I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I am writing my first "blog tour" post! Thank you for this opportunity, Jen Vincent & Meenoo Rami!

On this tour, readers of THRIVE: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching by Meenoo Rami are giving their own thoughts about what struck them from this book. I will do the same, and yet, from a different angle.

I know THRIVE will be very beneficial for new teachers, or teachers who are in a slump and need a boost. I got the most out of chapter five - "Empower Your Students." This has been my focus this year, and I want to look at THRIVE through this lens. How could the ideas in Meenoo Rami's book apply to my students? I will be handing this helpful book to a teacher who feels she or he needs to be reinvigorated, but I'm going to use this book to my advantage to help me empower my students even more. I'm going to look at each chapter through the eyes of my students. How can I empower my students even more by sharing tips for teachers in this gem of a book?

Turn to Mentors
     My question: How can my 7th graders turn to mentors?
     Find one teacher who you can turn to when you need assistance - or find multiple teachers you can turn to for different reasons. Have on hand friends who can do the same. Who do you go to when you need to vent your frustrations? Who do you go to when you can't understand your homework? Who do you go to when you need fashion advice? ;-) If you are missing someone in your life who can help you with a question you have, ask around. Use your friends and teachers to find that next resource - that next connection. In turn, make sure you are showing thanks and help in ways you know how. Share with these mentors your own genius - your own unique skills.

Join and Build Networks
     My question: How can my 7th graders join and build networks?
     Do you want to get better at what you love? Start blogging about your passions. Connecting with others who have the same passions will help you access knowledge, create knowledge, and share your own knowledge. Another way to connect is through Your Sphere - a safe place to share your skills with others and even help the world be a little better. From there, you can #Choose2Matter! The best person to help you build a network for helping others - Angela Maiers“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson. You can do this by joining and building networks with others who want to make this world a better place.

Keep Your Work Intellectually Challenging
     My question: How can my 7th graders (who are bored because our work is "too easy") keep their work intellectually challenging?
     You're not "getting anything" out of your classes? It's time to learn on your own. Let's face it - you are not likely to be interested in EVERY class you take, but know that you CAN become more interested (and thus, more invested) in each class by pursuing what you want to know about the subject. Finished with the homework from the most boring class in the world? Time to look for resources related to that topic that will challenge you. Don't want to learn about the different types of rocks? Research WHY knowing these types of rocks is important. Research the rock that might lie beneath the grass in your yard. Is it okay to have these rocks there, or should they be taken out in order for you to have a lush lawn? You can diagram sentences in your sleep? Give yourself a speech by someone famous to try to diagram. What makes this speech so special - can you figure it out from the patterns in the sentences? If you're a big reader, how do the structure of the sentences your favorite author uses make it such great writing?

Listen to Yourself
     My question: I currently try to encourage this with my students all the time, but what else can I do?
     For the student who "plays school..." You get good grades, and keep your mouth shut, yet you're not happy. You just want to move on. If you are silent, you become disconnected from your work and could be wasting precious minutes of your life. It's time to listen to yourself.
     What's the matter?
     Are you bored during school? Let the teacher know. Ask for help as to what can challenge you in class.
     Are you scared or worried about something? Confide in a trusted friend or teacher. See what they know about this anxiety of yours. There are others who have the same fears and worries. Speak up when you believe it will benefit you or your friends/classmates.
     Goethe was right when he wrote, "Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." (p69) Let others know what you're all about - let them know your insecurities and your strengths, and make those connections that will last you a lifetime.

Empower Your Students
     My question: I try to do this for my students, but how can I encourage them to empower themselves?
     There are "no good books to read?" WRITE one!  Class is boring? Ask the teacher why what he/she is teaching should be important to you! School announcements aren't exciting? Make one yourself and show them how it's done! Eighth grade teachers aren't going to give you Genius Hour time? Convince them through a video, letter with signatures, help from the principal, or even going to the school board with the benefits of such time in school! Things aren't right?? MAKE THEM RIGHT! YOU can be the change. As Kid President (aka Robby Novak) asks, "What will YOU create that will make the world more awesome?"

Let's use THRIVE: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching by Meenoo Rami to empower teachers and students alike!

Please visit the other blogs on this tour to learn more about how you can use this book in your life...

THRIVE - by Meenoo Rami - Blog Tour 2014
Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts
Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy
Kira Baker Doyle at Kira J Baker-Doyle, Ph.D.
Sarah Mulhern Gross at The Reading Zone
Christina Cantrill at Digital Is (National Writing Project)
Kate Roberts and Maggie B. Roberts at Indent
Beth Shaum Use Your Outside Voice
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
Troy Hicks at Hickstro
Joy Kirr at Genius Hour
Tara Smith at The Teaching Life
Antero Garcia at The American Crawl
John Spencer at Education Rethink
Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsberg at Unleashing Readers

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