Saturday, September 29, 2007

I Entered the Day Thinking, "I Can't Believe I Thought This Was A Good Idea"

Yesterday I used a strategy that I utilized as a principal with the staff and participated in as a conference attendee, and suprising enough, it worked! The Strategy--Jr. Raider Cafe (You can substitute your mascott for Jr. Raider). Earlier this week, I asked students to bring their favorite book with them on Friday so they could participate in the Jr Raider Cafe. I also allowed them to bring to share with their classmates. I typed up a "menu" that had several "courses" of questions that would guide a small group discussion on the book of their choice.

This activity is great because it allows participants to talk with each other, to move around the room, to share their ideas, and to learn with their peers. Yesterday morning, I was questioning my planning this activity because participants talk with each other, move around the room, share their ideas, and learn with their peers. I was pleasantly suprised when it went well with every class! Of course it was noisy, but I listened to great conversations about books. The hilight was when two students asked to go to the media center together so they could swap books! Even my most challenging class handled themselves well!

I am so glad it was successful, but I am also so glad it is over...Until the next time we have a Jr. Raider Cafe (the kids are already asking for it again.)

If you want a copy of the menu, just let me know, and I'll be happy to share.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Video Talks by Smart Folks

I found great videos that I kept watching linked on the Stingy Scholar blog. Check it out. Here is a particularly good video that is short too. I am not a science person so I preferred the humanities section.
Why People Succeed

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't Know Why I Was Suprised

I don't know why I was surprised when several of my students reacted to Skype's start-up sound that occured when I turned on my personal laptop today in class today. Having asked many people if they use Skype I guess I assumed that Skype wasn't used wide spread because most of them had no idea what Skype is; now, I realize that I was wrong. My challenge is to figure out if I can use Skype in the classroom of the school system I recently joined. First, I have to figure out who to ask in the school...

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What is it with the word test?

We begin our yearly testing program today with a mental ability test followed next week by an achievement test. Shouldn't be a big deal-our kids always do an extremely good job on standardized tests. This being said, quite a few freaked out yesterday when I reminded them to bring a #2 pencil. A few even asked what they needed to study and weren't relieved after being told that they can't study for this kind of test--AND--these are 8th graders who have taken the same kind of test at least 6 years now! I hate to see them stressing over these things as much as they are. Now, if only they would stress a little over their personal narrative that is due in a week...

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Closed. System Temporaily Down"

I have told myself for years that as soon as I was not as stressed in my job that I would give up Mt. Dew. I realized earlier this week that I was feeling very relaxed each afternoon after work and that there was only a few more cans in the fridge. I don't drink, smoke, or have any other vices except for the Dew, but I decided to give it up yesterday after drinking the last can of Mt. Dew that was in my house. God was watching out for me too because this morning I stopped to get gas. What would one hurt right? So I went to the door of the gas station and found it locked. Okay, so I went down the road a bit and pulled on the door of another gas station. Posted on the door was a sign, "Closed. System Temporarily Down." Okay, I don't have to be hit upside the head to realize that my decision to give up the sugar and caffeine was the right one.

"Closed. System Temporarily Down" Wouldn't it be nice if our kids had the ability to put a sign saying this when they had one of those kind of days? How would this change what I do in my classroom each day? Would I change how I interact with my kids? Is there a way for us to get this kind of message from our students?

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

From PC's to Macs

I am becoming a Mac user. I haven't used an Apple since I was a small child and my school and my parents introduced me to computers on an ApplleIIE. I was about in the 4th grade or so and I remember learning Logo. My mother was a teacher so she saw the value in having technology at home so she and my dad purchased one for our home. Remember the floppy disks that were really floppy? I am having to get use to several things--maximize/minimize/close buttons are on the left not the right, but I can't wait to learn how to use it to edit pictures, make music, make movies.

Besides, the commercials are pretty cool: (Okay, I have to learn to hyperlink things too, but I am trying.)

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Breaking Down Barriers

I have been subbing in the same classroom for two weeks now while looking for a full time job. During the first 8 days, the students and I interacted pretty much only on the "business" we were about--lanugage arts, teacher to student, student to teacher. I'd ask questions about their football games, band practices, etc, and would get short answers with a very clear indication that they didn't want to be bothered. Then on Friday, I became very cool all of the sudden thanks to my new iPhone. In the middle of 6th period, one of the kids noticed my phone and asked me about it. A quiet buzz began going through the room and we all began talking about phones, computers, and learning with them. The kids entering the room for 7th period came in asking about my phone too. Although I would prefer to have kids leaving the room talking about the amazing things they learned about English, this time, I was okay with them leaving talking about anything. Now, how do I get them that excited about reading, writing, and grammar? Maybe technology should play some kind of role. This is going to be a fun challenge for the next 8 weeks.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Learning from the Comfort of My Bed

I got up early this morning and for the first time in many months, I didn't have plans to go into the office. I pushed Lizzie, my 6 month old puppy, over and reached for my new lap top. Several months ago, I started reading different blogs but I hadn't made time to keep up with this--until this morning. I used several blog rolls to help guide me in my search. I read several blogs by new principals working to adjust to the different rolls and responsibilities. I read of those trying to bring change by fully integrating technology and the tools available in the classroom. I also came across several who were taking time off from blogging either due to vacation or due to personal struggles with sharing of themselves so openly and publicaly. Those who say that educators have it easy really have no idea.

I don't feel like I am as eloquent with my words as the authors of the blogs I read this morning, but I am treating my blog as I ask my students to treat their journals. This is a time for me to write freely, to reflect upon readings or my experiences, and to think "out loud."