Saturday, January 28, 2012

One of My Educational Heroes.... Amanda Mayeaux--read her bio HERE. I met her at the Disney Teacher Awards where she and her team swept the top awards, and I've been learning from her ever since.

Click HERE for a post from her blog that sums up my thoughts when I talk to people who don't have any teachers in their family or hang out with teacher friends--if you are a teacher, get ready to feel understood, and if you don't have any close teacher friends, she will help you know what to say when you talk with them.

(And if I say "them" as if teachers are another species, it's because the best ones kind of are.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Geeks and Greeks

We launched our persuasive writing unit and I began with Aristotle's conception of rhetoric. I asked the kids to deduce what each word meant based on its root.

"Ethos must have something to do with ethics," guessed N.

"Wouldn't Logos mean logical?" suggested K.

But Pathos stumped them. "Sympathy...empathy...pathetic..." I prompted.

"Pythagorean Theorem!" yelled J. I love my job.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Three Strikes and Donuts

So how do you get kids to do their homework?

And I am presuming that you assign only meaningful work (no word searches!) that supports the standards, their learning, and will help them grow as readers, writers and thinkers.

Our principal came up with what we call the Three Strikes plan. If a student misses three assignments in my class, I send her to the office. She calls home in the presence of a counselor, reading a scripted message, alerting the parents about the situation.

Usually this is enough to get kids doing their work. God bless these parents!

Three-peat offenders (the office keeps track of how many times kids make the call) are assigned to Saturday School to do their assignments. Hey, if the parents can't or won't do their job, we're here to help.

In my own classroom, I give the class a star each time they have a 100% turn in day. When they have three stars, I spring for the most awesome donuts ever, way better than the neighborhood donuts. And guess what? Peer pressure is on my side, now, especially after one class gets a taste and spreads the word.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Haiku: To the Newcomer

Promethean Board--
Gigantical monolith--
You hold much promise

You're yet one more screen
in my kids' overscreened life
(Almost theater-sized--)

My learning curve: steep
My exploration time: nil
The day you came, I sighed:

"My super powers
Are gone! It's like Kryptonite
For educators!"

But I accept you,
will integrate you, and soon
Will master you, yes.

But tell me one thing:
Will kids learn more? Or faster?
Impress me, I beg.

So I am pretty skeptical. I think it's the netbooks that will make the real difference in lessons. That's what will connect us to information instantly, allow us to share it and stuff. All the lessons on Promethean Planet strike me as Power Point-ish, and I never liked Power Points for lessons, just for funny pictures. Presentations delivered via PP's have generally bored me and, it seemed to me, control the presenters. History is a story at heart. I am not down on the Promethean Board--I am so glad I have one, am in love with having two microphones, surround sound, can't wait for a printer--I am just not impressed with the how technology has affected the digital natives in my class. (They know more about less than any kids I've taught in twenty years.) Watch--I'll probably fall in love with it. Here's hoping.