Margin Notes



When Emily Weiss, founder of the cosmetics company Glossier, was a high school student in Connecticut, she got a job babysitting for a neighbor who worked for Ralph Lauren. Her belief that it “just can’t hurt to ask” led her to inquire about the possibility of an internship and soon after, she was interning in the women’s design department. Weiss’s boss at Ralph Lauren was so impressed by her, that she recommended her for an internship at Teen Vogue. And her boss at Teen Vogue was so impressed that she recommended her for a role on the MTV reality show The Hills. These backstories set the stage for the combination of entrepreneurship, drive, connections, and never letting a possible opportunity go unexplored that led Emily Weiss to launch Glossier as a start-up in 2014 and lead its growth to an expected 275 million dollars in sales this year.

Weiss had been writing a beauty blog called Into the Gloss and saw the potential market for her own products. After securing initial angel investors and venture capital funding in 2013, Weiss started Glossier the following year with only 4 products and the slogan “Born from content; fueled by community.”

Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier by Marisa Meltzer is much more than a business biography. It also explores the challenges faced by women in leadership roles, examines the phenomenon of influencer marketing, and analyzes the problematic and diminishing nature of the term, “Girl Boss.”



We love the practice of introducing texts, topics, authors, and genres to students by reading the first chapter aloud. First Chapter Fridays are a wonderful opportunity to end the week with reading joy. It’s also a strategy that, when planned with intention, can support most aspects of the curriculum. This post is part of a series that will introduce ideas for leveling up your First Chapter Fridays without diminishing its central purpose of engaging readers. Read the previous post on Supporting Fluency with First Chapter Fridays.

Vocabulary is fundamental to reading comprehension. We learn the meanings of words indirectly through oral and written language and from direct instruction.

Here are some suggestions for supporting vocabulary with First Chapter Fridays:

  • Preteach some vocabulary words that are essential to students’ comprehension of the chapter by.
  • While reading, stop and model your use of vocabulary strategies to solve unknown words.
  • Use a Knowledge Rating Guide or a Vocabulary Prediction Chart for complex vocabulary in the chapter.
  • Revisit portions of the text in a targeted vocabulary mini-lesson. Possible areas of focus include how morphology affects meanings of words, use of contextual clues for solving unknown vocabulary words, figurative language, and shades of meaning.
  • Select a short passage and ask students to identify which word they think is most important and then discuss their choices in small groups.
  • Invite students to select a word from the text to add to their Language Field Guides.



In Fashion Conscious: Change the World with a Change of Clothes, Sarah Klymkiw closes her “Letter from the Author” with this message to readers:

“It’s my hope that after reading this book you will continue to love clothes as much as I do, but with open eyes to the impact that our clothing choices have on people and our planet. I hope that you will feel empowered to demand answers to questions and take action. We have the power to collectively change the world with a change of clothes.”

Fashion Conscious raises readers’ awareness about the impact of “fast fashion” on the environment and on the garment workers making the items. It encourages shoppers to be aware of the “greenwashing” phenomenon in which companies claim to use environmentally and ethically sound practices but don’t actually deliver them. Until I read this book, I had no idea that producing just one white cotton t-shirt can use up to 2,700 litres of water depending on where and how the cotton is grown or that a single polyester item can take 200 years to decompose in a landfill.

In the UK, over a million tonnes of clothes are thrown away while 15 million tonnes of clothing make their way to landfills in the US. In light of these staggering statistics, readers are given actionable strategies for shopping more mindfully and for reducing the need for purchasing new items by mending, redesigning, organizing clothes swaps, and thrifting.

In addition to being incredibly informative, Fashion Conscious is a wonderfully illustrated information text that includes graphics such as decision trees, flow charts, timelines, step-by-step procedures, Q & A interviews, and useful resources.

Overall, the authors of Fashion Conscious remind us that we wear our values: “clothing choices matter because everyone’s individual actions collectively add up to make a big difference.”



We love the practice of introducing texts, topics, authors, and genres to students by reading the first chapter aloud. First Chapter Fridays are a wonderful opportunity to end the week with reading joy. It’s also a strategy that, when planned with intention, can support most aspects of the curriculum. This is the first post in a series that will introduce ideas for leveling up your First Chapter Fridays without diminishing its central purpose of engaging readers.

Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and smoothly. Fluent readers read text with automaticity and prosody or expression. They also adjust their reading rate depending on the text.

Here are some suggestions for supporting fluency with First Chapter Fridays:

  • Reading aloud provides a model of fluent reading for students. You can enhance this by using a document camera to project the text for students to follow along while you are reading.
  • While reading, draw attention to places in the text where you monitored and adjusted your pace or expression.
  • Revisit portions of the text in a targeted fluency mini-lesson. Possible areas of focus include reading the punctuation, reading phrases smoothly, adjusting pacing to match form and purpose, and using dimensions of fluency (intonation, stress, pausing, phrasing, tone, & volume) to convey meaning.
  • Use a short section of the text for choral reading.
  • Invite students to reread a passage with a partner and discuss possible ways the reader’s expression could alter the meaning.



What is a manifesto?

A personal manifesto is the Swiss Army Knife of self-awareness. Your manifesto can give you the confidence to take risks that are important to you and be persistent about pursuing goals you actually care about. You can use it to synthesize new ideas and knowledge, react to change with coherence and consistency, inform your intentions, be authentic with others, and avoid situations that lead to regret. Your manifesto can be the life raft you build to keep your head above the waters of change, travel the oceans of new technology and complexity, and work your work a little wiser every day.

Why do you need one?

You need tools to navigate the sea of change. You need the advice of a teacher, the hard-won knowledge of your own experience, the wisdom of a guru, the challenge of a goal. Some compass to carry with you on the crowded path of living. You need a manifesto to recruit yourself into exercising your power as a creator and change maker. To filter the signal from the noise. To know—not just what you can do, but what you should do, what you must do, and how to do it.

In You Need a Manifesto: How to Craft Your Convictions and Put Them to Work Charlotte Burgess-Auburn demonstrates how to use the tools of design to create your own manifesto. She outlines a five-step process for crafting a manifesto that is both “a statement of purpose and a script for action”:

  1. Commence- begin by actively examining your values and beliefs.
  2. Consider- become familiar with your goals, values, ethics, and biases.
  3. Collect- deliberately look for manifestos, guidance, prescriptions, and other texts written by people who have gone through their own process to distill wisdom out of their experiences.
  4. Curate- explore different frameworks and formats to organize collected statements into a manifesto.
  5. Cultivate- turn your manifesto momentum into a bridge for your community.

Developing a manifesto is a deeply personal process that begins with intentional and deliberate self-reflection. You have to commit to examining our goals, values, and beliefs before you begin to craft your personal statement. Collecting and curating are also invitations to reflect as you identify what resonates with you and why. Although the first four steps are completely individually, step five opens the many possibilities for manifesto creation to move from the individual to the community.

Not only would developing a manifesto be a powerful activity for teacher teams and staffs to undertake to establish shared beliefs, values, understandings, and opportunities for learning, there are many possibilities for adapting this for the classroom:

  • launching it as a getting-to-know-you and community-building activity at the beginning of the year
  • practicing using mentor texts by noticing and naming specific qualities and characteristics of manifestos gathered during the collection process and then articulating how the mentors informed the process and final product
  • establishing a practice of using a writer’s notebook as a tool for collecting and curating by capturing and writing beside the manifestos gathered for inspiration
  • engaging in partner, small-group, and whole-class discussing throughout the process to share what worked, what didn’t, new discoveries, next steps, etc.
  • annotating the final product by responding to prompts such as: Why did I choose this format and content? What examples informed my manifesto and why? What does the manifesto reflect about me? What did I learn about myself in the process?
  • self-reflecting over time by considering: How is my manifesto guiding me as a learner? How is it reflected in my actions, interactions, and the work I create? As my values, beliefs, and goals evolve, do I need to update my manifesto?

You can find lots of manifestos online, but here are a few to get you started:

How to Craft a Brand Manifesto (Guide + 10 Examples

How to Create Your Own Manifesto: With 3 Gorgeous Examples to Inspire You

The Agile Manifesto



The Expert Enough Manifesto from Coding with Empathy

How to Live by Charles Harper Webb

Like the other titles I’ve explored in this series of Stanford d. school guides, You Need a Manifesto is readable, colorful, beautifully designed, and inspiring. You can read my review of Design for Belonging by Susie Wise here.



In Design for Belonging: How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration in Your Communities, Susie Wise explains the importance of belonging:

Belonging helps us to be fully human. It gives us permission to share our talents and express our life force. It enables cooperation, collaboration, and the ability to work across difference. It emboldens our creativity and our problem-solving abilities. When people feel like they belong, they are able to be their best and do their best.

According to Wise, we can all design spaces that help people feel they belong, and she represents this intersection of belonging and design as “belonging + design = new ways of bringing people together, or new ways of people being together.”

Belonging means that we feel accepted and that we can show up as our authentic selves; we also feel that as a member of the community we can raise issues and challenge ideas. In contrast, othering is treating people who belong to a different group or community as inferior.

We can shape belonging and avoid othering by using what Wise calls the levers of design. These levers are tools that help us move toward the goal of creating spaces where people feel safe to participate fully. They help us experiment with new ways of engaging with others.

  • Space: cues us to what, how, and who we can be
  • Roles: because they are designed as part of systems, they can be redesigned to create belonging
  • Events: designing an event is crafting the experience, so belonging must be a through-line
  • Rituals: help us focus on personal, interpersonal, and communal meaning-making
  • Grouping: to foster belonging, be specific about what you hope to achieve by designing group structures
  • Communications: be aware that all communications send explicit and implicit messages about who belongs and who does not
  • Clothing: can act as a symbol of belonging
  • Food: is sometimes an opportunity for coming together
  • Schedules and Rhythms: can play an important role if they are designed to support people and their needs.

No matter what role we play, we can be reflective about whether or not our interactions create belonging or othering. When we become aware of the levers of belonging in our own communities, we can begin to use them with intention. Although this book is not specific to education, there are countless spaces educators can apply these principles to design and redesign spaces within our classrooms and school communities to foster belonging.



Anna Hunt’s family has moved from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin and when Anna begins eighth grade at East Middle School, her Social Issues class is assigned an un-essay—a semester long project instead of an exam—on a social topic of their choosing.

At first, Anna struggles to come up with a topic for her project. But as she watches Rachel Riley being ostracized by their entire grade, she spends some time on Rachel’s social media and discovers that the year before Rachel had many friends in their class. Anna decides to take a deeper dive into what happened. She turns her un-essay into an investigation and presents her findings in a podcast series.

As Anna compiles evidence for her un-essay, she uncovers many challenging truths about bullying, toxic masculinity, and the disconnect that sometimes exists between our words and our actions. As she explains in a letter to her teacher:

Enclosed you will find the results of my research. In addition to my notebook, you will also find one pair of swim trunks, an old iPhone with recorded interviews, a gift certificate for Lee’s dairy Emporium, a purple lighter, a stapled packet of text message transcripts, and a pack of hallway passes. The passes were stolen from Mr. Corey’s desk in the art room—you can return them if you want.

I hope you learn, from everything in this box, how Rachel Riley went from the most popular girl in school to a Complete Social Outcast of the First Degree. I hope you learn that when asking a complicated question, you should prepare for that question to shake and quake into a thousand more. Because people, like fires, can surprise you. And lies, like flames, can spread faster than we can put them out.

Told through prose, letters, emails, texts, and audio transcripts, What Happened to Rachel Riley? is a fantastic read-alike for readers who enjoyed Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone and Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee.



If you are familiar with the Teach Living Poets website or the #TeachLivingPoets community on Twitter, you will want to get your hands on this professional resource. If you aren’t already acquainted with the work of Teach Living Poets, be sure to spend some time with it this month!

Lindsay Illich and Melissa Alter Smith have created a professional resource that celebrates the work of contemporary poets and the incredible thinking students will do when we put compelling poetry in their hands and create the conditions for them to grow their understanding about it together. As they write in the introduction:

To quote Kevin Akbar, we are living in “a golden age of poetry” (“The Rumpus”). We hope this book helps us open up the world of contemporary poetry and renews your passion for language and literature, which is so vital to engaged teaching. Indeed, in our own writing and teaching lives, reading and engaging in this world has opened us to a flood of generosity from writers and other educators, invaluable gifts that led us to write this book. We hope it will lead you to your own projects that will be gifts to others.

Teach Living Poets is overflowing with ideas for bringing contemporary poetry (and poets) into the classroom. It features lessons and resources that you can implement right away as well as examples of student responses and written work. I especially appreciate the way the classroom snapshots highlight many teacher voices by incorporating activities shared by contributors to the website. Each chapter includes dozens of recommended poems—so be warned it can be a slow read if you, like me, stop and google every title and poet, but I promise it will be totally worth it.

If you are looking for ways to incorporate contemporary poetry into your reading and writing workshop, I highly recommend adding Teach Living Poets to your professional resource library.



During the pandemic, The Paris Review created Poets on Couches, a series of videograms in which poets read another poet’s work and discuss it. From their couch, they describe their personal responses to the poem they have selected and comment on its craft. They share their noticings, curiosities, and connections to other writing.

The archives from 2020 and 2021 offer a wide range of poetry and reactions to it. Each post includes the transcript of the poem and a short video. This is a tremendous source of poetry and models of poetry discussions. You might incorporate this series by:

  • inviting students to watch the video and then discuss how their responses to the poem are similar or different
  • watching a selection of videos and creating an anchor chart of “what we talk about when we talk about poetry” strategies
  • sharing some of the videos as a way to introduce students to new poems and poets
  • using the videos as models for students to create their own Poets on Couches poetry responses



April is Poetry Month and Margin Notes will be featuring ideas for celebrating poetry this month…and all year long.

We’ve updated our Poetry Month Resource Round-Up. You can access it here.



For poetry writing inspiration, enjoy I Want to Write Something So Simply by Mary Oliver

I want to write something

so simply

about love

or about pain

that even

as you are reading

you feel it

and as you read

you keep feeling it

and though it be my story

it will be common,

though it be singular

it will be known to you

so that by the end

you will think—

no, you will realize—

that it was all the while

yourself arranging the words,

that it was all the time

words that you yourself,

out of your own heart

had been saying.


To inspire you reading, enjoy Grant Snider’s comic Understanding Poetry

You will also find poetry ideas in our Craft Studio and Try This Tomorrow posts.

Happy Poetry Month!