Mrs. McGriff's Reading Blog

Happy reading!

January 21, 2014
by Mrs. McGriff
1 Comment

What’s in a name–your turn

In the second day of No Name Calling Week, what power does a name have?  Think about all the names you are called.  What do they say about you?  You might answer one of the questions below:

  • How did your parents choose your name?  What do you like–or not–about your names?
  • Do you have a nickname?  How did you get it?  Who calls you by that name?  What do you like–or not–about it?
  • You may have heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  I don’t think that statement’s true.  Words–especially insulting names–do hurt.  How can you stop the hurt caused by name-calling?  What can we as a school do?  Have you ever been hurt by name calling?

Remember, your need to write about 150 words.  Elaborate on your idea by giving examples, explaining your thinking, adding sensory detail, making comparisons with figurative language.

You don’t have to write on this topic.  You can write about anything you want (at least 150 words) and leave a link to share your writing.

Here are the three easy steps to follow:

  1. Write a blog post:  You can write about the suggested writing for the week, or write about any topic of your choice.
  2. Share your blog post by leaving a link in the comments for this post.  To find the URL or address for your post, click on the post title you want to share.  If you are in the right spot, you should see only your post (and a place to leave comments) on the page.  Then COPY the URL from the address bar at the top of the screen.  Come back to this post and PASTE the URL in the comments.  You may want to briefly tell what your post is about as an invitation.  If you’ve copied the URL correctly, you should see your blog post title at the end.  Click the POST COMMENT button when you are done.  Your comment then goes to the top.
  3. Read the blog posts of at least three others who leave a link in the comments.  Leave a thoughtful comment that asks a question, shares more information, or points out something specific the writer did well.

January 21, 2014
by Mrs. McGriff
8 Comments

What’s in a Name?

Today’s post for No Name Calling Week reflects on the power of names:

I was pretty lucky throughout school to escape most bullying.  Oh, I got a few taunts of four-eyes when I first got my glasses.  I had the occasional classmate in high school threaten to throw me out the window for ruining the curve on a test for the rest of the class, but I never felt threatened.

I was, however, painfully shy and went through many years where I kept my nose in a book whenever I was in class and looked at the floor when I walked through the halls.  Sometime during this period, I became embarrassed by my middle name: Reid.  A character on a television show during that time had a character by that name, and he was a guy.  How could my parents have given me a boy’s name?  Didn’t they know I was a girl?

The more I tried to hide my middle name from my classmates, the more they wanted to know.  Then the teasing and begging started for me to reveal my awful middle name.  The more people pushed me, the further I withdrew.  I was just sure that people would taunt me for having a boy’s name.  Then one day an act of kindness changed my mind.

During a Girl Scout meeting when everyone was hounding me about my middle name, Heather pulled me aside.

“Why don’t you tell me your middle name?  I won’t tell anyone and they will leave you alone if you tell me,” she offered.

After thinking it over for a long moment, I whispered my middle name in her ear.

She didn’t laugh.  She didn’t run back to the circle to tell everyone else.  Instead, she shared her own secret.  ”Ohhh…Reid means pretty in French.”

I’ve since studied French and know that she completely made up that piece of French vocabulary, but I’ve never forgotten how her words transformed the way I felt about my name.

What experiences have you had with the power of names?

imageI’m taking part in the weekly Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by  Two Writing Teachers, where teachers write and share each Tuesday. Join in yourself or head over to check out what’s happening with other slicers. If you’re taking part in the SOL, leave a link to your post. I’d love to read it.

January 20, 2014
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Spread a Little Sunshine

January 20 – 24 is No Name Calling Week.  I’ll have a series of posts this week reflecting on the effects of name calling (probably the most common form of bullying I see) and suggesting ways you can stand up to make a difference.

It is much easier to make fun of someone you don’t know, someone who seems different from you.  How well do you know your classmates?  Do you know which things you have in common?  Do you know what unique interests and knowledge and experiences set you apart?  I know I’ve learned a lot about you from reading your blogs.  Now it’s your turn.

Across the blogosphere, bloggers have been nominating other bloggers for a Sunshine Award.  Since I commented on Elsie’s blog Elsie Tries Writing, I’m nominated, too.  I’m taking that idea (and changing it to fit us) and nominating some excellent student bloggers.  If you’re nominated, you get to introduce yourself and nominate more of your classmates.  Here’s what you need to do if nominated.

  1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer 7 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Write 7 questions to be answered by the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Nominate 7 student bloggers (look for those who haven’t been nominated yet if you can.). You’ll have to tell the person you nominated them.  Check the categories on each blog for a list of students in a each class.
  6. Copy these directions in your post.

I’ll start off with 7 random facts about me.

  1. I was born and grew up in eastern North Carolina.
  2. My first real job was barning tobacco for two summers.  After that I will never put that stuff in my mouth.  It’s disgusting!
  3. I met my husband at the East Kentucky Regional Airport in Hazard, KY.
  4. My second job in high school was shelving books in the local library and helping with the summer reading program.  It was the perfect job for me.
  5. I have my private pilot’s license.  Even though I don’t fly anymore, I am glad I have “slipped the bonds of earth” at least a few times.
  6. I started doing sprint triathlons several years ago.  I’m old and slow, but I take pride in the fact I can finish a .2 mile swim, 9.5 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run.
  7. I grew up being told, “You’re just like your grandma.”  Sometimes that was a good thing, and sometimes it was said in frustration as I burned dinner because I was reading.

I’m answering the questions posed by Elsie, who nominated anyone who commented on her post a few weeks ago.

  1.  Where were you born?  I was born in Fayetteville, NC.
  2. What’s one thing at the top of your bucket list?  Taking a vacation where I can travel across the prairie (for a short journey) in a covered wagon.
  3. What makes you smile?  Lots of things–my dog, blue skies and sunshine, my family, seeing my students light up when they get it.
  4. What is your favorite time of day?  I love morning, especially when I am the first one up and the house is quiet.
  5. If you won the lottery, what would be your first big purchase?  First, I would pay off the mortgages on our house and farm.  Then I would purchase a plane ticket to somewhere exotic.
  6. Do you know anyone famous?  Who?  I still get a thrill when real, live authors interact with me on Twitter!  When I was in high school, I got to interview Herve Villachez from Fantasy Island.
  7. What is something you’d like to do this year that you’ve not done before?  I want to do a Color Run!

Now here are 7 questions for you to answer.

  1.  What would be your dream job?
  2. Where would you like to visit?
  3. What do you like to do on the weekends?
  4. What did you do on our last snow day?
  5. What is your favorite picture book from your childhood?
  6. What are you good at doing?
  7. Who would you like to meet?

Drumroll, please!  Here are the 7 student bloggers I nominate to get us started!

  1.  Mrs. Baxter 
  2. Alexia M (1st period)
  3. Anthony W (2nd period)
  4. Abbigail T (3rd period)
  5. Alexxis S (4th period)
  6. Aaron C (6th period)
  7. Abrianna J (7th period)

If you are nominated, leave a comment with a link to your post and tell us who you nominated.

January 28, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

A rose by any other name

What names have you been called? I have been thinking about the names I’ve been called throughout my life and how they have affected me. Some bothered me briefly, others have stuck with me a long time.

  • eyeglassesThe first time I remember being teased with name-calling was when I first got my glasses in the third grade.  I was thrilled to be able to see, but worried my classmates would call me “four-eyes.”  They did, especially the boy who chased me across the playground every recess and who later gave me my first Valentine’s gift.  I went through a time when I was embarrassed to be seen in my glasses and would walk around blind if I couldn’t wear my contacts.  Obviously, I’m over that now.  
  • I was a good student who liked school.  That earned me names like “nerd,” “geek,” “goody-two-shoes,” and “square.”  Those names didn’t bother me too much then or now.  I didn’t even take the teasing to through me out a second story window too seriously when I scored well on a test everyone else bombed. 
  • On the other hand, I was not confident through middle school.  I spent most of my time lost in whatever book I was currently reading. I walked down the halls with my eyes staring straight at my feet because I was afraid to even say hello to the other students.  Even though it was sometimes awkward, those feelings didn’t define all of me.  I had safe places to be myself–my Girl Scout troop and church youth group.  During the same years I hid at school, I was teaching adults to tie knots, lay a campfire, and pitch a tent.
  • I first felt the potentially devastating impact of name-calling at Governor’s School (a six-week camp/school for extra-smart high school students in NC).  My new best friend and I had been hanging out with a couple of guys we met.  We enjoyed laughing and joking together until one day they gave us the complete cold shoulder.  To say the least, my friend and I were confused.  We confronted the guys to ask why the sudden change.  They turned all shades of red before they admitted that another girl had told them to stay away from us because we were total sluts.  How would you react?
  • I think my reaction surprised them–and maybe me, too.  I burst out laughing.  Remember from the point above that I was considered a complete goody-two-shoes.  (I was the one fellow band members asked to sneak alcohol in my suitcase because my bags would never be searched.  No, I never took them up on it.  I liked my reputation.) I found the whole idea of the slut rumor riduculous because it was so far from who I was.  My laughter was probably the best response.  Because I didn’t take it seriously, neither did the guys.  We soon resumed our friendship and the rumor died right there.

Name-calling happens.  How do you deal with it?  What advice would you share with someone who is suffering from the names people label them with?

Photo “8 marzo” from http://www.flickr.com/photos/43129737@N00/2320986818  Used with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

January 27, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
2 Comments

Bullies v. Terrorists

I’m reading Bullyville by Francine Prose aloud to my homeroom right now. During the worst year of his life, Bart must deal with his grief for his father, killed in the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers on 9-11. He also has to deal with being bullied at his new school, Baileywell Prep. At one point in the story, Bart compares the motives of his own personal bully with those of the terrorists who took his dad’s life.   They are certainly different in terms of the scale of damage they cause, but do you agree with Bart that  they are the same at heart?

Thinking about Bart’s connection reminded me of a poem a wrote a couple of years ago.  One day I pulled up behind a truck and read this bumpe sticker on the back:  Kill them all, Let Allah sort them out.  I I was quite disturbed by the hate expressed and wrote this poem in response:

Hate Brings

Hate brings them together
and drives the world apart.

 
A terrorist blows himself to bits,
hoping to die in glory
while killing all the infidels.
It doesn’t matter who
the infidel is—
mother, father, sister, brother—
all must die
when hate brings you together
and drives the world apart.

 
Across the world
a bumper sticker calls for revenge—
Kill them all—Let Allah sort them out.
No, don’t kill them all
lest you not see that hate
has made you blind
to the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers
hate has left behind.

 
No, don’t kill them all
because hate brings you together
and drives the world apart.

If you have written something (or want to write something) that expresses your thoughts about bullying, check out the contest at the No Name Calling Week website. The deadline is not until February 28.   Check out the rules for middle school and download the entry form.  As always, I will be your editor.

January 26, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
8 Comments

What would you do?

What would you do?

What would you do?

You’ve seen the site for No Name Calling Week.  You’ve browsed some books that deal with bullying.  Now it’s time to take a stand.  What would you do if you walked up on this group of students?  What would you say?  Would you remain a not-so-innocent bystander, or will you become an ally?

In six–and only six–words (remember the six word memoirs?) describe your response to this scene.  Enter your response in the form below.  Click here to see how others have responded.

 

Original image: They’re warm now 
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/64937321@N00/200168929)
Released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic License.

January 25, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
2 Comments

Got Bullies? Get books.

James Howe’s The Misfits may have started No Name Calling Week, but it is not the only book to deal with bullying and name calling.  The right book can reassure you that you are not alone, inspire hope for your future, and give you insight into people who are different from you.  Check out what these stories have to say about bullying or name calling. 

  • Blubber by Judy Blume.  Jill joins her classmates in teasing Linda, an overweight classmate.  Blume gives an honest look at bullying with no easy answers, just like real life.
  • The Outsiders by SE Hinton.  This oldie still rings true today.  Johnny and Pony boy must flee after simmering violence between two gangs, the Greaser and the Socs, flares up out of control.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  Hannah Baker committed suicide and left a series of tapes for thirteen people to listen to.  In the tapes she explains how each person’s actions contributed to her death.  The reader listens along with Clay Jensen, one of the thirteen.
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Melinda suffers a year of isolation and name calling after calling the cops at an end of summer party.  Will she find her voice to speak out about what really happened?
  • The Hate List by Jennifer Brown.  Valerie and Nick kept a list of all the bullies that tormendted them in a notebook they called the Hate List.  Little did Valerie know that Nick would use the list to target people in a shooting spree that left six students and a teacher dead.  I haven’t read this one yet, but have heard good things about it.
  • Bullyville by Francine Prose.  During the worst year of his life, Bart Rangley must deal with the death of his father in the 9-11 terrorist attacks and his own personal bully at his new school, Baileywell Prep.  I’m reading this one to my homeroom right now.  Ask them about it. 
  • Confessions from the Principal’s Chair by by Anna Myers.  In this very funny book, Robin finds herself principal of her new school–at least until the real principal shows up.  Her mother yanked her out of her old school after she and her friends bullied another girl.  Now she must confront the bullies of the girl in her office.
  • The Shadow Club by Neal Shusterman. Jared and Cheryl are tired of suffering the taunts of being second best.  The form a club to pull pranks on those who best them, but the pranks soon spiral out of control. 
  • The Executioner’s Daughter by Laura E. Williams.  Way back in 1050 England, Lily suffered the taunts of the village children because of her father’s job–executioner.  Will Lily find the strength to become her father’s assistant or to make a new life for herself somewhere else?

Other books can give you deeper insight into people who are frequently bullied and teased.  What is it like to go through life homeless or autistic?  Read these books and get a glimpse of the world through someone else’s eyes.

  • Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.  A wealthy art dealer joins with a homeless drifter and neither life will ever be the same.  
  • Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine.  Caitlin struggles to understand the world after her big brother’s death in a school shooting.  She had always depended on Devon to interpret the world for her since Asperger’s gives her a view different from everyone else.  This is one I want to read.
  • Marcello in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.  This is another one I want to read because I’ve heard so many good things.  Marcello has always gone to a special school because of his developmental disability (which even the doctors don’t understand).  The summer he is seventeen he works in the mail room of his father’s law firm in order the experience the real world.
  • Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah.  Amal decides to wear the hijab (head scarf) full time as an expression of her Muslim faith.  Her family and friends have very different reactions to her decision as she tries to find her way as an Australian-Palestinian-Muslim.

Which of these books have you read?  What titles would you recommend that deal with bullying?

January 24, 2011
by Mrs. McGriff
0 comments

Welcome to National No Name Calling Week

Did you  know that a book started a national movement?  It did indeed.  The Misfits by James Howe (remember Bunnicula, anyone?) inspired the first No Name Calling Week in 2004.  This year, this is the week to join in.  Take a stand against bullying where it starts.

How can you get involved? 

  • Download a customizable header for your blog.  It’s free and legal.  Check out mine up above. 
  • Enter a creative expression contest:  Have you–or can you–write a poem or song or essay or draw a picture that expresses your experiences with name calling or shares your ideas on how to stop it.  Be sure to post it on your blog, too.
  • Be a fan on Facebook.  Okay, don’t do this one at school, but if you are part of FB, share the news. 
  • Check out the student resources at the official website.  Can you make the change from bystander to ally?
  • See what some young adult authors have to say about bullying and name calling, including that author who started it all, James Howe, and my favorite, Laurie Halse Anderson. 

Take a stand.  Make the pledge.  What will you do for National No Name Calling Week?