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Burning Questions.

No. 1 Burning Question: Will the World End in 2012?
No. 1 Burning Question: Will the World End in 2012?


One of my all-time, absolute, fantastically favorite enduring understandings to discuss with students is my “Burning Questions” lesson. I developed this with my friends and colleagues, Dr. Laura and Dr. Holly, two of the smartest people I know; so smart, in fact, that you don’t even know how smart they are because they make everyone feel like “they can do it, too.” (Note to my students: that’s how I want you to feel in our classroom, as well).

We started the discussion yesterday, Friday. And overall the initial discussion went fairly well. There were some side conversations in 7th, but I suspect that some of the talk and chatter was on-target. There was some silence in 1st period, probably because you hadn’t had your Monsters or Mountain Dews yet. (Just kidding!) So, we’re all still getting to know each other. It’s only the third week of school. We started late. We’re cramming a lot in, in a short time. This discussion usually goes a little awry at first, only in the sense that when confronted with the question, “what are your burning questions?” most people don’t have a ready answer. It’s like when you go to the mall or the grocery store and there was something you really wanted and then poof! you forget why you went there, there are so many choices, you’re overwhelmed. It’s a “deer in the headlights” feeling–you’re not sure which way to go. Well, that explains why some of the students didn’t participate. But of you most did. Given the conversation and discussion, in every class period, people had something to say. And I know your brains were working.

Here are some of the questions you posed:

  1. Is the world going to end on December 21, 2012?

One ridiculous website I found was: Its cheap commercialism and sensationalising of the world’s end is laughable. Now, students – I want you to tell me why I would state this thesis. You can post it in a comment or in our other forums.

The other mistake I made was thinking it was the Aztec calendar: yikes. It is the Mayan calendar that has this prophecy. To learn more about the ancient Mayan civilization, click on this link. I don’t know why I was confused, but everyone makes mistakes, and I knew something wasn’t quite right. (Using my powers of METACOGNITION to correct my thinking! Ta -da-da!!! Super Reading Strategies, AWAY!!!)

Go to these links to learn more, and read the books: This article lists books that relate to this topic:

Current and coming books on 2012:

2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck (Penguin/Tarcher, May 2006)

2013 Oracle: Ancient Keys to the 2012 Awakening by David Carson & Nina Sammons (Council Oaks, November 2006)

Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation Into Civilization’s End by Lawrence Joseph (Random House/Morgan Road, January 2007)

The Revolution of 2012: Vol. 1, The Preparation by Andrew Smith (Ford Evans, January 2007)

Serpent of Light by Drunvalo Melchizedek (Red Wheel/Weiser, Autumn 2007)

Other burning questions:

2. Why do people age?

3. Is there life on other planets?

4. Why do parents abuse their kids?

5. Why is there war?

6. Are there unseen worlds?

7. Why am I drawn to fantasy novels?

8. Is North Korea going to start a war, and will that war affect my family in Guam?

9. Who invented vampires? (This led into a discussion if vampires are real or not–you’ll have to research that burning question on your own time.)

10. Is there such a thing as reincarnation?

There were many more, and I’ll post them as I collect them. The next steps are to dig deep into our true purposes — are we afraid? Are we seeking answers to help alleviate some of our fears? Do we talk to parents, friends, read books, watch documentaries? Yes, yes, and yes…seeking the answers is the journey.

Here’s what I know: You all have more inside of your heads than you show on the outside.

Let’s work on getting it out.

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Higher ground.

No more metaphors. The water is coming. How much, how soon, and for how long is unknown. Here’s what I do know:

I am going to keep my head above water. Keep my powder dry. Build an ark. Have both paddles. Not be caught upstream without one or more said paddles.

Float on.

For information: and

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Best Quote of the Week: “That was kind of fun!”

Anyone who teaches knows it’s a hard job. There are many things throughout the day that may wear my sense of humor thin. Frayed. Rubbed the wrong way. But, as I’m sitting here thinking about the week, I’m choosing to focus on some of the highlights:

1. A student thought the lesson we did today was “kind of fun.” Big praise from an 8th grade kid. 2. I got a smile, a doughnut, and help from a really nice student today, completely unexpected, and offered with graciousness. 3. I have some really cool students–even some of the ones who seem kind of tough on the outside are probably some of the most loyal and fierce individuals for their friends and families. 4. While talking about what I would be like if I was a teacher in a parallel universe, I said, the other me would be thin, young, single, blonde…and someone piped in “mean.” Read: I am nice (in this universe). 5. I moved, I mingled, and they were okay with that. 6. They are funny, they are shy, they are sweet, they are sour –but they are my students for this year, and I think that’s worth smiling about.

Here’s to a fantastic year!

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Tools of the Trade



Though we started two weeks late due to unprecedented events, things are starting to shape up. My first impressions of my students are glowing — now I know why my colleagues love to teach 8th grade students. They can be engaging, motivated, funny, and charming young people. I have already had two football players ask me for assignments prior to leaving for a game. I have had a student think of connected and interesting questions. Admittedly, I also have the pencil-sharpener-attempters-the bathroom-breakers, and the ukulele carrying minstrels. (Really. But she never plays it in class.)

These first weeks are all about putting in the tools they will need. For example, yesterday they took Cornell Notes on “How to Do a One-Pager.” Today, guess what? They are doing one-pagers. And, a few of them have asked me for directions again. I point them back to their notes.


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Archetype of the Week: Star-Crossed Lovers

While reading the movie review of Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion, I made a connection to another classic Greek tale of Pyramus and Thisbe. As we begin to study ancient mythology from a variety of cultures through modern times, we will learn more about how great writers often take the oldest stories, the stories told throughout time as their inspiration, because the experiences of humanity last throughout time. Why do you think writers use old stories to inspire new ones?

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