Getting to know you: subject survey (and happy 15 August!)

On Friday and Tuesday this cycle (Day 3 and 4), I’ll give you a brief survey to see how you feel about different subjects in school. I do this every year; it helps me get to know you,  it’s also really interesting to see how attitudes change over time. This is fun because it involves old school technology: colored pencils and paper! We’ll talk about how things are going so far and will work on making sure you’ve got working technology.

We’ll be off on Monday, August 15th to celebrate India’s Independence Day. At midnight on August 15, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, gave his famous ‘Tryst with Destiny” speech. You can read the full text of the address here. And below, you can watch an original video of the first, and most famous part of the speech.

Organization: first thoughts

On most Day 1 and Day 2’s we’ll focus on organization. Going forward, I’ll confer with you about the work you are doing in other classes  and how you are managing that. This week, as IPads are rolling out, we’ll set up our study planning notebooks, and we’ll step back and think about what we’ve done in the past to keep track of our work and what we may want to change this year.

When I was in middle school, there was only really one way to track homework: you’d write it down. The only  question was whether you’d write it in a calendar, a binder, or on a scrap of paper. I know I tried them all, with varying degrees of success.

Now at AES in 2016, there are many more options. Some students track homework by writing it into a hard copy calendar, such as the AES agenda. This is what I often do, myself. Others rely on electronic tools, such as Notes, Reminders, Google Calendar, or Sunrise. (This year Sunrise is ‘sunsetting’, so we’ll be looking for replacement for that.)pic calenar

I thought it would be interesting to share with each other the systems we use for remembering what we have to do and when we have to do it. Please tell us what you do and why it your think it works for you in the comments below. If you are planning to use new tools this year, please share those as well. And while you’re at it, why not read what other students are doing? You might learn a new trick or two while you are at it! Don’t worry if you are new to AES middle school; we’ll be helping you find a system that works for you.


Welcome to All Kinds of Minds, a blog that serves the Advisory, Study Skills, and Academic Support classes in AES M206. You can read more about my philosophy here. You can find the Academic Support course overview here and the Study Skills course overview here.

Ms Khanna and I are planning a great year.  We are so glad you are here where we celebrate diversity in learning styles, language and culture; we agree with  Temple Grandin when she says, “the world needs all kinds of minds.” We will be working this year to use the strength of our many minds to do some exciting thinking.Blog pic

I am very pleased to be working with Ms. Khanna again this year. She received a B.A. in Commerce from Delhi University and has four years experience at AES in the elementary and middle schools. Ms Khanna  has recently completed a teacher training program in IGNOU, Delhi, so she is also a certified teacher.

I’ve been teaching for 19 years; I’ve spent half of my career as a general education classroom teacher and half as a special educator.  This is my fourth year teaching Middle School at AES; I also taught fifth grade here for six years from 2005-20011. AES is a unique school, and one of my favorite places to teach and learn.

My eldest son graduated from AES and is attending university in the US this year;  I have another son at AES in eleventh grade and a daughter in ninth. Portland is the American city I’m proud to call home. I was born in Iowa, and I still return to the Midwest to visit family from time to time.

Reading and writing is important in my family. My partner is a writer; her third book, Bicycle Dreaming, came this past January. She now works as a community organizer for the Deepalaya Community Library Project, which she and I started in 2008 and expanded in 2011 with the help of AES colleagues and fifth grade students. The Project has grown from an after-school read aloud program serving a dozen children, to a full scale library with 700 child and adult members in the Sheikh Sarai Phase I area. I volunteer there every Monday and most Saturdays. You can learn more about that project here. We can always use more volunteers.

In my spare time, I read and write poetry. This summer I read several collections of poetry, including Jeet Thayil’s Collected Poems, Tabish Khair’s Man of Glass, Arun Kolatkar’s Sarpa Satra, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, and The Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot.  I also write poetry and am hoping to finish my first collection in the next couple of years. You can find links to some of my published poems here.

Students, I’d love to hear what kinds of reading or writing you did this summer. Why not leave a comment below? Parents, you are welcome to comment as well, and I hope to meet you all at Back to School Night later this month. In the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas to share, do get in touch. The contact page will show you how.