Tag Archives: Upstanders

PLC Series: November Round Up

Welcome to the November Round Up for the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series. This month, we shared content and conversations to open critical discussions about sensitive topics to hopefully bend our world toward social justice.​ Scroll through to see what you might have missed this month or simply want to read again!

Continue reading

PLC Series: Listening as a Teaching Move

Welcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series! This month, we learn how to open discussions about sensitive topics, and hopefully help bend our world toward social justice.​

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

“As educators, we are on the front lines the morning after a tragedy shakes the world. It ripples into our classrooms from homes, the hallways, and handheld devices."     -Sara Ahmed                                                                                         

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Far too often, educators walk through school doors with not only the weight of recent tragedy but the pressure of decision making regarding class conversations around the event. What do we say? How should we say it? What will the kids say?

Perhaps, suggests Sara Ahmed, we enter with a different plan. Listening.

Continue reading

PLC Series: October Round-Up

PD PLC_Email_Banner_640x220_White_FIN.jpgWelcome to the Heinemann PD Professional Learning Community Series! This month we explored cultivating literacy-rich classrooms.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

October flowed with posts sharing content and ideas to support our thinking about literacy-rich classrooms that honor student independence. Scroll through the links below for a recap of shared videos and downloads, PD opportunities, and links related to this month’s blog series.

Continue reading

Announcing Heinemann’s Third Annual Teacher Tour


Heinemann Publishing is thrilled to announce the date for our third annual Teacher Tour. Each year we open our doors to educators and invite you to spend a Saturday with us and a selection of our authors for a day of learning and special giveaways.

Heinemann’s Third Annual Teacher Tour
Where: Heinemann, 361 Hanover St, Portsmouth, NH 03801
When: August 1st, 2015 from 8:00am to 12:30pm

​You’re invited to Heinemann’s offices in downtown Portsmouth to see what goes on behind the scenes, meet our editors and staff, and participate in four 40-minute sessions with several of our well-known authors, including:

Frank Serafini, author of Reading Workshop 2.0

Lindsey Moses, author of Supporting English Learners in the Reading Workshop

Sara Ahmed, coauthor with Smokey Daniels of Upstanders

Colleen Cruz, author of The Unstoppable Writing Teacher

All participants will receive complimentary professional development resources! Don't miss this great opportunity to learn about Heinemann and share your insights with us about how we can meet your classroom needs. Please note there is no cost to attend this event, but space is limited, so register now.

Register here and mark your calendar!

See a sample of last year's Teacher Tour here:

Your Heinemann Link Round-Up for the Week!


Welcome to the second entry in a new series on the Heinemann blog! Every week we find around five interesting links for you to take into your much deserved weekend. These links are interviews with educators, posts from our authors' and friends' blogs, and any interesting, newsworthy item from the past seven days. Check back each week for a new round of finds!


At Two Writing Teachers, Tara Smith wrote about a presentation Ralph Fletcher gave called "Making Nonfiction from Scratch: How Can We Give Students the Time, the Tools, and the Vision They Need in Order to Create Authentic Information Writing?"

Ralph began his presentation with a spirited defense of keeping narrative writing at heart of our writing workshops, reminding us that what is remembered is connected to and embedded in story. The elements of surprise and suspense draw us into stories, he said, they keep us on our toes and hold our interest.

—Click through to read "Learning from Ralph Fletcher: Teaching Authentic Information Writing" by Tara Smith at Two Writing Teachers.


Nancie Atwell appeared on PBS NEWSHOUR on Wednesday evening, in a segment called, "'World's best teacher' does not believe in tests and quizzes."

Click through to watch the video clip.


Author Penny Kittle has won the Exemplary Leader Award from CEL and will receive it at the NCTE Annual Convention in Minneapolis!


Teacher ​Jianna Taylor wrote a review of Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts & Minds with Inquiry by Harvey "Smokey" Daniels and Sara K. Ahmed.

Of all of the professional books I have read, this is the first that felt as if it were written directly for me and the type of teacher I am.  I could see myself as a teacher in the pages, but more than that, I could see a better version of my teacher self in the pages.

Click through to read Jianna's review at Oakland Schools Literacy.


Amy Ludwig VanDerwater finished off an incredible 30-day sing-a-poem project for National Poetry Month. Visit The Poem Farm for more.

Check back next week for more interesting links. Do you write a blog about your experiences in education? Leave a link in the comments below and we'll consider it for future round-ups. Have a great weekend!

The Challenges of Teaching Middle Schoolers


Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts and Minds with Inquiry is a new book from Harvey “Smokey” Daniels (@smokeylit) and Sara Ahmed (@SaraKAhmed). Upstanders invites you into the classroom of Sara Ahmed to see her teaching in action. With Smokey Daniels as your guide you'll see exactly how Sara uses inquiry to turn required middle school curricular topics into questions so fascinating that young adolescents can't resist investigating them. In our Upstanders blog series, Sara and Smokey will highlight topics in the book related to middle school and helping kids go from bystanders to Upstanders.  This week, Sara and Smokey write about some of the challenges of teaching middle schoolers. 

The Teacher

Adapted from "Upstanders" by Sara K. Ahmed and Harvey “Smokey” Daniels

SMOKEY: If you mention to everyday civilians that you teach middle school, they usually express some kind of discomfort: they roll their eyes, shake their heads, offer condolences, or say things like, “Wow, that must be a rough job” or “You’re lucky you didn’t have me in your class, I was such a pain in the ass in middle school.” Sometimes they express gratitude, as if you were a first responder to the “hurricane of hormones” that middle schools are supposed to be. Sometimes they say, “Well, I certainly could never handle those kids.” And you think, right, you probably couldn’t.

SARA: The responses I get range from amusing (horrifying) personal stories about the “worst years of my life” to condolences (“God, I hated middle school, I’m sorry”). It’s always a wonder to me that people feel so bad about their early adolescence. My first response to these confessions is generally an awkward laugh, but I always try to pacify or sugarcoat their memories. I reassure them that I actually love middle schoolers and they are a really fun group of humans to learn alongside. It’s as though I need to convince people that adolescents are also real human beings, with normal feelings, who are trying to find a comfortable zone within their identity, just like everyone else. And really, they are funny, funnier—than any adult I’ve met.

SMOKEY: And that’s a serious point. I’ve had some colleagues who were angry at the kids a lot of the time, mostly for stuff that just comes with the territory, y’know? If these kids don’t amuse you, if you aren’t laughing with them a fair amount of the time, you might be working at the wrong grade level. We love these kids the way the youngest part of them needs us to.

SARA: If we practice a habit of perspective, we can try to understand why people respond so strongly to this age level. Sixth graders can enter your room at nine, ten, or eleven. They leave the middle school environment when they are fourteen or nearly there. The social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth is rapid and ethereal. This can cause turbulence for parents and teachers, but mostly the middle schoolers themselves. Any and all relationships can be challenged during these years: parent vs. child, teacher vs. child, coach vs. child, peer vs. peer. There is no magic wand to fix this, no blog that has the right advice and tools. There is only compassion and empathy, and definitely, a good sense of humor.

Click here to learn more about Upstanders.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Sara K. Ahmed has taught in urban, suburban, public, independent, and international schools. Harvey "Smokey" Daniels has been a city and suburban classroom teacher and college professor, and now works as a national consultant and author on literacy education.