Ms. Peña is a Graland graduate who went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University. She loves the moment when a reluctant reader finds a book they love!
All year, we read literature that demonstrates the various ways a single individual can make a big difference in their community or the world. At the end of the year, I ask students to identify an issue in the world that they care about. They must research the issue, vetting sources for credibility. Then, they must create a plan of action that could help solve this issue. Their final task is to identify an appropriate audience capable of helping make this change and write this person a letter. This letter must explain the issue and give the audience steps to take to help solve it. This unit has a significant impact on students because it shows them their potential role and power in changing the world around them. This is especially relevant during a time when students are developmentally maturing and trying to find their identities. This unit also helps students build media literacy skills and a deeper understanding of the world around them.
I recently participated in a professional development session on mindfulness in the classroom. Sixth-graders can be full of energy, which is often productive, but can sometimes be a bit too much. This mindfulness training gave me some tools and techniques to help center students and allow them to be aware of their energy and actions. I've started incorporating mindfulness in small ways, like having students take centering breaths when needed, and I'm excited to create more routines that encourage mindfulness on a daily basis.
Favorite Teaching Moment
Seeing students challenge themselves, grow, and reflect on the Southwest Trip!
Book I Can Read Over and Over
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. It's a fantastic middle grade/young adult mystery that combines realistic fiction with a touch of sci-fi. It also references A Wrinkle in Time a good amount, which is a young adult classic.
Travel, travel, travel! There are so many amazing places to see in this world!
Joined Graland in...
Also Known As ...
Character Task Force Member, 5/6 Student Council Advisor, Co-leader of African Community Center Project
Other than Graland, I Support
The ACLU, American Indian College Fund, Planned Parenthood, The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, National Parks Service
MA, Teachers College, Columbia University
BA, Hampshire College