Sunday, February 28, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
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
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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
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
Sunday, February 21, 2010
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.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I have known since August that this date was looming. We have been writing our little hearts out...editing and revising and even publishing at least once every two weeks. Quite frankly, my little friends are a little burned out on writing. But since the test is 4 weeks away...I have to keep reinforcing the writing process, grammar, spelling, punctuation, great topic sentences an staying on task.
Today, I was just not ready to start a new piece of writing. I was also not ready to do any more editing/proofing practice. And I could sense that my little friends were not either. SO I reached into my back of tricks so that we could honestly say we were working on something that would help us prepare for said upcoming writing test. I decided we were going to do some Mad Libs....you remember Mad Libs don't you? I remember as a kid, whenever we went on a car trip, my Mom always bought a pack or two of these to keep us occupied in the car. And at the school book fair, I always bought some. To this day, I owe my amazing use of adverbs and adjectives, singular and plural nouns to Mad Libs.
Well, to be fair to the Mad Lib people, we really did not do real Mad Libs...we did these....called Wacky Web tales. The cool thing about these, vs. Mad Libs is that the Wacky Web tales website does not show you the story with the fill in the blanks like Mad Libs. What you get is a list of types of words, such as clothing (singular), or present tense verb. You fill in the blanks without seeing the story, so you are not tempted to influence the quality of the end resulting story, like you can (and I did ) with Mad Libs. Then with the click of a button, your story appears with the words you provided. There is even a button for parts of speech help, in case students are stuck and can;t remember what an adjective is or a present tense verb.
The whole class got really into it, shouting out ideas for musical instrument (singular) and verbs ending in -ing. It was great to hear their laughter as we read the story aloud together (ah-ha! snuck in a little reading practice too!). They were practicing reading and writing and didn't even realize it because they were having so much fun!
Here is one of my favorite stories we created together today...
A Crazy Night at the Library
One night something really mean happened at the library. The characters in the stories started hopping from their books!
Harry Potter climbed into Charlotte's Web and started whistling with Wilbur the Pig! Captain Underpants wandered into an encyclopedia and ended up lost in Greenville!
The craziest part was when Percy Jackson wandered into Diary of a Wimpy Kid and said, “Oliver, I don't think we're in South Carolina any more.”
Then Mrs. Case walked in and said, “Wowza!! Everybody back in place!”
The characters burped around the room. Just in time! The students in grade 3 came in to get books for their reports, but it was safe. All the characters were back in the books where they belonged.
Lesson learned...even with pressure from standardized tests looming- I can still make learning interesting and fun and my students don't even realize that this was my intention all along!!!
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
- Movement- if you are not moving, they will create movement. They think better when they are moving. Some classes have even written grants for yoga balls for the boys to sit on rather than chairs. I have not gotten that brave yet....maybe next year.
- Be Brief- the fewer words, the better, when it comes to instruction. Those of us who are married know that men tune you out after about 3 minutes. But be clear and to the point (even consider writing instructions on the board rather than give them orally)
- Speak loudly- boys hearing is not as well developed as girls so if you are soft spoken, they are going to miss a lot of what you are saying. I don't mean that you have to shout or yell, but speak in a louder voice to be sure that they hear you.
- When you are talking, especially when giving instructions, pause, and make sure they understand. You may need to stop every few minutes and ask them to summarize what you have said.
- Wait a few extra seconds when asking boys to answer a questions. They need the extra think-time.
- Manipulatives, manipulatives, manipulatives....boys like to do, and they process by doing so give them as much hands on time as possible.
- Most boys tend to pick non-fiction books to read...make sure your classroom library is well stocked, and rotate the books every few months if possible. Find out what they like to read, and put this books in your class library. This website is a great resource for finding books for reluctant readers. And this blog shares book reviews and ideas for getting the right book in the hands of boy readers.
- Competition- boys are raised to compete (sports, etc) , and if you make things a competition, you will get buy in from them right away.
- Be careful when using sports themes, analogies or metaphors. Not all boys are into sports, so you want to avoid stereotyping
- Call them by their last name, as in Mr. Barker, Mr. Smith, Mr. Williams...this fosters self-respect and raises the level of responsibility in the classroom.
- Boys are not as good as girls at interpreting non-verbal cues so be careful when using facial expression or signals as non-verbals cues to re-direct them when they are off task.
- If possible, use tables rather than desks in your classroom. Boys need room to spread out, and a desk does not provide that.
- Boys like to memorize facts so use this to your advantage (dates, names multiplication facts)
- Boys can't multi-task effectively so allow them to finish one task ("get out your math book) before starting another (turn to page 24)..wait until the majority of the class has completed task # 1 before giving the information for task # 2.
- Make learning fun---your boys will thank you for it!!
Oh, and that isn't really me in the picture, haha!!
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Last year, when I taught an all boy 4th grade class, they just were not into the whole Valentine thing...I wondered if it was the age...and their concern about how they are perceived by their peers (the whole giving another dude a Valentine card thing must be SO 3rd grade!!) But my 3rd graders genuinely were excited about giving and receiving Valentines today. It brought back wonderful memories of my own elementary school days. You remember, when we all decorated a shoebox like this to collect all the valentines from our classmates. I guess kids don't do that anymore because my son came home today with his all collected in a brown paper lunch sack.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Now, let me back up a bit. When I got our little furry friend, a colleague of mine told me that in the winter they turn the heat off in the building and she had a hamster freeze to death last year. So since she shared that little tidbit I have nervously entered my classroom every morning, fearing that out little furry friend would be dead.
So this morning I came into my classroom and immediately went over to the cage. Cr@p! No hamster..where was she. I looked all over the cage....in the wheel, under all the shredded paper...everywhere. As I moved the cage around I noticed the top was not securely snapped. Cr@p! When I cleaned the cage on Friday I must not have closed it tightly. She squeezed her little hamster behind through the opening at the top of the cage. As I surveyed the counter, thinking she might be hiding behind something, I noticed a pile of hamster food on the counter. That little fur ball genius, not only escaped, she went back and forth in and out of the cage bringing out food to fuel her little adventure!!
I quickly went across the hall to another classroom to get some help in hunting for our Houdini hamster. We searched my room (the opening under my classroom door is so small, we are figuring there was no way she could slide underneath it to escape. Of course I didn't think she could slip out of the cage either. After searching for about 30 minutes we decided to notify the front office that a rodent was on the loose in the 2 & 3rd grade hall.
A few minutes late our building engineer, Bobby J came in, grinning from ear to ear. Apparently this was funny to him. He poked around, lifted up a few things, but no hamster. Surprisingly, my boys did not notice the furry one was missing until lunch time when they were lining up to go out of the room. S I broke the news to them. Being 8/9 year olds, they are optimistic that she will return...me, not so much. But just in case, I put fresh food and water in her cage, and placed it on the floor with the door open. If she comes to eat, she is going to have to eventually, do you know what, so she will leave a little evidence behind. At least we will know she is still in the classroom somewhere.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
- My week started out with a snow day..can it get any better than that?
- Finished up 2nd round of N & O Math flex groups this week. We rocked fractions...Boo-Yeah!!
- It is less than 6 weeks until PASS writing and I am starting to freak out a little bit, but I am trying not to let it show to my little friends or they will REALLY freak out!
- We are reading some great stories and my friends are really getting the reading comprehension skills...they could fill out a story map in their sleep!
- It is so hard to believe that we are reaching the mid-point of our 3rd 9 weeks grading period. Summer is going to be here before we know it. Yay!!
- I still get excited when I break out a new pack of dry erase markers...brings back memories of the start of the school year.
- I am getting better at working on my lesson plans throughout the week so that I am not overwhelmed on the weekend trying to finish them up. I can actually say I have not spent an early Saturday morning writing lesson plans since early January. Yay Me!!
- I love the fact that I tried some new stuff this week and it worked....especially our new greeting and handshake at morning meeting.
- And even though I also wanted this week to end with a snow day also, that didn't quite work out in my favor. But I had a great Friday anyway.
And last but not least, I just wanted to mention how blessed I am to work with such an amazing, funny, sweet, smart, kind group of 9 year old boys and the greatest colleagues in the world. You guys ROCK and you know who you are!! Love ya!