Monday, March 25, 2013

Can't Live Without's

This list below is as much for me as it is for you. I use "you" loosely as I am not sure if anyone besides me reads these selections of stream-of-consciousness - but if "you" do, I hope it might prove useful.

I hope to update this as time goes on, but these are some of the Websites I have found most crucial in my survival as a teacher. I use my i-Pad in class on a daily basis, and anything that makes teaching easier, and can be implemented on the i-Pad is something I love.* -- this is the quickest, easiest way to create & play jeopardy in class -- the unblocked music streaming service on our school's internet connection -- great free games for students to practice typing with both hands -- basic breakdowns of classic texts that are available in app form as well -- make word collages for games, art projects, or book reports -- students can make their own comic strips illustrating a variety of standards -- I built my free classroom Website here, the kids are so impressed and it's SUPER easy -- my FAVORITE site right now, free sign up, completely editable modules for lesson planning and they are automatically published to my class Website and e-mailed home to parents. Doesn't get any better than that.

I haven't tried the following yet, but they're high up on my priority list: -- haven't tried this one yet, but I'm liking the look of it -- file sharing for access in the classroom -- free resource to allow students blogging for your class requirement

* For those of you with students who have sticky fingers (yes, my 4 year old i-Pod touch got stolen last year) I highly recommend use of an i-Pad in your classroom with the addition of a locking cable case to prevent it from leaving the room without your knowledge. Best $40 I've spent on Amazon.

A Substitutes Prayer

As I am at a conference for the next few days, I have left my children in the hands of a very competent substitute. None the less, I find myself saying a prayer for my substitute and my students in the upcoming days.

Dear Lord,
Please guide my substitute:
That she may keep my children in their seats,
from throwing things and poking each other.
That they may get the work done that I left them,
and not balk too much in the process.
That my pencils and pens not be stolen,
and the computer, projector and document camera still be working when I return.
Please guide my students:
That they may help each other, instead of taunting.
To refrain from poking with pencils, throwing airplanes, and graffiti-ing my desks.
To put their trash in the trash can, instead of their partner's hair.
And that they may learn something this week, before Spring Break.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Public Nudity


"Ms. why don't you wear sexy clothes to school?" -Kobe*

"Because I wear teacher clothes to school."-me

"If I was a teacher, I'd come naked."- Kobe

"Yikes." - me

As far as inappropriate comments go, this one is pretty mild, but it made me laugh for a good 3 minutes so I thought I would share.

* this is not his name, but he is certain he will be the next Kobe Bryant, as all teenage boys are confident of, therefore we shall call him Kobe.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sweet, Sweet Victory

Some days my little darlings, are actually little darlings. Yes, I mean that in a non-sarcastic way.  Yesterday was the begining of the last quarter of the school year, and for once, when I implemented my seating charts, I was not faced with the usual screams of sheer terror that tend to reverberate from the walls on new-seating-chart-day.  Mondays and new seating charts can be hell - today, not so much. Thank God.

Being that 98% of the kids I teach are English learners, my daily struggle is trying to find a way to keep them in the target language, in my case, English. I know I am sucessful in life when they "hate" some new plan or idea I have put in place. Yesterday, I implemented my new revalation. They all hate it. I have succeeded.  Here it is for anyone with a similar struggle in a language class.

I adapted this from this website. This is the BEST idea I have heard so far and I'm so excited.

1. Give the kids a list of "survival" phrases they need to exsist in your classroom. May I use the bathroom? Can you help me? etc.

2. After they have this list, they know they can always say, "May I speak in (native language)?" for clarification.  Our struggle is that I am fluent in English and Spanish, and often I will answer their questions in Spanish without realizing this is English class!

3. From now on, anyone who is "caught" speaking in the native language instead of the class language gets a strange "object" on their desk as a visual reminder. I chose a HUGE dictionary that takes up 1/4 of their desk space. Awkward, and difficult to use as a weapon, were pretty much my criteria when chosing my "object".

4. (Here's where it gets fun) The student who has it on their desk, instantly pays closer attention to their language and those around them. When they hear someone else not speak in the target language, they get to put the dictionary on that person's desk. My high schoolers thought this was the best GAME ever. My new English learners are not happy; but I hear more English, and silence, so I'm happy.

5. (Why they care). I have participation points in my class--- at the end of the period, the person who has the dictionary on their desk looses 3 out of their 5 participation points for the day. I think this is an improvement on the suggestion in the article, because I'm not asisgning extra work for the students or myself, but it does directly affect their grade.

I love small victories.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Inspiration.

My Inspiration.

Teaching. I decided I needed a profession where I didn't hate my life at the end of the day, and that I was marginally good at. Plus, I'd tried retail - it stank. So here I am, year two, and most days, I love it.

Praying. As someone who is self proclaimed as raising 78 children, it takes a lot of prayers to get us through the day/week/month. Between the things they get themselves into and their grades, I lie awake at night unable to sleep and praying about the crazy messes they get themselves into. 

Loving. Many of my students are raising themselves. Most of their parents are at work long before they wake up, and come home very late in the evening. My kiddos need someone who cares for them - and if they were blessed to be put on my roster this year, well, then I'm that person. 

About me.
I'm a 20-something English teacher in a small school district. I have a dog, a cat, and 78 kids - this year at least. I naively chose teaching because I had imagined it would grant me the freedom to explore classic literature with today's youth, while instilling in them a passionate love of literature. Turns out, teaching is more about raising teenagers and keeping them alive until their brains develop enough for them to be allowed out into society.

I once read this quote: "If you like to bake cookies and read stories you should teach kindergarden.  If you like to teach literature and world philosophy, you should teach high school. And if you like to bungee jump, you should teach middle school."  At the time I was teaching middle school, and no, I would never be caught bungee jumping. Now teaching middle and high school, I have decided that if you like to teach literature you should probably be doing something else. If you want to raise human beings to be productive members of society, pick any grade K-12 and you should be just fine. They all like cookies anyway.