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Friday, May 29, 2009
(I always have grand plans with time off that never comes to fruition. My hope is that writing this – and telling my boss – will force me to actually do it.)
My plan is to use more interactive media early in the course and focus on fewer texts that elicit student response.
Like video? I’m using YouTube prompts, movie clips and poetry slam video to add some flare to my weekly writing workshops. (You can find weekly YouTube writing prompts on the Teacher Tips page).
I also want to use animoto videos to help demonstrate online research techniques. Animoto basically helps you put images and text in a video format with a soundtrack. The exciting thing about it, other than being really easy to put together, is that you can embed the videos or access them online. This sidesteps the Powerpoint issues of software and compatibility. See Cheryl Oakes “Ed Tech Made Easy” column to find out how to get started with animoto.
My last tact is to give activities, informal assignments and extra credit opportunities fun names. When you’re an English nerd, semantics are absolutely everything.
Instead of an orientation at the beginning of the term, a colleague recommended a “scavenger hunt” to acquaint students with the blackboard site. It’s almost identical to a typical orientation quiz, but it sounds 20x more appealing.
I’d also love to integrate these scavenger hunts throughout the semester. Maybe a classroom discussion scavenger hunt to ensure that students engage in the discussion or an online library scavenger hunt to practice non-Wikipedia researching.
What new tricks would you like to try next year?
Friday, May 22, 2009
Since Memorial Day coincides with the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, I thought I’d take this opportunity to look back at the most memorable moments you all contributed to the blog this year.
(Note: Since we moved blog destination to TeachHUB.com, we haven’t moved over the comments yet. That’s on the to-do list. Thanks for your understanding!)
In reference to a blog about stuff being left behind in the classroom:
I actually found a wedding ring left in my class!
After some investigation, I discovered that one of my students "borrowed" his mother's ring and gave it as a Valentine's gift it to his 3rd grade girlfriend! Perhaps as a symbol of her indifference towards her potential suitor, the female student ended up leaving the ring behind.
In the end, the jewelry was returned to its rightful owner, and I suggested that
the boy stick to tokens of flowers or chocolate for all future grade school loves.
I confiscated a TWENTY dollar bill from a student. The "bill" was photocopied on regular paper and the edges were not cut very straight - probably the worst possible counterfeiting job in history.
After taking the "funny money" to the principal, the police were called in. They stated that it was not within their jurisdiction to arrest for counterfeit bills - if we wanted to go further we would have to call the secret service.
Needless to say, when the student was informed that his prank broke federal law, he could not have been more nervous and apologetic. In the end, the fear steered him straight, and the feds did not become involved.
Last year, one of my kindergarten students brought a porn DVD in his backpack. It was the end of the day and as student were preparing to go home, he ran up to me and said, "my mommy put that nasty DVD in my backpack". I made him give it to me so he wouldn't be showing it to anyone else on the bus! He was only 5 yrs old! I never did get in touch with his mother and she never tried contacting me over it. So I have no idea if it was really her or if the student put it in his own backpack!
I had some projects left in my room and students were coming in after school to pick them up. I wasn't paying attention when they were all getting them- but when they were all gone a cute little fur purse was left behind. I waited 30 minutes before I had to leave hoping that the student would come back and get it. So I went over to the purse- to look for a student ID- so I could lock it up- and when I opened it up- a nice, COLD Coors Light was in there- but alas, no student ID. So I had to take it to my AP and she pulled in the 4 girls that had been in my room, none of them would claim the purse- of course 3 of them pointed to the same student. But because her ID wasn't in it, my AP couldn't do anything about it.
I found an opened (unused) condom in my classroom on the floor by the backpacks...I teach FIRST grade!!!!Angie said...
Maggots in a student desk. Yes, maggots. One of my 3rd grade girls decided to collect acorns in a ziploc bag. The bag had holes in it. It was left there for several days. When she returned to her classroom after a long weekend, she found white "worms" in her desk. Ewwww! It was quite hard to gather all the worms between papers, pencils, folders and books! Double EWWWW!
In response to a blog about ridiculous student excuses:
I got a good one just this morning:
I set my homework on fire.
Huh? On purpose?
No, I was making a quesadilla and my homework was next to the stove...it's my quesadilla's fault!
In response to a post about how you know teaching is right for you, we couldn’t help but hit on the odd eating patterns teacher adapt:
Mrs. R said...
Can you go an entire workday without going to the restroom?
BTW, one year, I had to go to lunch at 10:25. Saturdays were a riot at my house, who wants lunch food at 10:25 am? Took the whole summer to get out of that routine.
In response to a blog about the best and worst gifts from students:
I got half a bottle of Lady Stetson one year from a kid who stole it from him Mom. I talked to his Mom and she was really filled up though, that her kid wanted to give me something and wasn't mad that he took the cologne. She told me that I had to keep it. I put a little on at school that day so the kid could smell it on me--I was one fragrant man that day!
Classroom Queen said...
I love consumable gifts. Funny enough I just had one student ask which was my favorite: green tea or cocoa. Right away another student asked if I like Hedgehog chocolates. I wonder what I'm getting? Yummy
John Spencer said...
Best gift: by far home-made tamales. I get them every year.
Worst gift: a calendar with cute puppies
Best gift? Six pack of Diet Coke. Worst gift? a 10 pound bar of milk chocolate. I was sick for weeks.
anything even remotely personal is extra special---even the stuff that relates to my classroom theme is thoughtful. and heck, i just like presents!!! it really is the thought that counts with these guys. i like the cards and notes that go with the presents too.
and those xmas tamales--yummy!
In response to a post about holiday field trips:
Every year my 7th grade class goes to the outdoor ice skating rink. I'm torn between wanting to strangle the pre-pubescent trouble makers and wanting to ooh and ahh over the little 12-year-old love birds skating together.
Ok, this isn’t a comment, but this post about a homework misunderstanding got by far the most hits this year. Brining it back for a quick laugh. Despite the validity of this “misunderstanding” has been called into question, I still think it’s hilarious.
Thanks to all of you for being a part of the TeachHUB blog. I hope this is just the tip of the iceberg!
What are your most memorable moments from this year?
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Former gravedigger John David California, 60, is making his literary debut picking up 60 years after J.D. Salinger left off. Bookseller.com describes 60 Years Later Coming Through the Rye as:
"As the title suggests, the book tells the story of Caulfield 60 years later when he is 76-year-old resident of a nursing home…Caulfield comes to his senses and has an overwhelming compulsion to flee. He boards a bus and embarks on a curious journey through the streets of New York and 'many poignant memories of his adulthood'." Full recap
To write a new story, you need to be familiar with the elements of literature, but that can often be a daunting task. If we can give students a head start, we can let them build off existing class readings or at-home favorite.
Let’s Create a Sequel
(For younger students, you can take it one element at a time or work on this as a classroom activity)
- Reinforce understanding of literary elements
- Enhance students’ insight into the original literary work
- Foster creative writing interest and abilities
Will you keep the same setting (this includes place AND time)?
If so, why?
If not, what is the new time and place?
What old characters will be involved?
Name three new characters?
Whose point-of-view will the story be told from? Is this the same as the original work?
What will the plot of the sequel be?
How will you make it different from the original?
What themes will you keep from the original?
(For example, all the Harry Potter books are about Harry and his fight against Dark Magic/Voldemort, but each book had a new villain).
Creative Writing Project – Now it’s time to write your sequel.
1. Plan Your Plot
2. Outline All Major Action in More Detail
If the climax is a car chase, who is in the car chase? Where is it taking place? Who is driving? Who wins? You can write these out on note cards to help organize your thoughts.
3. Write Your First Draft!
If you have trouble getting started, reread the opening of the original work. You can start by mirroring the author’s style until you works flow freely.
4. Read and Revise
Now that you have have a draft, does the story make sense? What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?
5. Polish Your Final Draft
Now that the plot is perfect, you can polish. Check for grammar, spelling and other mistakes. Try reading it aloud to make sure it flows smoothly.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but EVERYONE is freaking out about the swine flu. It seems like a good time to share some basics about the illness and some ways you can deal with the swine flu (and the resulting panic) in your classroom.
The swine flu is a strain of influenza that has adapted from an illness that typically only affects pigs. A strand affecting humans started spreading in Mexico, where the swine flu has been most severe. A weaker strand is believed to be spreading through the US and internationally.
The disease spreads between people like your typical flu. Swine flu is not spread by any food products, including pork or other pig byproducts.
According to the World Health Organization, most of those infected with the swine flu virus have fully recovered without need of medical attention or antiviral drugs.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the symptoms are similar to that of your average flu.
§ Sore throat
§ Muscle pain
§ Severe headache
§ General discomfort
In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
· Fast breathing or trouble breathing
· Bluish skin color
· Not drinking enough fluids
· Not waking up or not interacting
· Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
· Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
· Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
· Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
· Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
· Sudden dizziness
· Severe or persistent vomiting
Prevention & Treatment: oseltamivir or zanamivir or other antiviral prescription drugs. See the CDC guide for full rundown
While it is important not to panic or let the swine flu scare disrupt your life, you should be informed and try to avoid getting the flu – swine or otherwise.
- Since swine flu spreads like any other strain of the flu, a good immune system could stop it before it starts. I’m a firm believer in vitamin C prevention – I’ve kicked four colds to the curb in the last year – and lots of sleep to ward off illness. Practice it yourself AND tell your students
- Stock up on standard germ prevention products
o Antibacterial hand sanitizer
o Lysol/Clorox wipes to kill germs
o Soap for when constant hand-washing
- Germ Hot Spots
o Door knobs
o Anything for communal use
§ Hall passes
§ Shared desks
§ Calculators or any other shared learning aids
- Listen to NPR’s “Where Germs Lurk in Grade School” report
- A lot of “end of the year” activities, games and general excitement are on the agenda. You may want to postpone any that involve hand-holding or other physical contact, including
o Red rover
o Heads up, 7 up
o High fiving
o Accepting homework from students (Maybe I’m just allergic to grading…)
Dealing with Parents
- Information is the key to preventing parental panic before it starts.
- Has your principal sent out a call/email or other form of memo to parents reassuring them that there no students are currently diagnosed? If not, you may want to do so yourself.
- What should you tell them?
o Some basic information on swine flu to combat unnecessary alarm.
o If any students have been diagnosed OR if NONE have.
o Strategies you’re taking in the classroom to prevent germs spreading (whether it’s effective or not, it should be reassuring).
o A notice for the less vigilant parents reminding them to keep students home if they’re exhibiting any symptoms.