Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
I have noticed my name recall skills are rapidly improving as I've repeated in several classes at different schools. I was worried I'd be calling them all "Dude" and "The girl in the pink/red/yellow/fill in appropriate color Hannah Montana or Jonas Bros shirt"... The one thing I tend to forget is which grade I'm in, unless it's the jump from 1st to 5th when I need to focus on the proper tone of voice and amount of sing-song cuteness I say the spelling words with.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Will Teach for Food
When I was looking for work many years ago, in between retail gigs, I thought I should do something different. I didn't really want to work in retail anymore, I wanted something more exciting, challenging, rewarding, and I was fed up with the traditional help wanted ads/resume job search also. I thought why not market myself, take out an ad that says "Hey, I'm wonderful, I work hard, never out sick, creative and polite and enjoy helping others. Please hire me."
I didn't, and I worked in retail another decade, but now it's time to find another paycheck. Thank goodness I found Education, teaching is definitely, decidedly, 100%-edly what I want to do with the rest of my life. And this time I'm going to try to do things a little different (no, not delivering resumes in a gorilla suit or attached to balloons) to ensure prospective employers know who I am, what I stand for, and why I believe I will be (not yet but some day) a great teacher.
Please check it out, props to LiveBinders, and as always I welcome comments and suggestions (is it to amateur looking? too wordy? hard to navigate, especially if you are a non-tech savvy Principal? are my kids too ugly?)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Just started playing with this, looks cool so far -- share recommended (and previously viewed and tested) websites with students and parents. It's like your Favorites list but expanded and more detailedly (?) organized, and publicly shareable. Need to find out if each page/tab must be a website? How about PDF or...?
3rd grade Math sample: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1619
Monday, August 17, 2009
Woke up with the sun, showered and shaved, ate my Cheerios by the phone with a tinge of anticipation, although I really doubted any teacher would need a sub on the first day of school. Still, you never know, I'm sure some teachers do play the lottery on Sunday nights...
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
...And just like my first bicycle ride, my first kiss, my first drive on the freeway with a stick-shift, it's an extremely wobbly, lurching, spastic mess... and there's no real video in it, you have to move your eyes back and forth real quick to give the illusion of video.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
What it is, thanks to Ms. Michetti at connect. create. question. is the next level of search engine/encyclopedia, a possibly overwhelming fount of information, the answer to my constant exhortation to sons and students of "look it up!" It is WolframAlpha .
There is a cool "Overview Video" that shows a ton of examples, some way over my head, but it looks amazing with the potential to really engage students in exploring and discerning information, rather than simply copying text from Wikipedia. I'm going to try some real world, relevant to 2nd-6th grade topics and see what happens...
the 10 minutes later update... Well, found out I have 113th ranked name for US births; lots of info on "Boston Red Sox", "Transformers", "Grizzly Bear" and today's date (sunset scheduled for 8:01) but not so much for "Tony Hawk", "Kings of Leon", or even "American Revolution"... definitely like the Scrabble/crossword puzzle
Let me know what you think. How can this be used in the classroom?
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
3rd grade is a crack-up; I really do have to turn away sometimes to keep from laughing at the pouting lips or dramatic attempts at self-control when their world comes crashing down with a wrong answer (or when they have to go to the bathroom). I love the serious, concerned concentration faces too, especially when their fingers are moving rapidly adding up 6 x 7.
Did a good lesson with goldfish crackers and adding fractions, very few fish were eaten and/or pulverized before their time. Next up is Haiku, which I've never done or studied or understood (regrettably, I'm not a big poetry fan), and I'll be observed and probably videotaped for good ol' California's requirements.
Dang, just realized that means I need to lose 10 lbs by Thursday!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Also love this stuff over at So You Want to Teach? ... the 4th grade reading with dramatic voices and gestures is awesome. Anyone use "Power Teaching" ?
Friday, May 1, 2009
3rd grade has been much slower and quieter, so far, compared to 5th. I'm sure it's largely due to test prep, test prep, test prep, review of test prep, and more test prep. Practice test comes Mon, then finally! the real thing.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Oops -- new moon. They can search all they want, but won't find a thing. Maybe a sliver tomorrow? Ok, so I should have timed the lesson a bit better, but now it's an opportunity to demonstrate why all their pages are blank...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
My class is studying the solar system, which I can't claim to be an expert in but love learning about-- I get so totally blown away and amazed by some of the fantastically un-mind-wrappable concepts and facts, and it's so cool to share things with students and see them be amazed as well. One of my students today was shocked to realize "we" were out in space, just like all the other planets. I asked her where she thought we were, and as the words "on the ground" came out I could see the light bulb flicker (and stay) on.
so I want to do one of those cool Solar System to Scale projects where the students can go outside and place (chalk? clay?) sun and planet models and see just how far apart everything really is -- any suggestions?
I did see that for most models, even the smallest, the nearest star is still apprx 4000 miles away! See what I mean? Wow!
Monday, April 20, 2009
btw, the most common phrase heard today* -- not "good morning" or "welcome back" but "44 days!" as in the number of school days until summer break. And it was an overwhelming landslide, not even close...
*at least until the temps hit triple digits, Praise the Lord for air conditioning!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Does it work? The more I watch I wonder if it's too busy, are the students just playing a game, talking all at once (some are even talking to classmate's backs?)... are they actually learning the material? I realize "test" is a dirty word among classroom-level educators, but does this method/style produce positive results?
Inquiring minds need to look into this further...*
one hour and 52 videos later...
It helps to start at the beginning; I would love to sit in a classroom all day and observe this in action.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I did most of my first semester observation time with a 3rd grade class, and actually spent a lot of additional time with them since the teacher was very receptive of the additional help, and I felt it was an opportunity to see how a classroom was managed over the course of 3+ months. I also got to sub for my new Master Teacher right before the break so I could meet the students and get a feel for the classroom -- 13 boys and 6 girls!
So how to sum up my time in 5th grade? Hmmm...
First and foremost, I think I learned a ton, both from doing things and from watching the teacher/student dynamics on a full time basis. I was just reading an article over at TheApple.com on how the instructor's behavior has a direct, observable correlation to student behavior, and I could see that first hand between my MT and the class. And since my MT stayed very much involved in the teaching, I could see how my manner and technique (read: lack of experience and a clue as to what I was doing) caused sometimes quite different behaviors from the class than hers did.
I also have a stronger feel now for how I would want my classroom to operate, and part of my retail management past definitely kicked in: if it ain't productive, don't do it. If something isn't resulting in profit-- the students learning -- then why do it? I also know I'm sure as heck not spending hours collecting and recording and researching and re-collecting and re-recording, etc, etc, whether homework has been turned in or not! Even 3rd graders need to be responsible for their own work, and I'm not a big believer in homework anyway...
Oops, Mrs. Bunny just called me to "get my ass downstairs and hide some eggs!" Sheesh, hope she's not surprised when all her candy has bites missing...
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I have not looked into any details myself yet, but if I had my own classroom I would jump on this quick before it goes the way of our 401(K)s and classroom supply budgets...
I also saw a brief article about entire districts doing away with grade levels -- what you learn and what you know is where you are? Anybody worked with anything like this?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Got all the major course assignments complete, all the classroom observations done and over, and one week left with my precious 5th graders before Spring Break! After which, of course, it starts all over again, but this time with a Master's degree course and 3rd graders (13 boys & 6 girls -- who planned that class?)... but I plan on enjoying the moment while it lasts. I also miss my boys -- after 2+ years living the life of "Mr Mom" and some major Son/Dad time, it was hard to wake them up on my way out the door in the morning and kiss 'em goodnight when they're already snoring.
Now I need to go watch the video of my teaching and see just how large and shiny my forehead really is; I'm sure it* needs a great deal of editing before I present it to Professor and classmates. My (very) amateur cinematographers were 3 bickering adhd/gifted students, and my MT makes several timely appearances, needing something coincidentally wherever the camera happened to be focused!
* the video, not my forehead
I had to pull 2 tests and 6 other collections of misc. materials off students desks despite letting them know at least 3 different ways, including having 2 of them answer the question "what should you have on your desk?" And now that I'm grading the assessments, I see a lot of them missed/forgot/ignored the very first instruction I gave them! That's okay, I kept 'em in at recess and gave them a
Good thing I practiced, 'cause the boys needed it again this morning!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I have a Master Teacher that likes to stay late after school to do all the talking, planning, copying, talking, reviewing, talking, tutoring, scheduling, talking.... I have an observer that feels there is not a lesson plan created that she cannot say needs "more detail" -- I may assign specific times for my breaths and heartbeats on the next one. And I have professors that amazingly and wonderfully eliminated assignments to ease our workload, but still require 30+ page papers that due to procrastination and stubbornness I am having to make up 80% of as I frantically type to meet the deadline.
Not to mention Facebook, March Madness, and sunshine -- how am I supposed to get anything done around here?!?!?
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Wincing, the student rubbed his leg and said, "Well, not as much as it hurt the Incas when they did brain surgery without any anesthesia."
This is from a textbook, but I would give massive bonus points if I heard this in my classroom! We've been studying figurative language and idioms, and I've told them if they catch me using an idiom I'll give them a ticket (redeemable for candy or a lottery for privileges); I've also passed out tix for actually using the vocabulary words they study all week, or for identifying a root in a new word I use.
On the other hand, I have told them they will lose every privilege in the book for the rest of the year if they make me laugh while taking a drink, especially when standing over the desk of a classmate, which did almost happen. I can just imagine the parent/principal/never-to-be-employed-student-teacher meeting for that one...
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I need to power up the video camera this weekend so I can see myself teach. I'm sure I'll be appalled -- does the camera really add 20 lbs? and increase forehead depth by several inches? and cause that tie to really clash with that shirt?
MT out again Mon and Tues, so I'm desperately reading many science chapters to review/prepare the class for a test Tues, and introducing "Mini-Society" as well, which sounds cool. Wonder if I can convince them to name me Supreme Dictator for Life?
There are 7 girls in a bus. Each girl has 7 backpacks. In each backpack, there are 7 big cats. For every big cat, there are 7 little cats. The bus driver is not on the bus at this time.
Question: How many legs are there in the bus?
This is not a trick question (easy for him to say...), it is a real math problem, so "a bus doesn't have legs" is not any part of the answer.
When I copy/re-write anything like this, especially up on the white board in front of the class, I get OCD/paranoid I'm spelling words wrong, or omitting a word, or accidentally spelling some word I'll get calls from the parents about -- for example, do not abbreviate "after school session" !
Friday, February 27, 2009
I didn't try to, and I wish he wouldn't have, but he did. And of course I caved, reduced the punishment and gave him the second chance speech. Whatta wimp.
Not only, that, but those little germ-mongers have me coughing upa lung and going to bed early.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Anyway, just home from class and picking up Son #1 at practice, and MUST write clear and beautiful lesson plans for tomorrow since my University Supervisor is coming out for her first visit... aaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!!
quick notes: aren't 5th graders supposed to know who was who in the American Revolution? or at least know what side George Washington was on? how is it possible to have 1 classmate weigh 57 lbs and his buddy 179? they look like entirely different species...
Monday, February 23, 2009
On my own again today, except for the sub getting paid to watch me for signs of helplessness...
it's apparent, either due to my teaching style (if I'm allowed to have one yet) or my lack of experience, that I allow the class to get a bit more talkative than MT and her former student teacher/today's sub are accustomed to; I encourage discussion once in awhile, not just hands in the air, and I think it takes time to train a class to adjust volumes to the right level and learn to have more open discussions. In the meantime, I have a sub shushing "my" class as I'm attempting to have a conversation. grrrr...
My struggle has been more with the clock than the chatting, so in my outline/notes for the day has times listed in BOLD RED when each topic and event is supposed to start, end, be at the 1/2 way point, 2 minute warning, 30 seconds late, etc, etc. It worked out almost perfect today, the only subject that got squeezed a little short was Math, and who really needs math these days anyway...
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Those jelly-like blobs convulsing with giggles on the floor distracting everyone else in the 5th grade? Yep, my reading group.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
actually, it wasn't that bad. The substitute, the official teacher that got paid for the day while I did all the work, was very supportive and helpful and thanked me for the easiest sub job he'd had (although he did not offer to send me part of his paycheck). He was fairly new as well, so we brainstormed a bit as to what we could have done as the class got incrementally louder and louder. Praise ______* it was a half day!
It was just one of those days where things popped up that weren't on the day's schedule (Library Day! Pass out new weekly packets Day!) and that threw everything out of synch. Interesting that MT didn't ask for a recap the next day, but between still being sick and preparing for the District Superintendent's visit on Thurs, I wasn't high on her priority list. Which was good, in that I could help more with classroom operations, grading and organizing and helping individ students, so I feel more in the flow of the class. I still have issues with the clock, never remembering when recess is or reading groups or whatever...
*just who is the god/goddess/patron saint of teachers?
Monday, February 16, 2009
MT is going to be out sick tomorrow, so who's the man? I'm the man!
Of course there will be a paid sub sitting at the corner desk judging my every blunder, but for all intent and purpose it's my class tomorrow! I'm feeling a bit more pressure than a regular sub job, since I'll be standing right there when the teacher comes back on Wednesday and the students all give their reports.
Maybe I should bring candy for bribes...
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Ummm... anyone have a copy of Katie's Trunk I can borrow?
I'm teaching it on Tuesday, but 2 libraries and 4 bookstores later, I haven't read it yet.
It looks like I'm in charge of most of the Language Arts; not really "in charge" since we're following the HoutMiff program and Master Teacher's years and years of prior lesson notes, but she is letting me do most of the teaching. Morning activity, main lesson, grammar group, spelling tests...
I also have several bulletin boards to do... is this in my job description?
odds and ends from the first "full" week:
1. I think I'm going to love teaching.
2. Oh man, do I wish I was getting paid for this.
3. 5th graders really, really should brush their teeth well every morning before school. Twice.
4. How big is the crate the Math materials come in? There's a several edition volume for the teacher, a reference book, a skill book, a worksheet book...
5. There could be two clocks on every wall and my Flava Flav edition watch on my wrist and I still would have no idea what time it is...
6a. There is a brief occurance of pure stillness, a moment as close to peace and calm one can find this side of the Pearly Gates, every afternoon at 2:51 as the last student leaves the classroom.
6b. There is a similar moment of stillness every morning, in that last second before the bell rings, but instead of peace it is filled with anticipation-- the same sense of anticipation I assume one feels right before a Great White shark attacks. Or more precisely, 30 Great White sharks attack.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
3 days in and not totally comfortable yet, but I do know most of the students' names; the 6 that start with K get me confused. I get the feeling my Master Teacher ("MT" from here on out) would like me to take over as much as I want as soon as I want, which part of me feels like resisting while I know it's probably the best way -- jump in the water and just start paddling...
One very important subject not discussed in any class so far, and I would think at least one of you "fount of wisdom and experience" education experts would think to bring this up somewhere along the line: holy urinal cakes, when do you take a bathroom break?!?!?
Monday, February 9, 2009
"Today Miss V. taught me..."
I don't see a lot of technology at my new school, but it has only been 2 days; still, I hope I get to use the overhead projector this week!
- What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know
- Everything Your 6th Grader Needs to Know ('cause I want my 5th graders to be smarter than the average
- Everyday Mathematics
- Houghton Mifflin** Reading
- several juvenile books grabbed from the library on the Rev. War, including Longfellow's The Midnight Ride... which I may get to read to the class this week; strange coincidence (or is it?) that I just finished Johnny Tremain before getting assigned a class studying Paul Revere...
*and not just because I "worked" 2 days in a row and -- whew! -- I'm exhausted...
** isn't that the company from "The Office"?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
But sometimes I realize an hour has gone by and because I haven't completed a chapter in a text book or written a full page of an assignment, I feel as if I've wasted time (yet again)-- are blogs merely empty calories? Is online information the same as grabbing US magazine instead of a literacy assessment guide? Is it all attractive colors and fonts, and the ease of reading without truly digesting (as well as the convenience of being able to click back and forth between Facebook and LibraryThing) that lends itself to going online rather than cracking the spine on a textbook?
Anyway, saw this excellent post on The Cornerstone Blog regarding testing and how to help students (and teachers) survive with wits intact...
Friday, February 6, 2009
From 1st impressions, including the Principal scaring the bejeebers out of me, I think this will be a good fit for me-- the school and especially my classroom is well run, well behaved, and focused on doing the best for and getting the best from the students. My Master Teacher is a crack-up, serious and caring at the same time, making sure her students have what they need to succeed and insuring they each take the personal responsibility to do so. She's given me several "homework" assignments for this weekend, lessons to do next week in Math and Language Arts plus a classroom clean-up project, so she's not wasting any time getting me involved (glad school's out Monday, gotta an extra day to work on everything)...
The Principal met me bright and early and impressed upon me the Two Rules to Succeed: never e-mail-- the more real, live conversations you can have with people the farther you'll go, and never, ever be alone with any student. I'm paraphrasing; he made both statements with much more intensity and emphasis than I can convey.
As for the student slam, when asked to welcome me and say how they'll help me or say something nice about me, one boy said my forehead sure was nice and shiny...
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I was beginning to feel like the last (rejected) puppy at the pound, my classmates had assignments and I was just sitting by the phone, waiting, hoping, jumping to answer the second it rang (sorry I hung up on you, Ma) -- I had depressing flashbacks to those pitiful High School years when she said she would call, but never did...
But I did get the call. I feel like I've been drafted, way down low in one of the final rounds, but at least some team is willing to take a chance on me... now I need to work hard, learn from the veterans, practice my skills and make sure the coaches notice my talent and determination. Who knows, I might just make the team next fall...
So: 5th grade! Real live students! Lesson plans! A tie! Oh no, there's the first thing to
Sunday, January 25, 2009
This is it, really it.
Oops, spelled inspired wrong...
and Oops, I think I just changed the blog address-- http://inspiredtobegin.blogspot.com/ and I promise I won't change anything else.
'cept maybe the color-- too pink? or could we call it salmon?
Friday, January 23, 2009
Back when Gore invented computers, user names and online personas were part internet fun and part internet safety; we all tried to create cool email addresses with the word "hot" in them somewhere, and were worried our photos would be used to ruin our reputation if we ever ran for public office. People would freak at the mention of posting a picture of my children or of talking about my job -- what if the boss read your blog?!? Well, for starters I had a boss with her priorities straight: if my sales figures were up, what did she care what I typed late at night that no one would ever read anyway? And I wouldn't post proprietary material or personal attacks without expecting to be fired. If you're the kind of person to bash your company, boss, or co-workers online, you are undoubtedly a lousy employee anyway; good riddance when they can yer grumpy, back-stabbing ass.
I began posting online with hiding as much as I could; for my first blog I was "6footOneandaTonofFun" from somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere and my profile picture was a mango, yet even then I thought I was giving out way too much information and everybody on the www knew EXACTLY WHO and WHERE I was. I also combed my hair and wore a nice shirt since I knew they could all see me, but that's really a whole 'nother story...
So my point, before I became obviously lost on that tangent, was how much do we need to take the bold black marker to, how much should we NOT reveal online -- legally, personally, and/or respectfully? Do school districts or principals have guidelines, and an administrative assistant to monitor compliance, regarding online activity?
Oh, and I probably shouldn't say "ass"...
Just one week before I'm supposed to start... somwhere? Don't know yet. Don't even know which district, just that it will be in a lower grade for 6 (?) weeks and then a 4-6th grade until the end of the school year (hoefully both assignments at the same school!)...
I am nervous. Expecting to fall flat on my face. Unsure of knowing enough: fractions, science, ELLs... What if I have a mean master teacher?
I am confident. I'm smart, clever, able to think on my feet. I've been responsible for 3 boys, 30 football players, and 3000 employees. I LOVE fractions!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Don't know the school/grade/district yet, should find out soon... ?