Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Need Inspiration!

  1. Dads.  Not fathers: Dads.
  2. Deion Sanders.
  3. Jules Verne.
  4. Music.
  5. My sons.
  6. My students.
  7. Crossword puzzles -- yes, #s 5, 6, and 7 also confound and confuse me, but their inspiration factor overcomes the grey hair production.
  8. A well planned meal.
  9. Frank McCourt
  10. Michael Collins.
  11. Van Morrison.
  12. A lot of Irishmen. See #1. 
  13. walk-off home runs
  14. quarterback sacks
  15. Special Olympic athletes.
  16. Mr. Boren, my 8th grade English teacher.
  17. Mickey Stonier, High School youth group leader
  18. Todd Morano, Teaching Credential professor
  19. Debbie Higdon, "Yes, you can do it" career mentor
  20. Matt "The Legend" Davis, inspiring coach
  21.  Los Lobos.
  22. The Boss.
  23. The Greatest: Muhammad Ali.
  24. The Coach: John Wooden.
  25. John Glenn.
  26. John Unitas.
  27. Super Bowl III. (sorry, Dad)
  28. Spud Webb.
  29. Charlotte's Web.
  30. President Obama.
  31. Condoleezza Rice.
  32. Jackie Robinson.
  33. Narnia. 
  34. My Wife. Obviously, my inspirations are not listed in order of importance.
  35. The man who coined the phrase "Happy Wife, Happy Life."
  36. Librarians! 
  37. Roald Dahl.
  38. Theodore Geisel.
  39. John Steinbeck.
  40. Toni Morrison.
  41. Teddy Roosevelt.
  42. Batman. 
  43. Haiku Education 
  44. Wonderopolis
  45. The Cornerstone
  46. Mr. Rogers, Big Bird, and The Electric Company!
  47. Jan Vermeer.
  48. The Sistine Chapel.  
  49. Christie Brinkley.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Do Not Go Quietly...

"Do not go quietly into your classroom. Engage. Be brave." *

I love that first sentence. Ironic,** in that several times each day I tell my class to enter the classroom qui-et-ly...

Anyway, on to today's frustrating issue, I'm sure largely compounded by this month's All Day But Could Have Been Completed In Three Hours Max Grade Level Meeting.

The Dilemma: I go back to class, start looking at the Math Homework turned in today, and see "0/12" -- dang, poor kid doesn't get it, I'll work with her tomorrow... -- then another "0/12" and a "1/12" and I check to see if it's the Chatty Cathy Trio. After 7 more papers the highest score I've seen is "3/12" so I look at the calendar for April Fool's Day. Nope, still on the first of next month! A few more dismal scores and I toss my hands, and the homework, high in the air in complete disbelief and frustration. Dang, I suck. What went wrong?

The Solution: Time Travel.  Before my Math class walks in I'll change the dates back to Tuesday and start the whole lesson all over again. I thought it was engaging and informative, we had guest speakers (some ancient Greek guy and the boys on BrainPOP) and worked through some problems together. Okay, the whole pi concept is weird, and some of the boys may have been distracted by drooling ("Mmmm, pie!") but overall I had no reason to believe the day was a total flop. I get a do-over. A mulligan. A move your player back when you're not looking. Wait, that last one is for Parchesi. But I WILL teach you this lesson again and I WILL teach it better and I WILL check for comprehension and I WILL scaffold and support until my legs start shaking and you WILL reward my dedication with demonstrations of your understanding and competence on the homework, the quiz, the chapter test, the CST, your SAT, and the way you raise your children! Bring us your finest meats and cheeses!

But Then... : I thought, wait. I couldn't have screwed it up that bad. C'mon, it was just circumference and area of a circle. Plug the numbers into the formula. The formula is in the textbook. And in their notes. And easily accessible online. I'll even bet more than 5 parents know at least one of the formulas, and can tell his or her dear inquisitive child, probably with a tear in their eye as a long-ago math teacher is fondly remembered...
So no going back, at least not quietly nor gently. But not loudly, in the hollering sense, I'm not that kind of teacher, just not quietly as in I cannot passively watch children not learn. They must learn to listen, to participate, to ask questions, to take notes, to say "Huh? I don get it." To take the book home and to OPEN it. And tomorrow, to memorize the formula for area and circumference.

Is writing it 50 times enough, or should I make 'em do 100?

The quote at the top, by the way, is the link to a book which I haven't yet looked into but the phrase caught my eye and Inspired me.

*I almost ended the quote after "classroom" since whenever I hear "engage" it's in Captain Picard's deep voice.
**Alanis Morrissette ruined the term irony for me, I never know if I've used it correctly or if it's going to rain on my wedding day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Can Google Create Time?

I'm becoming frustrated with the lack of hours in the day.  I wanna go, go, go and go some more but often have to wait... for... other... teachers. Wait for the gate to open AFTER the bell. Wait for my students to come back from Math. From Grammar. From lunch recess. I don't have time for all this waiting -- I need to teach them now! I have inspiring to do, impressions to make! Life-long study habits and love of learning to ingrain!

We are slowly but surely getting our routines down, the lack of recess seems to have curbed their propensity to chat and dawdle at every turn throughout the day.  The schedule can be tight and is fairly inflexible -- Read, Math, Grammar, Social (Library in the middle) Studies, one after another after another. But I feel all my students, from high to low, could use more time just to think and work. That is why I like the idea of "flipped" lessons, watch the basics at home on video then have more time to work together and with guidance at school, and why I'm hooking our classroom up to Google docs (thanks to the great ideas and how-to over at Think Share Teach ).  I know the majority of students don't have complete computer access/time at home, but maybe it will help a few be able to finish writing assignments?

Well, I wasn't done with this rant/whine but my keyboard froze and the old laptop decided it was done for the day. Whatever. I have a new bee in my bonnet tonight.

And why, oh why, do my students keep asking when we're going to McDonald's???

Twain's "Robot Jim"