Author: noelle

Noelle’s Learning Community

In my future classroom I want to create an environment that encourages students to approach composition and reading with confidence. They should feel empowered in their literacy. Too often students feel disconnected from their reading and writing in class, but by using place-based curriculum and tying student interest into activities they can feel embedded in the learning process. To enable this kind of community I think that class and small group discussions are valuable activities and enable students to hear other opinions or thoughts from their classmates. As a member of this community, students should feel respected and heard, speaking without fear of ridicule or indifference. To be successful in creating and sustaining this environment I will have to put a classroom management plan in place. I strongly believe in having students take responsibility for their behavior and actions, and I would like to have their input when designing the classroom rules and procedures. This will increase their investment in our learning community and let their own ideas structure their behavior for the year.

As the leader of this learning community I want to maintain a position of authority, without stifling the students. My presence in the room should be reassuring, reinforcing the behavioral expectation and routine. I also hope to exude a high level of “withitness’, so that the students know that I am just as engaged as I’m asking them to be. Students should know that I’m interested in their lives outside of class as well and I will stay involved with school activities to better build student-teacher relationships and support a holistic view of the wider school community.

Noelle’s Classroom Observation

I was able to observe a high school World History class for this assignment. This was a first hour class so students came into the classroom early and casually chatted with the teacher until the bell rang. After the pledge and announcements she transitioned into a warm-up activity, pulling up a prepared journal prompt on the board that asked guiding questions about their current projects. They were tough questions so she walked around to room to make sure students were on the right track. As students finished writing they were directed to quietly continue their research.  The transition from journal to project was pretty smooth because they had been doing similar work the day before.  The class was able to work for almost 30mins before they started getting antsy. Almost as soon as the chatter began, the teacher stepped in and had them go around the room sharing the most interesting fact they had found on their topic (prompting some great group discussion). The transition at the end of class was not as well directed as the other two. Students would finish their projects at different times and then would disrupt others who were still working, or with the teacher’s permission they would leave class to go work on the school play (this teacher also runs the drama program). With 10 minutes of class time to go, this left the classroom half-full with students working on disparate tasks.

There were two strategies I saw that I would apply in my own classroom. First, the impromptu mini-discussion that headed off potential inappropriate behavior during the students’ research time. This was really effective and the students were eager to share and engage with each other’s projects. Second, the desks were set up in a circle which allowed the teacher to move along the inside and easily check in with students. This shape also helped facilitate group discussion.

Noelle’s 3 Useful Links + 1 Less Useful But Entertaining Link

In the Professional Development section of ReadWriteThink’s website they have an interesting resource called Strategy Guides. These guides range from “Teaching with Technology’ to “Reading with Purpose’ and are divided by grade levels. My favorite was a guide about how to conduct Socratic seminars in your classroom.


David Ginsburg provides short snappy blogs for Education Week about all things classroom management, with a focus on how to use rules and procedures effectively. From what I could gather, Ginsburg is a consulting teacher’s teacher, who spent 20 years in Chicago public schools.


This video from Scholastic shows an activity that I think is a staple in many classrooms. An aspect of the activity that was new to me was the teacher interacting with the students while they were writing. This was encouraging to them and prepared them to share from the beginning.


Bonus Website!

This is from the McSweeney’s. I think it’s hysterical.

“Phrases I May or May Not Have Used in an Attempt to Teach High School English”

Future of Alaska Native Education

Earlier this week I wrote a piece for my Alaska Native Literature class that treads a similar line of conversation as our article by Paul Berg. When I first read articles like this I’m totally sucked in; it’s forceful and simply blazes with passion. But when I take a step back and really look at what’s he’s saying I just have to wonder, is he being realistic? What I wrote for my ANL class was about balancing the romantic notions of the past with a realistic vision for the future of Alaska Native cultures. We so often read about what was lost, arguments built entirely on pathos and nostalgia. But it’s unreasonable to believe that elements of the past can be completely restored. It shouldn’t be about living in the past but about reconciling the important aspects of their culture with the future because that is how it’s going to survive. I’m not sure if the Alaska Native community will ever obtain the level of autonomy that Berg is calling for, but I do think we have the opportunity as educators to at least empower Alaska Native students.

When we try and tackle the topic of Alaska Native education I think it needs to be approached with a level head, which seems hard for a lot of people to do. Again, we have to be respectful of cultural differences and the Native community’s pursuit of reclaiming their heritage, while still understanding that we live in a Western society that runs on a certain set of standards that probably will not change any time soon. We are dealing with romantic ideals on both sides: Native students will be educated through a Native based system versus Native students will comply with Western standards. I don’t think we’ll be successful in either extreme, and to create an integrated system it’s important to use real pieces of both and not symbolic stand-ins. What I find hard to grapple with is the argument concerning the need for a Westernized education when it has little relevance in a student’s everyday life in the village, especially if they plan on staying there. But after reading Berg’s article and his complaint (voiced twice) that outsiders have all of the middle-class jobs in rural Alaska, wouldn’t you want the younger generation to have to skills to fill those positions as teachers, medical workers, etc.? Something tells me Berg would still not be happy with this conclusion.

I have to confess: I HATE reading the comments for online articles. The relative anonymity that is granted through the internet allows people to word-vomit their particular opinion in the most offensive ways. What I found most interesting in the comments section of this article was how people thought that our current public school curriculum wasn’t already ethno-centric or promoting one culture over another. These commenters’ big complaint was that we shouldn’t be forcing one specific culture on the students through Alaska Native classes. What culture do they think American public schools espouse right now? Ugh, painful.

For anybody who is interested, here is a visual representation of the curriculum for 2012-2013 used at the Effie Kokrine Charter School in Fairbanks. I’m really interested by what they’ve created there.

EKCS 12-13 Spiral

Noelle’s Four Classroom Rules

I’ve been subbing this week at the local high school and I had two class periods that ended up being very frustrating and unproductive. So, when I was thinking about classroom rules for this blog I came up with ones that I would like to see applied in those classes and any high school English classes I teach in the future. What those two specific classes this week were lacking were all different facets of respect and responsibility, basically there was very little of either being exhibited. I’m going to make “Respect & Responsibility’ the slogan/mantra of my future classroom. There will be posters. I’ll make stickers and put them on every desk. It will be an extra credit question on quizzes. They. Will. Know.


1)           Give others the respect you want to receive

2)           Speak and act with integrity


3)           Be prepared for class (homework, materials, attitude, on-time, etc.).

4)           Take ownership of YOUR behavior, YOUR work, YOUR education

I’m really pushing for “Respect & Responsibility’ because I want students to understand how important it is to invest in themselves, even if they aren’t receiving that kind of support at home. If teachers become the only adults who is invest in them, then these two concepts are the ones that I would want to instill most because they function beyond the classroom as well. Somewhere, from someone, they have to learn how to treat other people, and themselves.

Extra Special Bonus Rule:

No cell phones.

I’m feeling particularly angsty about students being on their phones during class. Between Candy Crush, “The Fox’ music video, and the iPhone iOS 7 update I seriously could not win this battle today. My hypothetical future classroom will be a designated “No Phone Zone’ from day one.


The article I found from the National Council of Teachers of English is a question and response between a student teacher and an education professor. I thought that some of you would be able to relate to the student teacher’s questions about student motivation and specific class management techniques.

Wordle: Classroom Rules


Noelle: Grad Student, Coach, Terrible Housewife

Noelle and Garret

Hello fellow classmates!

My name is Noelle and I’ll be “Elluminating” with you from Talkeetna, Alaska. I’m a born, bred, and wed Talkeetnan, so, as you can imagine, I’m pretty attached and probably won’t be leaving anytime soon. The husband and I love our little life here with our huge dog, Miss Marple (affectionately known as “Big Marp”). My goal after finishing the licensure program is to teach high school English and Theatre out here at Su-Valley Jr/Sr High School. I’m excited to have the opportunity to pay it forward in the community that raised me.  As for my academic career, I completed my undergraduate degree in Theatre at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR in 2011. At the moment my time is split between two different graduate programs. I’m in my final year of the MA English program at UAA and have just started taking classes for the UAF Teaching Licensure program to get a head start on next year. So, unlike most of you, I’m not student teaching right now. But I am currently writing my MA thesis, so I’m hoping we can still provide mutual support for each other! When I’m not commuting into Anchorage for class, I coach volleyball and sub regularly at the high school. Our volleyball season starts the end of September and I’ll probably talk about my team a lot since I don’t have a classroom I’m observing daily. Go Rams!

It’s nice to meet you all,


Bonus picture of Big Marp

Big Marp