Teens These Days

This week, my friend Genny and I started a blogging intensive.  It started out a bit rough, with heaps of bitching and moaning reluctant energy such as “I wanted the camping intensive” and “this is soooo boring, I’m not coming to school this week”.  Thankfully most, if not all of the negativity has died down (with the help of a few key absences, I’m sad to say).  The kids are blogging away and creating some really great stuff so far!  It really warms my little heart to see such awesomeness come out of them in such a short time.  It’s a bit mind blowing to see how much they are capable of  when they’re given free reign to create whatever it is they are interested in.  We give them such little time in the regular school day to explore and work with these interests in a productive way, as we are all so consumed by the urgency of tests, grades and graduation.  We (teachers) also assume or hope that they have enough direction and/or resources to explore these interests on their own outside of school.  Sometimes we assume correctly and other times, not.

In the past three days, my kids have created blogs about gaming, music, food, fitness, sports and the apocalypse.  Granted, they’re not perfect and they leave much to be desired in terms of grammar and punctuation (along with a bit of misinformation), but it’s a great start.  I can’t wait to see how their blogs evolve over time.  Fingers crossed they keep it up well after this week-long intensive ends!  Check them out here:

Esmerelda, Cathy, Messiah, Timofey, JV, Ulugbek, Nick, Enddy, Erick, Celeste, Jessica, Anna, Nina, Tariq, ClarissaKenny and Brian

I snapped a few pictures of some kiddos working hard and hardly working on the their blogs using WordPress.com (of course).  <old lady rant> Teens these days have it so easy.  When I was their age (’95), we created websites practically from scratch using actual html tags! </old lady rant>

enddy and nick


three amigos

Also, a pic of the teachers, a bit too up close and personal for some.  #selfie…ish



Major thanks to Michelle and B for coming out to expert-talk with the kids about blogging.  They buzzed about it for a bit afterwards and they now quote “we should write how we speak!”  New goal for the kids: land yourself on Freshly Pressed!!

Crew Camping

As some of you may already know, I spent all of last week on a camping/backpacking trip with my crew.  That’s right, 5 whole days with 12 teenagers.  Our school is an Expeditionary Learning network school (we are not a charter school, though I think a few others are), and we are also an NYC Outward Bound school.  These are two overlapping programs here in NYC that are pretty intertwined, one setting the tone for curriculum and management of the school while the other offers outdoor opportunities to help develop character in our students.  This week-long camping trip to Sharpe Reservation (part of the Fresh Air Fund) is taken by all 9th graders with their crews (their homeroom for the next 4 years) and focuses on outdoors skills, leadership, communication and teamwork simultaneously.

New York couldn’t have been any more gorgeous for our trip.  In 5 days, my crew and I backpacked for 2 nights (in the rain), completed 2 high ropes elements, 3 low ropes elements and hiked about 6 miles.  In between, we sang songs, played games, settled differences, mediated drama (teenage hormones), learned how to properly poop out in the woods, laughed and cried (me – once, out of frustration).  We couldn’t have done it all without our two incredibly patient guides, Bill and Julia.  I owe them my gratitude for keeping me sane.  I love the outdoors/camping and I love my crew.  Those are two things that were completely mutually exclusive for me…’til last week. I survived!

Check out the Outward Bound blog for more on our trip and for photos with student faces.