Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's official...no single gender for me this year!

Don't let the graphic throw you..I am not exactly going over to the Pink side (you know- going all Mylie Cyrus/Hannah Montana on y'all).  While I love my boys to death, and have enjoyed teaching an all boy class for the last 2 years, I found out yesterday, I will not be teaching all boys this year. There will be boys in my class, but there will also be girls too! Scandalous!!

WT-fill in the blank, you say! Yeah, I was bummed too, for about 1 minute than I saw my roster. Now, in case my principal (or more likely my AP) is reading this blog...I know my roster is going to change between now and next Thursday...but back to my original thought...I am really excited for a number of reasons:
1. I love my team....the 4 other teachers I will be teaching with are awesome (and yes, I know many of them will read this)!
2. The new year always excites me (I love the smell of a freshly opened box of crayons)
3. It will be refreshing to have not one, but 3 sets of students, all traditional classes. I am teaching Reading and Social Studies on a 3 person team (we also have another 2-person team on our grade level that will be teaching inclusion).
4. Boys, as wonderful as they are, tire me out, and I think for my sanity, a little bit of a breather is in order.
5. Most of the kids I will be teaching, I had taught last year, either as part of a team in 3rd grade, in our Math Flex groups or in Bubble Groups right before PASS testing. They are awesome kids and I look forward to teaching them this year.

With that said....I am going to have to change the name of my blog (and my page on Facebook) to reflect this change...gotta get on that right now!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pay it Forward with Elmers & Adopt a Classroom

Whether you are a teacher or a parent (or both, like me), you know this time of year strikes fear in your checkbook. Back to school time is expensive, and  even doing the bare-minimum for the first week of school can bust your budget. With the current economic situation, most households in the US will struggle to buy supplies for their kids in preparation to send them back to school.

Having a 4th grader, I am prepared to shell out some big bucks to get him ready to go back to school. I will also teach 16-18 4th graders this year and many of them will show up on the first day with very few supplies to start the year out. I have already begun picking up staff whenever I go to Walmart. The other day I practically filled a my cart with glue sticks, paper, pencils, pen and notebooks. When they put their school supplies out, they always have great deals on stuff (as love as 15 cents on some stuff) so I try and stock up. My wallet is wailing just thinking about buying even more.  But I am not alone! My fellow teachers across this country (many of whom have had their salaries cut) will be doing the same. As teachers, we won't let our students do without, even if their parents will. And in the district when I teach, in the past, we have received $275 to purchase supplies. But this year, due to budget cuts, we will not get that money. That means even more will come out of our own pockets to stock our classrooms.

Mrs. Mimi, one of my favorite bloggers EVER, posted today about this. The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward is charity blog meme, bloggers are able to raise $10 per blog post for Adopt-A-Classroom by writing a blog post and donating a virtual bag of school supplies . Elmer’s will donate $10 per each post written to Adopt-A-Classroom, up to $10,000.

In an effort to spread the love, I'm going to send a virtual bag of school supplies to:
Mommy Mumbo Jumbo  C'Mon Tara..help me spread the word!!!

But you can join in too:

Help Elmer’s Help Adopt-A-Classroom

Helping classrooms in need this back to school season is as easy as 1 – 2 – 3
1. Write a post about this charity blog meme
2. Send a virtual bag of school supplies to another blogger and challenge them to join the #bagitforward movement
3. Link up your post at BagItForward.org
Easy peasy! Elmer’s just donated $10 for your post to Adopt-A-Classroom!

HOW CAN YOU JOIN? It’s easy.

  • Participate in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward and by giving away a virtual bag of school supplies and creating a blog post with specific rules described below.
  • Elmer’s will donate up to $10,000 to Adopt-A-Classroom.
  • You can give as many virtual bags as you want.
  • The Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward will officially begin at 12 AM EST on July 22, 2010 and end at 12 PM EST on August 12, 2010. Blog posts submitted to us before or after that time period will not be counted.
  • The blog post link has to be submitted in the comment section below for your participation to be counted.
  • In addition copy and paste the following text into your blog post:


  • Copy and paste these rules into your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or write about your Back to School shopping trip at Walmart.
  • Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
  • Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
  • Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there.

 Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by August 12, 2010).

Please note that only one blog post per blog url will count towards the donation.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ok, I admit it, I miss them....

Was up at the school yesterday for a meeting and summer school is going on. As I walked by the cafeteria about noon time, I spotted them...three of my little friends from last year. I was immediately sad for them that they were spending the last 2 weeks of their summer break at school (um..then I remembered WHERE I WAS!).
Thier little faces lit up as I came over to their table (they still haven't figured out that they are 4th graders now and at some point it is way uncool to act excited to see your former teacher)...hugs ensued and we spend a few minutes chatting about their summer so far, and I asked them if they were excited for school to start and to be 4th graders. They were  (that will probably change!)
It was good to see them and it has me excited for school to start. I really do miss them!! There--I admitted it!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Anyone remember this book???

I remember reading this book in elementary school and it is one of my favorites! I cam across it in the audio book section of the library today as I was looking for an audio book of How to Eat Friend Worms for my son..he is reading the book and I thought it might be fun to mix things up a bit an alternate reading and listening to the book...with the temperatures outside in the high 90s, I am looking for indoor activities for him aside from video games and the TV.

So back to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle....I looked for the book in the library but could not find it. So I grabbed the audio version. I could barely wait to check out and get to the car and pop it in the CD player....I even took the long way home to listen to a bit more. I am a bit nervous about introducing to my son....he is not always eager to take my recommendations when it comes to books. But I loved this book so much that I just want him to enjoy it as much as I do....they are filled with stories of her magical cures for making boys and girls behave...so much fun!!

I remember reading all the books in this series multiple times...hopefully he will get hooked on them like me. They are written a little below his current reading level, but I think it is okay for him to go ahead and read them if he enjoys them. 

I think I may even buy a set for my classroom for my struggling readers....or an audio book for the listening center. I "heart" Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Never......be careful what you say you'l never do..it will come back to bite you!

I was inspired by Lydia & Kate from Rants From Mommyland and Amy from Pregnant Chicken, awesome Mommy Bloggers who posted lists of things that they swore they would never do before they became parents. Well, mine is about things I swore (or at least thought) I would never do as a teacher...stay with me for the connection...because being a teacher is a lot like being a Mom, you just have more kids (unless your last name is Dugger) but you do get to send them home at night and on the weekends and you don't have to pay for their braces/ wedding/bail bond.......

Here's my list....and feel free to add one if you are a teacher....would love to read all your comment awesomeness!!!

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that….plays favorites….

Let’s face it, you are not going to love every one of your little friends…..some of them, have the innate ability to work your last nerve, while others are just so cute you want to take them home forever. I have my favorites every year, and while I try to hide it, they know…they all know….

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that….uses worksheets….
There are days (more than we want to admit) where is my little friends were in my home instead of at school they would so be sitting in front of the TV watching Phineas and Ferb with an open box of Lucky Charms in front of them. Sometimes you just gotta pull out the old busy work so you can save your sanity.

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that….pretends to listen to a student like what he/she is saying is the most exciting/interesting/important thing in the world….
I have to admit, I am a great actress…I can pretend to listen to one of my little friends, and all the while I am planning my escape/what I am having for dinner/weekend….c’mon, how interesting is it to hear every sordid detail of how their uncle’s cousin’s friend’s dog ran away and joined the circus?

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that….gives a student an unearned grade….
While there have been many times I would have liked to have given a student a lower grade than they earned, especially when it is glaringly obvious that Mom/Dad/Grandma/Older sibling did their project….I have yet to do that. What I have done however, is boosted the grade of one of my little friends who tried real hard on that quiz/paper/project, but did not quite meet the expectation…I believe in rewarding effort, and while I have plenty of kids who don’t give a rat’s behind about school, or give it the slightest it of effort….I have plenty who try so hard…and let’s face it, their 9…there is plenty of time for others to crush their spirit later in life.

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that….bored my students to death with stories of what life was like when I was their age….
Admit it, kids today have it way easier than we did….they never had to walk to school 5 miles, up hill..both ways…lol! Seriously they have X-Box, the internet and cell phones…how hard can life be? I do tend to bring up the past a bit, especially when they start thinking they have it so rough!! Deal with it friends!!

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that…raises their voice (i.e. yells)…
I’ve done it more times than I care to remember ..not proud of it, but I have admitted it, so that’s the first step!!

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that…..lies to parents about how wonderful their child is…..
Everyone (including me) likes to hear how wonderful/smart/beautiful their child is, whether it is true or not…but sometimes when you are sitting there across from a parent and you really want to tell them that their child reminds them of the spawn of Satan (okay, that was a little harsh)…you gotta take one for the team and tell them A BIG FAT LIE!!!!

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that….gives up control (or lack of it) in her classroom and calls in the big guns (i.e. the Principal or AP)…
Despite the fact that they tell you in Grad School that your classroom will be all lollipops and roses as long as you have a great Classroom management plan…thinks do go awry…and fast. No matter how great your plan is, there is going to be that one kid who was genetically engineered to push your buttons…SO..you have to call in the big guns. You hate to do it but for your own sanity and the other kids in your class..you gotta make THE CALL…,and get the little bugger out of your room. Of course he sits in the principals office and draws pictures of the ways he plans to torture you as soon as he is paroled, and returns to your classroom. But at least you and the rest of your little friends have a few minutes of peace.

I’ll never be the kind of teacher that…tries to fool your students by bluffing when you don’t know the answer….
All the teacher books (you know the ones written by people who have never actually taught) say it is okay to admit when you don’t know the answer to a question one of your students asks. But I am here to tell you …NEVER…admit you don’t know something in front of your students. WHY? Because,…while they will forget their homework, their pencil, their name, the classroom/school rules and occasionally the answer to the question they just asked you and you answered (for the 100th time)…they will NEVER forget that you admitted not knowing something. It is emotional capital to them and they will use it every chance they get. Oh, and they will be certain to tell their parents that you don’t know ANYTHING!!

So what have you sworn you would NEVER do as a teacher, but have ended up doing..do tell!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Almost Back-to-School time...looking ahead.

Wow, summer is ending soon and it is time to face reality that school will be starting soon. I have to report back to work in 18 days but will be going in this coming Monday to begin unpacking and organizing my classroom. Part of me is excited at the newness of the new school year...new students, new gradebook, new supplies, new curriculum (although I have taught it all before), new opportunities to build relationships...but I have REALLY enjoyed this time off. It has been the first summer since I began teaching 4 years ago, that I have not taught summer school. I have had the summer to do with as I wish, which meant sleeping late, reading lots of books, time at the pool. All that will end soon, but I plan to enjoy every last minute of it.....

I wonder if my students are thinking the same thing. I know that many of my students don't have a lot of structure at home, and have way too much responsibility put on them for such a young age (caring for siblings, cooking their own meals, cleaning up after themselves, no supervision, staying up late or all night, watching tv/playing video games as much as they want). I honestly think they crave the structure that school provides. And at our school, they are guaranteed two meals a day...which I sometimes wonder if they get at home over the summer.
Someone once told me, the positive attention they get at school may be the only positive in their lives. While that is sad, it also made me happy that I can give that to my students. Honestly, I think I could do a better job of building them up, and that is something I plan on working on this year. In the past I have gotten caught up in the negative behaviors, and honestly, taking them too personally. Will try using the 5:1 ratio of positives to negative...I'll let you know how that goes.
Another worry I have, especially for my boys, is this is the year (grade level) that they significantly drop off in their reading..and if they are already struggling with reading, tat they will give up. I have found some cool books for read a-louds and novel units. Hopefully I can instill in my struggling readers, that reading opens doors and takes you places you may never be able to go, except through a book.
Regardless of the fact that my summer is almost over, I really am looking forward to the new school year. One last goal...I am going to blog a lot more, and I would love to start a blog with my class(es)...I think it is a great way to get them writing, and take ownership in what is happening at school.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I "Heart" Books!!

UPDATE: My 1st summer OFF from teaching is going FABULOUS!! Really enjoying having some down-time. So what have I been doing, you ask? Well....I have been reading... A LOT!! I absolutely love books...even when I was in the corporate world, many,many moons ago, and would go to a conference..I would buy books!! Love them!

So even though I am technically on vacation for the summer, and I am spending A LOT of time reading...I am also going to classes about reading and BOOKS!! This morning I went to a summer session on the SC Book Award nominees.....why, because I had a sneaky feeling they would be giving away..you guessed it.....BOOKS!! And they did...I snagged a copy of this book- The Golly-Whopper Games by Jody Feldman..which was described to me as a cross between "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory" (love Roald Dahl) and "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. I can't wait to read it!! Gonna start it as soon as I finish this post!! The other book I picked up, I actually got for my son...it is called by G. Brian Caras. It is a cute picture book about, you guessed it, Zeus, you know of Greek mythology fame. My son has been fascinated with Zeus, and Greek mythology since reading the Percy Jackson series....but I will snag it to use in my classroom at some point this year.

Because of my love of books, I have been toying with the idea of getting my Masters in Library Science and becoming a Media Specialist (Librarian!!). What cooler job could there be (aside form teaching all boys, of course).....?? I will be investigating some Masters programs in the coming weeks...

Also...asked today how I could become involved with the SC Book Awards as a committee member. Just finished typing my application to email off...hope they pick me. What better way to meld my love of reading and teaching then getting first crack at tons of great books... to help find nominees for next years awards!

Well, I better end this here and post it...The Golly-Whopper Games" is calling my name...and YES, I will post a review when I am finished!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Reading....

My stack of books it getting taller as I try and read as much as possible during my carefree summer days....not all of them are kid-friendly, if you know what I mean. I did sign up for an online class and they recenty sent me a reading list....I will try and post some reviews as I get them finished. So far I have started these two (one for my class library and one for this online class)..these will be my first reviews...hopefully I will be able to post the reviews by the end of the month.

The Red Pyramids..the first in the new series by Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

I'll keep you posted...and if you are reading something that you think I should check out, feel free to post a comment below to suggest it!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

12 Hours and counting...

Yep, that is all we have left of the 2009-2010 school year. Just 3 1/2 days! Yes, I still have to work full days (including a full day Friday). I was thinking about it this morning as I watched the rain pour down (and normally I would have dreaded it because rain=inside recess)...and with nothing better to do as I sipped my morning coffee I started to fantasize about the perfect 12 hours a la the show "24!"
What will it look like...chaos of course. So much to do in 12 short hours (did I really type that?)

Tuesday....Class Auction and lunch. I am cooking for my boys---Lasagna and Bread..YUM! Our auction will be a lot of fun. I have been collecting stuff all year (dollar store stuff, etc) for this. The boys will use their SOAR bucks (this is a school wide behavior system..kids get them for doing good things)...to bid on these items.

Wednesday...3rd Grade awards. We will have a grade level assembly in the morning to give out awards for the end of the year, then back in the classroom, I will give out 9 week awards. This is always a fun day because the kids love getting recognition for their hard work all year.

Thursday...Class Party and Multiplication Ice Cream party. The 3rd grade has been working hard to learn their multiplication facts through 12..they will earn their ice cream based on how many facts they have learned....everything from their bowl and spoon, to the right to sit with their friends during the party. Then we will have our class party..more food and goodies. The boys will also be allowed to bring in game systems (DSI, PSP, or Gameboy). Then at noon....adios, little friends and hello summer. Well for the record, I can not welcome summer until 3pm Friday!! But it will be so sweeet!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

To 4th Grade I go.....and All Boys Again!!!

2010-2011 assignments came out yesterday and I can honestly say I am SO PUMPED about my assignment for next year. I am moving back to 4th grade and taking about 1/2 of my current class with me!! Some of the parents of my little friends decided that the Single Gender classroom was not the place for their son, and we (me, my grade level team, AP and Principal) decided that the Single Gender classroom was not the place for some of my little friends. Right now my roster looks awesome!! 19 boys...make that 19 amazing young men ready to leave South Carolina history behind and tackle Social Studies from a more global perspective! And I love the stories we read in 4th grade (I taught 4th for 2 years prior to moving to 3rd last year) and I have some amazing read alouds ready to introduce them to...including Rick Riordan's newest series the Kane Chronicles- The Red Pyramid....based on Egyptian mythology!!

I had another possible assignment in the hopper, and at the time, I thought it would be a sweet deal, but now that I know where I am going next year...and that I will be teaching what I consider to be the dream class (someone remind me that I said this next Spring when they are almost 5th graders and driving me a little crazy!) I am super excited. At least I will not be spending my summer learning a new program/curriculum...instead, I will be lounging by the pool reading a new stack of "boy books"..shopping on Amazon for books for my class library...and getting ready to have a fabulous year with a fabulous group of boys!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Fat Lady is getting ready to sing....

The end is near...and NO I have not been watching 2012!

This week coming up we have PASS testing...our version of CYA for No Child Left Behind. My little friends have been reviewed-to-death and most of them are ready! The ones who are not, there is nothing more I can do. I cannot possibly analyze one more poem, do one more math problem involving division, give one more example of a simile (or metaphor, personification, alliteration or hyperbole), recall one more fact about Native Americans, Explorers, the American Revolution, Civil War, World Wars I & II or the Civil Rights Movement from South Carolina's perspective. Their cute little heads will explode if I try and cram one more fact in there. We'll just have to see where the chips fall (and their scores).

This week our school sent home intent letters for single gender, to see if parents wanted their children to continue in the single gender program at our school. I have only gotten about half of the letters back from my boys' parents and for the most part, the ones who are thriving in the program will be back. The ones who have caused a little craziness this year (and feed off of it) won't.

I know I have a job next year, and at my current school, I am just not sure what grade I will be teaching and if I will be looping with my current class (at least the ones who have signed on to continue single gender). Hopefully I will have a better idea in the coming weeks.

I have a lave/hate relationship with the 2 1/2 weeks of school following our PASS testing. I love it because testing is over. We talk about this test from Day One of the school year , and quite frankly I am a little tired of talking about it (and I am certain my little friends are too). I am ready for it to be done with!! BUT...once the testing s complete, we still have 2 1/2 more weeks. We are still required to teach, and IMHO is it just busywork. Why not hold off giving the test until the last week and then just send them home to their parents for 10 weeks? We do have fun things going on--SOARfest (a day where we have giant inflatables on the playground for the kids to climb, jump and slide on)...Awards day, Field Day, Class parties....lots of things...And they are turning on books the week after testing so....what' a teacher to do? I am planning a novel unit on An Indian in the Cupboard (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that book!!)....and we are going to review and test our final Unit in Social Studies (we did not get to the test before PASS review began).

But the end is so close I can smell the suntan lotion and taste the margaritas!!! At noon on June 3rd, I will be doing the Happy Dance and waving farewell to my little friends for the summer. 27 hours later and it will be celebration time!!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sunshine Award

What a special surprise! I received this Sunshine Award from my friend, and fellow blogger, Tara over at http://mommymumbojumbo.blogspot.com/ . Tara is the Mom of two of the most adorable children on this planet (aside from my own sweet boy). She and I met, when I first started teaching and she has been on of the biggest fans of my blog, and a big encouragement. Thank you Tara! You are awesome!!

In accepting this blogging award, I also have to follow the rules and send it on...The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world. course, awards come with rules…

1. Put the logo on your blog and/or within your post.

2. Pass the award on to twelve bloggers.

3. Link to the nominees within your post.

4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and the link to the person from whom you received this award

It's Not All Flowers and Sausages
Ms. Mimi ROCKS! Her blog is according to her tag line is "for teachers who rock." She makes me laugh, and that helps me to laugh at myself. Let's face it, teachers today have a tough job, and her blog is a little slice of heaven when it comes to venting about some of the frustrations we face trying to educate children. She is a little obsessed with picture books, shoes and schools supplies, but heck, we all have out little idiosyncrasies, don't we!

Stories of Life: One Writer-Mom's Odyssey
Kris Meldrum, this blogger, is a dear friend of mine. She likes to credit me for inspiring her to blog, but she has been a writer all her life. Her perspective on things is refreshing--check out her entry on the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings here and because I have known her for a while, I can spot her wit, sarcasm and amazing humor from a mile away. She makes me laugh and I enjoy keeping up with her life. We were once neighbors in Virginia, then she left me and moved to Ohio, so in retaliation, I moved to South Carolina...a state she visits every year for vacation, but some how avoids visiting me...just kidding Kris! Check out her blog, your won;t be disappointed!

A Teacher's Life
Another teacher blog I follow...Jen is honest and real! I laugh at her insight on her students, as many of them remind me of mine. She lays bare the issues she is facing in the classroom, which I can truly relate to. And most of all, she shares a love of great books and reading as I do. I get great book and lesson ideas from her.

Just a Bunch of Nothin
I don't remember how I found this blog...but Suzanne the Homeschooling Mom who writes this blog and I have a few things in common: we both scrapbook, we have both lived in Virginia (she still does) and in Alaska (she is returning there soon), are both politically conservative...and since she homeschools her children we are both teachers. She is very funny, an awesome photographer and is frugal. I love reading her posts because one day she is talking about some cool new gadget she wants to get (but is holding off until she a) has enough Swagbucks B) it goes on sale or C) she has a coupon for it, lol! She is the one who turned me onto SwagBucks after posting how she has earned enough to purchase a Wii for her family!

Life with Briana
I started following Lisa's blog a few years ago when my husband and I were planning on adopting a little girl from China. I found this blog right before Lisa and her husband Doug left for China to get their daughter Briana. I followed their trip and have been reading her blog regularly since they brought Briana home. When our family made the difficult decision to discontinue our adoption journey, Lisa was a huge source of comfort to me. She has recently been though some tough personal issues, and I reached out to her in hopes of returning some of the compassion and comfort she had shown me. Her Daughter Briana is adorable, and I love all the great pictures Lisa posts. Lisa is honest about the challenges of parenting a pre-schooler, and of being an adoptive parent.

People say God never gives you more than you can handle...I like to think God gives all the tough stuff most of us can't handle to the truly strong! That is who this family is...truly strong and they are such an inspiration to me and hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who read this blog! They have been through so much--youngest daughter Peyton was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 2, and last year, Anissa, Peyton's Mom suffered two strokes. Dad has been full-time caregiver of the kids and Anissa since then. Anissa survived, thankfully, but still faces a long road to recovery. Her husband has since taking over Anissa's blog (and is doing a fine job). Even as the family dealt with Peyton's Leukemia and now Anissa's strokes...they have continued to remain positive, while keeping it real. Besides being awesome for what she has survived..Anissa rocks because she has been on Oprah!!!

Mommy Needs A Cocktail
Kristen has, hands-down, one of the funniest blogs I have ever read. If you are a Mom you will love her blog! She is so real...as the mother of 3 boys, trying to run an Internet-based business, also named Mommy Needs a Cocktail, she takes life's everyday moments, like finding her child riding on the riding lawn mower --ALONE...or eating day old pizza, she makes you take a step back and find the humor in the challenges of parenting. Along with her sisters, Kristen also blogs for PBS on a blog called Supersisters.

Stretch Marks
This is another blog, I came across totally by accident. Actually, there are no accidents in blogland, and I think I found this blog from a link on another blog I read. This is another funny Mom who blogs about her life and her kids, and more recently her move back to her hometown. She has a wicked sense of humor, and despite some of the curve balls that have been thrown her way in life, she keeps on going, and tries to find the humor in it all. She has adopted two beautiful children and her husband, who she refers to as the Attorney General. She is as funny as it gets...and reading her blog can get me out the the worst of funks!!

Okay, I could only come up with 8...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I'm back.....and boy has life gotten interesting!!!

Well it has been a while since my last post...and boy has the world of education been rocking!!! Lots to post about but first just an update on school, and my boys, since, HELLO, that is the whole purpose of this blog right?

We are in the final stretch of the 2009-2010 school year and testing is right around the corner...we are all feeling the pressure. So the other day, we took a much needed break and played a game. Yep, we put aside the books, and the review materials, and the tests, and we played...and it wasn't even recess time. Do you remember school being as high stress as it is today when you were a kid? I sure don't. It is no wonder these kids act out..they are way over tested and way over stressed. So back to the playing....yes, we needed a little respite so we played "I am going on a camp out...and I am taking an A_____ (insert a word that begins with A here)" My little friends really got into it (and it was a great memory game). I am going to try and do this at least a couple times a week between now and the HSTE (high stakes testing event)...in a few weeks. Gotta let them have a little fun, right?

Well speaking of fun, they are all working so hard to earn super SOAR bucks for the upcoming end of year events. We have 3 big events coming up, each spaced apart by two weeks. I told my little friends if they stayed on a "3" (a true three is NOT turning their card at all) for the whole day, they would get one of these super SOAR bucks which is actually worth 5 SOAR bucks. They need 50 SOAR bucks to attend each event, so in theory, if they stay on a 3 each day, they automatically have the amount they need to attend. Oh, and they cannot have received a referral of any type during the 2 weeks leading up to the event (1/2 sheet, office or bus referral). Sadly, 4 of my friends have already "blown it" for the first event- Spring Fling (carnival) coming up this Friday). But everything "re-sets" the following Monday, so they can work on the 2nd event on May 14th which is a Karaoke Dance Party( again they must have 50 SOAR bucks to attend and no referrals). The final event, May 28th is SOARfest, which includes giant inflatables and ice cream treats. I am hoping they all get the opportunity to attend at least one of these events...and most of my little friends will get to go to all 3!!

On another note, I did get a contract for next year, and will be at my same school. Just not sure what grade level I will be teaching and if it will be single gender. Keeping my fingers crossed about looping with most of these boys to 4th grade...I will keep you posted.

NEXT POST- the Enough is Enough Rally against cuts to the education budget.....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kielbasa...its not just SAUGAGE anymore!!!

Before I get up on my soapbox again, I had to share a few tidbits about my BOYS from this week. Bear with the bullets--I am in a hurry to post so I can get back to reading about health care reform, teachers being fired en masse and other things that will eventually make their way onto my blog!!

Well phase one of our state testing is over...can't talk much about it. But suffice to say, me and my little friends let out a collective sigh of relief Wednesday afternoon after Day 2 of testing was in the bag. We still have 3 more days of tests in May but Spring Beak is coming and we have decided to focus on that (with a little reading, math, social studies and science sprinkled in everywhere!!)

The following were overheard in my classroom this week (I swear, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!)

  • "Good Morning Mr. E, Kielbasa Mr. W" (This one needs a little explaining...we greet each other at the start of morning meeting...Good Morning Mr. D, Good Morning Mrs. Barker and shake hands. The boys have changed things up a bit by greeting each other in different languages...Hola, Bon Jour, Ni Hao..they looked a bunch of them up on Google. Anyone want to take a guess at what "Kielbasa Mr. W. should be, Yep, you guessed it..Que Pasa. Obviously my little friend is not a native Spanish speaker!

  • One little friend to another- "Do you want to be in an all-boy class next year?" Boy 2: "Nah, I need to be with the ladies"

  • "Mrs. Barker, did you know they wrote a book about the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid?"

  • Me: "In less than 50 days you all are going to be 4th graders!" Look of horror comes over one of my little friend's face: Him: "You mean they canceled summer vacation?"

  • "The reason we are not allowed to bring toys to school is because they don't want us to have any fun at school"(this was after I had taken Bakugan cards away from a student for the 2nd or 3rd time in 2 weeks)

  • Me: "Mr. K, what time did you go to sleep (I meant, last night). Mr. K: "Just now I guess, because you just woke me up."

They crack me up...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is "Race to the Top" actually a federalization of education?

Disclaimer: To my followers...I promise to get off this education reform tirade I have been on recently and get back to humorous stories about my little friends soon! It just pisses me off that people in Washington want to tell me how to run my classroom. If they are so interested in what I am doing, I invite them to join me this Monday afternoon at 2:30pm as I break every school rule (and probably my own neck) to get on a chair, climb on shelves and such and cover the walls of my classroom and rearrange all the desks in preparation for state testing Tuesday and Wednesday. Until then.....

Lately, I have been spending way to much time reading articles and blogs talking about education reform. Why you ask..because I am a geek like that. When I was in the corporate world, I bought and read books by the dozen on organizational management, change management, organization effectiveness, and the like.

These days it seems the media has made teachers the scapegoats for a failing education system. In addition, I am reading up on proposed budget cuts in our state and attending meetings where it is discussed that we (South Carolina) are viewed as having a low-performing education system all because of the way we report our standardized test scores. At this aforementioned meeting it was announced that we (again, South Carolina) are one of 16 states (well DC is not a state but they are one of the finalists) in the running for "Race to the Top" grants. I ignorantly applauded like the rest of the lemmings at the meeting and dashed back to my classroom when the meeting was over and googled "Race to the Top." I was appalled to read article after article outlining how acceptance of these grants requires stated to adopt a federally drafted national standard for curriculum. Among other things.....Uh..Shut The Front Door~~~! WHY would anyone agreed to this?

This is opens the door even wider to let the federal government come in and take over. States like Texas opted not to apply for these grants after they found out that these national standards would undo all the reform in state curriculum standards they had been working hard to improve.

And guess how many teachers were on these panels who wrote the grant requirements (and the draft for the national curriculum standards)....ummmm...NONE!! Big shocker there!

This article from the Washington Post lists 10 False Assumption about Race to the Top. It's worth the read.

In addition to the requirement to adopt national standards, many states have been basically selling their souls to qualify..like lifting the cap on charter schools and agreeing to tie test scores to teacher evaluations and pay. This is wrong on so many levels that I want to scream "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS? How is this going to help them? 100% of these funds apparently have to go to reform of standards and curriculum, and can't be used to make up the millions of dollars many of these states need to close the gap in their education budgets. No teacher salaries (saving teacher layoffs) no supplies, computers and other technology, textbooks, etc.

This p_sses me off so much!!! What's next? Fire all the teachers and replace them with robots..I mean if we totally remove the human component in the equation....we're bound to get the result we are seeking, RIGHT?!?! Morons!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

$121 Million...are you freakin KIDDING ME??????

Yes friends, I am fired up once again.....this time by an article in the Blackboard Jungle section of Newsweek Magazine....this article to be exact...titled "Why Teachers Can't Control Their Classrooms" I am still scratching my head as to why no one at Newsweek called me..because I would certainly have given them an earful...and set them straight.

While I agree with most of the article (the gist being that teacher education programs are not equipping new teachers for the reality of classroom management and bad student behavior), I came across this gem...."Education Secretary Arne Duncan has acknowledged what a huge issue classroom management has become. To help improve the situation, the federal government recently dedicated $21 million to a fledgling network of 28 teacher-residency programs (modeled on medical residencies) to give new teachers hands-on training in a real classroom. Later this year Duncan plans to distribute another $100 million in grants to expand the idea further."

HELLO---Secretary Duncan...we have that..it's called STUDENT TEACHING!! So this genius is going to throw $121 million into a program of 28 networks modeled after medical residencies. LOVE it..so when these teachers graduated from your program Secy Duncan..will these teachers (and their hard working, battle scarred colleagues) then be PAID like Doctors? Or treated with the same respect for their profession as Doctors?? When is the last time you read about a patient throwing a chair at their doctor?

Don't get me wrong..I think there is definitely a need to better support first and second year teachers, especially those who have students with behavior issues. Many schools, including the one I work at, have mentor programs where a seasoned veteran helps a newer teacher, shows him/her the ropes, assists them when they are struggling whether it is with classroom management, curriculum, etc. If Secy. Duncan wants to keep teachers from leaving the profession within the first five years, he needs to work with teachers, administrators, etc, to see what suggestions they have to make the situation better. Throwing money at yet one more program will not solve the problem. Some of these students need to be removed from regular classrooms when the behavior escalates to the point where it is impacting the ability of the teacher to teach and the other students to learn. Spend the $121 million on closing aging schools and building new ones, teacher mentoring programs, new technology, remediation programs, gang education programs, and YES, teacher salaries.

Much better investment in my humble opinion!! And while we are on the topic of "Why teachers can't control their classrooms"..the answer is because many parents don't discipline their kids at home, they have no expectations for them and when they get in trouble it is always someone else's fault....however, there are good parents, no there are GREAT parents out there that do the right thing, that set expectations for their children and that realize the importance of going to school, getting an educations and listening and respecting the teacher and administrators....I LOVE parents like THAT!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And the WINNER is....

.....drum roll please!! I got busy at the beginning of the week and totally forgot to draw a winner for the contest!!! So today I put the names of all my followers who also left a comment (and some of you commented more than once..thank you friends!!!) on my blog last month during my challenge in a bowl and Noah picked a winner.

The winner of an all expenses paid trip to ...oh, wring contest! The winner is Tiffany J!!!

Tiffany you get your choice of a $10 Starbucks gift card or a $10 Target gift card!! Let me know which one you want and I'll pick it up this weekend and bring it to you!

NEWS FLASH...I will be doing another contest later this month so keep reading the blog and keep an eye out for details on this new contest!!

Thanks again for all of you who became followers of my blog last month, those who read regularly and those who left me comments!! You guys ROCK!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

If we had a Million Teacher March, would anyone come???

Wow, I was over at Ms. Mimi's blog a few minutes ago and girlfriend is STILL fired up about the situation in Rhode Island. She asked, what can we (teachers do) to show these teachers who were unfairly fired, that we support them.

My suggestion was a Million Teacher March on Washington! I have a few choice words for Arne Duncan, myself! Organizing it would be a snap...we teachers are great organizers. Getting the word out, no problem! Teachers talk to other teachers who talk to still more teachers. Word would spread like wildfire.

What do you say friends...anyone up for a road trip to DC??

PS- Look what I found when I googled Million Teacher March....this and this ( I am a little ticked they already have the rights to the website!!), and it is even mentioned here (although it it not exactly as it is advertised).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

#28-- I did it!!! a whole month of posts.....

Wow, when I started this challenge 28 days ago I was not sure I could do it. When would I find the time? Would I find topics worth blogging about? Well I made it..and I think it turned out pretty well. Only one day, when I was really having some severe back pain, did I skip, but I made up for it the next day! And I have to admit..it was fun. Especially logging on each day to see if I had new followers or any comments. Speaking of both, I am going to draw the winner of my contest tomorrow. I will post the winner Tuesday morning!! There is still time..if you have not left a comment...leave one by midnight tonight and I will include you in the drawing.

So what am I going to do now?? Well, I am not going to make any promises, but I am going to try and continue to blog 2-3 times a week. I am sure there will be lots to write about with testing coming up...and as the end of the year approaches, and all the fun that comes with that. I am excited that I am taking this summer off from teaching (I have taught summer school the last 2 years!)...I am taking some classes, and will be trying to organize things for next year. Oh, and there is that grant I said I wanted to write.

I am still not sure if I am going to loop with my current class to 4th grade..but that is my plan. I hope that it all works out. I know I will lose a few students and gain a few but I am looking forward to keeping the core group of boys. If not, I will start with a new group if boys. Either way, the adventure will continue and so will this blog.

I LOVE reading everyone's comments and I have tried to reply to most, and will continue to do so. I would also like to have a few guest blogs in the coming months so any of you teacher friends of mine who ware interested in being a guest blogger...let me know.

Thanks friends, old and new, for reading. Continue to, and feel free to suggest topics you would like for me to cover. I am happy to oblige. And who knows, I may try another one of these challenges in the coming months.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

#27- Let's just fire all the teachers....

Hold on---I am jumping on THIS bandwagon......
It seems like everyone is talking about the firing of an entire staff at a Rhode Island high school. I watched the coverage on the news and have read quite a few articles on this particular incident. I know that school systems "clean house" from time to time. In fact I remember reading this article in the Washington Post last summer about the firing of 250 teachers by Chancellor Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C. But never before do I remember an entire staff of a school being terminated. As I read these articles and posts on other blogs I see that it is not just an issue of a poor performing school...one of the options (aside from being fired) was to require these teachers to work extra for little or no extra pay. This is the part that, quite frankly, pisses me off!!

This is what the school district proposed to the teacher's union:
The conditions are adding 25 minutes to the school day, providing tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers and participating in two weeks of training in the summer. (according to the Providence Journal). The union refused. (BTW I am not a fan of unions however, I do think in some cases they do where they protect teachers RIGHTS!)

First of all, I DO realize that the school was failing...horrible graduation rate, low test scores etc. But I refuse to believe that EVERY teacher in that school was ineffective. 50% of the students managed to graduate. You show me a school where 50% of the student body is THAT self-motivated and I'll be waiting with baited breath to see what their next miracle will be...walking on water?

This article says the firing drew praise from parents (and Sec. of Education Arne Duncan....I am not even going there....YET!). So let's talk about these parents...I am assuming they were the parents of the 50% who graduated (or were on the correct path to). Why isn't anyone blaming the parents? Last time I checked, it was part of a parents responsibilities to see that their child got an education. Why aren't they being held accountable? Granted, we can't fire the parents as much as we'd like to ...(this is good, can I get an AMEN!!!) So they know their kids are failing...are they helping them (assisting with homework, getting them a tutor, etc)?

What about the kids? Surely (yes I am calling you Shirley), they should have just as much responsibility in this as the teachers. I have met some apathetic kids in my day and I teach elementary school...so I can imagine the kind of apathy that exists by the time they are in high school.

What this situation really boils down to is money...and I am not talking about money for teachers, believe me. At stake is $13 million in federal funding to reform failing schools...the Federal Government (again, our "friend" Arne Duncan). To get the $$$$, schools have to choose one of four paths laid out by the Feds (including mass firings). I read today that the teachers were appealing the firing. We'll have to stay tuned and see how this turns out. I hope that they can find a way to keep these teachers and still make the necessary changes to turn the school around academically.

I can't help but take these situations personally because I can't for the life of me realize why some people in this country (and in our government) do not value the job that I, and millions of other teachers do everyday,....for very little money. And yes, I could throw in the cliche that we don't do this job for the money...in reality we do in fact do it for the money we need to live, but more importantly we do if for the kids so they can live out the hopes and dreams we have instilled in them. And if that is wrong, oh well, then FIRE ME!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

#26- WANTED: More parents like this.....

This one is gonna be on the short side..it is late Friday night. I just got home after leaving my house 15.5 hours ago. I picked up Chik-Fil-A biscuits for the PTA biscuit sale at 6:30am, helped sell them until a quarter to 8, taught all day, rushed home, picked up my little guy, headed to the National Guard Armory, help set up for his Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet, attended the banquet, helped clean up , and now I am home, and ready for the craziness to start all over again tomorrow morning with a 6am wake-up, in order to head to Clemson University for Clemson Day with Scouts.

What a crazy week it has been. Rumor has it all the kids were crazy this week...acting out, lots of referrals, just crazy. It certainly can't be spring fever because we are still in the 30s and 40s here in the Upstate, where is usually a balmy 55 or 60 degrees this time of year. Can you say HURRY UP Spring Break??!!??

I need some shut-eye but before I go I wanted to share one brief bit of wonderful that happened in my class today. Remember my little friend who got caught with the Pokemon cards in class yesterday, and decided to yell at moi because he was angry/frustrated/terrified of getting in trouble? Well his mama must have done a number on his backside yesterday evening. Little friend came in to class today full of remorse. He was so sly about it too....he waited until I went to the back of the room by myself to retrieve something and he came back and said "Mrs. B I am so sorry about the way I acted yesterday. I was wrong to yell at you and it won't ever happen again." I gave him a little hug and said you know Mr. G, what you did yesterday broke my heart because that is just NOT like you to get in trouble. You are one of my shining stars." And then I thanked him for his apology and told him I would accept it.

A few minutes later I was checking agendas and found a note from my little friend's mama telling me to call her if he did not apologize today. She said that she told him he needed to be a man and take responsibility for his bad choice, and apologize to me for both his decision to play with the cards in class and to yell at me. She also said she explained to him that men never raise their voices to women, especially not their mama or their teacher. SCORE for little friend's Mama! She ROCKS! But i have know that all along..she had definitely been one of the most supportive parents I have ever had. What I admire most is that she is raising her sons (little friend has a 4 year old brother) to be responsible, respectful young men! Wish all my student's parents were like that!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

#25....I am not YELLING!!! I am talking loud...

Okay, I am not going full tilt-vent tonight. Mostly because I am afraid to relive the day I had!!

I got yelled at by a parent and a student today. Not fun. The parent...well, I am not even going there. The kid, although it got him in even more trouble with me, did provide me with a bit of comic relief.

Today at (indoor) recess...or as I call it, day 100 of the hostage crisis...two of my little friends were bold enough to pull out Bakugans and some Bakugan and Pokemon cards and thought they were going to play with them. We (as in me) have a very strict NO TOY policy in my classroom and the school has a NO TOY policy at school. I had seen a few of my little friends pull out toys the day before but then I got distracted (ie: overwhelmed) and forgot about it.

So today when I saw the contraband toys, I went over and reminded my little friends that we do not bring toys to school even to play with at recess because someone "forgets" that toys are for recess and decides to play with them during instructional time. I thought I was pretty rational and convincing...they put the toys away and that was that. Until a few hours later when my class was returning from switching with my team teacher for Math/Science instruction. As we lined up in the hall, my teammate informed me that she had taken a stack of Pokemon cards away from one of my students (yes, one who I had talked to about this very thing at recess). I send all of my little friends into the classroom but asked the "guilty party" to remain out int he hallway with me.

Before I even got the first question out of my mouth my little friend starts yelling at me..."they weren't mine..they we ______________'s cards." I calmly (at least in my mind) asked him to lower his voice and asked if the other student put the cards in his hand or in any way forced him to take the cards. Little friend continues to yell at me, "But, but, they were not mine." I (again ) calmly asked my little friend not to yell at me, to which he relied "I am not yelling, I am talking loud!"

I stepped back for a second, speechless. I tried to hide a smirk, and had to turn away as to not show him that I was about to burst our laughing. I wish I could say that my little friend repented and things turned out great for both of us. However, since he broke a rule, defied me and TALKED LOUD to me, little friend went home with a discipline referral (as did the little friend who gave him the cards in Math/Science class).

Maybe I am being a hard @ss...but nobody TALKS LOUDLY to me and gets away with it!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

# 24 You want to write a grant for WHAT??

Has anyone out there ever written a grant? I have never done it, but I really want to write one for yoga balls. Yes, you read that right....yoga balls. They were all the rage a few years ago. C'mon admit it, you have on stashed away in your closet somewhere...you bought it because it promised you a miracle workout to give you abs of steel..you used it for a week then stashed it in your closet with all the other abandoned workout equipment. Oops...I am getting off track.

This post is not about abandoned workout gear..it is about the grant I want to write.. FOCUS Mrs. B!! Okay, I'm back!

I first heard about using these yoga balls to replace chairs in classrooms a few years ago. I was at a single-gender training class and one of the teachers said she had them for her students and it really helps them focus and pay attention more. REALLY? I was not convinced. All I could imagine was kids falling off of them and hitting their heads on the hard classroom floor (not that a few of them couldn't use a little bop on the head!!) So I googled it and found out that a lot of schools are doing this. And I found out that there had actually been studies that showed that it helps kids because they can bounce, which is something they can't do on a chair. I think you would definitely have to lay down some ground rules (especially with boys) about how to sit on them, etc. But don't I already have to do that with chairs anyway?

So I just started researching costs, and it looks like these are going to run between 18-25 per yoga ball. Since I have 16 students (and it could go as high as 20 next year), I am looking at an investment of about $500. Let me remind you all that teachers don;t make squat, so I will have to write a gran tot get part or all of the money. I have even considered buying a few to start and using them with my little friends who REALLY have a hard time sitting still. Then I would add more to my class as I could afford it.

I am looking into using a site like Donors Choose. However, I just looked at their website and currently there are several current proposals for yoga balls, and none fully funded. I may still go that route but I am also looking at other organizations offering classroom grants. If any of you know of grants out there or organizations who might be able to help out, email me and let me know.

I think this will be a great addition to our classroom and I think it will really help my boys focus a bit more. I'll keep you all posted on what happens....

PS- My Dream Class book did not arrive today..hopefully tomorrow!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#23- There is a reason why it's called RETIREMENT!

Warning- I am going to vent a little on this post today...stepping away from my boys for a moment, because quite frankly, they did nothing blog-worthy today. We did go on a field trip to the see a play about Harriet Tubman and they were great. They acted so well-behaved (compared to the little animals that sat down from us who were either hitting each other , playing rock paper scissors or getting up and changing seats--all during the performance.). I was so proud of our entire 3rd grade..they rocked at behaving in public. My boys are SO GETTING a treat tomorrow!!

Now on to aforementioned venting. Okay, so you have taught 20+ years and you decide to retire. WAY TO GO sister....you have earned it. Sell your house, buy a condo at the beach, read that stack of books you been accumulating for the last 10 years. Go on a cruise, take up knitting, get a puppy...but PLEASE don't become a substitute teacher..I BEG YOU!! Back the truck up..right, No she didn't just say that!! Yes, I did.

First of all, the kids are way different than when you started teaching 20+ years ago...and you are no spring chicken, so you know you can't honestly say you can keep up with the youth of today. Everything has changed. We do grades on computers now...the kids don;t write on stone tablets....Promethean what? You are just torturing yourself, the kids and the other teachers who have to A) answer your ridiculous questions B) Hear about how the kids have changed (see above) since you were in the classroom C) Hear how long you taught BEFORE you retired (we get it, you taught George Washington, okay!)

Now before all you retired teachers out there start flaming me, let me just add, it is not all retired teachers turned substitutes that I have a problem with...just a few (and my Grove Peeps probably know who this is aimed at!). There are a few great ones and I try to utilize their services whenever I need a sub...its the other group of you I am talking about.

"Why the anger, Mrs. B?", you ask. Today, one of the other teachers on my grade level was out and called in a sub...well not just any sub, we'll call her the notorious Ms. D (her name rhymes with cure-em). On a good day Ms. D is a train-wreck! And today was no exception. In fact, a field trip day is probably the last day you want to have Ms. D as a sub. We were having a team meeting before the field trip and Ms. D barges in and starts ranting about name tags...c'mon, how hard is it to figure out name tags? Then she walks out of the room. We all just sat there shaking our heads. Fortunately, our principal had the best idea- switch teachers for the field trip. So Ms. D stayed behind with a small group of students and one of our resource teachers came on the field trip with us. But, no, the fun doesn't stop there. When we returned, the infamous Ms. D. decided to be a one-woman welcoming committee in the main hallway as we headed back to our classrooms, all the while firing off random questions that everyone pretended not to hear.

Yes, Ms. D needs to hand in her chalk and erasers and head for the nearest Active Adult community. Her glory days are behind her and that is where we would all like them to stay!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

#22- I "heart" my job...really I do ...and NO I am not being sarcastic!

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE MY JOB and my boys?!? Yes, I was a little miffed at a few of them last week when they misbehaved for the sub, and I am still frustrated that some of my little friends continue to "forget" to complete and/or turn in their homework.

But I can honestly say I love my job!! I get to be a kid again every day with a great group of boys who are evolving into great young men before my eyes. I look at them and I see the future...and yes, I realize than many of them will continue to struggle academically. They also have many obstacles in their personal lives to overcome. But, I am so lucky to have these boys in my life. They keep me young. And they are so full of life, and excitement and energy.

Let me share a little bit about what I got to experience today. First, let me start out by saying that Mondays are always a little crazy. Throw the fact that our related arts time got changed today into the mix and we were waaaay off schedule today. But my little friends took it in stride...in fact I think they were a little too happy that they got rid of me for 45 minutes right off the bat today when I took them to Art. When I came to pick them up, they were so excited to show me the pencil drawings they had worked on. And I will admit, I had a hard time identifying what some of the things they had drawn were ("Oh, that's a cat wearing sneakers. Yes, I see that!"). But they were so proud of their work and I was proud of them!!

Next we headed back up stairs to have a quick morning meeting before it was time to switch classes (they go to another teacher for Math & Science, and that teacher's class comes to me for ELA and Social Studies). We started out our morning meeting in typical fashion..greeting each other with handshakes and "Good Morning Mr.___________." Then, since it was Monday, it was sharing time....where we all got to share about what we had done over the weekend. I love this time because it gives me a glimpse into their lives when they are not with me. So I shared about the stray dog that had wandered into our neighborhood and how my son wanted to keep it, but that our dog Ella was so jealous, she would not have liked a intruder staying with us. They love to hear my stories (or at least they humor me and say they do!), and many of them know Noah from when he was at our school last year so they like hearing stories about him too.

So we're going around the circle...its funny when one student shares, and several of the other students that follow have stories that are remarkably similar. I chalk that up to the stage they are in..it is not so much jealousy that makes them share a story they hijacked from their classmate..I think it is really just them wanting to have connections to one another. So we humor them...even when the story changes from one child falling off their bike after going over a bike ramp, to the next student who jumped a small canyon over a creek and fell and had to get stitches (which have miraculously healed and dissolved overnight, leaving no trace or scar!!!)

So anyway, back to my story...so today The Sweenster (pretty much the closest thing to the perfect student..if one exists!!) decides to share about his weekend. He was beaming! I thought maybe he had gone to Great Wolf Lodge or the beach for the weekend, or got a new bike or skateboard. NOPE! Guess what he did..he came to school on Saturday..to our PASS Writing class. And he was SO EXCITED about it!! He talked about the fun things they wrote about and how next Saturday they were going to write an entire paper. I could have kissed his little face right there in front of all my little friends. I make a big deal and said "Wow, you are so lucky that you got to do that! Isn't he friends?" Yes, there were a few confused looks and my little friend A-Mac, even had a "What you talking bout Willis" look on his face (I'll have to blog about A-Mac sometime..he's a Naughty Boy but he's coming around to my way of seeing things!!). But for the most part, my little friends looked a little jealous that The Sweenster got to come to school on Saturday to WRITE!! And it was FUN!!!

Later at recess I heard a few of them ask him how he got to come to school on Saturday for PASS Writing. He replied.. "Well you have to be a sort of good, well, okay writer, and you have to be willing to try hard so you can be a better writer for the PASS. Oh, and you have to give up playing video games and watching cartoons for 3 Saturday mornings. But its just 3 Saturdays and you'll have like a bazillion more before you die."

AGAIN..I could have kissed his little face right there in front of all my little friends.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

#21- I am SO BUYING this book!!!

I was perusing a few education blogs this afternoon (yes, I do read other blogs!! They are great ways to get ideas) and came across one that advertised this book. The title, Dream Class- How to Transform Any Group of Students into the Class You've Always Wanted, caught my eye right away. I mean, c'mon, ANY GROUP, ALWAYS WANTED...those are some big guns there!!

I immediately began reading review after review of this book...and then headed over to Amazon for a little sneaky-sneak!! Wow! Could it be true...or is it another flash-in-the pan educational theory...or worse yet, a GIMMICK to sell books? Well I am not going to waste any more time pondering that..I just jumped right in with both feet, and ordered it.... AND paid for 2-day shipping...I am so cheap I NEVER pay for 2 day shipping...so you know I gotta be really excited about this book.

Now you know I am going to read it from cover to cover and give it a review right here on the blog, but in the mean time, let me share a little bit about what is in the book (a la bullet format)

According to the Author's website...here is some of what you’ll learn…
if you buy AND read the book of course.

  • The single most important trait all great teachers share.

  • How to build leverage with your students so they’ll want to behave.

  • Exactly (step-by-step) how to transform a difficult student.

  • How to create a memory map for your students so they’ll know exactly what to do and how to do it well during every minute of the school day.

  • How to eliminate the distractions that cause misbehavior.

  • How to build influential relationships with your students.

  • Why a certain segment of students (40%) require learning strategies most teachers are unaware of.

  • How to give praise that inspires, uplifts, and motivates.

  • How to get your students do exactly what you tell them to do.

  • How to raise test scores dramatically without teaching to the test.

  • The single most effective teaching strategy.

  • How to develop mature, independent students.

  • How to get students to take responsibility.

  • How to lower your stress and get more enjoyment out of teaching.

  • How to improve learning, retention, and performance.

  • How to build confidence and academic self-esteem.

  • How to reduce tattling to almost zero.

  • How to strengthen your authority.

  • The one thing every teacher should do to get students to love school.

  • Why most teachers rely on strategies and techniques that actually increase bad behavior.

  • How to dramatically increase parent involvement.

  • A simple change that will improve student behavior immediately.

  • Why most teachers are undermining their own success.

  • How to be a teacher that fellow teachers, parents, and students respect and admire

Wow, that seems like a magic potion or silver bullet of some sort...and there is really only one way to find out if it will work. Yes, I am going to read the book, try what it says to do and see if any of it works. I hope I am not disappointed!! It does say it has a 100% money back guarantee...and don;t you worry...if it don't work..I will be getting my money back!!!

DISCLAIMER- I am not being encouraged, paid, coerced, bribed, threatened or otherwise influenced to promote this book. I am doing it of my own freewill and curiosity.