Lost in Translation: Figuring out Achievement Gaps and the Common Core

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2015 at 4:28 am

Coming soon.


The Examined Life@ #thinkaboutit

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates


This quote from Operation Yes! is thought provoking in context and out. How do you fix gravity? Both physical and emotional? Hmmm…What would Socrates say?

Well, this blog is posting at an embarrassingly late date, but better late than never (I guess!).  For a while, at the end of each school year, I used to keep a list of what my students taught me. Why? Because I believe that we are all here to teach each other something, and like Socrates, I believe “the unexamined life is not worth living.” So, for what it’s worth, here are some reflections on the 2012-2013 school year.

Small Reading Group for Seminar

Reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn together wasn’t nearly as boring as any of us thought it would be. We ended up having amazingly digressive (extremely digressive!) conversations that sprang from Francie Nolan’s old-fashioned coming-of-age story. I also discovered that multi-media reader response journals done on Wikispaces were really helpful, interesting, unique, and allowed students to pick out great quotes from the text while focusing on key themes. Thanks to you all for keeping an open mind and trying something different with that assignment.

Special Shout-outs:

Isadora: Brazilians speak Portugese not Spanish! Your chocolate is better. You are amazingly organized and speak and write in English so well. Thanks for keeping us all on track.

Chloe, Sophie, and Isadora working on our road rage door for homecoming.

Chloe, Sophie, and Isadora working on our road rage door for homecoming.

Winifer: Immigrant narratives still exist even when people don’t really know or have never thought of themselves as an immigrant. We are all immigrants. JAMA!

Emily: Persist. Persist. Persist. You always quietly get it done.

Chloe: Guys are still the same (Drake!). Yes, that was a digression! J


The writing for The Wave is better than it has ever been (Thank you, Carolyn!) and I am wondering if it isn’t partially because I was less of a micro-manager and more willing to let go of my own archaic ideas about reporting. Journalism has changed. Technology has changed the way reporters report. Chaos is necessary for creativity. Order is also necessary, but not in the beginning stages of a process. What do you think?

Special Shout-outs:

Mayank: Prompt, productive, and putting money in the bank. I wish I was as efficient.

Carolyn:  I should say yes more than I say no to a student’s creative suggestions, or as my friend Alex says, “Say yes three times!” My “bad” for saying no so many times. Thanks for your HOURS of hard work on The Wave. McFlurries on me.


Maddy: Your detail and thought regarding the cover wore me out, girl! But it paid off in the end. Thanks for being so confident and obstinate when needed!

Chris: Thank you for rounding up the guys in the class and helping them strive for something other than hanging out. I appreciate your leadership.

Vern: You know, you are the bomb when it comes to getting it done and making others get it done. You are gifted, in this way. Vern for president, 2032.

Sydney: Your “Step Club” story should be entered in one of the bazillion journalism contests that are out there. It is excellent. Thanks for listening.

English I

Chin up, ole' pal! Avery and Nicole are class clowns and cause much merriment.

Chin up, ole’ pal! Avery and Nicole are class clowns and cause much merriment.

Well, hmmmm…this class is interesting. What have I learned from you all? I guess what I have re-learned is that a classroom always has a vast array of learners lots of different learning styles. Your class definitely falls into that category! However, maybe that is what makes you so interesting to teach—all those differences. You are theatrical, collaborative, and amazingly open to anything I throw your way.

Thank you for that! Let’s keep it rolling.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, Ethan. Hashtag: whatevs

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, Ethan. Hashtag: whatevs

English II

Honors students after our brief book talk at Latte Litchfield.

Honors students after our brief book talk at Latte Litchfield.

Where to begin? I learned a LOT from you guys this semester. It was a bit painful to be honest, but I guess honesty always is a bit brutal. I learned that you guys  felt rather mystified by my check-mark grading system, that you hate annotating but will begrudgingly admit that it sort of works, that you do care about your learning and want to get the most and the best out of your education, and that you are sweeties when push comes to shove. Thanks for my birthday cake. It was delish.

Sixth Grade English:

Secret Santa party.

Secret Santa party.

What a vocal, interesting, studious group you are! Love starting the day with you. My favorite moments with you thus far have been watching you write and share timed writings, your Greek & Latin root “rap” videos, and our discussions about Operation Yes and the whole “problems are multi-dimensional” thing.

Drama Club:


I was so proud of Macbeth. I truly don’t care that we didn’t win. I think we all had a blast putting that play together and performing it. You all chose something incredibly difficult and unique and made it happen. I am following your lead from now on. I love the collaborative aspect of “coaching” drama. Sunshine! Prune.

Special Shout Outs:

Chloe & Stells: Thanks for not fighting over who got to play Lady M.

Chris: You get my award for Best Beginning Actor. Now you can call yourself an award winning poet, speaker, writer, and actor. Not too shabby!

And just in general, costumes matter. A lot.



Looking ahead , I am excited about:

Literary meet (Okay, so that’s already over and kudos to you Avery McMillen. I have known that you were born for public speaking from that moment in first grade when you planted your shiny Mary Janes firmly on the floor and let it roll!)


National Poetry Month

Teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God, Locomotion, poetry, and Twelfth Night (sword fighting!) (It was fun. Now make me a sandwich!)

Trip to Pear Fryar’s Topiary Garden with the 10th Grade (Will it or will it not happen?)

Script Frenzy

The spring edition of The Wave


Friends of the Waccamaw Library Poetry Contest (I am thinking that Trinity, Lauren, Sophie and Joey all have a really good chance!)

And whatever else comes our way.

Here’s to continuing our learning journey. What have you learned so far?

Mrs. Lewis

Gatsbyesque Goals

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past…”

Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby.

One of my favorite moments in literature comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Gatsby, tragically American in his earnest obsession for self-improvement, (spoiler alert) and at the end of the book dead, is mourned by his father, Henry, who comes to the funeral bearing a copy of Hopalong Cassidy, which contains a list of a young Gatsby’s goals. It reads as follows:

  • No wasting time at Shafters or [a name, indecipherable].
  • No more smoking or chewing.
  • Bath every other day.
  • Read one improving book or magazine per week.
  • Save $5.00 [crossed out] $3.00 per week.
  • Be better to parents.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby (coming this Christmas).

This moment hits upon a tenderness of mine. I suppose it is because I have been a goal-list maker myself. And, I suppose, like Gatsby, I often fail to reach my goals, yet I keep on making them.

This summer has been no exception.

One goal that was accomplished for my mother: a family photo at Litchfield By the Sea.

In early June, I went to CVS and bought an obnoxiously neon yellow piece of poster board. I promptly whipped out a black sharpie and penned several goals. Among these were exercise goals, nutrition goals (like eating better/losing weight), a handful of vague spiritual goals, reading goals, intellectual goals, goals of “habit” and goals of being. Mindsets.

When I quickly realized mid-June that I was failing miserably at reaching any of these goals, I started writing down the things I was doing instead of reaching my goals: the movies I was watching (I recommend Winter’s Bone), the fun trips I took (Staunton,VA), the hours of Bravo television (my guilty pleasure) that kept me company while I vainly tried to pen a book, the virtual writing camp for teachers I joined, the popsicles I attempted to make in my state-of-the-art popsicle-maker, the books I read (The Weird Sisters, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Lilydale), and the insane amount of time I spent on Pinterest (pinning steampunk ideas for our upcoming production of Macbeth).

A stark and interesting portrayal of how poverty and addiction menaces our society. This is a story told about people that most would like to forget exist– and that is why I love it.














Now in August, I am trying to decide what to do with that piece of poster board and, more importantly, with my goals. Which ones are worth keeping? Why are they so hard to keep? Did I ever really believe in their importance for starters?

Did Gatsby?

Do you set/believe in goals?  Why or why not? What are some of your goals for this upcoming school year?

Extra credit opportunity: Write a blog describing what you did this summer and any goals that you achieved or failed to achieve. OR Write a blog answering the questions above (Do you set/believe in goals? Etc…) Post to the Ning by Sept. 1st. Grade on blog will be added as participation points for your grade.

Teacher Love,

Mrs. Lewis

PS: Middle-aged thought: Is it a privilege to lead a life that allows one the luxury of goals? That is to say, in Winter’s Bone, for example, the characters, especially the protagonist Ree Dolly,  were so focused on day-to-day survival, that goals would have seemed too close to dreaming to be real. Just a thought… after all this blog is called: Mrs. Lewis Thinks! 🙂

I enjoyed a visit with one of my best friends since 7th grade! Her name is Dusty and we had a blast. She is originally from this area. Oh yeah…and that’s my dog, Jax!