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SabbaghELA Posts

Self-Advocacy: Find Your Voice

Short and Sweet: you have to speak up.

Students – You HAVE to advocate for yourself.  People can help – parents, administrators, teachers, and friends – but YOU have to speak up in the classroom.

Dr. Katie Schellenberg addresses the importance of teaching advocacy.  Check out her post and incorporate some of her tips in the classroom.

TED Talk: “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Adichie

As teachers, we have the opportunity, nay, the responsibility to impact our students’ lives and learning in a profound way.

This week I have the pleasure of sharing a message that can CHANGE the way students look at what influences their perceptions of the world.

“Change the way students look at what influences their perceptions of the world.”

Wow – what an awesome responsibility.

Today students watched a TED talk given by Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian novelist, entitled, “The Danger of a Single Story.”

Her message is that, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

This week students will be summarizing Adichie’s claim, analyzing the rhetorical devices she used in her TED talk, and making a connection with her message.

I am really excited to be sharing this with my students – and I know that they are up for the challenge of digging deeper, examining the single stories in their life, and opening their minds to this shift in their thinking.

For anyone interested in reading more on the topic, I encourage you to check out David Brooks’ New York Times Op-Ed on Adichie’s TED Talk – he reiterates Adichie’s message and examines the political ramifications of ‘the single story’.

(Shout-Out to my partner teacher, Mrs. Dobbs, for collaborating on this assignment with me!)

Card Marking Period 1

This just in: Marking Period #1 has come to a close.

Image result for cat meme report card

Good news first:  10th graders are getting into the rhythm with new teachers and new content.

Second helping of good news: There are two more marking periods until the end of semester 1.

I encourage students and parents alike to attend Parent Teacher Conferences on Tuesday, October 25th and Thursday, October 27th.

The long and short of it is this:  As your teacher, I have high standards and expectations for you (both behavioral and academic). I can’t and I won’t apologize for that.  As my students, I hope that you learned some valuable lessons about what some things you need to do are to ensure your success in Language Arts.

As always, I invite you to make an appointment with me, should you want to conference about what you can do better or what are some areas for improvement.

In the past week, I have had numerous students approach me regarding extra credit opportunities.

Image result for meme extra credit

Honestly, I take pride in offering my students the opportunity to go above and beyond on their assignments and projects – I recognize students’ commitment to producing high quality work. I don’t believe in chasing grades – I believe in my students holding themselves accountable and dealing with the consequences of their actions (good and/or bad).  I always tell my students,  mistakes are only “bad” when you fail to learn from them.

Marking Period #2 begins Monday, October 17th: Start Strong, End Strong

You can do this!

Notice for AOL Email Accounts

Dear Parents,

If you are an AOL email user, please be aware that you may not receive email notifications due to AOL policies. We are working to resolve this issue with AOL.

Thank you for your patience while we work with AOL to make sure you get classroom notifications from your teacher.


Technology Department

HLA3 – Literary Terms Project

Exemplary Work from HLA3 - 6th hour
Exemplary Work from HLA3 – 6th hour

As a teacher, part of designing an assignment/project is to make sure you include the parts which will provide students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of a standard.  I pride myself on allowing students the opportunity to be creative and think outside the box, while still showing me what they’ve learned.  Projects should NOT be recipes!

My burning question:  How is it that a teacher can give the same parameters to each student, and receive such wildly divergent results?  Regardless, when I get results like the one posted above, I am grateful.

HLA3 – A Separate Peace Socratic Seminar


Yesterday the Honors Language Arts students took part in Socratic Seminars (Photo Credit: Mr. Adam Martin, DHS Principal) to discuss complex themes and ideas in John Knowles’ novel A Separate Peace.

Students were responsible for engaging in critical thinking and collaborative conversations surrounding questions such as “What was the effect of war on Gene?” and “How is this novel essentially a psychological tale?”

Students assessed each other on their ability to analyze, reasoning, cite textual evidence, listen closely, and promote discourse in their groups.

After each seminar, I asked students to select MVP’s in their group.  Here are the names of the students who “stood out” during the Socratic Seminars:

4th hour – Group 1

Maxine M. – MVP

Mohamed W. – MVP

Kara P. – Honorable Mention

4th hour – Group 2

Wafa J. – MVP

Riley T. – MVP

Mariam B. – Honorable Mention

Adam C. – Honorable Mention

Chase C. – Honorable Mention


6th hour – Group 1

Samantha M. – MVP

Adam I. – MVP

Benjamin C. – Honorable Mention

6th hour – Group 2

Maya L. – MVP

Brendan H. – MVP

Lauren H. – Honorable Mention


I had invited the administrative team to observe the students in action – here’s what Mrs. Jebril, DHS assistant principal, had to say, “It was so refreshing to observe students actively engaged in collaborative conversations using text evidence and taking the initiative to keep the dialogue focused… It was also great to see students providing their peers with feedback.”

(Thank you to Mr. Martin, Mrs. Osinski, and Mrs. Lintner for also passing by!)

Students: If you could please take the time to answer this quick survey about the Socratic Seminar process, I would appreciate it.

Today we are finishing our A Separate Peace unit with a summative exam.  Thank you for reading!



At the end of the day, I am reminded of just how important it is to be true to yourself. It’s worth the struggle; and, in the end, the best version of yourself is better than giving in to the pressures around you.

It’s not about recognition (even though recognition is satisfying); it’s about the reward that comes with being self-motivated to always do and be your best.

Some days you do better than others (and that’s part of being human).

Years from now when you ask yourself if what you did and who you are mattered … I hope your answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Keeping fighting the good fight- I promise you, even on your worst day, it matters.


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