Finding a Rhyme and a Reason

Embark on a journey of teaching and learning with Ms. Hayes' class at Georgetown K-8, Savannah, Georgia

“Where I’m From” – It’s “wicked good”!


Today in Mr. Naughton’s 3rd period class, we took a moment to allow students to create a little magic with their adaptations of George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” poem. Madison has consented to me posting her poem. I am hoping more students will share theirs as well. Thank, Madison!

Where I’m From

I am from ice cold mornings
to hot, steamy, red lobster dinners,
I am from where the snow piles high and the fire glows at night,
I am from collecting sea shells on the Rocky Coast beaches
to roaming around with the black bears,
I am from the Pinetree state and it is wicked good!
I am from Maine
That’s where I’m from.

“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.” President Bush


While many of our Hilsman students were too young or yet to be born on September 11, 2001, thirteen years ago, many of us know exactly where we were. I presented the following ideas to the staff: How can we as a community honor this day in a way that incorporates what is already being learned? How can we lead students to embrace the day through our varied content areas and our IB profiles? Could we examine how the different branches of government responded? Could we look at how the literary community and artist expressed our nation’s angst and agony? What role did science and energy play? What story do the numbers tell? How did man’s courage and humanity take action and create heroes when death and destruction were inevitable? What claims might our students make and support about our nation and our world? Why should our students examine these events? How might it complement our mission as well as our goals as an IB school?

Mr. Pavone invited me into his classroom. To begin the dialogue, he encouraged his students to imagine the horror and anguish of this event and how it continues to impact society. When he showed the video below, I found myself emotionally transported back to the moment. I was also captivated by the words that President Bush spoke around segment 1:05 in the video: “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.” Hence, I ask: What is “the foundation of America”? How is our nation able to be resilient? What threatens our national security today?

Science Fiction or Fantasy: Did the Jetsons and Hanna-Barbera Get It Right?


As a child, I grew up watching “The Jetsons” every Saturday morning. For me, it was an entertaining show about a futuristic world where people’s lives appeared to be simpler and more exciting because of all of the gadgets at their command.

Science fiction is characterized as having events that could one day become reality if mankind develops the technology to make it happen. So, did this family, the Jetsons, and their creators get it right? How much of what they envisioned has become our reality? How much of it is and will remain fantasy? Examine the video and use examples to construct your argument.

For another perspective on where technology is leading us, also consider this: DRONES IN THE U.S.: A SPECIAL STUDENT REPORT

First Public Read of Declaration of Independence 238 Years Ago Today


I enjoyed sharing this bit of history with my Odyssey students after hearing a segment on NPR this morning. It gave me a purposeful reason to share a musical rendition of the historical document that helped me learn the words as a child. However, reading (or singing) the words is an invitation to a close read and more. This complex text was crafted to be a document that would stand the test of time, with the caveat that it would be “the right of the people to alter and abolish it” if it did not whole true.

In spite of the historical context in which it was written, we can still ponder whether or not it was held as a truth from its inception or if it was, at least in part, a lie before the ink dried on the paper. What was its intent and reality for the indigenous and the indentured, the male and female, the black and the white? How is it living up to its creed today for Americans and would-be Americans?

Explore the resources below to examine each word and principal of this founding document of our country?

Declaration of Independence

This Day in History

At Independence Hall, Echoes of a Public Proclamation 238 Years Ago

Making the Declaration of Independence Come Alive

If Only Thomas Jefferson Could Settle the Issue: A Period Is Questioned in the Declaration of Independence

King’s “I Have a Dream” – The Declaration of Independence as a “Promissory Note”

The Declaration of Independence Annotated

Fascinating Facts about the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence – Heritage Foundation

The Declaration of Independence: A Revolutionary Document

iSummit 2014 Conference Attendees Embrace Literacy and Technology Integration


Susan McMillian and I were tempted to act as barkers for our iSummit 2014 session. Two vivacious animated personalities such as ours, we were committed to having fun even if we only had one particpant. As it turned out, we had about seven participants who ventured into the unknown for an hour of “Odyssey City Comes Alive with Technology”. While the title gives a nod to Odyssey Atlanta, the non-profit organization for whom Susan and I have worked the last eight or nine years, it probably didn’t convey what was in store for all of us – presenters and particpants. Using George Ella Lyons’ poem “Where I’m From” and student-writings as models, our participants performed a close read of the text and fully engaged in the process of writing their own poems, emulating Lyons’ style. Hopefully, in addition to leaving with the wonderful poems they created, they also left with some constructive and concrete ideas on how to use technology (in this case Keynote and Garage Band for iPad) to support literacy across the curriculum and community-building in the classroom.

Susan and I invited our participants to post their poems here, and I have also included the link for the conference evaluation form below. Let’s hope they post them here, and that you enjoy sharing them as much as we did.



Photo from our iSummit 2014 session.

Odyssey’s 2014 Sixth Grade Students “Where I’m From” Poems


The First Lady’s Trip to China


Women’s History Month: The perfect time to ask: “Is there a woman who currently inspires you?”


In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Public Broadcasting System, Makers, and other corporate sponsors are presenting documentaries about the impact of women in shaping the history and the future of America. I encourage you to peruse the site to learn more about the women you admire as well as those you do not know. Review the blog post to read “Complete the History Books: Women in STEM”, “50 Years of Women in Space”, “African American Women’s First”, and more. After reviewing these remarkable videos and texts, join in a conversation about women, and the women who inspire you.

Moving Tribute to Nelson Mandela: Flash Mob Sings


Read the story and translation: The most touching Mandela tribute came from the least expected place.

“Nelson Mandela’s Life Story”


A lot of information about Nelson Mandela is provided in this video. Whose point of view is presented? How might you deternmine if the information provided is reliable?

Complete Exit Ticket #1

Here is a link to Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela in a pdf.

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Ms. Hayes, Academic Coach

Georgetown K-8

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