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February 10, 2016

Walking the Plank - by Mary Feagley (High School English)

One of the many things I'm enjoying about our weekly Twitter book chats (#MVeLearn) about Teach Like a Pirate is the idea that times, we need to cast off our fears of going "off script" when we teach. Sometimes when a teachable moment materializes, we have to seize that moment and "walk the plank," right along with our students. Author Dave Burgess calls this "immersion."

I recently had an opportunity such as this in my English 10 classroom. In our quest to read more non-fiction, we were studying about Stonehenge in our textbook. One of the students had a question about how the grounds are taken care of. He was curious about how archaeologists handle the foot traffic around such an ancient monument and how this is monitored. We started discussing possible answers to his question, and I decided in the end to see if we could actually email the experts and ask them! I had had a similar experience two years ago when I taught Contemporary Literature. We were reading the book Spite Fences by Trudy Krisher. Students sent her messages through Facebook and through the magic that is social media (well, sometimes), we not only heard back from Mrs. Krisher, but she offered to visit our class!

We consulted our text and located the names Tim Darvell and Mike Parker Pearson, archaeologists who have both led digs at Stonehenge and are leading authorities in the subject in England. After some research, we found email addresses and sent messages to both archaeologists. We were thrilled to get responses from both researchers about a week ago and yet again this week! It ended up being a great lesson for my students in expert opinions and primary source material. In attempts to modify and redefine instruction, we changed up the plan and "charted a new course." Names in the text became real people who were along for the journey with us.

I've copied a portion of their messages below...

Glad you're enjoying reading about Stonehenge. Taking care of the site is a big job. It is undertaken by English Heritage. The grass is regularly cut and they monitor visitor erosion. When we dug there in 2008 we had to put covers on the grass around the tench and then refill the hole very carefully and put all the grass back. In fact we took a lot of samples to work on the laboratory, so much that we had to bring in extra soil to refill the hole and make it level.

With best wishes,

Tim Darvell Professor of Archaeology, School of Applied Sciences Bournemouth University

Dear Mary,

Stonehenge is a 'scheduled ancient monument' owned by the nation and looked after by a government organisation called English Heritage. It is also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is all under grass and all visitors have to keep to a path. People are only allowed to walk among the stones if they have bought a special 'out of hours' permit. After an archaeologist has finished an excavation, they have to put back all the soil and grass so that the site looks exactly as it did before the dig happened.


Mike Parker Pearson

Institute of Archaeology

31-34 Gordon Square

London WC1H 0PY--

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Those of you joining our Twitter Book Chat tonight...

Please use TweetDeck. All of us using TweetDeck, last week, could see all posts and all questions. If you need help with TweetDeck, PLEASE let me know! Also, there is a short video below to help.

In Twitter, click on your picture and check your settings. Be sure your settings are not preventing you from seeing Tweets.

Below you'll find the Transcript of last week's chat. Thanks to all who joined and persevered, even without questions!

We look forward to seeing you tonight as we discuss Rapport & Ask/Analyze pages 19 - 54. It begins at 8:00! Remember to use the hashtag #MVeLearn.


Digital Learning Day - February 17th

Here in Mt. Vernon we celebrate Digital Learning Day (DLD) every day! On February 17, we have the opportunity to celebrate with thousands of classes around the world. Classroom activities to celebrate DLD are being planned at this website. We would love for you to register your DLD activity on this site. In an attempt to give your fellow teachers a glimpse into your room, we would also like to suggest you fill out the Google Form and let us know what you have planned. We will put together a list of activities and classrooms for you to visit during your plan. You will also earn the DLD badge to display on your door!

If you'd like to try something new, collaborate with another class/school, or have us help in your classroom, just say the word!

Help Indiana earn the DLDay State Shoutout on Feb 17th! Register your activity

Spread the word by Tweeting the following:

We are registered! My class will be participating in #DLDay 2016! Register yours: (post a screenshot of your registration or class)

#SchoolHashtag Who wants to go digital with your class for #DLDay? I want to help!

Are your plans on the #DLDay map? Tag members of your faculty

Have you submitted your proposal for the 4C's Conference? What are you waiting for? Do it TODAY!

Connecting the 4Cs Conference

Tuesday, June 7th, 8am to Wednesday, June 8th, 4pm

700 Harriett Street

Mount Vernon, IN