Class Notes #10: Literary Salons, Veterans’ Day, & New Names

The Literary Salons were a great success. Several administrators and teachers stopped in and gave their support. The highlight truly for all was when one 7th grader, a boy from Ghana who has been so shy he never spoke, read his own work. The audience remained silent and then broke into spontaneous applause. There can be some tremendous moments in teaching. The head of school collected the students’ work to include some in the yearbook.

On Wednesday, Veteran’s Day, a guest speaker, who’s served two tours in Afghanistan, addressed the entire school for about 45 minutes. He started off saying he’d answer questions except the questions “Had he ever killed anyone?” and “Did he bring his gun?” (He did not, though of course, both those questions were what the kids wanted to know.) He’s now with the military police and shared what he looks for when hiring new recruits for his job now with the military police. I took notes, thinking there might be a lesson to mine from his talk. He mentioned three things he values: a hard work ethic, breaking the rules as in being able to think outside the box, and giving back.

The assembly ended with the students giving him the school’s “Three Claps & a Stomp,” shaking the building’s foundation, and then a call and response routine that tells who they are, why they’re there, what they’re doing, etc. and frankly I think resembles military drills.

The second quarter began this week so I’m learning new names and faces. I had students select one of the values the vet presented and write how it relates to them. Many understood the hard work ethic and giving back, the breaking the rules/thinking outside the box stumped them. They are very literal in their thinking. Creative writing hopefully will expand their imaginations and at the same time give them some much needed writing skills. I brought to the administrator’s attention an article in last Sunday’s Star-Ledger about why Americans can’t write. There’s only so much I can teach in one quarter.









About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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3 Responses to Class Notes #10: Literary Salons, Veterans’ Day, & New Names

  1. You amaze me Lisa with your commitment and passion.



  2. Very interesting post, You’ll be missed


  3. Pingback: 50 Things We’re Grateful For: Bloggers Unite! | cyclingrandma

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