College Ready

Sharing strategies for student success, college readiness and academic coaching


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Remain Curious. Never Stop Questioning.

Never stop questioning. Think for yourself. Remain ever curious.

Advice from Einstein, to every scholar, and by scholar, I mean every one of us:

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Words Mean Everything. What I’m Teaching this Semester.

“Words started to mean not just something, but everything.”

I’m looking forward to teaching The Book Thief, by Markus Zukas this semester. Reading and writing  our way through trauma can save us, sustain us. Not just in the pages of an imaginary universe. In real life, too. I know books saved me many times.

The Book Thief

We’re also be reading Fahrenheit 451 this semester. Our discussions will focus around knowledge & education, censorship, power and authority, fear, risk, survival, reading, story and identity. It’s going to be a fun environment with great discussions. There are so many parallels to contemporary events.

Fahrenheit 451

Why, for instance, do some people fear words, and books, so much so that they ban them? Why are 62 million girls out of school, globally? Why did the Taliban shoot Malala Yousafzai in the head to keep her from getting an education? What were they afraid of? And, perhaps just as importantly, why was a young Malala so willing to risk so much to go to school each day? Why wasn’t she afraid (or was she?). Either way, she risked her life to learn. To see.

We’re reading and writing about interesting other stuff too. But this is going to shape our semester.

Welcome to Spring 2016! ~Lisa


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Writing Haiku in the Rain

On Wednesday, it rained in Northern California. This is something that hasn’t been happening very often. (See also: drought.) It was glorious & noteworthy.

And so, my frosh college comp students wrote haikus about the rain. Yes, it had to happen.

And it was good. To stop. To not rush. To listen. Feel. Connect. Discover. To Write. Together.

Here’s some of what they had to say. (All writing by English100 students, each space is a new writer):

RAIN~~

Rain is like wet peace

Cascading down my body
Piercing my very soul

Grey slippery drops
Renewing luscious hillsides
Quenching nature’s thirst

Joy Fills the Gray Sky
Dull Struggles are Dropped

Clouds filled with wet life
Sound of peace with sleep

The earth is renewed
Every time rain falls down
Water creates life.

Photo @ collegereadycoach.com by: lisalu22

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Each line is a complete image in very few words. I compiled this one longer poem from various lines out of the students’ original work. Each one was lovely as a stand alone haiku, but putting it together like this connected writers’ ideas to a collaborative mosaic.

Do you teach poetry in your classes? If so, what do the students think? A few of mine were skeptical at first. They needed time to brainstorm, to think it out, and to really understand that there was no objective, and no assessment. If the haiku turned out well, great. If students weren’t happy with it, then they need not turn it in. Low risk and high reward, especially as students read their poems aloud. I hope you will take some time to notice the rain, or the snow, or whatever else is of interest in your part of the world. Make it noteworthy. Craft some poetry together. Share some writing. Make some connections.

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I happen to love the rain. Do you? I love the smell, the way the air feels. I love walking across campus in it. Here in California, we aren’t going to be making our way out of this devastating drought anytime soon, but at least we had a little sliver of silver lining on Wednesday.

Happy Friday,

Lisa (aka, The Happy Teacher)

Need a refresher course on Haiku? It’s a form of Japanese poetry made up of three lines. Lines are 5/7/5 syllables each. The first line consists of 5 syllables, the second line consists of 7 syllables, and the third line consists of 5 syllables. Haiku often focuses on nature. For more on how to write a haiku, click here.