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Friday, October 31, 2008
Here's a little scary Harry Potter poetry.
Here's second graders taking on Macbeth on NPR:
What was the best Halloween lesson or project you've used in class? Show off your Halloween spirit in the comments section.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
How much should ride on throwing a ball in a basket, hitting a home run or running fast? In many ways, high school sports have evolved into a high stakes game that puts student athletes under a tremendous amount of pressure. It may start in little league with over-eager dads and coaches lightheartedly inspiring kids’ major league dreams, but it doesn’t always end there. Student athletes don’t want to let down their parents, their teammates, their school, or with high profile sports, their town.
These pressures are coming at a time when most high schoolers’ confidence and self-image are in question. Children and teens want to live up to the potential that their parents see in them. They also want to ease the burden of college tuition. Earning an athletic scholarship would fulfill both of those goals.
According to The Sports Scholarship Handbook, only 1 in 50 high school athletes receive athletic scholarships. Consider the pressure to be that one along with those from school work, other activities and social lives; that is a lot for a teenager to handle.
The drive to win, to be the very best, can inspire greatness in children and adults alike, but that winner-take-all mentality can also set unrealistic expectations. It is this kind of mindset that can sap the fun out of sports. Rather than create these pressure-filled pastimes, shouldn’t we use high school sports to foster well-rounded young adults?
In order to be successful in high school sports these days, students are required to commit to one sport and play on club teams all year. When athletes play one sport day-in, day-out all year round, they put themselves in danger of damaging joints, tearing muscles, or causing stress fractures due to the constant repetitive movements. Despite these dangers, coaches continue to warn students that they risk their roster spot and any college hopes by playing multiple sports.
A recent study demonstrates the alarming increase in these repetitive stress injuries. The study tracked the number of “Tommy John” surgeries, procedures done on pitchers to repair damaged elbow ligaments and was completed by the American Sports Medicine Institute, Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center, in Birmingham, Alabama.
“Before 1997, Tommy John surgery was performed on only 12 of 97 patients (12%) who were 18 years or younger,” coauthor and research director E. Lyle Cain, MD said. “In 2005 alone, 62 of the 188 operations performed were on high-school athletes, a third of the surgical group,’’ Cain said. “The reality is that this surgery is successful and that’s good. But a disturbing trend of younger kids needing the surgery is troubling.”
Ironically, playing multiple sports can help athletes to be in better physical shape, develop multiple muscle groups, and keep them from burning out on their chosen sport. Detavius Mason agrees in his article for The Guilford Orthopedic and Sports Medical Center titled “Age of Specialization: One Sport Vs. Multiple Sports.”
“Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer, Tom Brady, Lebron James, Alex Rodriguez,” Mason wrote. “When these names are brought up, a few things come to mind: excellence, transcendent talent, winning, but the thought of them specializing in one sport should not. Kobe & Federer were soccer players, Brady played baseball, Lebron played football and A-Rod played basketball, football and soccer.”
He ends with advice to parents and coaches: “So allow your child to participate in multiple sports ... Participating in multiple sports also allows them to see if they are talented in another sport, less stress on the body, overall athleticism increases, gain more friends & social interaction, and there is less pressure to be perfect.”
In extreme examples, some sports can endanger an athlete’s general health. Whether students are trying make weight for wrestling, stay slim for dance or bulk up for football, sports can trigger some dangerous eating and exercise habits.
High school sports can also create an “in crowd” mentality that excludes those don’t make the cut. Let’s face it, not all kids are athletic superstars. Does that mean they don’t love the game and want to be a part of the team? Does that mean they should miss out on the social and physical benefits of organized sports? Though some kids stay involved as managers or fans, well-organized recreational options are few and far between.
These exclusions also extend beyond general skill level. With club sports being an unofficial requirement to make many high school teams, underprivileged students are put at a distinct disadvantage because they cannot afford membership fees and travel expenses that club teams require. When try-outs come around, coaches are more likely to favor club players that they’ve seen play for years over unknowns who have only practiced on the playground.
John Cochran, a parent from Newton, Mass., argues that all students should have the chance to play high school sports regardless of skill level.
“Studies have shown that students who participate in high school athletics have higher grade point averages, fewer discipline problems and greater self-esteem,” Cochran wrote in his editorial for Newton’s Wicked Local newspaper. “By cutting everyone except the very best players, only a small fraction of students will ever benefit from those [government allocated] resources.” he wrote. “If the prevailing philosophy is taken to its logical conclusion, public high schools should provide inferior educational opportunities to students who are not at the very top of their class.”
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Red Ribbon Week can be a tremendous opportunity to get students talking about the real dangers of drugs pose to their future. Here's a video that one class put together to spread the word:
How do you teach about drug abuse prevention in schools? Share your strategies in the comments section or take the poll on the right to answer the question: Are school-based drug prevention programs effective?
Check out activities and strategies at the Red Ribbon website
DonorsChoose matches teachers in need with donors. Teachers submit their grant proposals and donors browse through the funding requests to donate either a portion or the entire amount.
Always accepting grant proposals of any amount.
Braitmayer Foundation Grant
These grants range up to $10000 and are awarded to "programs that enhance the education of K-12 students." It may fund school reform initiatives, professional development for teachers, and/or local community efforts
Requirements: three page Proposal describing the project, including timeframe, budget and proof of 501 (c)(3) status or other tax-exempt ruling letter
Amount: Up to $10,000
Deadline: November 15, 2008
Toyota Tapestry Grants
Toyota Motor Sales Inc. and the National Science Teachers Association offer a minimum of 70 Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for K-12 science teachers to implement innovative student projects in environmental or physical sciences or in literacy and science. Fifty grants are worth up to $10,000 each; winners receive an expenses-paid trip to the NSTA national convention. At least 20 mini-grants of $2,500 each are also awarded.
Requirements: Online application
Deadline: January 21, 2009
American Immigration Law Foundation Grant
The American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) will award grants of $100 to $500 to fund K-12 grade level projects that provide education about immigrants and immigration. The Foundation seeks to fund activities that are innovative and support AILF's mission of promoting the benefits of immigrants to our nation.
Requirement: Complete application, submit essay with proposed project, budget and recommendation.
Deadline: November 28, 2008
National Italian American Foundation Grant – expand your language department
A matching grant program open to organizations, schools, and community groups that wish to launch or expand the teaching of Italian in their local public or private elementary, intermediate, or high schools. The grant money may be used to purchase teaching materials, pay teacher and/or teacher's aide's salaries, or for any legitimate and academically sound activity that furthers the study of Italian in the school for one academic year. The language program may be held before, after, or during school hours; full or part time.
Requirements: Online application
Grants range from $500 to $2,000 per year.
Deadline: November 28, 2008
(Descriptions from foundation websites.)
Share any other grant opportunities or grant writing tips with your fellow teachers in the comments section!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Captain Planet, he's our hero, gonna bring polution down to zero.
Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Heart!!!
Captain Planet's coming to US schools in the form of the Wind for Schools program. More than 80 schools throughout the country have installed these turbines and the program is hoping to spread the iniatitive to 30 more in six states over the next few years. According to USA Today:
The turbines will be on towers up to 70 feet tall, and it's projected that they will produce around 3,000 to 4,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is generally enough to provide only a fraction of a school's electric needs, Baring-Gould says....
Curriculum guides for grade levels kindergarten through 12 are part of the program. "The curriculum piece that goes with it is just as important as the hardware," says Tom Potter, the Colorado facilitator for Wind for Schools. Full text
Friday, October 24, 2008
Moral of the story - suck it up and get it done!
Just because you don't take excuses doesn't mean students won't make them, though. Here are a few great ones from students and parents I've come across:
By far the most annoying: you never told me/you didn't remind me. Grrr!!! My last one isn't K-12, but it's too funny not to share. When I was in college, I knew a girl who emailed her professor to say: "I won't be in class today because I'm in love."
My youngest daughter couldn't turn in her homework because her younger step-brother had stolen it, filled it in and turned it in to his teacher to prove how smart he was.
I didn't do my homework because of my eyes.....I couldn't see any reason to do it!
It was so cold last night that we had to burn all of the pencils for heat.
Please excuse Bob from school from Sep. 1 - Nov. 1, he had to attend a religious sacrificial giving ceremony on Indian grounds. Read full list here
What's the most ridiculous excuse you've gotten from a student? Leave your excuse in the comments section.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Teachers were previously required to wear clothing that “minimizes” tattoos, but it did not prohibit part or all of the tattoo from showing. Board members appeared to be unanimous about tattoos being inappropriate in a classroom setting and authorized the policy change. Board member Jeff Flowers said, “There’s a stigma associated with (tattoos), and it’s not a good stigma.” Full articleThis seems a little over-the-top to me. I'm not advocating tattooing the periodic table to your forehead, but I'm wary of any time the word "forbid" gets thrown around, esp. when it is a government official (public school superintendent being a govt-paid position) doing the "forbidding."
Depending on the day's activities, teaching can be a pretty interactive job. I can see how a tattoo on your arm, ankle, shoulder or hip that typically wouldn't be seen could peak out. According to these new rules, is that a firable offense? Do the rules of common sense still apply? Will the district insurance cover laser-removal?
What do you think: Does the district have a right to outlaw tattoos? Post your own tattoo or district dictate stories in comments or take the poll!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"We're seeing, culturally, a shift of formal structure" in the academic hierarchy, said Jared Stein, director of instructional design services at Utah Valley University. "A lot of students call teachers by their first name. I believe that educators should keep a clear line separating educational relationships from social relationships. As long as the use of the tool is related to learning, education, or professional development, I don't see it as being a problem." http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/?i=55535
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
If you're interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Looking forward to hearing from you!
It is commonly recognized that physical activity jumpstarts the mind and helps students of all ages pay closer attention in class and expend some of that extra energy they would be spending goofing off. Not only will your classes be more productive, but you can also reduce stress throughout the day by joining in the physical fun.
At the beginning of each class period, have your students hop around the class, do jumping jacks, line dance or just run in place for a few minutes. Leading the pack in this activity will maximize the energy in the room and give your mind a break for a few minutes. The sillier it is, the more you and your students will enjoy it.
OR Slow It Down
If you don’t feel comfortable letting loose with your students, overly rambunctious students can’t handle that freedom or your older students are “too cool” to participate, try an opening meditation to begin each class. You can all take a few moments to relax and refocus after the hustle and bustle of running between class or switching gears from social studies to science.
Keep a few things that always make you smile in your desk. It can be anything from pictures of your kids, your dog’s first collar, a mini-Eiffel Tower from your trip to Paris, a bottle of sand from your summer getaway, lotion that smells like heaven, an Ernie Banks baseball card or your favorite candy.
On your most trying days, take a momentary mental break from your class and your students and your crazy life by taking pleasure in your hidden treasures.
At the end of each day, make a To Do list for the following day. You can use different colors to mark items in order of importance. One color for MUST DO today, one for SHOULD DO today, and one for CAN DO if there is time. (Avoid red; it will only stress you out more).
You’ll get a sense of satisfaction from crossing items off the list, and you’ll force yourself to think about what really NEEDS to get done and what can wait for another day. By holding yourself to a daily list, you will prevent the anxiety that would come with overwhelming weekly or monthly lists.
Take things one day and one project at a time. You’ll be less stressed in no time.
Elvis has left the building
If your lunch schedule, free period and school permit, actually LEAVE the building once in awhile, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Read a book at a park, grab a quick sandwich, or even listen to the radio in your car. You’ll be amazed how freeing it is to have a few moments without interruptions or anyone vying for your attention.
Rule 1: Don’t let this stress-reliever become a stress-inducer. Do not feel guilty about taking some time to yourself. Don’t go so far away that you’ll worry about getting back to school in time.
Rule 2: Remember that this moment cannot last. You do have to return to school after these stolen moments of peace, no matter how difficult it may be.
If you absolutely can’t leave campus, you can create your own oasis in the classroom. When you have a few minutes or more between classes, shut the door and turn out the lights. This should give you a break to regroup.
Crock Pot Sensations
Never underestimate the stress-relieving power of not worrying about dinner. Throw one of these pre-made meals in the crock pot before you leave for school and come home to a delicious, guilt-free meal for you and your family.
How do you relieve stress? Post your stress-busters in the Comments section!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Check out a few student-made previews:
Romeo and Juliet
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
My Sister's Keeper
Nickel and Dimed
The selection is decent but not overwhelming, but you can make suggestions OR, even more interactive and fun, create your own trailers as a class project with their "UB the Director" feature. If you're nervous about the technology there, odds are your students are well versed and can take the lead
How do you get students excited about reading? Share your tips in the comments section!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Your friend called me ugly.
You told everyone I suck my thumb.
Don't call my friends mean, you're mean. If Obama and McCain were your students, what would you say to them? Post your answer in the comments section!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I found this great book by Suzanne Capek Tingley called (aptly) How to Handle Difficult Parents: A Teacher's Survival Guide. In the book, she diagnoses different parent types and suggests strategies to deal with them. Some of the types include:
"Helicopter Mom, who hovers constantly, ready to whisk away any problem or inconvenience that might befall her child"
"Caped Crusader, who will stop at nothing to have that book eliminated from the curriculum."
"Pinnocchio's Mom, who believes that her child, unlike every other child in the univers, never ever tells a lie of any kind."
"The Intimidator who wants what he wants and wants it now."
Not to mention the Uncivil libertarians, Ms. "Quit Pickin on My Kid," No show's Dad, The Competitor and more. It's just like when you're teaching in the classroom, you need different methods to reach different people. This book will help you do that, and give you a few laughs in the process. Check out a sneak peak here
Looking for general conference tips? There is a helpful list of dos and don'ts by Barbara and Sue Gruber that might help. A brief rundown:
- Make it clear that "your goal is to help every child succeed."
- As with all criticism and assessment, be sensitive and mention the areas in which their child is successful along with the problems.
- Have documentation and specific examples to back up what you're saying.
- If a parent has a question you don't have an answer for, let them know you'll think about it and get back to them.
- Don't take abuse from anyone. If the meeting becomes uncivil, end it. Full list
Also - Use silence to your advantage and don't back down!
What are your tips and strategies for dealing with difficult parents? Share them in the comments section and/or take the poll on the right!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
With her students managing her campaign, this single mother working three jobs got her name on the ballot, won the Democratic primary with litte money and no connections, and inspired her students beyond her wildest expectations.
The book (which comes out today) is a real inspiration to those teachers who put in the extra effort to make a difference in her students' lives. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tierney Cahill about her campaign experience, her teaching philosophy and her newfound understanding of the American political system.
What was the biggest challenge during your campaign?
Economically, it was always so hard. I worked so hard and it was frustrating. I would think “why is life so unfair?” I did everything you’re supposed to do. I went to college, chose a respectable profession, worked two and three jobs and “we just weren’t making it.”
People say that poverty builds character, but it’s just demoralizing; it’s so easy to fall into a depression. “It makes me angry that our teachers have to live like that.” It’s a sign of disrespect that you’d make teachers have to get second and third jobs to support themselves and their families. You’d never expect that of doctors or lawyers. Teachers need to be paid appropriately. If that means higher standards, I’m all for it.
Is this the America we teach about in school?
Not at all. There were definitely things I didn’t share with my kids because I didn’t want to discourage them.
What was the most discouraging?
“The way the parties anoint people to support and fund and help and alienate others was significantly disturbing to me.”
Everyday people should get into it, but I can see why they won’t. If there are people willing to put themselves out there, then they should get the chance. “If you don’t, you’re not going to have really quality people running.”
“It’s a repulsive process at times. Ordinary people can’t plug their noses to it for that long. As teachers, we start every day asking ourselves if what we’re doing is best for the kids. That’s what people in office should be asking: Is what I’m doing best for my country?”
How successful was the campaign as a teaching tool?
“It shows that children can learn so deeply and richly when you give them that much freedom.”
I saw huge progress in emotionally maturity and self-esteem in my students. Three of my students went from LD to de-certified that year, which was a major victory for me to them out of special ed to fly on their own. They did amazingly well.
This kind of project made them feel “valued, relevant, it was really important them, they felt important and they blossomed. Outside the box teaching can truly uplift. There’s no way they could get that experience from just reading the book and answering questions.”
With so much pressure on curriculum and standards, I feel like we may be “moving backward,” “cramming factoids down their throats.” That not authentic learning and it’s “not lighting them up.”
What was the one major lesson you took from your experience?
Never allow others to tell you you’re not good enough to do something. Just live whatever you think your destiny is. There are a lot of negative messages being sent out, but if something is within you, you need to do it.
How will you top this?
I was just trying to do the best I could for my students. Good teachers want to be prepared, want to give them their bests…there are millions out there, so it’s awkward to get this attention. “I’m just honored that I’m part of that tribe.” I’m certainly not any better, but I’m happy if this attention can bring light to the profession.
An extended version of the interview will be published when Teachhub.com officially launches in January."
Friday, October 10, 2008
It can be really fun to see students interact "outside" of school, but it is definitely worlds colliding. So prepare yourself to see your students dressed to the nines, dancing (probably inappropriately) and creating hormone-drive teenage drama at its finest.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your homecoming chaperon experience.
- Gloria Estafan once said, "The rhythm is gonna get ya." Not tonight it isn't. Leave the dancing to the students.
- Don't forget the crown. Believe me, you don't want to piss off a homecoming queen. She'll claw your eyes right out with her manicured nails.
- Bring your camera. Get pics of your favorite students, your teacher friends looking their best and video of some great homecoming moments.
- Kiss up to whomever is assigning tasks and get yourself on the ticket-taking or refreshment crew. You'll be done much earlier, can avoid the more awkward chaperon responsibilities and can sneak in to the dance when you want. (Beware of the coat check, you'll be shackled there all night and can't leave til the last student tracks down the missing jacket that you probably already gave to someone else).
- Enjoy it!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
When my boyfriend and I were together, he did this really cute thing where anytime he went out of town, he'd find a stone or a rock and bring it back to me. He said he did it so that I could feel like I'd been there too. Aaawww, so sweet. Then I found out that the reason he was out of town so much was because he had another girlfriend.... http://stuffthatsleftbehind.com./
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
To combat this test-induced stress, more and more teachers are trying "brain gym" exercises. It seems that these movements optimize brain activity and relieve stress, helping students to learn better and perform to the best of their abilities.
Check out this link for a list of exercises and instruction to try in your classroom: http://rossa.blogs.com/weblog/files/brain_break_activity_book.pdf OR watch it in action with this local news story (forgive the low production value - best I could find).
Obviously, this is just one way to relieve students' stress.
How do you help your students relieve stress and test anxiety? Share your techniques in the comments section.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Cool Learning Tools
Smithsonian Education’s Idealabs http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/
Discovery School http://school.discoveryeducation.com/
Edutopia – George Lucas Education Foundation http://www.edutopia.org/
Education Place www.eduplace.com
Hot Chalk www.hotchalk.com
Donors Choose www.donorschoose.org
Assn for Supervision and Curr. Development www.ascd.org
Teacher Tube (share videos) www.teachertube.com
Free Rice (vocab quizzes earn food donations) www.freerice.com
Lesson Plans 4 Teachers www.lessonplans4teachers.com
A-Z Teacher Stuff http://atozteacherstuff.com/
Teacher Vision http://www.teachervision.fen.com/
Teaching Job Sites
School Spring www.schoolspring.com
K12 Jobs http://www.k12jobs.com/
National Council on Teacher Retirement http://www.nctr.org/
US Securities and Exchange Commission http://www.sec.gov/investor/teachers.shtml
What are your favorite teacher websites? Post your picks in the comments section.
Friday, October 3, 2008
In the 90 or so minutes of the presidential debate, about 90 seconds were spent talking about education. And neither candidate actually said anything of substance. (Jump to minute 4:30 for the education comments)
Biden's comments on education:
We cannot slow up on education, because that's the engine that is going to give us the economic growth and competitiveness that we need...
I hope we'll get back to education because I don't know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind, the money was left behind, we didn't fund it. We can get back to that I assume.
You assumed wrong, Joe.
Who do you think won the vp debate? Take the poll on the right or post your thoughts in the comments section.
Check out www.cnn.com for full transcripts, video and analysis of the debate.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Here's a list of my favorite banned books:
- The Harry Potter series
- A Separate Peace
- Catch 22
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- A Farewell to Arms
- Judy Blume's books
- Ulysses (Ok, so I've never actually made it through Ulysses, but it's my Everest and no book-haters are taking that away from me).
According to the ALA, there are the top ten, most challenged books of the 21st century:
1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier
3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
4. "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck
5. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou
6. "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers
7. "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris
8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
10. "Forever" by Judy Blume
Links for more banned book lists:
Teacher gets suspended for teaching Freedom Writer's Diary. Watch video:
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Is homework really necessary?
An article in “Time” lays out the anti-homework argument.
Too much homework brings diminishing returns. [Duke University scholar Harrison]http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1376208-1,00.html
Cooper's analysis of dozens of studies found that kids who do some homework in middle and high school score somewhat better on standardized tests, but doing more than 60 to 90 min. a night in middle school and more than 2 hr. in high school is associated with, gulp, lower scores.
Experts and parents propose a few solutions:
Blanket no-homework policy
Extending the school day or year
Time limits and other homework rules (Cooper's rule of thumb: 10 min. a night per grade level.)
Is the US on homework overload? Post your response in the comments section or answer the homework poll on the right!
Hear more with Harrison Cooper in this NPR interview: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94509873