"What is always on your end of year list?" A quick 10 always on there items from us.

We were asked what is always on our end of year to do list.. Below are a few pieces we always have on that list. Ironically, for me the end of the year has so many of its own mini lists and rituals. 


A few things that are always on there for me are: 

1. Write thank you notes (this includes personal ones I write, and also putting aside class time and guiding the students to reflect and write their own. These include notes to students, ridiculously reliable, wonderful maintenance staff, an amazing receptionist, a family that has been really kind, a colleague/peer that helped you out, a class of students you used to have that is graduating etc..) 

2. Log that all our classroom books have been returned! Have students help out, remind families etc. 

3. Set aside class time to solicit student feedback. We wrote blog posts about how and why we do this in 2017 and 2018. End of year feedback from students (post from 2017), Always Ask for Student Feedback! (post from 2018). Our work of teaching and learning is grounded in reflection, this is so important! 

4. Take pictures / make a slideshow/ do some sort of comparison from beginning of the year end of the year. This can be photos from then and now, opening the letters we wrote to ourselves in September, or comparing work from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. 

5. Assign a lot of student helpers to take things down/ clean! 

6. Play more games/ plan for fun moments together, this is the last time this learning community will be together in exactly this way and time will fly and the year will be over. We love making a point to just enjoy each other as the year winds down. 

7. Prepare summer reading lists  (we also wrote a blog post on this, Setting Students Up for Summer Reading) --  foster continuous reading excitement (and let them enjoy giving you and one another recs!), and set them up for success to have books they know they want to get at the library or the bookstore. (We have tons of posts on books we love, here is the most recent one about books we extra loved for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

8. Finish that all class read aloud! We wrote about how we wrap that up in an older post (Looking Back to Look Forward). 

9. Reflect- use that student feedback, consider the pieces that worked and haven't worked, and congratulate yourself. There is always more we could do or a piece that could have gone better or a student we wish we reached or supported better. Make note and also celebrate another great year of fostering forever learners! 

10. Plan an end of school meal that you're excited about (for me, it's usually an Ethiopian dish.. or sushi! I just got hungry writing that). We both just love food so.. yep! 

This piece was also published on Medium through McGraw Hill’s The Art of Teaching Project!

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Books to extra enjoy Asian Pacific Heritage Month! (and all the months)

A Few Additions: Our Favorite Recent Reading in Honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


Check out last year’s post here!

Here are a few more worth taking a peek at this month, or any month:)

The House that Lou Built by Mae Respicio

We know we chose this one for Womyn’s month, too-- but with intersectionality and all, Lou and her family have a ton of awesome women as well as rocking their heritage, being thoughtful, and the list of what they rock goes on.. ! Enjoy the Bay Area vibes, tiny house-plot, girls who know what they want, and Filipino rep— it’s a keeper.


Counting on Community by our fave (we met him!!!) Innosanto Nagara. This is our favorite board book of his and is most certainly what Gabby will be giving to all of her loved ones who have babies. A beautiful counting book that adds aspects of the lovely things that make community. This has his staple artistic beauty, and of course has his fierce love and passion for humans being good to one another and doing good work.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo - for you, or your young human friends who are craving the pop world celebrity happenings. This one was fun and had the vibes you would want from a K-Pop star living in Hong Kong going off-script. We especially enjoyed that it was set in Hong Kong!


Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai - a novel with some pictures in the mix (not a graphic novel, as I had assumed before reading it), it focuses on two brothers who move from China to Australia and have very different experiences adjusting and managing such a huge transition. There is lots of baking involved and the pair of siblings are really relatable in this one. The first half felt pretty slow, but by the end we enjoyed it and found its way of representing the boys to be very valuable.

Come on. How can you stand the cuteness of this cover? Also— I just read it is getting adapted to be a J-drama!? If that doesn’t sound exciting for summer, I don’t know what is.

Come on. How can you stand the cuteness of this cover? Also— I just read it is getting adapted to be a J-drama!? If that doesn’t sound exciting for summer, I don’t know what is.

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame, (please enjoy both Volumes 1 and 2 !!). This graphic novel is heartwarming in all the BEST ways. Based in Japan, this series is about a super cute girl and her contemplative father. It’s really best if you enjoy this graphic novel series right now, and not be told what it’s about. It’s simple, poignant, human, and just very well done. If I had to choose a book to give to someone and say, “Happy May!” (because of course, that’s a fun thing to do) it would likely be these books because I would know someone would be happy in May after reading them. Just read them!

And can we bring back Full CIcada Moon? Great, thanks so much for understanding. The cover alone should woo anyone, but also so should this half black half Japanese main character who is super introspective and navigating her way through the world.


BONUS - For grown humans: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai was a fun, more original plot of a romcom book with non-white humans - HOORAY.  This one was entertaining and featured a black woman lead and a Samoan man as the main love interest. You heard that right, Samoan rep!! Let’s shout it from the rooftops, how overdue is that!? Also there is a little disability rep and conversation woven into this seemingly light fluffy romance book, so perhaps enjoy some of that, as well. Not to mention there is a quirky aunt in this one-- am I the only one who aspires to be a quirky weirdo aunt? She’s in here if you like that, like I do. Finally, this is a series in case you are searching for that summer beach series to devour.


Books we recently added to our Want to Read list: The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters (!! someone please send me this, who doesn’t love a sister story!?), Ramadan, looks like a timely, simple board book by Hannah Elliot, Other Words for Home, It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew The Way, and for summer romcom vibes Fake it Till You Break It with a fake dating trope that one of us can’t help but want to check out! (sigh, it’s Gabby, I’m not embarrassed by this I own it).


What books have you been loving with the ridiculously ginormous label of Asian representation recently? Or ever? Tell us, we are always looking for more, and happy May!


New Books to Celebrate Womyn's History Month (All Year Long!)

Great New Books to Keep You Celebrating Womens’/Womyns’ History Month (All Year Long)

image from: https://hfhealthyliving.org/five-ways-celebrate-womens-history-month-new-york-city/

image from: https://hfhealthyliving.org/five-ways-celebrate-womens-history-month-new-york-city/

If you are a regular of our blog (hi!) you know we are of the mindset that while we appreciate the monthly celebrations as reminders to re-up our work, we don’t want to fall into the trap of only emphasizing the community being supposedly celebrated during only that month with our students.

That being said, we love an excuse to add extra incentive and energy around learning about womyn. So here are some newer fiction books (most we read as ARCs so we could keep you as in the loop as possible) that have heroines that we think will aid in great conversations, or are solid options for keeping your students hooked in their adventures and inspired!

  1. The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio

We love this for its Filipina (!!!!) main character, Lou, her steadfast belief in herself and her dreams. She holds this belief even though they do not match what others expect of her, and we also admire her love for working with her hands and trying her best. We also adore Lou’s spunky and loving matriarchal family, the food descriptions (you might drool, we would use this as a class read aloud just to be able to incorporate some ube cake or lumpia into the classroom!?), and the representation of multiple different types of families and types of love:).

inside missmink 5.jpg

2. Miss Mink: Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill

We love this for the art, really, but also the life lessons. There isn’t much text here but this is a different type of picture book and we could see it feeling inspiring to some students. For the cat lovers, for those who love looking at the details in art (and finding the cats!), for the humans who want to travel and make their own rules. We could see it being a fun starting off point for a lesson on personal autobiography, where students make their own “rules for life” according to themselves, with illustrated images to accompany them!


3. The Breakways by Cathy G. Johnson

For a slightly stronger reader middle grade reader while still being fluffy and sweet, this is about the most fun eclectic bunch of girls on the struggling, C-level soccer team. Super diverse cast, sweet moments, and sincere struggles with trying to fit in. We love the representation of so many different ways to be an awesome girl (which from this text really means, find out who you are and be that!).


4. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

One of the new Rick Riordan Presents books, this one is the best from RRP so far (according to Gabby!). While this one is technically about the main character, a Sal, Gabi is really the star of this book and she is everything you could want a heroine to be. She is bright, she is thoughtful, she makes mistakes, she has a loving family you want to be friends with (I won’t spoil it for you, they are adorable), and she is a BOSS. This one also has incredible food scenes, amazing art school vibes, and of course, a universe at stake! (We may also note we love the Cuban vibes, Miami vibes, the healthcare focus which we normally shield from kids-- diabetes and babies, and how all of this is blended into a hilarious fantasy book!).


5. Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen

This one is for your melancholy or outdoorsy inspired kiddos. It’s a beautiful graphic novel about grief, nature, familial relationships, and working through your feelings. We’ve seen quite a few books out where boys get to have their big feelings (anger, ‘acting out’) and getting their moments of not knowing how to manage those feels. We love this for the representation of a girl who is unsure how to manage her feelings. We are grateful for the example of Pilu and how she works really hard to wade through her feelings, and finding her way back to supportive humans she loves.

There are, of course, so many more! But we will leave you with five so that it hopefully will not feel overwhelming. There are also so many fantastic anthologies about real womyn (also equally important, if not more so at times!), but we imagined you would see these on shelves at bookstores and blog posts everywhere this month.* We also know there are plenty of more obvious choices but we thought we would mix it up with a variety of these new/ less promoted ones. We hope this quirky new picks inspire you to keep sharing fictional (and non-fictional) amazing womyn with your students -- all the models for the endless ways they can be amazing young womyn!

Happy Womyn’s History month this month and all the futures!

Bessie’s photo at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

Bessie’s photo at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

*However if you are in need of an amazing woman to teach about this month Gabby highly suggests one of her favorite humans in history, black, motorcyclist and all around bosslady, Bessie Stringfield. That being said, she hasn’t quite found a kid’s book about Bessie that she loves just yet so please send your recommendations, if you find one!


Top 7 Things I’m Reminded About Now That I’m a Student Again...!

Gabby here- first post in eternity.

It’s finals week over here in graduate school land, and as I begin to reflect on the term (or procrastinate-- whatever you want to call it!), I have been thinking about what past teacher me could be reminded about from my current student life. Here are a few pieces that came up as I reflected (or procrastinated, really, you decide- just don’t tell me!). Hopefully these can be helpful right before the upcoming break, or when students return in January.. in addition to reviewing all those hard taught classroom expectations that they forgot!

  1. Time: What is time really, you know? And how does it just disappear so fast?! In seriousness, the demands of time management of a student are hard (different from a teacher’s but still very hard in its own way!), and I forgot to the degree they are especially when we calculate in the rest of their lives. Students do not even have full control of their schedules (siblings rehearsals, family obligations they can’t opt out of like adults do..) Remembering that what you ask students to do requires them to both manage their time AND do the assignment .. make sure it’s actually worthwhile or call it a pass. There are of course a million cool things you could shove their way for them to work on, but when you want it to actually take some time, make sure it is your very top pick and you have loads of reasons as to why you chose that one.

  2. Review homework in class or don’t assign it. Connect in some way the work they are doing at home to in class work otherwise that homework does not really matter... Nothing is less motivating even for the kid who is continuously on top of their reading to realize ... huh.. it doesn’t really matter if I do this work or not. Even if they keep doing it, noticing it doesn’t matter will change the intentionality with which they do it. Also, repeated exposures is helpful for everyone! There’s nothing like that moment when you notice that you’ve been trying hard to follow the rules and nobody else and then you wonder why you are...yes, our students notice.

  3. Do frequently check for prior knowledge / experts about a range of topics — there’s a great range of educators in my classrooms right now and the courses where we are just getting lectured to and not discussing with one another seems like a lost resource / learning opportunity! I often feel this way at conferences, too... Your students know a ton and bring all sorts of background knowledge to the table that you really won’t know about unless you ask.. Or when their mom tells you in the hallway in May..

  4. Remember how scary authority is — if there was one thing I could emphasize the most in this entire post it is this point over and over again. Authority is actually terrifying and makes all of us squirm or meek up (this should definitely be a phrase) in some fashion. If you are not doing something well your students may very well not tell you. If your students are asking you for something, chances are it is something that really needs to change and it took a lot of pumping up for them to get to that point. Asking questions, asking for clarification, asking about an unfair grade (!!!) ... is typically not going to happen 80% of the time those dilemmas actually come up. That means as the teacher on the other side, we have to proactively and consistently check how things are going for your students and how open your lines of communication are.*  This also means being even more on their team than they are is the best way to go, because they likely won’t have the words or the skills (which we do need to teach them / have them practice) to ask for what they need and tell an authority figure what isn’t working respectfully. I had to talk to a professor about a grade and I was sweating. Actually sweating. *The 80% statistic is made up or also known as my personal educated guess *

  5. Everyone likes a video example. That’s all, I just think that’s true. Pick a good one, obviously-- but they help break things up and provide different entry points to learning.

  6. Remember that students are social beings ... it is only from training that they do not chat with each other during your entire class. Also, talking with one another about their learning is actually really effective for them to all be hands-on practicing something.. You just have to teach and reinforce how to do it.

  7. Calculate in fatigue /winter slumps/ testing times and plan with that in mind. You are exhausted and so is your cast of characters. Everyone is tired. Do your students need a review day (back to repeated exposures!), and not trying to shove more in their brains? It would be a great way to assess how they are doing and switch up the energy during a doldrum time. Like right now! And back to writing papers. Thanks for the casual writing outlet and also for the wonderful work that you are likely up to this year !

Oh, and of course, don’t make people buy books that you only assign one chapter in the whole term and you could’ve just uploaded a pdf !!! ... hmm, clearly a specific thought... apologies! But do carefully consider the reading you are assigning. If you ever need some recommendations just look at one of the many Teach Pluralism book recommendation blog posts!

Happy plugging through December to get to Winter Break educator friends! We can do it, we are almost there. So. close.