Monday, September 30, 2013

New York City in Image

Images I have made of New York City.

Kind of Blue (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

Utopia (M.A. Reilly, 2012)
Etta and Butch Go for a Ride (M.A. Reilly, 2009)
Counting (M.A. Reilly, 2010) 
Corner, South Bronx (M.A. Reilly, 2012)
Pershing Square (M.A. Reilly, 2010)
Unholy City (M.A. Reilly, 2012)
Wall Street (M.A. Reilly, 2010)

Fog Bound (M.A. Reilly, 2011)
Washington Heights (M.A. Reilly, 2011)

A Woman Gathering Silence (M.A. Reilly, 2010)

Intersection II (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

Remembrance (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

Bridge in Fog (M.A. Reilly, 2009)
Bearings Taken (M.A. Reilly, 2009)
Be for Me, Like Rain (M.A. Reilly, 2009)
Duty (M.A. Reilly, 2010)
Homeless (M.A. Reilly, 2009)
Waiting (M.A. Reilly, 2010)
The Bridge (M.A. Reilly, 2012)
Spanish Harlem, Sunday Morning (M.A. Reilly, 2011)

Take the A Train (M.A. Reilly, 2010)

Big Moon City (M.A. Reilly, 2012)
Suddenly (M.A. Reilly, 2008)
At the 125th Street Station (M.A. Reilly, 2012)

Listen (M.A. Reilly, 2012)

Over Breakfast (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

Christmas in Harlem (M.A. Reilly, 2011)

Upper East Side (M.A. Reilly, 2009)
155th Street (M.A. Reilly, 2012)
Jerome Avenue (M.A. Reilly, 2012)

The Alphabet is No Language (M.A. Reilly, 2013)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

School Reform, Pioneers, and the Heart of Things

American Bus Stop III: No Lemming Left Behind (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

The word “pioneer” betrays a disturbing willingness to repeat the worst mistake of the pioneers of the American West—the mistake of considering an inhabited place uninhabited (p. 159). 
Biss, Eula (2011-03-01). Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays. Graywolf Press. 


I sometimes think we must have forgotten that schools are inhabited places. There are bodies there. Ones that embody dreams, hopes, quiet fears, small and large talents, silence.

Schools are lived places.  Messy like that.

Waiting (M.A. Reilly, 2010)


With a keen, relentless drive to do good, and for some, to profit--school reformers have displaced the bodies of children, teachers, staff, and administrators. More and more the story of education is about them.

The kids are the new disappeared and in their wake the burgeoning bags of the next best thing remains. They have been displaced by best practices, roots and wings, TFA, extended school years, standards-based curriculum, tests and more tests, and most recently anything with the phrase, common core, attached.

One can hardly breathe given the crowd.

Intersection (M.A. Reilly, 2013)


Reform is a fenced field.  Some of it barbed, some too elegant to forget. And all of it is contained.  We begin to die the day we are not permitted to act, to create--the day when we forget to remember.  It's like that scene in O Pioneers!, when Carl Linstrum tells Alexandra Bergsons:
All we have ever managed to do is to pay our rent, that exorbitant rent that one has to pay for a few square feet of space near the heart of things.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Teaching Writing: A Few Resources

Happiness Is The Longing for Repetition. (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

I. Repetition

I cannot imagine teaching writing without writing daily . Janna Malamud Smith writes:
I posit that life is better when you possess a sustaining practice that holds your desire, demands your attention, and requires effort; a plot of ground that gratifies the wish to labor and create—and, by so doing, to rule over an imagined world of your own. (Kindle Locations 66-67). 
How often do young leaners have the time and agency "to rule over an imagined world of your own"?

Steven Pressfield opens The War of Art by describing the rituals of his writing. He writes:
I get up, take a shower, have breakfast. I read the paper, brush my teeth. If I have phone calls to make, I make them. I've got my coffee now. I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces that my niece Meredith gave me. I head back to my office, crank up the computer. My lucky hooded sweatshirt is draped over the chair, with the lucky charm I got from a gypsy in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for only eight bucks in francs, and my lucky LARGO name tag that came from a dream I once had. I put it on. On my thesaurus is my lucky cannon that my friend Bob Versandi gave me from Morro Castle, Cuba. I point it toward my chair, so it can fire inspiration into me. I say my prayer, which is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer's Odyssey, translation by T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, which my dear mate Paul Rink gave me and which sits near my shelf with the cuff links that belonged to my father and my lucky acorn from the battlefield at Thermopylae . It's about ten-thirty now. I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I'm getting tired. That's four hours or so. I've hit the point of diminishing returns. I wrap for the day. Copy whatever I've done to disk and stash the disk in the glove compartment of my truck in case there's a fire and I have to run for it. I power down. It's three, three-thirty. The office is closed. How many pages have I produced ? I don't care. Are they any good? I don't even think about it. All that matters is I've put in my time and hit it with all I've got. All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance. (Kindle Locations 70-81)
WHAT I KNOW There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance. (Kindle Locations 82-84). 

What rituals do learners make inside of classrooms?  How might these rituals inform/become content we need to learn?

II.  Loss

An odd truth, perhaps, but writing like fine teaching, requires something to have been lost--something beyond our naming and what we think we know at the beginning.  It is in this losing that the work we craft is the work we become. This is not something I think you can learn easily from reading a book about writing.  Rather, it is work that requires more of you and the you you are becoming alongside others.

So before venturing on to the list below, if you are not already writing daily, I hope you will make time to do so.  Perhaps 10 minutes a day to start...

III. A Few Lists...Largely Arbitrary

A Few Books That Inspire Me to Look Closely (Really this list is arbitrary.  Perhaps substitute with those texts you cannot help but put down/pick up/put down/pick up/Turn towards and away... and so on)

Bateson, Mary Catherine. 2010. Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom. New York: Knopf.
Berger, John & Jean Mohr. 2011. Another Way of Telling. New York: Vintage.
Berry, Wendell. 1996. The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture. Sierra Club Books.
Danticat, Edwidge. 2011. Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. New York: Vintage.
Diaz, Junot. 2012. This is How You Lose Her. New York: Riverhead.
Dillard, Annie. 2013. Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, Revised Edition. New York: Perennial.
Gaiman Neil. 2013. The Ocean at the End of the Lane: Audio CD. New York: William Morrow. (I could listen to hime= read for weeks and weeks.)
Heaney, Seamus. 1997. The Spirit Level: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
Heaney, Seamus. 2011. Human Chain: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
hooks, bell. 1997. Bone Black: Memoirs of a Girlhood. New York: Holt.
Morrison, Toni. 2008. What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction. University Press of Mississippi.
Solnit, Rebecca. 2010. A Field Guide To Getting Lost. New York: Penguin.

A Few Books To Strengthen Your Own Art as Writer

King, Stephen. 2000. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner.
Lamott, Anne. 2007. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books.
Pressfield, Steven. 2011. The War of Art. New York: Black Irish Entertainment LLC.

A Few Books To Complicate Your Teaching Practices

Dyson, Anne Haas. 1993. Social Worlds of Children Learning to Write in Urban Primary Schools.New York: Teachers College Press.
Dyson, Anne Haas. 1997. Writing Superheroes: Contemporary Childhood, Popular Culture, and Classroom Literacy.New York: Teachers College Press.
****Dyson, Anne Haas.2013. ReWRITING the Basics: literacy Learning in Children's Cultures. New York: Teachers College Press.
Graves, Donald. 2003. Writing: Teachers and Children at Work –Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Heard, Georgia and McDonough. 2009. A Place of Wonder. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

****Reading now.

Smith, Janna Malamud. 2012. An Absorbing Errand: How Artists and Craftsmen Make Their Way to Mastery. Berkeley, CA Counterpoint.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Sun"day Best

Rising (M.A. Reilly, Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, 2010)

I Heard He Sang a Love Song (M.A. Reilly, Virginia, 2009)

Faith on the Street (M.A. Reilly, Dublin, Ireland, 2008)

Waiting for You (M.A. Reilly, Florida, 2009)
First Light and Fog  (M.A. Reilly, Morristown, NJ, 2011)
Weak Winter Light (M.A. Reilly, Hudson River, Manhattan, 2010)
Aftermath (M.A. Reilly, South Carolina, 2011)
Sun (M.A. Reilly, Newquay, England, 2013)
Facing West (M.A. Reilly, South Dakota, 2011)
Sunflower (M.A. Reilly, Augusta, NJ, 2013)
Sunrise (M.A. Reilly, Montepulciano, Italy, 2013)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Learning in First Grade in Newark

Ameista McLean, Kindergarten Teacher
Flo Wiener, Kindergarten Teacher
It was such a thrill today to visit first grade classrooms at one of our schools in Newark and see such outstanding learning happening. I was knocked out by the writing the children were doing in Mrs. Vaughn's first grade classroom. Against so many odds (and I know it is frown upon to talk about things like abject poverty, high crime & rapidly rising murder rates even though the children are smack in the middle of these things) these children are reading and writing with power.  I decided to include pictures of their teachers from last year, Ms. Wiener and Ms. McLean, as the success of these children is directly connected to the amazing teaching these two teachers did.

Reading and writing difficulties can be prevented.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

After Looking: Seeing Possibilities In Discarded Images

Passing (M.A. Reilly, Devon, England, 2013)

These are all images I discarded and set aside the first time I reviewed the images I had made.  I always enjoy revisiting discarded images to see if any new possibilities emerge. There's a method to this that appeals to teaching and learning as well.  Reviewing work in order to (re)see represents critical ways to (un)know.  All these images were made across two days, mostly shot out the window of a moving car. The only exception was the surfing image made in Newquay.

Ways to Talk (M.A. Reilly, Stonehenge area, England, 2013)

Light and Shadows (M.A Reilly, Devon,  England, 2013)

One Crow (M.A Reilly, Bath,  England, 2013)

Slope  (M.A Reilly, Devon,  England, 2013)

Green  (M.A Reilly, Oxford,  England, 2013)

Order  (M.A Reilly, Devon,  England, 2013)

Surfing (M.A Reilly, Newquay,  England, 2013)