5 Things Writing Helped Me Understand after Nearly Dying (Twice)

“You are the author of your own life story,” the skinny strip of green bubble letters outlined in neon pink promised. It used to hang above the chalkboard on the far wall of my classroom. Back then, I believed in that language arts message as hallowed inspiration. Now? Teacher-catalog bullshit. Only recently, I had become […]

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The Holocaust Lady

I remember her words like it happened yesterday. March 2004, San Francisco, California: the Northern California Forum on Holocaust Education. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum had brought me in as a team member to run one of five classroom sessions, accommodating more than 200 attendees, including survivors. We had just finished a few days […]

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In Memoriam: Henry Greenbaum, a Photo Essay

With love for Chuna Grynbaum/ Henry Greenbaum/ My Henry, 1928-2018 I will write about my Henry and his story soon, I promise. *A majority of these photos were taken by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on a very special day for me. Henry spoke at First Person,  which was also moderated by my dear […]

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Seven Ways to Create the Perfect Classroom Environment

1. Plants, lighting, smells, and sounds: all important. Plants feel “homey” and provide oxygen, which is necessary for breathing, right? The more natural light the better—lift those blinds. Doesn’t matter what age student you have, no one likes a stinky room. Your olfactory senses are tied to memories, you know, so don’t make your classroom […]

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Time (Clock of the Heart)

Why does life seem to be happening so quickly these days? Little Layla is now four and a half months old, Natalie and Ryan have officially tied the knot (and are home from their Dominican Republic honeymoon with a nice mystery rash), it’s already October, and school has been in full force for six weeks […]

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Real Life Lessons from the Classroom

I like to bring the real world into my classroom—at least as much as I can—and when it was time for me to get down to writing a keynote address for the ASJA conference in NYC mid-May, I panicked. What would I tell this group of writers, who undoubtedly had more profound writing credentials than […]

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The Power of Story: for Ally

This week, as I have watched those around me come together in the wake of tragedy and sadness after losing you, so loved and so young, I’ve been reminded of the force that telling stories encapsulates over and over again. According to “The Psychological Power of Storytelling,” by Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A. (Psychology Today, […]

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The Senior Soundtrack Project

When my seniors in English 12 asked if they, as a class, could read my book, how could I refuse? It is literary non-fiction, which their standards specify. And they were asking–almost pleading—after all. I’m no dummy. Plus, what a cool opportunity all the way around. (Please note: I did not require students to buy […]

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