At our last faculty meeting Paula discussed the success of sharing student work. I have to agree.  I enjoyed learning about the lessons my colleagues planned and implemented and the work the students were able to produce as a result.  We often have no idea what is happening in other classrooms (unless you read this blog, of course!).  And let me tell you, each time I am in classrooms I am amazed at the learning experiences our teachers have designed.  I am equally amazed at all that our students are able to do as a result of the awesome teachers here at Hart.  So that got me thinking… Every once in awhile, wouldn’t it be nice to get a snapshot of the learning taking place around campus?  Yes?  I knew you would agree!  I am going to start with my some folks near and dear to my heart…the English teachers.

9th Grade:  “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”  The famous Shakespeare play is the current unit of study and I observed many performances taking place.  Wait.  What?!?!  You have never read it?  Here is a quick summary:  romeo-and-juliet_o_303979

How adorable are these freshmen?

Classrooms pictured above belong to:  Jordan Blen, Tina McGowan, & Tara Holloway

10th Grade Honors:  Paul Hertzog’s students worked on interpreting war poems of Wilfred Owen.  The students collaborated on close readings of the texts.  On the following day students performed choral readings of the poems and then discussed their interpretations. Read more about choral reading here!


10th Grade:  Kristin DeWinter was IMG_7408introducing the memoir Night, by Elie Wiesel. Wiesel recounts his experiences as a teenager in a Nazi camp during the Holocaust. To begin class Kristin offered words for contemplation. Projected on the screen was Martin Niemöller’s “First They Come for the Jews.”  Students responded in their writer’s notebooks and then discussed as a whole group.  A few years ago the English Department started using writer’s notebooks in all of our 9-11th grade classes.  These notebooks allow our students to write more than any English teacher could ever possibly grade and this is a good thing!  Students explore ideas knowing that teachers will not evaluate their writing as they will for traditional essays.  The notebook is simply a place to practice writing and play with language.  Beginning or ending a class with words for our students to ponder is so important.  Even when the words are hard to take in.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.


11th Grade:  Adrienne Villanueva and Tiffany Groscost display the 11th grade quarterly essential question for study:  What does it mean to be an American?

Check out this bulletin board Tiffany’s room.  Students wrote quotes, characterizations, questions, and thoughts about the characters from The Great Gatsby, an American classic about the Roaring Twenties.  Love the artwork and the shared experience of the novel!

Speaking of Gatsby…Erin Bach and I had our AP Language and Composition students journal their way through the novel. Our students filled their writer’s notebooks with artifacts and evidence of their understanding of the text.  Below are a couple of examples:

12th Grade:  I popped in to see Mary Ellen Kearney’s AP Literature and Composition class on St. Patrick’s Day.  She wore an adorable Shamrock shirt from Savannah, Georgia and green flats…very festive!  What was on the schedule for the day?  “A potpourri of Irish poetry and prose (and Prufrock).” How fun is that agenda alliteration!  Mary Ellen read through a Yeats poem with the students and discussed.  Again-opening class with well-written words to ponder…this makes my heart happy!  By the way, if you have not experienced T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” you need to!  Click here to listen while you read along 🙂  Leave your feedback in the comments below and let me know what you think!

Carpe Librum:  I can’t end this post without a little Carpe Librum love! Carpe Librum means “Seize the book!” Many of our English teachers begin class with 10 minutes of silent reading.  Students choose books that they are interested in reading and always have a book to read (so remember this if they ever finish up an assignment early in your class. Tell them to take their books out and read with that extra time!)  When I visited Laura Graves, her students were just starting Carpe Librum…doesn’t this picture just calm you and give you a warm, fuzzy feeling?

Laura’s Classroom

I know that Laura has her students write about the books they are reading on  Adrienne Villanueva does as well.  When I observed the Adrienne’s class, her students had just completed reading and were busy on Chromebooks.  They found their latest prompt on her website and then responded to it and to each other on  I LOVE that Laura and Adrienne have created a community of readers who share their reading lives with one another.  Hey-follow us all on to see what we are reading!  Share your latest book updates with us as well 🙂  Take a peek in Adrienne’s classroom below:

There you have it…a glimpse into the English Department.  I didn’t quite get around to every English teacher so you may see an update in the near future.  Would you like your department happenings to be showcased?   Or maybe you are interested in nominating another department to be highlighted next?  Let me know…I would love to give our staff a peek into your teaching lives!

Thank you to all the English teachers who allowed me to pop in over the past couple of weeks.   You are all amazing!