Just Believe In Yourself


PRODUCED BY: Jamie Sweeney, Caitlin Lawrie & Victor DeBianchi


I found it here:


Brief description:

Writer and director by Danielle Kampf’s short film, Presentation (2018) tells the story of an anxiety-ridden high school sophomore, Holly, who like any normal student, has to give a presentation in front of her science class. She stumbled through her class presentation and walked out of the class after the first minute. Her teacher gave her a second chance to present later that week and sent to  the school’s guidance counselor. The counselor recomended her drugs that was not quite needed to fix Holly’s issues. At home her sister boasts about how she’s going to nail her upcoming recital. Holly didn’t need any medicine to cure her anxiety. She just needed someone to talk to her positively and help gain trust on herself to overcome her anxiety. In the film it was her little sister made that possible.

The full short can be viewed below:


My thoughts:

Many young adults faces a common social challenge called anxiety. We all have anxiety, and we all cope with it in different ways. We have this tendency to label anxiety in a different way in this society. We think anxiety is harmful, and we protect our kids by removing the challenge thus never giving them a chance to fail or in Holly’s case give her a drug that will help her cope with that challenge. Challenges are meant to be challenges. Successfully overcoming a challenge makes us strong, while failing a challenge and trying again, also make us stronger.

Pedagogical response:

An activity we might use to complement this short film, perhaps one that invites students to experience some element of it or to create something in response to it. Many teens feel a lot of pressure in school and suffer not knowing the reason. They don’t share their problems to anyone because they think someone might have negative impression about them. Also, teens do get judged at school and in this society a lot. As a teacher I can introduce this type of films to help open up conversations about many social taboos and help the students have faith on themselves. Teens can share their thoughts in order to carry on a conversation and try to figure out some answers to unpleasant situations as a community.



Featured post

Title: Occupier Not Illegal

Documentary: The Dream is Now

Released in April 2013.

Created by: Director Davis Guggenheim

Where I found it:

While I was searching for YA documentary I found The Dream is Now in the internet on this address,


Brief description:

This is about the real life struggles as children of the undocumented immigrants of our country and our broken immigration system that needs to be fixed by signing enough petitions. Jose has a degree in mechanical engineering, but he works on construction crew because he is undocumented. Like Jose there are many undocumented children in this country who doesn’t have rights to drive, apply for their dream jobs to work and pursue their dreams. They thought doing heavy work; blue-collar hard work will pay of one day.

Dream act:

No political group supported the dream act that was to help these undocumented children a better future like any other citizen of America. For only 5 votes the bill didn’t pass to a law. A boy took himself because he couldn’t apply to his dream college. He had so much opportunity but he didn’t get any chance. Even the president couldn’t give deportation protection. Immigrants were deported. This documentary brings this pressing issue to America’s attention, where we can all debate, discuss, and decide for ourselves what is right, what is fair, and what is best for our nation.

My thought:

Watching this documentary made me think deeply about the children in this country born and growing up now, and we put labels on them as undocumented, illegal and their lives are full of uncertainty. How as a citizen I can make those children’s lives full of hope and certainty? Is it entirely their fate or as a human being we have things to do that can change it? The film goes beyond personal. It places the stories of many people in a larger context and explores the consequences of continuing our current policies and maintaining the status quo – consequences not just for the young people today, but for our country’s future.

Pedagogical response:

A rationale for including this documentary in a 6th-8th-grade curriculum is that it opens up the venues of real life issues, which is a discussion of what is right, fair and best for the nation. Educators can share this with the principal, a department chair, a parent, or a school board. This Documentary can be used in a school humanities class to broaden the knowledge about our country’s immigration laws and its flaws. Young adults are our future generation. Politicians in Washington are deciding their fates, preparing for votes on immigration reform, which could finally create a legal path to citizenship to many undocumented people who are born into this country and should have all the rights to be a legal citizen. Children should be aware of their rights and should be taught in schools about their rights, laws and social security eligibility.


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Freedom has a price (Graphic Novel)

Image result for persepolis

Title of the text

Persepolis (Graphic Novel)

Name of text’s creator

Marjane Satrapi

Publication Year



The text can be purchased at most online bookstores. Including, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.


PDF version of the book


Brief descriptions

Persepolis is an autobiography based on Marjane Satrapi’s experience through the Islamic Revolution. Marjane is a strong headed, outspoken girl with a passion for civic activism. The graphic novel follows the life of Marjane from her childhood to her early adult life. At a young age, Marjane’s family decided that she would be safer away from Iran, her country of birth, and moved her to Vienna to live in a boarding house with nuns due to unforeseen circumstances. Throughout the book, Marjane is struggling to find her identity.

My thoughts

I highly, highly recommend this graphic novel. It is an easy and interesting read. You are not only learning about the life of Marjane, but you are learning about the Islamic Revolution. This graphic novel is a primary account of the experience of a child who lived through the Islamic Revolution and how it affected her.

At some points, the book is very heavy. It goes through Marjane’s recollection of the bombings that were happening during the Islamic Revolution. It goes through the new laws that were implemented in the country. For example, Marjane does not understand why she had to wear a veil to school and why it was mandatory. A lot of the book will have a deep impact on the reader because a lot of the portions are so heavy.

I believe that this book could be implemented in the middle school curriculum. I would teach background information on the Islamic Revolution prior to reading the graphic novel. The book being a graphic novel is also very helpful in having middle schoolers understand the contexts in a way that does not seem heavy loaded.

Pedagogical reflection (digital trailer)

Place at the Table


Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A Place at the Table


Published 2016

Directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush

Discusses famine and hunger in the United States. It specified that there is a link between obesity and hunger because the cost of unhealthy food is significantly cheaper than the cost of healthy food such as fruits and vegetables. This is rooted from the Great Depression. The clip continued to discuss the role and effect that food insecurity has in the classroom and lives of children.

This clip is very influential for it opened my eyes to food insecurity in America. Although it is very different than the famine in various other countries, it is still shocking to believe that a world-leading country like American has such a large portion of families who are food insecure. I believe that many people would learn a lot from this documentary. However, at times it did feel as though this clip lost some of my interest.

Taking this out of its discipline: typically this type of movie would be used for a History lesson or English Language Arts lesson. However, a farmer may interact with this film by viewing it from an agricultural standpoint. They would already know about subsidies, but may not know about the long term effects that subsidies have on food prices. Furthermore, politicians may interact with this video very differently. Some politicians may have never thought of the difficulty of money managing, where it is very difficult to buy healthy food on food stamps. They could also interact with the material by changing their perspectives, for the clip illustrates that feeding and food should always be a highest priority since it is a necessity of life. Finally, there is a third topic which can be used in another discipline would be nutritionist  where they can use it as a resource for families to provide them knowledge on food groups, and effects of eating an unhealthy diet.

Diary of Anne Frank

Author: Anne FrankAnneFrank1940_crop

Title: The Diary of a Young Girl

Published originally: 1952

Due to my Polish heritage and growing up hearing stories from my grandmother about what Poland was like and her experiences during World War 2, I have always had a deep interest into the events and stories of this war. I knew of this story for years, dating back to my middle school years when I originally hear the story of Anne Frank. Since this book is available in hard copy, a link available would be for purchase such as Half Price Books: https://www.amazon.com/Diary-Young-Girl-Anne-Frank/dp/0307594009/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1542061161&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=Diary+of+a+young+girl&psc=1

This story begins on Anne Frank’s 13th birthday and follows her life until after she turns 15. This story follows Anne’s thought, feelings, and life as she is forced into hiding due to the persecution of Jewish people during this war. This story is a haunting reminder of the horrid experiences for millions during this time period. From starting as a young girl writing of school, boys, and her dreams, to ending abruptly with the realization that she had not been able to survive this experience, The Diary of Anne Frank is a landmark piece.

As stated previously, I have a very strong interest in all things World War II. I really enjoyed reading this book for it is another perspective from this time period. I believe that this text is appropriate for Young Adults for it features a character around the time frame. In addition, the beginning revolves around the emotions and thoughts that go through many youth’s minds. However it also is important for it teaches a specific time of history, as well as certain concepts such as empathy and injustices.

A rationale that I would provide for parents for including this text as a part of my curriculum would be to connect it to social studies lessons on World War II. Furthermore, I would state to parents that it connects to many literacy and reading standards, such as: reading autobiographies, and writing journals. For parent who state that they do not want to expose their children to the dark nature of World War II and the sad ending of this autobiography, I would inform the parents that this is one of the most influential times of recent history. There are countless socioemotional, justice, and academic lessons that are given when reading this book. I would also emphasize that although I strongly urge them to allow the student’s participation, if they choose to not, then I will supply additional work such as reading a historical piece from a third person perspective.

DRAMA drama?

Text: Drama ( Graphic Novel)

Author: Raina Telgemeier

Publication Year: 2012

Drama is a 2012 graphic novel that follows the story of a girl named Callie through the ups and downs of a school production.  The story begins by introducing us to Callie. Callie loves the theater and works in the stage crew at her school. Right away we are introduced to a crush of Callies after she is outed that she is interested they kiss, but this high becomes a low very soon as he has a long phone call with an ex! The story progresses and we are introduced to a number of characters, two being twin brothers, both are extremely talented and Callie urges them both to try out for the musical. Jessie does but just in decides not to. All the while she develops a friendship with the boys, growing a crush on Justin. As they become closer Jessies shares with Callie that he likes boys, and then ensures Callie that his twin, however, does not. Callie pines over Justing through much of the story and in between auditions and opening night there are awkward texts, discoveries of others hooking up in the costume storage room and so forth. I don’t want to spoil anything for you but let’s just say a secret is revealed following opening night, and it wouldn’t be a coming of age story without a SCHOOL DANCE. Callie and her classmates explore feelings, identity, and friendship in this sweet and relatable tale.


Overall I found the book a cute short read. It was full of romantic drama present in young peoples lives and had an interesting balance of presenting those struggles and the seriousness of them while also focusing on other areas of the student’s life. As a music nerd and product of the theater myself I actually really liked the behind the scenes perspective of theater shows. People who often get the most clout are usually the actors and singers but the crew plays a crucial role in the show’s success. Overall this book was very diverse, full of characters who looked different, with different personalities. I wanted to read this book because I knew there was some uproar about the presence of gay characters, but as we know representation plays such a crucial role in student development of their identity, confidence and comfort and this all impacts their time in school.  I think that as educators we should aim to have books and novels that have complex and diverse representations of a wide group of people and this is a small step in the right direction.

I created a Trailer for this text



Short Film Watched: TRAPPED – Short Film on Teen Unplanned Pregnancy

Published: March 15, 2016 by ITEC

Description: Laura finds out she has become pregnant in her teen years. Having had her future planned out along with scholarships, she sees the pregnancy as a stopping point for her future career. Afraid of what her parents might say, she think about abortion as a solution; a rewind to before she was pregnant.

My thoughts: I thought this short film really encompassed the fears and thoughts of many teenagers who go through unplanned teenage pregnancies. The way her parents reacted and the way the father of the child reacted may be similar to those teenagers who have gone through this or may be going through it in any given moment.

Pedagogical Reflection: Outside the Discipline

In a math statistics course, one could ask students to search up unplanned teenage pregnancy rates in the country and compare them to other countries. in addition to country to country comparisons, we could do a state to state comparison and see what states have higher unplanned pregnancy rates than others and try to come to a conclusion by searching up the amounts of planned parenthood centers in those states, or even cities, there are as opposed to those states or cities who have lower rates. Mathematics is very data centered, so looking for data on these topics could help us come up with some conclusions.

Rules in Society

Book read: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Year: 1993

I knew about this book because I read it when I was in middle school.

This book is about a utopian society that is written in the point of Jonas, an eleven year old boy. It follows his journey through the celebration of 12, where every eleven year old gets an Assignment. This assignment is determined by what these children have spend volunteer hours and what the community recognizes as something they would be good at and would enjoy doing as a job. Jonas gets the assignment of being a Receiver, which he works with the Giver to take memories that the society has gotten rid of. Once Jonas begins his training as the Receiver, he realizes that the society he lives in is not so great after all.


Link: https://www.amazon.com/Giver-Quartet-Lois-Lowry/dp/0544336267/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542144478&sr=8-1&keywords=the+giver

As a reader, I enjoyed this book. I always think it is interesting when reading about societies different than my own and how things are different. One thing I really enjoyed reading about was the sameness amount everyone and how no one around Jonas seemed to question any rules given by the government that they had.


Pedagogical reflection:

Theme: One theme that I pulled from this text is the theme of rules in society. I chose this theme because the book is centered around this society that has rules that everyone has to follow. This makes the society very same where no one is different than anyone else.

Two books that I thought would complement this theme in The Giver is the Hunger Games and the Divergent books. For the Hunger Games, the people live in different districts that follow different sets of rules. Each district also has its own focus in the society such as technology, fishing, power, ect. In the Divergent series, everyone is divided into five different factions. Each faction has its own rules and characteristics that the people must follow to be successful in their factions.

Both of these books would relate to The Giver and are YA books that students seem to enjoy. I think that these books would engage the students in the classroom and while also showing the theme of rules in society.

Podcast on Middle School Tips

I listed to a podcast called “The Middle School Student’s Guide to Ruling the World”. This podcast was created by Susan Mulcaire from 2008-2009. It features different episodes that give strategies for organization skills and strategies for students who are entering middle school. I found this podcast on my apple podcast app.

My thought as a listener to this was that it had helpful tips and seems to keep my interest when listening. It includes different stories and scenarios that students might run across during this time in their lives. I thought that it would be interesting if students made their own podcast and the different tips that they have for other students in this time. The podcast didn’t have that long of a running time and it was made from 2008-2009 so I wondered how different school is for middle school now and what might change if we were giving tips to students.


For my activity, I decided that it would be really interesting to have students listen to a few episodes of this podcast but create their own and compile them into a class podcast that gave tips and tricks for “surviving middle school”. I would have students think of their own ideas/ topics to talk about during their own episodes and have a prewritten or bulleted list of things to talk about that would relate to their specific topic. Each students could chose whether they wanted to do it alone or with a partner and then audio record it and turn it in to the teacher after their list was approved. I think that this would be a great idea for 8th graders especially because they could talk about things they wish they knew, things they would have done differently, or things that worked really well for them. This class podcast could be passed down to the younger middle school students and have them find tips and trick that may work for them. I think it would also be really great to continue to do this for other years and have 8th graders listen to previous 8th graders advice.


Aging Adolecents



Text type: Nonfiction text, Graphic Novel

Author: Raina Telgemeier

Year of the creation: 2010

Where I found it:  I first encountered this book when my little sister brought it home. She was in 7th grade at the time and thought the book was a fun read and suggested that I would enjoy it too even if I’m “a lot older than her”.

Brief Summary: This story takes us on a four year journey with Raina. Its starts out when she’s 11 years old in 6th grade and knocks out her two front teeth in an accident. Raina is navigating dental troubles as well as things that come up in this age frame such as bullying, transitioning to high school, and crushes, all the elements we love about a good coming of age story.

My Response: I have to say this book goes on my list of favorites. The author look us through four years in one 227 paged graphic novel. I feel like Raina is a character we can connect with in some way. The author added a lot of funny moments to keep the story a bit light hearted. Since the story is an autobiography, it doesn’t present one central struggle that the character has to overcome, it shows a variety of ups and downs that hold true to our own lives which makes it so relatable. This book reminds us that we all have insecurities and navigating through them is a part of life and growth. The illustrations are just another plus.

Pedagogical reflection: Activity

This book could be used as a resource in teaching narrative writing. With non informational texts, students are used to using plot diagrams which looks like a hill, rising, peaking, and falling. This story could be used to map out how in the text, there are many constant highs and lows and different problems to navigate because it’s based off of life which does not have a rigid plot.

Raina Telgemeier used important/big moments in her life in a span of 4 years and wrote her biography around that. Students could use a graphic organizer to pull two important events in their life, how it effected them, and how they felt with it as a way to write their own mini graphic novel or narrative.

Culture Slam

“My Name is Zainab, and I Am Not a Terrorist”

Text type: Audio / Ted Talk

Author: Zainab Mabizari

Year of the creation: 2016

Where I found it:  I found the video on YouTube when I was looking for a slam poetry example for my students.

Brief Summary: The speaker starts the poem Introducing herself as a girl, correcting it and introducing herself as a Muslim and for one last time she says “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m uh… terrorist”. As a Muslim woman who wears a Hijab, Zainab apologizes for acts of terrorism that have been blamed on Muslims. She takes a turn and sheds light by taking a positive approach and naming things that Muslims have contributed to the world. She addresses stereotypes and forms of oppression she has faced and ends by saying her name is Zainab, and she’s not a terrorist.

My Response: Zainab’s words along with her presence and inflection really allow you to hear the pain as she describes how Muslims are painted with the same brush and unfairness. I really enjoyed how she mentions being an American and yet still being considered a foreigner in a place called home. She uses her experience as a powerful tool to bring awareness.

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