom, as team Iceman, had a beautiful time.

Here are some highlights from today’s Field Day.



Genius Hour Presentations, Day 2

Yesterday’s scheduled presentations were as follows:
GH Presentations Day 2

Some of the standout presentations included:

Alex D.

Topic: How to Make an Epic Movie Trailer


Harrison M.

Topic: Lost and the Bible




  • Read for 30 minutes
  • Prepare Genius Hour project for presentation.



Genius Hour Presentations, Day 1

Today’s presentations were amazing (as to be expected)!  Below is the schedule of who was slated to present today.GH Presentations Day 1

Some of the most notable presentations came from:

Nicole J.

Topic: Bullying

Adonia R.

Topic: The Jamaican Language

Walter K.

Topic: Creating Electronic Music

I cannot wait to see tomorrow’s presentations!

Ms. W.


  • Read for 30 minutes
  • Prepare Genius Hour Project for presentation.
  • Post presentation on to the Padlet.


  • A generic power point presentation will be used each day this week (excluding Friday).

Genius Hour Presentation Schedule!

The schedule has been set!  The following students will be presenting on the following days.  Parents, you are welcome (and encouraged) to attend! (Be sure to contact me via email in order to RSVP.)

Genius Hour Presentation Schedule Spreadsheet (Most up-to-date version)

Monday, May 11th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 1

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 2

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 3

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

GH Presentations Day 4