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Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Not sure of when to use effect or affect? It's covered, with hilarious example sentences. Unsure of the difference between their, they're, and there? The Oatmeal helps you there too. Oh yeah, and alot is not even a real word...
Check it out, and laff you're but of. Or rather, laugh your butt off.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I hope that everyone has had a very happy holiday season and that you are with or have been with loved ones. Here is what I was up to this past year:
2009 began with my girlfriend Tamara and me playing Wii until five in the morning and then sleeping until around four the next day. We were subsequently treated to a fresh start, as we watched a new president sworn into office, and I managed to obtain a valuable comic book featuring said president and a certain friendly neighborhood wall crawler.
A few weeks into the year, Dallas ISD actually closed for an incredibly rare snow day -- of course, by 10 a.m., it was 70° outside.
In addition to the usual greatness of February -- Valentine's Day, MY birthday, Duke vs. Carolina -- 2009 brought an extra bonus. I was able to lay claim to my very own domain name! learnmegood.com just sort of rolls off the tongue, much more so than my second choice – formerengineerturnedthirdgradeteacherblogsaboutlifeobservationsandgeneralstuff.com.
February was also the month that I went ahead and finished Franz Schubert's Symphony Number 8. It had been bugging me for a while that it had been left unfinished, so I broke out the harmonica, the pan flute, and the sitar and completed it with pizzazz.
March began on a sad note as the good folks at education.com told me my services as a columnist would no longer be needed. Fortunately, the reason for this was their discontinuation of all columns, and NOT anything I had said about their webmaster's taste in interior decoration.
Towards the end of the month, I experienced a parent-teacher conference night like none before -- parents actually showed up! LOTS of them! One more difference between teaching Gen Ed and Dual-Language. Thankfully, some of the parents DID speak English, so I didn't have to resort to clicks and whistles all night.
According to news reports at the time, the H1N1 virus, formerly known as swine flu, formerly known as Porky's Dilemma, was contracted by approximately 98.5% of the population, yet I somehow managed to stave it off. I credit my immunity to an inbred affiliation with the Washington Redskins, providing the necessary antibodies to all pig-related diseases.
With schools (and an entire districts!) closing down all around us, I bought stock in Purell and sold it a week later for a profit of $250,000.
As the school year of approach to its cyclical end, we threw our traditional International Festival. This year, the third grade chose to represent China and Ireland. Our contribution of food in the cafeteria consisted of egg rolls and Lucky Charms, and our hall was decorated with pictures of Oriental-looking leprechauns.
On the last day of May, I received an email from a Dr. Clement Okon, the former prince of Nigeria. I don't want to go into details here, but suffice it to say, I will soon be a very rich man…
What was quite possibly my greatest year as a teacher -- definitely my best group of kids -- wrapped up nicely, and our long summer vacation began. I figured it was time to look Blanco up on a map and visit Tamara at her parents' home. She gave me good driving directions, and sure enough when I took a right turn at THE light in town (no kidding -- one street light in Blanco!), I was almost there. It was my first time to meet Tamara's dad, and when I left, he lovingly welcomed me into the family by calling me, "just another bozo."
With Independence Month kicking off, Tamara and I took a trip up north to the Birthplace of Freedom -- Boston, Massachusetts. We walked the Freedom Trail (all 3 miles!), visited Cheers, and had baked beans. We then took a train down to New York City where we got to see David Letterman BEFORE his scandal. I was also able to score a major public relations coup at the Statue of Liberty by thanking a 17 year-old French girl for her country's gift to mine.
With my days off, I was also able to complete my time machine project. My first usage took me back to Guatemala in the year 888 where I befriended some top Mayan officials who were working on a stone calendar. I told them about the show in our time called "Punk'd" and suggested that they Punk the rest of the world by halting their calendar at the year 2012. When I returned, I observed that our little prank had been highly successful.
It seemed like only a four-day weekend, but the 2 1/2 month vacation came to an end mid-August. My question of "would all Dual-Language classes be as wonderful as last year's -- full of hard-working students who really want to learn and do their best" was quickly answered. Not so much.
With many school nights on the horizon, we sadly ended our new summer tradition of Wednesday night trivia at the local pub. No doubt, the regulars there toasted our absence with a hearty chorus of, "Where are those people that never get anything right?"
9/9/09 was a major milestone as my debut single dropped and the music industry would never be the same. Combining country and rap, C-RAP is a fresh new innovation and "All up in da pickup" is projected to be CD of the year.
In the latest home improvement project, I had a new fence put in around my back yard. I can now sunbathe nude in peace, though I am starting to question my choice of rod iron instead of wood plank.
After nearly 3 years of paranoia-inducing back pain, I finally mustered up the courage to rejoin my beloved volleyball team. Forget going out a few times to lightly bump the ball around; I jumped right back into A League competition. Amazingly and happily, my back did NOT snap in half after the first point.
A few weeks before Halloween, I succumbed to peer pressure and joined Twitter. Almost 200 tweets of 140 characters or less later, my world has not exactly been rocked.
In early November, I took the biggest step in my life since switching from 2% milk to whole. On the warm evening of 11/11, I asked Tamara to marry me. Amazingly and happily, she said yes... and my back did NOT snap in half.
A few weeks later, I spent my first Thanksgiving away from the family since college, choosing to spend it down in Blanco with my future in-laws. Away from home, I didn't dare stuff myself as much as usual, so I went the whole day without suffering from tryptophan overload or the dreaded "Turkey sweats."
Dad and I got tickets to the inaugural college basketball game at the new Cowboys Stadium, AKA Jerry world, AKA The Death Star, AKA The Hall of Doom. We were treated to the always lovely sight of Carolina being handed a loss. Wearing our Duke T-shirts with pride, we overheard several people say, "Wow, those guys came a long way to see this game!" Yeah, all the way from the other side of Arlington, buddy!
Once again proving itself to be totally insane, the Texas weather went from 75° at four o'clock on December 23 -- Christmas Movie Marathon Night -- to 28° at 11 o'clock the next morning. Complete with snowfall that turned the ground white. There's a Bing Crosby joke in there somewhere, but needless to say, our white Christmas was a wonderful one, complete with Mom's surprise gift of a Wii to the grandkids.
So 2009 came full circle, beginning AND ending with much playing of the Wii. Of course, my fake bowling improved quite a bit in the year between.
Here's to a very merry 2010!! Go Blue Devils!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
2 whole weeks of good food, good rest, a few papers to grade, good relaxation, and good visiting.
Plus, I'm in the final four in my fantasy football league, and I'm visiting the new Cowboys Stadium today to watch the Texas Longhorns beat the Tar out of the Carolina Tar Holes. (Sorry, Chad.)
What better way to start off the blogging aspect of Christmas Break than another wonderful guest post by our good friend Karen Schweitzer? Karen has written so many guest posts here at Learn Me Good (as well as other places), that I've lost count. But every one has been full of useful information and valuable tips and links.
Today, her post is designed especially for new teachers or folks considering going into education.
15 Resources for First Year Teachers
The first year of teaching can be a very rewarding experience, but it can also be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are a number of sites online that offer free resources and practical information for the novice teacher. Here are 15 sites to explore in your spare time.
First Year Teacher Program - The First Year Teaching Program is a free online course for new K-3 teachers. The self-paced course includes ten modules that cover effective strategies and techniques for the classroom.
New Teacher Survival Guide - Scholastic provides a New Teacher Survival Guide to novice teachers who are looking for resources, tools, and tips for the classroom. The guide also offers a newsletter and a new teacher helpline.
ED.gov Survival Guide - The Department of Education Survival Guide for New Teachers offers tips on communicating and working with veteran teachers, parents, principals, and . The guide also links to helpful resources around the web.
New Teacher Center - This national organization is dedicated to supporting new teachers and improving student learning. Site offering include news, stories, and information about upcoming education events.
Teachers Network - The Teachers Network site offers a special section just for new teachers. The section includes lesson plans, new teacher how-to's, and web mentors who can offer more help.
The Teacher's Corner - The Teacher's Corner is a good place for new teachers to find lesson plans, worksheets, teaching tips, and other teaching resources. The site also provides a forum to connect with other educators and a job board.
The Educator's Reference Desk - The Educator's Reference Desk offers a wide range of dependable resources, including 2,000+ lesson plans and 3,000+ links to educational information around the web.
Education World - Education World provides lesson plans, practical information for new teachers, regular columns, employment listings, principal profiles, a search engine for educational sites, and many other useful resources.
Lesson Plans and Teaching Strategies - Created by California State University-Northridge, this web page links to hundreds of tested lesson plans and articles on and classroom management.
Teachers.net - Teachers.net is a comprehensive teacher's resource. Site features include teacher chat boards and mail rings, lesson plans, classroom project ideas, articles from teachers around the world, and a job board.
TeacherTube - TeacherTube was created so that educators would have a place to share teacher videos, lesson plan videos, and other instructional materials. The site is a good place for new teachers to find teaching tips, , and curriculum guidance.
Teacher Lingo - Teacher Lingo is an online community for educators who want to connect over the web. Community resources include lesson plans, a message board, and a place for teachers to share and publish blogs.
The Apple - This Monster site for teachers combines social networking with teacher's resources. New teachers can find lesson plans, sign up for a free newsletter, and chat with other teachers in The Apple forum.
TeachAde - TeachAde provides free articles, videos, lesson plans, and other teaching resources. The site also serves as a space for teachers to meet and network online.
Teachers First - The Teachers First site provides a long list of education-related professional associations and organizations that provide teacher resources and support.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Nevermind the fact that I had more than one projects turned in on "Paul River," or that other kids thought Amelia Earheart's ambition to be a nurses aide was more significant than her mysterious disappearance...
When I got to the kids who had done Martin Luthor King Jr, I noticed something odd. One of the events that they had wanted to include was that he hoped to inspire Americans though his peaceful efforts.
One of my little girls miswrote this as "through his space full of farts."
Wonder what Paul River thinks about that...
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
This book was great, and you should definitely go straight to Amazon and order yourself a copy right now! Richie has put her sense of humor right out on display, and her stories about her Journalism students are fun, funny, and memorable.
First a word about the look of the book. My first thought was that it looked like a yearbook -- fitting, since Richie's class is in charge of putting the yearbook together each year. My fiance thought it looked like a composition notebook -- still fitting, as I'm sure the kids have gone through a ton of those writing assignments and reports. Either way, the look of the book is unique and really stands out on a shelf.
Something else that I really enjoyed was the little "inserts" on several pages, especially the "Chapter Terms." These small colored bubbles defined words and phrases used within the text -- including a dictionary-worthy definition and a tongue-in-cheek meaning. One of my favorites -- "In-service -- 1) another name for a professional development day. 2) another name for wasting a teacher's time."
These inserts made me think of another of my favorite books, America, by John Stewart and the Daily Show.
The vignettes, everything from a young talented artist who didn't want to give up his black fingernail polish, to the kids who caught the porn JUST before it made it into the yearbook, are touching, and show how much Richie cares about the kids who have been in her classes over the year.
Check out How to Lose Your Self of Steam, and see what all the fuss is regarding Big Fat Stupid Heads, heads in freezers, and rubber chickens.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
This chapter is from right before Christmas Break of Jack Woodson's first year.
I’m sorry sir, but I refuse to fill in your “adult-themed” Mad Libs. I’ll give you a verb or a place name, but the slots are not supposed to be labeled “body parts that rhyme with rubies.”
Unless I’m mistaken, we have something in common – we both have some time off coming! You still have to work next week, but the plant still shuts down between Christmas and New Year’s, right? That hasn’t changed, has it? First day of school in the new year is January 6th, so all of my little Whos will have a nice two-week break in which to forget everything they’ve learned so far.
Today was fun, with a tint of sadness. The sad part is that today was Ariel’s last day here. She and her family are moving to some small town I’ve never heard of, about two hours east of here. As I’m sure I’ve told you before, Ariel is one of my favorite students, and I am really going to miss her.
But as I said, the day was fun, because we did Christmas activities. Mrs. Swanson made ornaments with the class over in her room. They were little construction paper cutouts with glitter and a picture of the kid glued to them. They even made one for me. My tree can be complete now!
Meanwhile, I made stockings (or attempted to make stockings) in my room. Each child cut a couple of stocking shapes out of brown paper lunch sacks using templates I made last night. Then they punched holes along the edges and used red yarn to hold them together. Sounds easy, right. Well, it WAS easy – up until the point when we actually began.
By the time the day was done, a few of the kids had beautiful stockings and were decorating them with crayons and stickers. Kari, Xander, and Maria all had stockings that looked fantastic. Others had tried to punch holes in their two cutouts separately, and the holes weren’t lining up. And then there was Plakton, who was still trying to figure out how to use the scissors. Don’t worry, I kept a close watch to make sure he didn’t poke himself in the eye with them.
My own big problem was with the yarn. I will freely admit that I use yarn about as frequently as I use hair extensions – not often – so I had a rough time. I would start pulling on a strand and get it a ways out, but then it would start knotting up, and I was stuck untangling knots for much of the day. A couple of times, I had to send a kid with the skein over to Mrs. Swanson’s room, and she would send it back straightened out (the yarn, not the student).
I even had my own little Tiny Tim moment. I got a Santa hat from one of the teachers (my Secret Santa) earlier in the week, and I wore it for most of today. When I put it on with 3F, Marvin exclaimed, “Yay! Mr. Woodson is cool now!” Did you catch that? Marvin finally thinks I’m cool –not quite the same as throwing away crutches and walking, but a Christmas miracle all the same.
Some of the kids even brought me gifts. Not one hundred dollar bills, as I had hoped for, but sweet gestures nonetheless. Kari and Susan gave me candy with decorative holders, Juan gave me a nice little picture frame, and Alex gave me a card. I think at some point Thomson may have even given me the finger.
Well, in case I don’t see you before then, have a very merry Christmas. Tell all the good gentiles there the same from me. Oh, and feel free to drop by on the 23rd. We’ll be having our annual “Good Ol’ Fashion Woodson Family Christmas Movie Marathon.” ™ This is the night we watch as many Christmas-themed movies as we can stomach. We always watch It’s a Wonderful Life, Scrooged, and Christmas Vacation; the others are rotated in and out. Round about 3 or 4 AM, when everyone else is passed out on the floor, my brother and I usually put up Die Hard. Hey, it’s a Christmas movie!
Ho ho ho! (Now I have a machine gun)
Good King Wenceslaus
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thank you for your good intentions. I know that you probably think you are giving teachers and students the rare opportunity to witness the combination of an off-mustard yellow primer paint job AND tires that are 8 inches larger than standard. Since most kids are focused on their friends and/or getting onto the bus, you have done what you need to in order to draw their attention to your vehicle -- blast your bass-intensive stereo system at levels harmful to most mammalian ears.
May I humbly suggest, however, that your choice of songs and/or lyrics may not be the most appropriate in an elementary school setting? Given the timing, perhaps some classic holiday tunes would be more in order? At a slightly lower volume?
I would also like to point out that there IS a stop sign posted at the corner where you turn, so I think I speak for everyone when I say that we would rather not see your continued attempts to hang 2 wheels going around the bend.
Thank you, and have a nice weekend.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
One of the first ones I looked at had a drawing of "Little Bad Fox" saying (via speech bubble), "I am going to destroy the world!" "Super Puppy"'s bubbled response was, "I need you to stop destroying the world."
This just gave me a giggle and reminded me of the boss in Office Space. "Yeah, I'm gonna need you to stop destroying the world. That'd be great..."
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
This week, we are focused on the 3's. So every morning, we listen to both 3's songs and then do our minute math practice.
One of my most troublesome little girls -- who is nearly 50 years old, bullies everyone, doesn't do her work, plays, lies, doesn't pay attention, etc, etc etc -- has, amazingly, been singing the songs correctly.
Now, of course, they have a times table reference sheet that they take out to help them sing along, but still, she is actively participating and singing the words and numbers correctly.
Here's the thing, though. Her singing makes Rosanne Barr's rendition of the National Anthem sound like a choir of angels.
My little girl is loud, off key, off rhythm, and off tempo. It's almost painful to listen to her sing the songs. But by golly, she's actually doing something, and seems to be learning her facts, so I'm certainly not going to stop the nails on the chalkboard!
In Edublog Award news, the voting has begun! I was nominated for Best Teacher Blog, and if you so choice, you can follow that link to cast your vote! For some reason, most of the nominations that I made last week don't seem to have been accepted. So I apologize to Bell Ringers, Mrs. Bluebird, Joel, and Mamacita. I don't know why they didn't stick! My Happy Rainbow IS listed, so I can only assume that someone else nominated his blog as well.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Also, it's time for nominations for this year's EduBlog Awards! So without any further ado, here are my nominations:
Best individual blog: Bellringers
Best teacher blog: Bluebird's Classroom
Best new blog: Look at my Happy Rainbow!
Lifetime achievement: Mamacita of Scheiss Weekly
Best resource sharing blog: So You Want to Teach (possibly not the greatest category for him, but his blog deserves to be nominated one way or the other.)
Be sure to visit these blogs, and vote for them (and me!) from 12/08 - 12/16.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
But yesterday, I was surprised to find that she was not the only student from that class who had withdrawn. Also withdrawing was the boy that I was able to motivate with the prospect of free food.
This boy didn't seem to be able to put 2 and 2 together for the first 6 weeks of school, but when I waved a Golden Corral coupon under his nose, suddenly he was raising his hand, adding and subtracting like a madman, and paying much more attention.
He had started to revert back to his lazy ways in the past few weeks, and I was just thinking about how I needed to dig out the stack of Denny's coupons, when I found his withdrawal papers.
Well, all I can say is, I hope his new school catches on quickly that they need to, quite literally, FEED his knowledge...
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Before break, we were studying geometry, creating and identifying 2- and 3-dimensional shapes. We made a flip book for logging 3-D shapes and did a little scavenger hunt around the room for examples. ie, a whiteboard eraser is a rectangular prism, a chair leg is a cylinder, etc.
I sent these flip books home with the kids over break and told them that their homework was to cut out pictures from newspapers, magazines, store fliers, whatever that showed examples of 3-D shapes in real life. They were to glue these pictures inside their flip books and then bring them back for display.
It will be very interesting to see how many flip books I get back tomorrow. I have to say, I'm really not expecting much. A lot of my kids have trouble bringing back homework or signed papers from the night before, much less from 10 days before, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if I only get about half of them back, and of those half, several are half-assed.
Oh well, in the meantime, if anyone is interested, I have set up a blog for my bride-to-be and me. It's got a little slide show and that's about it right now, but you might just see a softer side of Mister Teacher.
I hope everyone had a great break, and good luck in getting back to the grind tomorrow!
Monday, November 23, 2009
In the meantime, though, I wanted to put forth a couple of suggestions for anyone looking for some fun gifts for loved ones or co-workers this year.
Readers on your list? Why not start by giving the gift of humor in book form? Check out my own Learn Me Good, the more recent It's Not All Flowers and Sausages by Mrs. Mimi, or the hot-off-the-presses How to Lose Your Self of Steam by Carol at Bellringers! (I just got my copy of Self of Steam in the mail and will be reading it at the future in-law's!)
Seen enough books at school? How about a T-shirt or 2? Good news -- you're in luck! Check out the wide assortment of funny and witty shirts at my Speadshirt store. Here are a few of the designs:
Savings available for the thrifty shopper! Take advantage of these deals from Spreadshirt!
Want mugs? Tree ornaments? Magnets? Check out my Cafepress store!
Safe shopping as always, and Happy Thanksgiving!!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I know that some schools are still in session through Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, but the Dallas school district for the past few years has combined the Thanksgiving holiday with a couple of staff development days so that if you got your mandatory training done over the summer, you get the whole week off!
So I thought I'd be a little interactive here. I want to know, what are you thankful for this year? Please leave your response in the comment section and/or post to your own site.
Personally, I am thankful for the following things:
- Well of course, the fact that the 10 day break from school and the kids is finally here!! (Can I get a "Whup whup!!")
- A beautiful, loving, wonderfully bubbly fiance
- A new wallpaper picture on my phone of Nutcracker Darth Vader
- Incredible friends and family
- The fact that I've returned to playing volleyball without my back breaking in two
- The 2 most awesome sci-fi schows on TV right now -- Flashforward and Fringe
- Turkey and stuffing
- SOME students in my class that actually listen to what I say and apply it
- Black cherry vodka and Mountain Dew (I call it a "Black Mountain")
- My health and job security
I look forward to seeing what YOU are thankful for this year!!
Friday, November 20, 2009
It was raining pretty hard when I arrived at school this morning, but I have no doubt that this woman didn't need that as an excuse to pull into our assistant principal's parking spot in the staff parking lot. I would be very surprised if this wasn't a regular occurrence.
Anyway, as I was nearing the building, this lady was walking her kindergarten daughter up to the same door. I said to her -- very politely, I thought -- that since it was raining, her daughter could come inside today through those doors, but that the signs on the door very clearly announced to parents that those doors were for staff only and that children and parents needed to enter through the front doors.
Of course, at right around the point where I was pointing to the large signs, she turned her back on me and walked away. I wonder if she heard me.
I had kind of forgotten about her until the very END of the day, when all of the kids were on the bus, and I was standing on the sidewalk waiting for my bus to leave. I noticed that about 5o feet away, a familiar looking blue car had parked across the street, with its rear end angled out into the street. The driver's side door was wide open, and a familiar looking parent was walking across the street and in front of the bus. I wondered why there were no teachers at that bus to stop this woman from taking her daughter off of the bus -- if not illegal, I'm pretty sure that's at least against school policy -- but I guess since the bus doors HAD been closed, the teachers had left already. I then saw the woman walk her daughter right out into traffic again and across the street before doing a 3 point turn and speeding off.
Now I'm no Nostradamus, but I just have a feeling that by the time that girl gets to us in the 3rd grade, she might just have a hard time following the rules.
Judging by her role model at home, anyway...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Since we discussed and classified 2-dimensional shapes yesterday -- and the explanation for yesterday's debacle was merely, "I sat on it" -- today we talked about 3-dimensional shapes. Not only did we talk about them, I gave each student a net to cut out and paste together to create a geometric figure.
My morning class (MUCH easier to handle) did pretty well. The only real problem was convincing the kids that their finished product should look like one of the pre-made shapes on my counter, and NOT like a wadded up Kleenex. Sure, a wadded up Kleenex is, technically, three-dimensional, but that's not the point of the lesson.
Then came the afternoon class. Before I could even get the kids started on cutting out the nets, I had to stop several times to review scissor safety and how you do NOT clip the shears back and forth in front of your face. I then had to place not one, but TWO kids in time out for immediately clipping the shears back and forth in front of their faces.
After the kids had created their figures, I began the unenviable task of coaxing them to explore the attributes. How many faces? What 2-D shapes are the faces? How many edges? How many vertices?
As usual, I had about 4 kids that were actively participating and trying to answer the questions while the others did their best showroom window mannequin impersonation.
Finally, the end of the day came around and it was time to dismiss the kids. As I called them to line up, the first boy in line held out the metal part of a pen that holds the tip in place. He said, "Look, this is a cone."
I tend to be a very impatient person and I will be the first to declare that I am SOO ready for a break from this year, this school, these kids.
However, in that moment right before dismissal, one child demonstrated that he HAD learned something today and that he could apply that knowledge to a real-world object.
It's always nice to be reassured that SOMETHING is working...
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Things were going swimmingly, we had covered angles, lines, rays, quadrilaterals, all sorts of shapes. We were nearing the end of the lesson, creating the final shape of the day, when disaster struck.
I had just asked the kids to make an 8-sided figure. Suddenly, this little boy was standing and howling. He was crying so hard the tears were shooting out of his eyes. My first thought was that he had EATEN one of the marshmallows and that it had still had a toothpick in it or something.
I asked him what was wrong, and as I scanned him up and down, I noticed a toothpick protruding from the side (towards the rear) of the boy's pants. It kind of looked like an Amazon native had shot a blow-dart at him.
I so badly wanted to ask how the toothpick had gotten there -- I mean, after all, they are flimsy little things. I would have thought the toothpick would break or lay flat even if sat upon -- kind of like a straw can't go through a tree unless driven by hurricane-force winds.
But more pressing was the fact that the toothpick was still stuck in his ass. Since he was making no move whatsoever to remove the problem himself, I pulled it out myself. I was amazed by how hard I had to pull to actually dislodge it.
This was the end of class so I never did find out exactly how the incident happened. I sent him to the bathroom to clean himself up and then it was about time to go. Maybe tomorrow when things have settled down and the wound has had a chance to heal, he might tell me.
I only hope it wasn't intentional...
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It was a pretty fun topic to teach AND practice, and the kids seemed to be getting it pretty well. They really had no problem identifying the numbers that went with the bars, and little to no problem skip counting by whatever the key said on pictographs. Even early on, most seemed able to take some data and create their own graphs!
But then came the test yesterday. Despite the fact that we had looked at graph after graph, created graph after graph, made up question after question ABOUT said graphs, I still thought the results of the test were pretty disappointing.
Year after year, there is a question that merely asks "Sebastian had 16 of which type of coin?" Year after year, every single child correctly labels the bars on this graph -- 12 on the bar for quarters, 8 on the bar for dimes, 10 on the bar for nickels, and 16 on the bar for pennies. Year after year, more than a handful of kids choose quarters as their answer. Nevermind the fact that they themselves have written a "16" above the penny.
The last question of the test was a pictograph with pictures of boxes of pet food. The key stated that each picture represented 5 pets. Every child in my class correctly labelled the pictograph to show 45 dogs, 35 cats, etc, etc.
The question below asked "What is the total number of dogs that are pets in Juan and Carl's classroom?"
Almost 10 kids totally ignored the fact that they had written 45 next to the line for dogs and picked the answer "9" -- the number of pictures.
On the flip side, our 6-weeks' project was fun. The kids created a survey, polled other students, and then used that data to create charts and graphs. The end result was a large piece of construction paper divided into four sections. The first section was their original tally chart showing their topic ("Favorite _________") and the four choices, the second section was that data represented in bar graph form, the third section was the data in pictograph form, and the last section was three student-created questions about the data.
As per usual, the few kids who chose "Favorite Movies" as their topic chose 4 of the worst movies imaginable to survey fellow third-graders about. Movies like Saw IV, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. But other topics were fun, such as "Favorite book we've read," "Favorite Food," and "Favorite Teacher."
The graphs were good for the most part. But I was impressed with a lot of the questions being generated. Things like, "What is the difference in the number of blue and red?" And "How many kids were surveyed in all?"
Then, there were some questions that weren't exactly what I was looking for. One boy who had chosen "Favorite Cars" had these 3 questions:
1) How come everybody chose lamborginis?
2) Why didn't they choose the mustangs?
3) Nobody likes Cadillacs.
Hey, at least he was commenting on the data, right?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Most of these kids have been riding a bus since kindergarten. You would think they would have gotten the routine down by now. Of course, you would think they would also know by now that they are not supposed to climb on toilets, talk during tests, or draw obscene pictures on their own faces. Go figure.
Anyway, I have duty on one of the "better" buses. By that, I mean that the kids aren't particularly violent or disrespectful. They don't hang out the windows cussing at everyone within 50 feet. They don't throw dense fruit (which the school now helpfully passes out every Tuesday) at each other on the bus.
However, they also seem to step onto the bus and lose all rationality. Which makes me wonder if perhaps the bus exhausts are actually pointed INTO the cabin of the bus somehow? Maybe my friend The Bus Driver can weigh in here...
I get on the bus to help get the kids in place. I see kids turned around, peering over the back of their seat. I have seen kids STANDING on the seat. Today, there was a kid rolling his (eaten) apple core across the floor. There are girls that come in and sit 3 to a seat, with the 3rd turned so her legs block the aisle, not allowing other kids to pass by.
If I had a nickel for every time I told a kid to sit down on the bus, I would never want for ketchup again.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Today was an average Friday. One kid out for truly bizarre reasons, one kid tattling on another for something he didn't even witness, one horribly written math common assessment.
First of all, when a question says, "How many miles do Mr. Pride still need to drive?" somebody needs to call out the grammar police. But when the very first question doesn't even have a correct answer choice to go with it, I just get really upset for even having to waste my time giving the test.
The question read, "Donna invited 20 friends and 6 relatives to her birthday party. Only 13 of her friends could come to the party. Which is the best way to find the total number of people who came to Donna's party?"
Nevermind the fact that Donna herself would be at the party, the correct answer should have been 13+6. To get answer A, which is undoubtedly the answer the writer was going for, the question should have said that 13 of her friend could NOT come to the party.
Anyway, after the school day was over, I was treated to the discovery of two quite opposite findings.
First, as I reached the bus that I have duty at, I noticed an election sign lying on the grass. Several kids were standing around it, pointing and gibbering, and some of them were stomping on it. I went over to move it, but as I grabbed it and picked it up by the paper portion, one kid started shouting, "NO NO NO!!" I thought, ooh, maybe somebody put it there to mark an ant mound, I better watch out. But no, as I looked down, there were no ants. Merely 4 of the biggest, beefiest dog turds I had ever seen. Apparently, the sign had been holding back the smell as well as the sight of these cylinders, so I carefully put the sign back in place.
Later though, on my way out of the school, I found a dollar bill lying in the middle of the hallway. The only teacher nearby laid no claim on it, so I seized it as my own!
From dog poop to greenbacks, all in the course of a school day. What a life.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Check it out!
Monday, November 02, 2009
But I think it is mostly due to the fact that I came into my classroom - after being absent on Friday - to find chairs in disarray, desks with papers falling out, a whole box of kleenex gone, a bottle of hand sanitizer broken and empty...
And then I have the kids that just beat me down this year. The kids who fail the tests, who don't do their homework, who don't pay attention, and who just don't care. I know that there are always kids who struggle, but I think part of my mini-depression is that we have spent a solid 2 weeks on subtraction and regrouping, and I had 6 kids who absolutely BOMBED the test. Despite the fact that I worked extensively with these kids in small groups, and they could do it when they were with me, they just didn't care enough to do it the right way on the test!
I feel like the average to high kids in my class are really getting gypped because I am always having to slow down to get one of these lower kids back on track, or just onto the track in the first place. Yet I am not quite at a point where I just want to leave these low kids to totally fall behind.
I'm just frustrated. Incredibly frustrated. And unlike previous years, I am having a lot of trouble finding the humor in daily activities with this group.
I also saw the future of some of my kids today after work. I stopped by Subway, and the guy making my sandwich made me think of how some of my kids are going to be in about 10 years. This guy didn't have a clue as to what he was doing. I had to point out that he hadn't put enough slices of turkey on the bread, and he seemed to be having trouble counting out the tomatoes. Thankfully, someone else was working the cash register.
Maybe Tuesday will be kinder and gentler...
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The good news is that I started the year with about 4/5 of my kids thinking that 2-8=6 (not regrouping), and now I only have 4 or 5 kids that still do that on a regular basis. In fact, one of the questions on the test was "How do you know when you are supposed to regroup on a subtraction question?" I am pleased to say that all but about 3 of the kids answered something to the effect of "When you have a tiny top and a big bottom."
Of course, some of my kids who still don't regroup got that question correct, so they KNOW when they are supposed to regroup in theory, they just don't put it into practice...
What disappointed me was the other short answer question. Much like on our addition test, where I was looking for the word 'SUM,' I posed a similar question on this test:
What is the math word that means "the answer to a subtraction problem?"
The answer, of course, is "Difference." This is something that we have talked about repeatedly, used in word problems, and it was even up on the board on a Clue Word list. However, I only had 16 kids (out of 40) that got this question correct.
Wrong answers included the following:
Sum (I guess they missed it on the last test and hoped to jump on the bandwagon this time)
Check your work (Good advice, but does not answer the question)
How many more
Left (These words at least are subtraction clue words, but still don't answer my question)
Subtract (Too obvious, kid)
And my personal favorite (*SARCASM ALERT!!*):
Yeah, the answer to a SUBTRACTION problem is called "The Addition."
Just when I thought we had mastered the concept of opposites...
Friday, October 30, 2009
So, since I'm home, I figured I'd go ahead and make a new blog post, pointing over to our good friend Tom deRosa's page -- I Want to Teach Forever (FAME!). Tom has hosted the Carnival of Education this week, and it's got some great posts, including Sum Wrong Answers from here at Learn Me Good. Now if Mr. D would just add me to his blogroll! :)
I've also been slowly coming into my own in the Twitter-verse, but I'm still learning gradually. I know there are lots of you out there that are using Twitter that I have not hooked up with yet, so I wanted to send an open invite to anyone reading this to follow me @learnmegood and to leave a comment on this post with your twitter name so that I can follow you.
Twitter Me Good!
Monday, October 26, 2009
At the time, I was throwing tennis balls at one kid while calling him unflattering names, so I don't know how that will look in print.
Actually, at the time, the kids were practicing 3-digit subtraction across zeroes with whiteboards, so it looked a little like controlled chaos. I was walking around the room as kids randomly held up their board for me to see that they had done a problem, checked it by adding the bottom two numbers, and verified that their answer matched.
It was a lot of me nodding across the room and pointing, saying, "Good. OK. Yep. Right. Good."
At one point, a girl at the table closest to the principal was having trouble with one question so I went over to help her. (Helping, while occasionally glancing around at the whiteboards around the room, quietly nodding, "Good. Yep. Right on.")
While I was trying to help her, she seemed mesmerized by the principal. I would ask her (the student) where to get more tens from, and she would glance at her board, then gaze at the principal. I would ask her again, and she would answer Hundreds, then borrow one from the hundreds place, then look up and gaze at the principal.
Finally, even the principal said, "Child! Focus on your work!!"
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Her list is titled, "20 Online Tools and Sites to Engage Students in Learning," and without any further ado, here it is!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
For the teachers, early release day usually turns out to be a LONGER day than most, because after the kids go free, the teachers meet to analyze the recent benchmark (BM) tests.
I can't wait to spend hours poring over why my English as a second language kids didn't get an elaborate word problem involving division. Could it be that there was more trickeration on the question than usual? Could it be that we haven't begun to teach division yet? Could it be that the kids aren't good readers?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The groups then copied the problem onto a larger piece of posterboard and went through the steps of solving the problem.
For the most part, the kids worked well together, talked out the problems, and took their fair share of the work. We had made up a rubric for groupwork beforehand, and the kids graded themselves and their partners after they were done with the problem.
After that, though, the really enjoyable part began. I posted the problems on the walls around the room and had each group choose a "docent" -- a group member to stand by the poster and answer any questions or explain the process to the groups that would rotate around during the gallery walk.
Once the gallery walk began and groups were checking out each other's work, I walked around and listened in. I really enjoyed hearing discussions of which number in the problem was the "whole" and which were the "parts;" how "difference" means the same thing as "how many more;" how you are supposed to round numbers if the question has the word "about" in it; how there is no possible way 38 dogs still need to be fed if there were only 21 dogs to begin with and 17 of them have already been fed.
I still have some incredibly low kids in my class, there is no way around that. But I also have a large group of kids that are really beginning to show great thinking skills and the ability to share their reasoning.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Last Thursday night was the "official" parent conference night, and we met with 15 students' parents that day. The next day, we were at school till almost 6 meeting with more parents. Yes, on a Friday. Today, we were at school till almost 6 again.
At least I can say that the end is in sight. We have about 5 more scheduled for tomorrow, and then we have about 6 more than we haven't been able to schedule yet.
I'm glad we don't have to do this EVERY time report cards come out...
Friday, October 16, 2009
This usually continues until I do either:
a) the mature and professional thing -- push the on/off button, open the lid, close it firmly, and push the on/off button again.
b) the immature "Fonzie" thing and pound it with a closed fist, bringing it back on.
After about the 4th day of this (when I wasn't nearly as aggravated by it), when the light would start going off and on, I jokingly referred to it as "the ghost." That got a laugh from the kids.
NOW, after about the 20th day of it, it happens, and all the kids immediately shout, "The ghost!!" While I mutter about wanting to kick the ghost in the family jewels.
I keep meaning to look into this in more detail, except that I've been inundated with meetings, parent conferences, etc. I don't know if there is a short in the machine or if the light bulb is faulty, and I just haven't followed up on either of those yet.
And so the ghost lives on. I'm about ready to cross the streams on this sucker though...
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Actually, it goes back to last week, when we were told that we needed to meet with EVERY parent within a 2-week window. 44 parents is a lot of parents to contact, set up a meeting with, and then actually meet with. It certainly cannot be done in 4 hours on one night, so we scheduled certain people for certain time slots.
In fact, it was a TA helping us by calling parents and scheduling them, so I really didn't know exactly who we were going to be meeting with tonight until just today.
But for the past 2 days, there have been announcements over the speaker saying, "Remember! It's parent-teacher conference night! We want to see you there! Bring your parents!!"
And kids saying, "HUH???" because we hadn't yet gotten ahold of their parents to schedule a conference!
At any rate, my partner and I met with 3 parents during our planning period and lunch (I wolfed down a tray of frito chili pie in ten minutes) and then 12 more this evening. We had to turn away 5 parents, scheduling them for a later date.
Only one of them seemed to take it harshly, saying she would not be back (but I think she was an aunt anyway, and we weren't really sure why she was there and not the mom or dad...).
Tomorrow, we are signed up for conferences till 5:00! On a Friday! Ughh....
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The question was, "What is the math word that means 'the answer to an addition problem?'"
I even talked about this question for a bit before the kids got started on the test. I told them that I just wanted one word that is another name for the answer we get when we add. This is definitely something that we have discussed before.
Out of 40 kids that took the test, I believe I had 15 that got the correct answer, "sum."
Here are the wrong answers I got:
Add (so obvious, yet so wrong)
The sain (in the membrane?)
Math addition (as opposed to social studies addition?)
Equal (nope, it's different)
Altogether (the process, but not the answer)
Standard Form (the answer is IN standard form, but that's not what it's called)
Fourty thousand ninety three (only for a VERY specific addition problem)
Add saharats (????)
The plus sign (the ANSWER is not called the plus sign!!)
Shug you whorek (I found this somewhat offending when I first read it, but then I realized he meant Show your work)
Regroup (Another random math word that does not answer the question)
Ah, vocabulary, my old nemesis, you win again!
Monday, October 12, 2009
I don't particularly care for benchmark tests. First of all, they often seem to be written by someone who hasn't spoken to a child in 10 years, much less actually TAUGHT one. The story problems always have really weird names in them (and believe me, I teach at a school with some really weird names) like Azcaputle and Terrenicavia. They contain questions that cover concepts that we have not even taught yet. And there is SO much reading involved that a lot of my kids who are good at math but not so great at reading just get swamped by all the verbiage.
Oh, and since we teachers are all a bunch of lying, cheating, stuck up, scruffy looking nerf herders, we certainly cannot be trusted to administer these tests to our own students. So I found myself in another 3rd grade teacher's room for those four mornings, watching her kids (and trying SO very hard not to tell them all the answers and fill in the bubble sheets for them!).
A few observations:
On the Social Studies test, a couple of kids said that a Good Citizen destroys property and breaks laws.
On the Science test, a few students said that it was ok to drink a strange laboratory liquid to identify it.
On the math test, 3 kids were absolutely stumped by the first page. They were not able to move forward until I pointed out to them that that was just the measurement page with rulers and unit conversions, and that question number ONE was on the following page...