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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Thanksgiving meant an amazing episode of Friends to punctuate the long day of cooking and football. It used to be one of my favorite parts of the day, so today I'm living in the past. Please enjoy this hilarious clip from when Brad Pitt shared Thanksgiving with my favorite Friends.
I can't believe this aired so long ago, but Brad's 18 children with not-Jennifer Aniston would beg to differ. Now I feel old. Oh well, I'll just watch it again to cheer myself up.
What do you enjoy about Thanksgiving? Share in the comments section.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A NC school staffer was fired for comments made on the social networking site. Seven other district employees were repremanded for entries and the superintendent recommended that a teacher be fired as well after posting that:
she was "teaching in the most ghetto school in Charlotte."Geez, that's just in a single district. That comes just after I read that another teacher was recently fired after anonymously posting about their school experiences on a blog. Check out Cal Teacher Blog's post on that story: http://calteacherblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/band-of-bloggers.html.
The teacher's lawyer said she was "telling the truth" about the school, where 74 percent of students are black and 93 percent qualify for lunch subsidies to low-income families. He said the dictionary definition of "ghetto" is a part of the city in which members of a minority group live, "especially because of social, legal or economic pressure." Full story
The virtual world is becoming a dicey place for teachers.
Is this a violation of free speech or should teachers keep their virtual mouths shut? Take the poll or share your thoughts in the comments section.
Monday, November 24, 2008
When I was doing some research on the subject, I came upon a story that shows just how long teachers have been struggling to find recognition, a fair paycheck and happiness in teaching. A 1934 Times article reported that:
One-fourth of the unhappy teachers had been so from youth when they had wanted to run away from home. Thirty per cent of them felt that their jobs made them do things that hurt their consciences, and 40% thought there was too much politics in school work. Happy teachers, on the other hand, were more religious, less troubled by conscience and politics. More of them than of the malcontents were married.. And they averaged 7½ years older, 10 Ib. heavier. Read full article, including FDR New Deal referencesThe more things change, the more they stay the same .
Are you happy? Take the poll!
What do you think causes teachers to be uphappy? Share in the comments section.
Friday, November 21, 2008
A few of my faves: the annual turkey bowl game on Thursday, a little extra time off work, decorating the house by the fire and wrapping gifts. This year, I'm especially excited about Christmas Eve because I was tapped to resurrect my family's Christmas play. When I was a kid, my mom and aunts organized a play where all the little kids learn a few songs and wear cute outfits and generally be adorable. The highlight was the '85 super bowl shuffle year... Now that the cousins are grown up and having kids of their own, I get to break out the pipe cleaner reindeer antlers, picking some kid-friendly carols and make some Christmas miracles happen.
What are you looking forward to this holiday season? Share your holiday cheer in the comments section!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
We were thinking about these questions:
1. What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
2. If you could have any person (living, dead or fictional) as a principal, who would it be?
3. Describe your all-time favorite lesson/unit activity.
4. Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
5. What are three things every teacher should own?
6. What is the greatest misconception about teachers?
7. What stereotype about teachers is true?
8. What is your favorite, most memorable or funniest classroom story?
I'd love to hear your answers to these question. Either share a brilliant answer or two with no strings, or let me know if you'd like to be a spotlight teacher. Can't wait to hear what you have to say.
Got better questions in mind? Let me know!!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
For those who participate, they are enthused, really engaged in the reading and improve tremendously throughout the semester. Most of these students are my over-achievers and adult students who actually enjoy the chance to discuss short stories with other adults. They post more than they're required to, clearly take note of critiques and suggestions on their papers and contact me throughout the semester.
There are then my other students who do the bare minimum, if that, turn everything in late and eventually stop "showing up" at all. I just don't know how to motivate these students early in the semester so they stick with it.
Though my class requires a solid amount of work and I am a "hard grader," I try to offer a lot of choices - variety in the reading, open paper topics and optional extra credit assignments. I try to share my love of reading and writing. I try to let them focus on their improvement more than grades by making participation a big part of their grade, providing extensive comments to help them improve between essays and offering extra credit. I try to be available by replying promptly to emails and giving them my cell.
I know I could probably become more popular with some of these students by grading easier, but that's a cop out. No teacher I had at my four-year university would accept that and I really believe that I would be shortchanging my students if I didn't maintain this level of expectation.
How can I motivate my students without dropping standards and expectations? Help me and other teachers out by sharing your tips in the comments section. Or take the poll for fun.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.” ~ Lance Armstrong
“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ~ Shel Silverstein
"A good teacher is a master of simplification and an enemy of simplism." ~ Louis Berman
"America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, and who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.' You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free." ~ The American President
"Anything less than the best is a felony." ~ Vanilla Ice
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." ~ Barack Obama
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…it has no survival value; rather is one of those things that gives value to survival." ~C.S. Lewis
"I was just wondering if you'd come along, hold up my head when my head won't hold on, I'll do the same if the same's what you want." ~Dave Matthews Band
"Clear eye, full hearts, can't lose." ~Friday Night Lights
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." ~Maya Angelou
What is your favorite quote? Please share in the comments section.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Evelyn McCormack blogged about it last week on her school communications blog. Check out the top teacher nings at:
In addition to Evelyn's list, I've also come across an intelligent ning site for educators called Fireside learning. http://firesidelearning.ning.com/ They host the standard discussions and blogs, but there are also "book club" type chats and a collection of videos - from educational to inspirational.
Do you ning? Take the poll.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Not all teachers gave up a million-dollar salary to do what they do, but all teachers certainly share that altruistic nature. You get into this career knowing you will never hit it rich, knowing how all encompassing it is, knowing that people assume you leave at 3 and enjoy leisurely summer vacations... so why do it?
I'm putting the question out to you. Why did you become a teacher? Share your reason or personal story in the comments section.
PS Tom's book is much more than a feel-good story. He describes his struggles and failures as a teacher and founder of a charter school, as well as the ultimate successes. He debates major issues and policies in education like charter schools, merit pay, and character education. It was really thought-provoking. If you're interested, check it out.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
That should change this afternoon. Teacher Magazine is hosting a live chat today with RTI expert Doug Fuchs and Judy Elliott. If you're like me and you need some extra RTI intervention of your own, check it out. Can't make it, submit a question ahead of time and check in with me for a rundown.
Here's the newsletter info:
What Does RTI Mean for the Classroom?
When: Thursday, Nov. 13, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Submit questions in advance.
Response to intervention is the process of identifying and addressing student learning needs with a tiered approach to early intervention. RTI has been used most frequently with reading instruction, but it has also been stretched to include additional subjects in middle and high school classrooms. Despite its growing use, however, there is no clear answer for how best to implement RTI.Hope to virtually see you there!
What should a successful RTI model look like? What are the roles of the general education teacher, the special education teacher, and the school psychologist in the RTI process? What are the challenges? What must an administrator know to encourage staff buy-in? Where does current research stand on the effectiveness of RTI? Our guests will answer your questions about RTI and how it plays out in the classroom.
Comment sidenote: What are other inescapable ed buzzwords? Add to the list in the comments section.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Describe experience as teacher of the year
It’s been crazy really, life-changing upheaval, but in a good way for the most part. It’s been challenging; it’s been fun; it’s been, at times, boring; kind of the whole gamut. But it’s exciting to feel like I have a voice in education and in the larger policy world as well to some extend, and to have folks really want to know what I think and they’re listening, which is unusual for a middle school teacher. It’s kind of scary actually – God people are paying attention. I better say something good.
It’s been a unique and incredible experience. I’m not trying to recommend it to everybody, but it’s been really good.
What do you miss most about the classroom?
It was weird this year, starting school and not having school. Thinking that all my colleagues were there and my former students were heading back to school and I wasn’t there. Mostly I just miss that daily relationship with middle school kids. There’s just a certain energy they have that I really thrive on. It doesn’t exactly get me out of bed in the morning, because I’m not a morning person at all, but once I get to school, kids start actually coming in, there’s an energy you don’t get as much with adults. I really miss that. It wears me out obviously and I collapse in my bed at night after I’m done at night, but there’s just that fresh, curious, creative, random energy they have….
I miss that fresh, creative aspect of what I do because every day is a different show, a different performance and I get to see the performances of my students everyday. It doesn’t have that same spark of creativity that I’m used to.
What’s the best lesson you've ever taught?
So many different crazy things that we do, from incorporating theater and the arts and music into scientific concepts and things that kids come up with….
The human brain craves new experiences and novelty. If you think about how we, as biological creatures, we get used to stuff and we don’t see or sense it anymore. Think about smells. We lived next to a dairy for awhile. At first, it was like “oh my gosh,” but within a few weeks we didn’t notice it at all…My goal is not to have my classroom be like that dairy where the kids just come in an not notice it. They should come in and go “What’s that smell? What are we doing today?” metaphorically speaking, of course.
What has been your best moment as a teacher?
[After a lesson on gravity] A student of mine named Janay stood up from her chair at the end of the day and said: “Ya know, that was some of the most interesting stuff I’ve ever learned.” She had never expressed a whole lot of interest in science. It wasn’t her favorite class. It wasn’t a topic she was all that thrilled about, but to say that, that’s what I want to hear. To be honest, I don’t really care if she got it and understood it and had the right answer. The fact that she was inspired by that and was excited about learning. That little kernel sums up why I teach.
Sum up your teaching philosophy in one sentence:
There’s a quote that sums it up
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”– Antoine de Saint Exupery
We really need to inspire our students to create, to want to create and want to learn.
Now it's you're turn: what was your favorite moment teaching? Share in the comments section.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" Read more
In 1926, Congress officially declared November 11 to be Veterans Day.
On this Veterans Day, VA Secretary Dr. James B. Peake shares his thoughts about the holiday:
Ninety years ago today, the guns fell silent in Europe. World War I – the “war to end all wars” – was over. Almost five million Americans served during that first modern, mechanized war. Our last living link with them, 107-year-old Army veteran Frank Buckles, observes this Veterans Day at his farm in West Virginia.
It is important, on Veterans Day, for all Americans to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our veterans, from Mr. Buckles to the men and women who recently fought for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their bravery, their resourcefulness, and their patriotism mark them as our nation’s finest citizens.
Monday, November 10, 2008
A few ideas that have been tossed around are "Free Field Trip" giveaway, a "Stressbuster Spa Day" for the teacher with the best/worst classroom nightmare story, class video contest, classroom supplies giveaway, creative classroom photo contest, or just cold hard cash.
What other contests or prizes should we offer? Share your ideas in the comments section or take the poll to weigh in on your favorite.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A man born into a modest, mixed race family with no connections became president because of his innate potential, his dedication to community service and education and the belief that he could do it.
It is my hope that teachers and parents and all those who work with children will use this president to fight the apathy in the classroom that is the greatest barrier to learning.
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.How do you bring the message of hope to students in your classroom? Share your "Yes, we can" story in the comments section.
This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Thinking back on the sex ed in my 4th or 5th grade classroom, it was mostly awkwardly reading from a "family life" book, trying not to get caught giggling at certain words. I'm wondering if starting earlier will lead to more giggling or to students getting used to having these conversations and actually learning something from it. Either way, is it really the government's right to make that call? What do you think?
At the very earliest stage, sex ed will mainly be about self-awareness, he said.
"We are not talking about five-year-old kids being taught sex," he said. "What we're talking about for key stage 1 (ages 5-7) is children knowing about themselves, their differences, their friendships and how to manage their feelings."
But not everyone feels the state should decide when and how to broach the topic.
"I am not the parent who calls her son's penis a wee-wee. But I should decide if the word penis enters my child's vocabulary at 5 or not," said Elizabeth Talbot, of London, who has two sons, aged 4 and 6 months old.
When should school start teaching sex ed? Weigh in with today's poll or post your thoughts in the comments section.