Why teachers can’t sleep.

It’s 12:30 a.m. and I am wide awake.  I don’t want to be awake, but I have all these things weighing on my mind.

  1.  I am taking my mom to the hospital tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. for surgery.  Of course I’m worried.  That’s why I’m awake.
  2. It is unbearably cold here in Indiana right now and most area districts have called for a 2-hr delay in the morning in hopes that the temperatures will rise.  My district has not.  Here is why I am worried.  Will my district opt to cancel school tomorrow altogether and make it an e- learning day?

Are you seeing my dilemma?  I took the day off.  I went in on Sunday and made sub plans in order to be with my mom.

If school cancels, I am going to be creating e-lessons on a computer that has only 1/2 battery power remaining.  Creating lessons that both educate and inspire my students…without me.  This is so much easier said than done .

Then, somehow between carting my mom to and from her surgery and taking care of her while she is home, I must be at my computer available to my students.

Yep.  This is why I am not sleeping.  I know you hard working teachers out there understand my fears all too well.

You, too, are probably up still grading, lesson planning, copying, creating , etc for your amazing students tomorrow.

If you do get some rest, don’t oversleep.  🙂






Close Reading Strategies

I have been an English teacher for 16 years, and like most other educators, I rarely teach things in the same way twice — there are always ways to improve.    I am constantly reading books, journals, and articles for new ways to make my teaching better.  And while I always knew I could be a better teacher, I never knew by how much, until I was introduced to Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst.

Mind blower!  🙂  I HIGHLY recommend attending a conference and buying the book.

It isn’t often I go to a conference and want to immediately begin implementing what I learned…I hadn’t even read the book.

Beers and Probst introduced what they call the “signposts” — the 6 components that appear in ALL fiction writing.  They taught us a lot, and even let us try a few strategies ourselves.

Beers also introduced us to a Facebook Page about Notice and Note.  This page became a vital piece in my own attempt to try Notice and Note in the classroom.  The teachers who have joined this page are AMAZING!  Everyone in the group is implementing Notice and Note (k-12) and sharing their successes, failures, and lessons (with attachments).  🙂 I have never met a more dedicated group of teachers (from all around the world) who are willing to share their ideas in order to improve learning for students everywhere.

Two years ago, my district adopted Fahrenheit 451 as an 8th grade text. I was overwhelmed at the thought of teaching this very complex text to 8th graders.  Enter Notice and Note.

I used a signpost bookmark (taken from the Notice and Note Facebook page) and bought a ton of post-it notes in matching colors, and off I went.  I never knew how brilliant students were.  These signposts gave students a strategy for what to notice in text.

In the past I had always been the guide.  I had always told students what to look for and then asked them to explain.  With Notice and Note, you give students a toolkit and THEY find the examples.  And trust me, they will.  My students absolutely blew my mind.

Was it still difficult?  Of course.  This is Fahrenheit 451.  But, my students learned so much more about the text than I could have ever expected — or would have if I had stuck to the whole “study guide” idea.

The best part of Notice and Note?  Differentiation!!!  Because the signposts are a toolkit and not a guide to the “right answers,” the students are able to find examples based on their own understanding of the text.  I did not have to change my lessons for Honors and Academic classes.  Because the students create the signposts, they guide the discussions…thus the differentiation.

I had students with elementary grade lexiles reading AND participating in discussion on Fahrenheit 451.  Students who had never before spoken in class had the confidence to offer their findings.

I am a hard-core advocate of Notice and Note.  I am attending another Beers and Probst conference in February for the Nonfiction signposts.  CAN’T WAIT!

Give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.


New Year, New Start

Here I am, on the evening on January 5, 2016, beginning to fulfill this year’s New Year’s resolution – write a blog.

I was inspired to start blogging when my assistant principal connected me with Twitter last fall (yes, I am just slightly behind).  J  I thought Twitter was simply a pop culture medium where teenagers and celebrities shared momentous events in their lives.  I had no idea that Twitter is a place for professionals to share thoughts, educational best practices, and advice on teaching.

I went to Twitter a few times just trying to understand the ins and outs.  It was clear when I entered my first educational chat that I had no idea what I was doing.  I didn’t understand the acronyms (PLN, Ss, Ts, etc.), and yes, I Googled them.  Before long, I was participating in chats.  The wealth of knowledge was astounding.  Twitter had opened my eyes to a world of education I had never known.

In these chats, educators from around the world offer strategies and tips for teachers and administrators to take back and use in their own schools.  There is no “show-boating.”  There is no “hiding the good stuff” – everybody who participates in these chats has one very common goal – “do what’s best for kids.”

So why did it take me so long to join the ranks of Twitter and blogs?  I had shied away mostly because I thought I was too busy.  We all know teaching is a serious time commitment, and I thought these mediums would inhibit productivity.  I was so very wrong.  Twitter has inspired me in ways few other professional development opportunities have.

Thanks to Twitter leaders and bloggers Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp), Starr Sackstein (@mssackstein), Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler), and others.  You have empowered me as an educator.  You have pushed me to try new things in the classroom …things that have directly benefited my students.  In just the last four months, I have researched, created, and applied so many new instructional strategies with my 8th graders.

So, why am I blogging here today?  In addition to the blogs and Tweets that inspired me to try new things, some were reminiscent of my own views and experiences in education.  I read some posts that I felt had been written about my own classroom.  I had never blogged because I didn’t feel that I had anything to say that other educators would want to read. (What unique things do I implement in the classroom that is worthwhile to anyone else?)  But, when I repeatedly read blogs that I felt like I could have written, I began pondering my role in the blogging universe.

So…here it is.  My first blog. I hope I can inspire others as so many of you have inspired me.

Thanks for reading,

Sara Hoeppner

“The most important story we will ever write in life is our own – not with ink, but with our daily choices.”

-Richard Paul Evans