Teaching Harry

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We at Teaching Harry have been quiet lately, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been thinking of the sorrow of December 14 or inspired by the many moving responses such as 27 Acts of Kindness (http://www.facebook.com/27Acts).  So much to be thoughtful about and thankful for in the new year, including you – thank you for continuing to follow us.  We wish you all a season full of peace and joy – and hope to hear from or see you in 2013.



Happy Holidays from Teaching Harry!

Best wishes,

Cathy and Becky




UPDATE:  Our interview is now located in the archive section of Henry Jenkins’ site – select link for February 2012 and scroll down

Henry Jenkins recently interviewed us and all 3 parts are now currently posted on his blogsite:


He asked us some great questions – we hope you’ll take a look!

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At the end of September, our friend Andrew Slack (Executive Director and co-founder of the Harry Potter Alliance) gave an inspiring talk at the TEDx conference in Rome.  He talked about the role of story in motivating fans to work towards social justice issues and does mention the power of popular culture and story to reach and motivate students in schools.  You can watch his 13 minute talk here:


Andrew and the HPA are a central focus of Chapter 7 in Teaching Harry Potter (along with activist wrock groups Harry and the Potters and the Whomping Willows and the family-based HP conference Enlightening ’07).  Titled “Imagining More,” the chapter focuses on the intersection of literacy, community, and educational spaces – and the potential for both engagement and activism that can come from embracing students’ popular interests in the classroom.  Andrew likened the process to ” . . . an alchemist who finds gold in common minerals, teachers who ‘see the gold’ in their students can help them figure out how to bring it forward” (p. 157).  He and former Chapter Chair Karen Bernstein then discuss the role of local HPA Chapters as ” . . . a way to connect to other local members in order to work on projects in their own communities as well as organization-wide initiatives . . . ” such as fundraising for earthquake relief in Haiti, which was highly successful and which Andrew details in his TEDx talk.  In this way, students and youth can funnel their love for story into action.  As Andrew also states in our book: “Anyone can be an activist” (p. 156).

Congratulations to Andrew on his TEDx talk- make sure to take a look!



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Teaching Harry Potter:  The Power of Imagination in Multicultural Classrooms is now published and officially released.


Sorry, but we’re just a little excited about the book finally being released.

Check us out on the Palgrave Education Facebook page or your local Amazon, etc. website – it’s real, folks!!



While we recover from our midnight movie outing and try to put together our thoughts on the final Harry Potter movie (ok, so we’re working on the denial thing . . . it’s over, really?), we thought it would be a good idea to let you know where you can actually catch up with us, hear us talk about Teaching Harry Potter, and hopefully join the conversation.  While we aren’t attending a Potter-centric conference this summer, we are going to be speaking at the National Association for Media Literacy Education – NAMLE – conference this weekend in Philadelphia, PA ( http://namle.net/conference/ ). Our presentation, titled “Imagining More: Reflections on Education on the Mirror of Erised (Desire)” will take place on Sunday morning, July 24 at 10:45 am.  You can find a description here:  http://2011.namle.net/?p=362 .  We’re looking forward to being back in Philly and to hearing all the latest in media literacy education.  If you’re in the area, make sure to stop by and say hello!


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I haven’t talked a lot about my (now not so) new job (ok, so Becky and I haven’t talked much at all here lately, but in our defense, we’ve been doing double duty going over the copy editing on Teaching Harry) but my work is, well, different.  I work for a nonprofit, but spend my days in a large, urban, public South LA high school where I work to support and drive the efforts of the nonprofit, the faculty, and the administration to help create a successful atmosphere and learning space for our students.  It’s a tall order, especially given the current budget crisis that has hit our school pretty hard.  Plus there’s the usual testing pressures and everything else that comes with the urban school package.  In the midst of all this however, our nonprofit does manage to open a few doors, and one of these was for Jamie Oliver and his production crew who filmed the current season of Food Revolution at our school this past January and February.  Amidst the drama of the district’s refusal to let Jamie into the district officially (if you’re interested, here’s an article about it:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/02/lausd-puts-oliver-on-a-no-filming-diet-.html ) we were able to welcome him to West Adams where he cooked with our culinary students – who then won a city-wide cooking competition – and taught a couple of food/nutrition classes for our kids.  On the ground, trying to make sure all was well with a film crew on one’s pubic school campus, the whole thing was exhausting.  But it was also really cool to watch our kids experience something quite different from what they’re used to in their day-to-day school lives.  They cooked, sampled new foods, talked, debated, listened, experienced, and learned with a bunch of television cameras around and a “famous” person who brought a lot of attention their way.  And our kids rocked – and I really hope that comes through on the small screen.

In Teaching Harry Potter, Becky and I talk a lot about new media and the value of using popular culture in the classroom.  But with this experience, the classroom became part of popular culture.  And the results?  The kids I’ve talked with so far have all ranked working with Jamie as a highlight of the year.  And our advanced culinary students spent their spring break week in New York taking classes as part of their prize package for winning the city-wide competition.  For my part, I’m still thinking on it and withholding final judgment until the series completes it run on ABC (and I can breathe easy about how our kids are presented on national television).  But it has given me a lot to mull over – especially about urban students of color in the media and how it does or doesn’t interact with them, and what that interaction looks like when it does happen.  And since the whole thing was about healthy eating, there is definitely a lot to think about in terms of nutritional health in the community and at school and how the district deals with these issues.  Mostly, though, I hope that everyone who watches will see our South LA kids for the amazing, caring, and thoughtful people they are.  In the end, hanging out with them every day is what makes my job brilliant.

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And it looks like this:



We also have a release date:  August 2 and we are on Amazon!  A very cool feeling to finally see what it looks like.  Becky I and are currently looking through the typeset version of the book itself from the editor – the last time we’ll get to make any copyedits before the book is released.  Very exciting!  It’s been a long, long road – and a great adventure.  More to come . . .

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So, yeah.  Our new jobs – while very cool and highly rewarding – have definitely kept us busier than we thought.  It’s been awhile since either of us has posted, and for that we apologize.  We are here, though, and the book is with the copyeditor, we’re still in school and online, and at least one of our Teaching Harry teachers is Teaching Harry as we speak (go Sandra!).  In trying to decide what to write about (so much is going on!), I found myself automatically checking our Twitter feed for ideas and realized that it was time to give our “accomplice” credit for the amazing job she does with our Twitter feed.  Throughout our absence the Teaching Harry Twitter feed has continued nonstop – and for this we owe a huge THANK YOU to our Twitter Goddess, who, per her wishes, shall remain anonymous but a Goddess nonetheless.  If you haven’t checked it out or don’t follow our Twitter account, she puts together an amazing, meaningful collection of articles and links around teaching, new media, education policy, literacy, technology, public schooling, popular culture, the Potterverse, smart/geeky trends, and books in general.  And while she is the first to remind us that we need to post something new, she doesn’t let our overbooked lives get to her.  As a matter of fact, she helps us keep up with the education/media world we both love.  So, check it out, become a follower, and send our Twitter Goddess some love while you’re at it, it’s well deserved.  ¡Mil Gracias!


Happy Holidays to all!  We have been away while working through the feedback we received from those who reviewed Teaching Harry Potter.  We are excited and pleased to announce that the revisions are now done and the book is with the publisher and being put into production!  It’s been very exciting – but very time consuming as well, especially given the holidays, jobs (we both have exciting, shiny new ones! Check out the “About Us” section for the latest) and life in general.  One of our top goals for 2011, however, includes more activity here at Teaching Harry – especially as the book release date nears.  Look for more dialogue around all the education news that seems nonstop these days (for good or ill), cool new media ideas, and opportunities to meet the Teaching Harry teachers whose amazing work helped make our book possible.  In the meantime, in honor of all the awesome teachers out there – we present another edition of Things People Send Us.

This one comes to us courtesy of our friend Nick, who also appears in Teaching Harry Potter.  It’s especially dedicated to all you urban school teachers, you know why:


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