Meet Lori


Book signing with my favorite author, Sandra Cisneros.
Years of teaching experience add up quickly and sometimes it's hard to remember just how long you've been at this crazy game. And--oddly enough--the longer you're at it, the crazier it becomes (Enter the STAAR test)!

I began teaching in 2006 after graduating from UNT with a bachelor's in English. I cried after my very first day and wondered what I was going to do with a degree in English Literature! Seriously. But eventually I stopped crying and simply vowed to become a better teacher. In 2010, I graduated with my master's degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in literacy studies (say that three times fast) from UTA. Every day in the classroom challenges me, but every day makes me better. It's that whole forged by fire thing. In all of these crazy years, I have taught on-level 10th, on-level 11th, Pre-AP 9th, Pre-AP 10th, and acceleration. I'm weird and would take a rowdy bunch of odd little 9th graders any day of the week. The entirety of my teaching career has been spent at a Title I school, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I grew up in a not-so-affluent area of Dallas, and I get it.

At the start of the 2012-13 school year, I became the ELA instructional specialist for my campus, which is pretty much my dream job. But getting your dream job doesn't mean life suddenly turns to sunshine and roses. On the contrary! I have learned so much about working with teachers, acceleration students, RTI (aye-aye-aye), and so much more. This past year has been a crazy whirlwind of planning, creating, and implementing new and never-used-before strategies to help our kids learn. In my classroom, we sing; we write on our hands; we fold colored paper; and we can never have too many markers.

By far, I am most passionate about offering the best instruction while functioning in a broken system. Secondary English teachers in Texas are in the midst of a huge instructional shift, and I am excited to be a part of it. Do I love the STAAR test? No. Do I think my kids should be able to pass it? Yes. Do I want to help other teachers fight the good fight. Absolutely. My personal mantra is: It's not about the literature; it's about the skill. Say that out loud in front of a crowd of English teachers...well you've just turned that crowd into a mob! But seriously, this is our shift. It's where we are. We must make our instruction explicit. We must teach secondary kids how to read and how to write. We must realize that we are not teaching novels; rather, we are teaching skills through quality literature. [Gracefully steps off soapbox]

[Transitions to a kinder topic] I'm also a mom...so I'm a teacher at home and at school. My daughter will enter kindergarten next year, and I'm excited to watch her learn and grow. She's funny and sassy and full of lots of good stories. My son is still figuring out the simpler tasks in life like...walking. Using the potty will undoubtedly be our next big milestone, but alas, that is many diaper changes away.

Back to the school stuff. Put your stack of grading to the side. Trust me...it's not going anywhere. Bookmark this site, and visit us whenever you're discouraged or just want to know what to do tomorrow! Everything here is tested with real live children.* If it works, we'll tell you. If it flopped, we'll for sure tell you. And, we can guarantee as much humor as possible.

*No children were harmed in the testing of these lessons.

3 comments:

  1. Lori, I am so excited about you guys starting this blog! You are an awesome teacher, and I look forward to learning from you! Have a wonderful school year!

    Jeanna Sutton- Argyle HS

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  2. Lori, I have bookmarked your blog, and I will keep coming back. I am in my 2nd semester of my master's program at UT Tyler, and like you, I am working on C&I with a focus on literacy. I am the department chair on my campus for ELAR, and I currently teach 7th grade. We are a Title I 6-8 Magnet campus in Tyler, and we have just under 1000 students. This is my first year to have two tests attached to my name, and frankly, I am scared stiff. I have about 60 kids, and they are the lowest on campus. I'm still trying to get them to write in complete sentences, let alone end a personal narrative with a lesson they have learned. I purchased a few more books from Gretchen Bernabei, and I'm slowing down the pace and trying to get them to do at least a few things well. So, all that said, do you know of any other resources that would be good for my 7th graders for expository? Love the blog!

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  3. Hi Teresa! I'm so glad that you've found our little blog. My heart goes out to you for the fact that you have two tests attached to your name. The level of stress that comes with that can be unreal. I get your struggle with basic rules of grammar. Be sure to check out our grammar foldable post. Hang in there, girl! The mere fact that you are seeking out other sources for help speaks volumes about how much you care. Gretchen is by far the best source for helping struggling writers. She will be in Dallas very soon, so you may want to look into attending if you can. As far as other sources, I can offer you some assurances about what you're using. The state wants to see personal anecdotes as examples to support the thesis, and that is by far the easiest thing for kids to write about. So go for it! Sure...references to something they've read or historical events are great, but the personal experiences tend to have voice and they are engaging. Stay tuned to the blog. Suzanne and I are attending the TCTELA conference at the end of the month and should get some good resources that we'll definitely blog about. Stay in touch and please share your successes with us!

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