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Monday, June 22, 2015

Book 3 is coming!

Good morning, FoLMeGs! I have a bit of an announcement to make...

It's official, Learn Me Goodest (or maybe Learn Me Gooderest) is in the works!! I have no set release date and I can't tell you how long it will be, but I HAVE started working on it (I'm already 20 chapters in on the rough draft), and so sooner or later, it WILL be done!

So while you wait, be sure to buy/reread/promote Learn Me Good and Learn Me Gooder!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Goodnight STAAR

As many of you know (or are even living through), the standardized testing season is upon us.  Here in the great state of Texas, the first STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) will be administered this Tuesday.

Obviously, as a teacher, this has been occupying much of time and weighing heavily on my mind.  And as a parent, I have been reading the story Goodnight Moon to my son a whole lot.  So I decided to combine these two aspects of my current life.

I've written a story based on Goodnight Moon, and I would LOVE for someone with talents (and free time) to volunteer to illustrate it!  And feedback is always welcome.

So without further ado, and with my thanks and acknowledgements to Margaret Wise Brown, here is...



Goodnight STAAR


In the 5th grade room

There was a smart board

And a red pen jar

And a picture of –

A book-reading Hollywood star

And there were twenty-two tests sitting on desks

And a covered up word wall

And an old soccer ball

And a small group table

And a laptop cable

And a sign with a crest and a bratty class pest

And a teacher up front whispering “Just do your best!”

Goodnight class

Goodnight STAAR

Goodnight book-reading Hollywood star

Goodnight chalk

And the red pen jar

Goodnight tests

Goodnight desks

Goodnight word wall

And goodnight ball

Goodnight bags

And goodnight flags

Goodnight group table

And goodnight cable

Goodnight sign

And goodnight crest

Goodnight scantrons

Goodnight pest

And goodnight to the teacher whispering, “Just do your best!”

Goodnight kids

Goodnight D.A.R.E.

Goodnight testing everywhere

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Unexpected Snow Days!

The school districts in my area have been out of school for the past two weekdays, thanks to some bad weather.  We woke up yesterday morning to find a sheet of dangerous ice on the roads and sidewalks, then since it didn't all melt off, we stayed home again today.

Ironically, the weather people are predicting 1-3 inches of snow to fall sometime during the morning tomorrow, but plans are NOT being made to cancel school tomorrow.  Maybe we'll be building snowmen on the playground!

What have YOU been doing the past couple of days?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Quotes of the day

For some reason, today was full of strange and hilarious quotes, many of them in the form of a question to me.

First, one of my kids came up and asked me, "Um, is it ok if you get hand sanitizer on your face?"

Seeing that this was not an exercise in theoretical wondering -- he truly HAD gotten hand sanitizer on his face -- I replied, "Well, it's not going to kill you... but they do call it HAND sanitizer and not FACE sanitizer for a reason..."

This is the same kid who later came up and told me he had somehow gotten water on himself, and could he go to the restroom to clean it off.  I handed him a paper towel and told him to sit down.

Later on in the day, I was walking around observing the kids playing a math game.  I say that in the most generous terms, because while they were supposed to be playing the math game, some of them were mostly just chatting, and as I walked by, I got pulled into the randomness.

"Have you ever almost been in a coma??  I have!"

I find that sometimes it's best to just look away, pretend to see Ghengis Khan, and wander over to the doorway.

Friday, January 09, 2015

It's all about the units

Maybe it's the engineer in me, but I'm a real stickler when it comes to units on measurement problems. On ALL math problems, really – but especially measurement problems.

I mean, after all, in the real world, there is a HUGE difference between 4 inches and 4 feet. Even more so between 4 feet and 4 miles!

It's been a fight throughout the years to get a lot of the kids to understand this. The mentality seems to be that as long as the number is correct, that's all you really need. They're shocked (and often angered/annoyed) when I tell them that an answer of 12, 35, or 2,453 is flat out wrong and that the number means nothing without the unit.  (And now throw in squared and cubic to change the "flavor" of the unit)

I'll admit, I do take a kind of devious pleasure in walking around the room and telling kids who have the right number but no unit, "Sorry... You're close, but that's not it."   Then giving a thumbs up to a kid at the same table who has the right number and unit. It's kind of fun to see the first kid glance at the other child's paper, see the same number, and go from confused to indignant, to understanding. 

I'm just afraid that some of these kids, when the grow up, are going to be very upset when they design their dream home and go to find a very lovely doghouse. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Color Me Surprised

Today was the first day back to school after the holiday break, and as far as first days back go, it wasn't too shabby.  Sure, I wasn't able to sleep last night -- as usual, right before returning from a long break.  And sure, it was cold enough to freeze a dragon's tooth when I left the house this morning.  But the kids were pretty well behaved, no one's brain seemed to have turned to total mush (at least not visibly), and we had a little fun.

One of the things I did with my classes was read this wonderful little book that my son got for Christmas.  I told the kids up front that this was not a book about math, or even a book written specifically for 5th graders.  I told them that my son really enjoyed it, and that I thought it was really excellent myself.

Several of the kids had heard of or read it, and they gasped with excitement when I told them the title.  The book is called The Day the Crayons Quit, and it's just a very cute, entertaining little story.


The story is a series of letters (wow, sound familiar?) to a boy from each of his crayons.  Most are complaining about some aspect of their life -- overuse, underuse, nakedness -- and the letters are humorous and colorful.

We also shared some stories of ways the kids used math over the break.  Many stuck to counting stories -- I counted my presents, I counted cars on the street, I counted the number of times I kicked my brother -- but others put some thought into it, telling us they had estimated the distance to grandma's house, or measured fractions of cups and pounds to make recipes, or measured the length and width of a kitchen before a renovation project.

Tomorrow should be a good day also, but for Pete's sake, let's hope I can sleep tonight!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Top Ten things about Winter Break

Here at the end of this Winter Break/Christmas Break/Holiday Break/Whatever you want to call it -- I thought I'd take a moment to put forward my own top ten things about the break.  Don't agree?  Put your own favorite things in the comments below!

10)  No homework/tests to grade -- or if you DID bring some home, you had over 2 weeks to get them all done!

9)  You can totally indulge in your basest vices -- for me, they are movies, tv shows, and books, but hey, Bombay Gin and knitting can totally make the list as well.

8)  You get to sleep in!!  -- at least until your son starts singing the alphabet song and "Let it Go" at 37 dB.

7)  No cafeteria food -- unless you happen to be a frequent flier at Luby's or Furr's... Not that there's anything wrong with that.

6)  Christmas movies!!!  -- Die Hard, Enemy of the State, and Iron Man 3, just to name a few!

5)   No dress code at the house -- or at least, a very lightly enforced one.

4)  You have a couple of days grace period when it comes to forgetting to write the new year -- Get all of those 2014s out of your system now!

3)  You can use the bathroom whenever you want -- no schedule to stick to, no need to maintain a stainless steel bladder!

2) You can gain a few pounds, get a bad haircut, superglue your nostrils together, and no one is going to remind you of it every 5 seconds.

1)  Missing the kids -- it's true, absence DOES make the heart grow fonder, and I find myself missing even the biggest stinkers by the time break is done.