Since working closely with Dr. Nicole Sieben as a research participant, focused on Writing Hope, I have applied similar theory to the practice of teaching reading among adolescents.

This page will feature my work with struggling readers in secondary classrooms; with self-directed learners in a K-12 democratic free school setting; and with adolescent tutees. I expect it to include partnerships with other educators, and to contribute to the growing body of practical experience related to critical educators, social justice pedagogy, critical literacy, and Catholic-Christian education.

The page and my blog represent the constant tension between the classics (Socrates/Dickens) and contemporary studies (Sara Zarr novels/critical education pedagogies). The following resources connect me with educators whose ongoing inquiry invites young learners to become curious, wise, and creative.

To read more about Nicole Sieben’s work Writing Hope Works

Preview the first two chapters here. Writing Hope explores how Will + Ways = Agency.

To learn more about critical literacy pedagogy see Joseph Rodríguez’s book:

Joseph demonstrates how young writers forge links between their personal heritage, traditional curricula, and their social worlds. His NEH Borderlands Narratives website, featuring the work of 25 summer scholars, including yours truly, is full of accessible lesson plans you can use today to inspire your learners.

Other useful readings:

Talbot Theological Seminary web page on Thomas Groome, who bridges liberation education and Christian praxis.

The Relevance of Homer and the liberal arts in today’s education, on Angelicum website. James Taylor has designed an experiential way to enter the humanities and great books.

The Dickens Project features Dorritlab and Middlelab, experiential ways of inviting teens into Victorian spaces and texts. They also run seminars for secondary teachers and host scholarly “camp” with dance, book discussions, teas.

Middlemarch: The Series is an updated version of the George Eliot (Marian Evans) novel about life in a Victorian village, translated to a 21st C. university. It invites viewers to engage with Evans’s ideas about humanity that transcend Victorian norms of gender and ethnicity. YouTube video series


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  • Guided Discovery Lesson Plan: Cubbies November 9, 2015
    This lesson introduces students to the their classroom cubbies. The lesson allows the class as a whole to determine what is the appropriate use of a cubby and how to best care for them. What is a Guided Discovery? It is a student-centered … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Guided Discovery Lesson Plan: Freeze Signal November 6, 2015
    The Freeze Signal is used to communicate to students that they should suddenly stop what they are doing and pay attention to the teacher.  I consider it an important safety measure.  Personally, I use a singing bowl, but I have seen teachers use … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • What is this Maker Movement? February 12, 2015
    I am a maker.  At least I think I am.  I sew. I blog. I cook. I bind books. I built a deck with my dad. Is that what people mean when they talk about ‘making?’ When I hear people … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Let the Planning Begin – Tools for Success August 13, 2013
    Procrastination finally comes to an end. Today I begin the work of plotting out the first few days (and weeks) of school. While the students are out shopping for school supplies (which induce panic attacks in me), I pull out … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Story Starters August 9, 2013
    This is a first for me.  I have been contacted by SmileMakers to preview one of their products, of my own choosing.  As an avid writing teacher, and a writer myself, I chose to review their Story Starter Word Cubes. … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Teachers Love Tech August 3, 2013
    My love for tech begins at a personal level.  I plan my life (and my lessons) on iCalendar. I create invites, worksheets, game handouts and more with Word and/or Pages.  All of my music comes from the web (check out … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Math Game: Hangmath October 8, 2011
    What is it? Hangmath is paper and pencil game similar to Hangman.  Players take turns creating two-digit addition problems, which the other player guesses. Rationale: Hangmath reinforces place value concepts because the Magical Minds must ask questions about the digits … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Studying Systems October 7, 2011
    SYSTEM: a set of connected things or parts that form a complex whole. The Magical Minds are investigating different kinds of systems.  We started by looking at smaller systems, things we could find in the classroom. We began to expand … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Reading: Understanding Genre Help Us Make Predictions October 6, 2011
    Today we began to think about how to use what we know about genre to make predictions about our books. To illustrate this point we compared nonfiction and fiction books. We already know that nonfiction books are full of information, … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz
  • Math Game: Foreheaded (place value) October 5, 2011
    What is it? In this game each player receives a mystery three-digit number, which they place on their forehead.  Using a guide sheet (below), players take turns guessing the digits in their numbers. Rationale: This game allows the Magical Minds … Continue reading →
    Erin Mahollitz

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