Teacher Appreciation

Each year America honors our teachers with an appreciation week the first week of May (5th to 11th).  There of course is nothing that can repay you for your dedication and timeless devotion to the young people in front of you every day.  However, this year as I have traveled to our schools and had the privilege to teach some of your students, I have been reminded of a poem that talks about what is required of us when planning learning.  Not to mention, the powerful role our students have in telling us the truth about what they are, or are not, learning.

The Day the Students Said
By Andy Flaherty

We weren’t acting out the play,

Completing the vocabulary preview,

Or filling in a graphic organizer to

Understand the ghost of Banquo.
The most ambitious student
In the class had already finished
This declaring it, stupid.
We were reading, plain and simple

Reading, the students said, is fun.
Act III Macbeth
When the guests at the banquet
Seem to know that something is
Terribly wrong.
No interactive learning,
No worksheets, no counting off
Or moving into groups.
Just a circle and a script.
Our own climax
Competed with Macbeth’s
A scene repeated throughout the day
May 13, 2008 the sight of
Turning pages and the sound of
Students fumbling over the iambic
Pentameter as they reach for
Difficult words, one young
Girl delivering her own soliloquy:

“Teachers are crazy Mr. F.
Don’t they notice our
Charts are left blank?
The innocent white space that
Symbolizes our laziness?
We are not without ambition
We are bored with busy work
Even though they say
It will help us achieve.”
We question, achieve what?
Is this play about charts
Or about words and actions?
There is so much to do
Underlining and drawing
I start to go crazy and
I forget to read!

Emily’s words echo
In my consciousness
Like “fair and foul”
Yes, school can be good
Can be ill
This is fun
I make a mental note:
Just a circle and a script.

I often find myself reading poems about teaching that honor our profession and challenge me to be a better teacher, and man.  Here are few famous poems you might enjoy.

Again, thank you for your contributions to Concept Schools.

Updates to SIS/Curriculum 2019-2020

This year we spent a significant part of the fall traveling to schools and modeling best practice.  During those visits we kept notes of what teachers were using from SIS, asked questions about teacher needs, and modeled our curriculum using the resources from SIS.  In addition, we emailed teachers, had Webinars, and asked for volunteers willing to look more deeply at SIS.  Overall, our teachers understand that we are to be creating engaging lessons with critical thinking at the core.


Below is a screen shot of the information we gathered (see email for complete list).


We will be updating SIS over the next few weeks.  There will be no significant changes, but a few new resources will be added as recommended and the A, B, and C breakout will be eliminated.  Everything for the 6 units per year will be housed in the “All Resources” overview of the unit.


  • The price lists for Collections, Vocabulary Workshop, and Phyllis C. Hunter leveled readers has been provided to Mr. Uslu and school leadership.


  • Two readers have been selected for those of you who requested them. They are both on Amazon and a class set can be purchased at a discount.  A Multicultural Reader and Mirror on America.


  • Novels are to be used to support work originating in our units, and you still submit for approval no more than 3 per year.


Finally, please reinforce your knowledge and remind your colleagues that we create our units based on our understanding of your state requirements.  We highly recommend that you all:

  • Know your state education website
  • Identify blueprints, standards outlines, and other materials
  • Confirm with your school administrative team which documents they refer to
  • Clarify terminology and do not make assumptions
  • Review curriculum updates and rename the Master Curriculum when it is uploaded to your account – we should see changes, additions, attachments that reflect your work. Once in your account it is no longer the Master. 



2019/20120 Pen A Poem for Justice Winners

Winning poems will be posted on the website by end of next week.


Category 3-5th Grade

1st Place, Ian Gamble (5th grade GSA)

“A Travel Through Time”

2nd Place, Katie Maloney (4th grade GSA)


3rd Place, Jashaun Jacobs Jr. (4th grade HSA Springfield)


Honorable Mention, Abena Bonna (5th grade HSA Columbus)



Category 6-8th Grade

1st Place, Za’Niyah Smith (8th grade Noble Academy Cleveland)


2nd Place, Alexandria Brock-Barnes (8th grade HSA Springfield)


3rd Place, Donny Rodgers (7th grade HSA Denison Middle School)



Category 9-12th Grade

1st Place, Kyree Hicks (12th grade Michigan Math and Science Academy)

“Afraid of Blackness”

2nd Place, James Golden (12th grade Michigan Math and Science Academy)

“Hood Legends”

3rd Place, Corrine Cianci (11th grade HSA Lorain)

“We Try and Try Again”

Honorable Mention, Twylah Crutcher (11th grade Michigan Math and Science Academy)

“Sinful Skin”