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Carrie Deahl
Glendale, AZ
NBCT, English/Language Arts. Reader. Writer. Social Justice Seeker.
Interests: I enjoy curling up with a good book (highlighter, pen, or sticky notes nearby). I also enjoy writing, teaching, hiking, snowboarding, and traveling. I love animals, sports, tea, music, spending time with my niece and nephew, and second chances.
Recent Activity
For a few weeks now, I have spent at least ten minutes each day writing in my journal. Most of my writing has focused on what I have done this summer, details about the Uber riders I have driven around, and reflections about conversations I have had with friends, family, and colleagues. My favorite time to write is in the mornings before I have read anything paying close attention to my inner writer voice allowing her time to process on paper. As I do, I think about the types of writing I am doing and what types of writing I want to model for my students. Maybe I will come back to some of these ideas I have written down this summer; maybe I won't. A writing routine is easy for me to fall out of when I'm not in the classroom, or one I do not allow time for, and it is one I definitely need to re-establish to prepare me for the writing I will do with my students throughout the school year. Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2015 at The "Real" Deahl
Camille, The 3Ps grading system is my favorite way to discuss grades with my students. That said, it is time-consuming, I typically spend the last 2-3 days of each quarter and semester conferencing with students. We have progress reports due every 3 weeks, so I have students informally reflect in their Writer's Notebooks about the grade they believe they deserve and why. I conduct slightly more formal grade conferences with students at the end of 1st and 3rd quarters/terms and then a more formal conference at the end of the semester. Did you have some specific questions/concerns in mind that I can address for you? Also, feel free to email me at as I do not always check my typepad comments feed. Best, Carrie.
Years ago, Alaina Adams tapped my shoulder. Someone before Alaina tapped her shoulder. Now, it is my turn to tap someone's shoulder, and I have. I have tapped the shoulders of people like my colleagues: Kat Thoms, Katy Horgan, Moon Johnson and friends like Jillian Eddings. I have likely inadvertently tapped the shoulders of complete strangers through my tweets and Facebook posts. And, I will continue tapping teachers' shoulders until National Board Certification is the norm. Like many of my fellow NBCTs, it only takes a spark to ignite the process. Alaina was my spark and offered me a great deal of support in my year of "candidacy". This work is that important. I know that I must continue inviting others into this work so that can share our stories, celebrate our accomplishments, advocate for our students (and ourselves) and elevate our profession. Our students deserve nothing less than NBCTs working with them each day. We, as teachers, deserve to work with colleagues who inspire us and elevate our practice beyond what we thought possible. Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2015 at The "Real" Deahl
I follow several blogs on Edutopia, but the one that led me to the National Day on Writing is their Student Engagement blog. If you haven't read Todd Finley's post entitled: Why Do We Have to Write Today? I strongly recommend it. Today, I shared this piece with all of my classes as a mentor text. I had them highlight anything they could relate to as a writer. As teachers, we need to remember that sometimes the greatest writing comes in quick, short pieces. Informal pieces where students can take "risks", playing with their craft as they experiment with another another writer's craft. Maria and Fernando's pieces speak volumes about why I will continue to use this lesson for years to come. Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2013 at The "Real" Deahl
When it comes to complex characters that undergo significant changes, I notice my students struggle with identifying what motivates these characters and why they morph into better (or sometimes worse) versions of themselves. And yet, it is these very characters my students seem to identify with and connect to. As a first-year National Board candidate last year, I realized I needed to incorporate other mediums like drawing to allow my students to deepen their understanding of these very complex characters. My PLC and I completed a Book Study for Kelly Gallagher's Deeper Reading. Within Chapter 7: Using Metaphor to Deepen Comprehension, Gallagher explains John Powers' "iceberg" metaphor. After reading this chapter, I realized I'd found a strategy I could model for my students that just might lead them into the deeper comprehension Gallagher speaks of and my students so desperately need. Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2013 at The "Real" Deahl
I think a key in approaching classic and contemporary literature in this way is the process of self-discovery. Allowing students the opportunity to question these authors, these particular books and the worlds within them provided my students an opportunity to be inquisitive. Implementing Lit. Circles for the first time within my instruction allowed me the opportunity to be vulnerable with my students (we were both trying something for the first time). Initially, my students were a bit reluctant in accepting this challenge, but as we continue through the unit, they begin to embrace literature for the first time in their lives. Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2013 at The "Real" Deahl
Students are reading their articles more closely, which is evidenced by the increased amount of questions and comments written on their articles of the week. We've also added in Phrase Breaking to help break up longer sentences, making these sentences more manageable. In their Reflections, I've also noticed that students are beginning to add in details from the article as support for their ideas. This is not something I've modeled for them or requested from them, it is the natural consequence that results from becoming a skilled reader. Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
Goal setting is one of the things that I enjoy about planning out the school year. Goals are exciting to write because I get to determine what I want my students to be able to do by the end of the school year. We can revisit them throughout the school year, refine them, establish new goals, determine how a goal will look once its been met, and include them in conversations about where we are, where we need to go, and why it's important to have a plan in the first place. Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
Maggie, you ask some important questions, and I'll admit the first time I gave grading conferences, I was nervous. 1. The difficulties/obstacles I faced that first time around included: ~Kids weren't ready. ~I didn't feel ready. ~I felt rushed. ~I felt like I did more of the talking than the student. ~My pacing was off. I dealt with this by talking to my kids about how I thought grading conferences went. They too, felt nervous, and (even today) when I shake my students' hands, their palms are sweaty. It takes some getting used to for all of us, and I feel more confident each time I give them. I think my students feel more confident as they become more routine. And, if I feel like I misjudged a student on Progress Reports or End of the Quarter grades, I try not to worry too much about it. Semester grades are what count the most, and by then, I'll have practiced giving grade conferences so much and will know my students well, that I know we'll get the Semester Grade Conference just right. 2. While I give formal grade conferences, my other students are working on a new piece, some type of reflection, they're finishing up unfinished work, reading their books, working on journal entries, or preparing for their own grade conference. I simply say, "I'll be happy to discuss grades with those students who are prepared, are not interrupting other grade conferences, and are on-task." Then I say, "If I'm interrupted, the person(s) who interrupt me risk losing their grade conference, or risk earning a lower Participation grade." Working during Work Time is one of my Participation requirements, and there have been a few times where I've had to deal with some students on an individual basis by requesting they come in before/after school for their grade conference because they interrupted someone else's. However, these times have been few. Periodically, I scan the room to make sure students are working. By this time, we've practiced classroom procedures and students understand the Reader/Writer Workshop dynamic that I usually don't have many problems. But those first couple of times, there will be a few kids off task. Eventually, their peers will hold them accountable, or they'll continue to be off task, which will simply come out of their Participation grade. I may even have to address this problem on an individual basis where I will apply the principles and strategies outline in Teaching With Love & Logic by James Faye and David Funk. If you're not familiar with this book, I encourage you to read it. Hope this helps clear things up for you!
Each year, I spend as much time working on how I communicate with my students in ways that build positive relationships as I do on planning and grading. Yes, I absolutely want my students to become independent readers and writers, and I want them to develop a love for each of these skills, but I also want them to be responsible and compassionate people when they leave my classroom. By providing "choices" instead of "punishments", I'm letting my students know that I care about them as individuals. I love and respect them enough to not argue with them. It is not my intention to demean or demoralize them. Instead, I'm sending the message: Kindness is always better than being right. I've seen some of the toughest kids solve their own problems, which has given them more confidence in how they interact with each other and other adults. Communicating with my students in ways that show them I'm compassionate and logical has allowed me to build positive relationships with them and creates a classroom community where it is safe to learn together. “The purpose of discipline is to disciple; discipline is teaching, not punishment.” Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
Many industries use a shared evaluation format where employees are asked to complete a self-evaluation, evaluate their peers, and/or evaluate their employers based on ideas similar to those in The 3Ps. In my classroom, I share this responsibility with my students because it helps cut down on my workload, I'm not as stressed out come grading time, and I have the opportunity to holistically assess my students in ways that mirror how workers are evaluated in the real world. Grade Conferences aren't easy at first. Kids may have a hard time accurately assessing their work and themselves, but once they figure out how self-assessment leads to improved learning and independence, they get better at it. And we get better at helping them! Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
All good writers know that writing an ending that satisfies readers is not the easiest of tasks. As writers, we have a huge responsibility to leave our readers satisfied by the time they've finished a piece we've written. And for most young writers, by the time they get to the end, they're burnt out. There's no doubt that Revising for a Better Ending can be challenging, but anything beats cliched Endings like "The End" or "I hope you liked________". Exposing students to a variety of Endings that work for a variety of purposes and audiences and modeling how to write these types of Endings are two ways we can help improve student writing so that our students don't disappoint their readers. Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
By teaching my students about Good Beginnings, I can simultaneously teach them about audience and purpose as well--areas young writers need a lot of support in. We can begin having deeper conversations about sentence structure (e.g. List type of beginning with short, choppy sentences or Thesis for more complex sentences), about why certain beginnings work over others, and about connecting our beginnings to the rest of our pieces. We can even keep track of Good Beginnings we find in our books and expand our Glossary of Good Beginnings by including them. Or, we can just work on writing Good Beginnings that our readers can count on every time they come back to another piece we've written! Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
Maggie, you bring up some great questions. The 3Ps is pretty overwhelming for students to figure out the first few times we talk about them, and I want them to have a few weeks of school under their belts before I jump into that conversation. Because I grade based on collections of work over individual assignments, we simply don't have enough work done by the end of the first week of school. If I need to, I can give an informal grade check by having students write down the grade they think they deserve at the end of the first week by saying something like, "Think about how much work you've completed this week. Are you caught up with me? Have you followed all of the procedures we've gone over? In the margin of your paper, write the grade you believe you deserve for this week." Then, I would walk around and say things like, "That sounds about right." Or, "I think you need to rethink things." If I push them hard, we will have that first piece finished by Friday, but often, we don't finish until Monday of the second week. So, I could introduce them to the 3Ps close to the end of the second week of school. Rarely do I have students ask about grades at the end of the first week and the kids that usually do ask are Fall athletes who need to know about eligibility.
Maggie, thanks for the tip about! I do have an account (and the app on my iphone). This would be a great way for students to use a technology to keep track of the books they read and would save us a great deal of time looking up authors names, titles, and page numbers. I will definitely give this a shot for the 2012-13 school year!
As an English teacher, I'm always looking for ways to be more efficient, especially when grading time approaches. For years, I used the archaic point-percentage based system because I didn't know other approaches to grading existed. Even then, I knew my approach to grading needed some revision because I wanted to incorporate a portfolio system that allowed my students and I to take a more holistic look at their growth and achievements, but I found something better. A Real-World Approach to Grading A few weeks into the school year, after my students and I have had a chance to finish our first writing piece and read a novel, I introduce them to my grading system. This approach to grading views the student holistically and is grounded in clear, student-friendly language that allows my students the opportunity to share half the responsibility that comes with grading. Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
Cindy, you bring up some great questions here and your point about the imbalance of power is something I feel strongly needs to shift in our educational system. If we're advocates for social justice, then with that comes a lot of sharing about who we are, what we believe, and what we stand for. My students learn a lot about who I am because I choose writing topics that I have strong feelings about. Topics that are sometimes extremely personal. In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott writes, “We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. The writer's job is to turn the unspeakable into words - not just into any words, but if we can, into rhythm and blues.” I have the first sentence of this quote displayed in my room, and I completely agree with her advice. If I want to help develop my students hone their skills as writers, and, in turn, help them learn to love writing, I have to allow myself to be vulnerable as a person, as a writer, as their teacher. If I take this risk, I'm able to show my students that I'm a "real" person--a human who is flawed, has failed, and someone who has learned from those flaws and failures. The human condition, the "exposing the unexposed," the ability to connect with my students about personal topics, belief systems, and values--are delicate, but necessary in teaching kids about things like voice and style, about how we're all connected, about themselves and each other. Because my students have "guided" choices over the books/novels they read and within those books are subjects ranging from drug use, sex, abuse, neglect, violence, etc. I advise my students to only write about those topics they feel comfortable with. If the topic is too personal, they can write about it, but I might require them to only share a sentence or two. I follow this for my own writing as well. There are topics I avoid with my students because they simply cross a professional boundary that would cause controversy, or they might come back to bite me in the butt. There are also those "age-appropriate" topics that I caution my students about as well. Because we keep portfolios, at any time, their parents, other teachers, or administrators can look at them (however, this rarely happens). I share this with them as well, but many still choose to write about deeply personal topics, which they have strong feelings about. These pieces usually tend to be their best writing. For my students who were raised in cultures similar to yours, where privacy is a core value, some choose to write about personal topics and others avoid them. A Navajo student surprised me this year with the extremely personal stories she wrote about and shared in our class and in our Creative Writing Program. Many Navajo students I've had in the past have been reserved in what they write and share. For her, it was a release. She was finally given the opportunity to tell her story, and because of that, I think she has begun her road to recovery. Writing has always been my way of coping with the world, and I've learned that the more I share about myself, the better writing I get from my students. I think that you have decide what you're most comfortable with, and whether or being "transparent" coincides with your beliefs and values or supports them.
You can have a well-planned lesson, the most current teaching resources available, and the best technology money can buy, but without clear, consistent procedures that lesson can turn into a disaster. Well-established procedures make the classroom efficient and effective. With them in place, teachers can maximize teaching and learning time while spending less time dealing with discipline problems. Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
Italia, Thank you for your comment. Keep me posted on how this works out for you. I also encourage you to check out this post: You should recognize this from your junior year. I think I showed you how to use it with a persuasive piece.
With Mrs. Kilker's expertise, a few trips to the library and computer lab, our research went better than I expected it to. We were disciplined researchers navigating databases designed for "academic" research, which warranted our success. More importantly, my students learned valuable research skills they will be able to carry forward throughout the rest of their high school years and well into college. Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
As a student, I had a great deal of respect for those teachers who weren’t afraid to be themselves in front of their students. They taught with integrity, passion, clarity, and commitment. There was never a guessing game about who these teachers were or what they stood for. As a teacher, I aspire to be the very teacher I respected as a student, and I hold a deep respect for my colleagues who live by the aforementioned principles. A few weeks before the school year begins, I give careful thought to the reasons I became a teacher in the first place. Completing the following exercises compels me to think about how my beliefs and values tie into my teaching practice. Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
The Five Facts of Fiction is a strategy that meets students at their reading level and allows room for growth as they become familiar with how it works. My students and I have used it to closely analyze classic and contemporary works. With some minor adjustments, we can even analyze works of non-fiction as well. If I want to introduce it at the beginning of the year with picture books or short works of fiction, I can do that, too. Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
For many students, this is their first experience writing a research paper in MLA Format for someone other than their classmates or their teacher. Simply knowing who they're writing to can help them further focus their research (and take it seriously). So we start in the bottom boxes by determining who our Audience is and what Questions these People might have about the research topics we've chosen. Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
Anyone who has taught research in a K-12 setting knows that many kids need help choosing topics that aren't too broad, but teaching the concept of what is too broad can be a bit challenging. To combat this issue, I teach my students how to use The Topice Equation Formula. I take my research folder and flip it over to the backside (exterior) and divide it into three columns: Interests, Subject, Possible Research Topic. I ask my students to do the same. The Topic Equation Formula allows us to narrow interests and subjects we've studied into potential research topics. Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl
For independent practice, I asked that students find a passage of text from the current book they're reading. I asked that they copy this text down in their reading journals, skip lines, and then follow the same steps we'd used before. As students worked, some of them noticed punctuation marks we hadn't encountered in the earlier texts. Not only were they recognizing other writing conventions, they were genuinely curious about the types of punctuation they were encountering and why the author had used each type. These inquiries provided opportunities for "organic" mini-lessons that I could give individually, in small groups, and/or in a whole class setting. Lessons that might not otherwise have happened without Conventions Reading. More importantly, we'd opened the door into rich conversations about writing that we could add to each time we practiced. Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2012 at The "Real" Deahl