Ann
Van Etten


Ann Van Etten teaches eighth-grade language arts in Iowa. She received a bachelor’s degree in English education with a minor in creative writing from the University of Northern Iowa, and a master’s in English education at the University of Iowa. She earned her National Board Certification in English language arts in 2010. Van Etten also teaches creative writing to middle school students at the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy, a non-profit after school arts organization.

Articles by Ann

Rethinking Poverty and Casual Conversations

What "little" things do you do that might marginalize your students in poverty?

Ava’s Words Teach Social Justice Lesson

Ava, an 8th-grade student in my after-school creative writing class came to me to discuss a story she was working on. She was writing a fictional story about a gay teenager who struggles with his sexuality and coming out. Even early on in the process, I was impressed with her ability to look at this story as a complex study in understanding—giving a voice to, and respectfully exploring, the conflicts of a gay teen.

Writing the Powerless Out of History

In a recent discussion about a history reading, I asked students if they understood the need to think critically about what we read, even if the reading is labeled “historical.”

Why Service Is a Skill Worth Learning

I overheard two students talking in class one day about their after-school plans. One said she would be volunteering at the local women’s shelter. I hurried over, excited to congratulate her on this great thing she was doing—being part of her community and supporting marginalized groups. Lesson plans were already beginning to form in my head: writing prompts about social awareness, student interviews with our populations of homeless, hungry, mentally and intellectually disabled and those in poverty. I imagined students writing editorials to the local newspaper about the needs of our community.

Don’t Label a Book by Gender

In my eighth-grade language arts classroom, we use discussion as a vehicle for learning, thinking, writing, posing and defending arguments, questioning and reviewing—just about everything. And as can be expected, we sometimes digress from the topic at hand.
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Group of adults listening to one person speaking.

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