Friday, August 31, 2007

Two Carnivals Over Labor Day Weekend

The Georgia Carnival is up at Georgia On My Mind while the

Education Carnival can be found at Matthew Tabor's Blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Excuses...I've Got 13 Excuses!

Here are 13 excuse notes teachers have received from parents….believe it or not. The spelling and wording are exact from the notes themselves.

1. My son is under a doctors care and should not take PE today. Please execute him.

2. Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.

3. Dear School: Please ekscuse John from being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 31, and also 33.

4. Please excuse Gloria from Jim today. She is administrating.

5. Please excuse Roland from PE for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.

6. John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.

7. Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part.

8. Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.

9. Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side.

10. Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has very loose vowels.

11. Please excuse Pedro from being absent yesterday. He had (diahre) (dyrea) (direathe) the shits…[words in the parentheses were crossed out].

12. Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea and his boots leak.

13. Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.

Thursday Thirteen rocks. Visit the hub to join in.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Five Ways to De-Clutter Your Classroom

While your classroom has your name on the door it really belongs to the students. The majority of your classroom should be devoted to student exploring and learning. If your students can’t move about your room because you have piles of belongings, items stored in stacked pasteboard boxes, or large bulky items in every corner perhaps it is time to take stock of what you should keep and what needs to disappear.

1. First of all I begin each year by physically going through every drawer, every cabinet, and every closet reorganizing my teaching materials and other assorted items that find their way into the classroom. If I haven’t used the items in at least two years out the door they do.

Don’t just throw the items away; afterall many things you decide to get rid of might actually belong to your school system. I recycle. I pile up everything that needs to disappear and I send my colleagues a memo letting them know it is time for my annual “Free to a Good Home” sale. I also remind everyone that it is first come, first served. By the end of the day the majority of the items are gone.

2. If you have taught for a long time it’s easy to accumulate old projects, stacks of posters, and other realia that goes along with various units you teach. While pasteboard boxes are easy to come by at the local Walmart or grocery store I’ve opted for sturdy, plastic containers that make my room less cluttered looking. The pasteboard boxes get beat up over time, and just look junky. Every unit I teach goes into a plastic container and is labeled appropriately. They are colorful and stack neatly. Best of all little mice and nasty bugs don’t eat their way into the boxes.

3. You may decide some items are just too precious to get rid of; however, they don’t really need to be stored in the classroom. Perhaps it’s time to move a few things back home. For example, one year I taught a lower grade knowing the next year I would return to a higher grade. Instead of cluttering my room with items I didn’t need that year I took the items home…..after weeding out unnecesary items, of course.

4. Keep the traffic pattern in your room in mind when arranging computer stations and desks or tables. There’s nothing worse than having your room all done and realize once students arrive that you have a bottle-neck of traffic in an area. When arranging seating for students, I don’t tuck the chairs in….I place them in such a way that they are where they would be if a warm body was sitting in them. In this way I know if there is enough room to move around easily. Remember, you want to be able to move about the room as well.

5. I would guarantee that most of the items you have stacked on your desk that you haven’t gotten to yet are really not necessary. Here’s my proof----last year at open house time I ran out of time and took that stack of never-ending stuff from my desk and placed it in a container to make the area neater. Then I promptly forgot it.

This year before open house I went through the container and was surprised to find out that what I thought was pending matters last year was actually unimportant. Most of it was thrown in the trash.

A colleague has a system she uses that works well for her. If paperwork sits on her desk at the end of the day it must be handled before she can leave the building. She told me that suddenly all of those items that she used to accumulate such as a flier for a possible field trip, or a magazine article that might be helpful in a unit suddenly found their way into three categories-----thrown way, delegated to someone else for them to act on, or actually filed with the unit box the idea pertained to. A decision could be to keep the item or get rid of it when it was time to teach the unit.

What type of strategies do you follow to keep from being so cluttered?

Secondhand Thoughts has some great links to pictures of other teacher’s classrooms. Go take a look.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Is the Barbie Bandit Really Accepting Responsibility for Her Actions?

Well, it is refreshing to see a young person accept responsibility for their actions by saying, “Yes, I did it. I’m guilty.”

However, it’s very clear from the news interviews with her lawyer, her father and from Heather Johnston herself that they don’t think she deserves jail time.

You see, she’s special!

Dad says in the months since her arrest Heather has been working for a vacume sales company, passing her drug tests, going to church, and playing tennis. Dad says, “She’s a loving child of God that got lost.”

No, Dad, she didn’t get lost.

She made a choice---a stupid choice, but a choice nonetheless. She had a chance to attend college practically for free under the Georgia Hope Scholarship. Instead, over the summer after graduation, she chose to become a stripper and when confronted by her parents she chose to move out of their home. She was 18, a legal adult, and she made a choice.

Perhaps Dad has forgotten that God will forgive, but he also punishes.

Her attorney agrees that she should be punished appropriately, but doesn’t think she deserves any time in jail. He is asking for a combination of probation and house arrest because Heather is taking responsibility for her actions.

No, Mr. Lawyer-man, if Heather is expecting to receive no jail time for robbing a bank then she isn’t taking responsibility for her actions.

She is the same girl who bought her “stunner shades” in anticipation of her planned heist.

She is the same girl who giggled through a bonafide bank theft.

She is the same girl who gave no thought to the other people at the bank branch or inside the grocery store who might be scared, or the many hundreds of “what ifs” that could have happened involving innocent people during the event. In this Good Morning America interview Heather states she didn’t think about scaring anyone because they had an inside man.

She is the same girl that acknowledged the note contained threatening language, [but] she wouldn’t go into details with ABC News. However, sources [told the ABC Primetime program] it read in part, “Remember, I will not hesitate to kill you.”

She is same girl who remembered being very excited as they prepared for the robbery.

She is the same girl who took $10, 966 dollars from a bank….money belonging to other people, and rushed to the mall for highlights in an expensive salon (caught on tape) and shopping.

She’s not so excited or giggly now….now that she is looking at time in jail. The time in jail her father and lawyer doesn’t think she deserves because it isn’t appropriate for her. Mr. Lawyer-man states she’ll become another statistic.

She robbed a bank. She’s already a statistic. One more bratty kid who thinks the rules don’t apply to her and the more the adults in her life open their mouths the more the rest of us can understand why Heather thinks like she does.

She is the same girl who states the whole thing started as a joke stating, “I mean, it’s crossed a lot of people’s minds from what I’ve heard.”

Here is the difference, Heather, you actually did it. You stole from a bank which can earn you a ticket to jail for up to ten years.

Suddenly, I guess, the joke isn’t so funny anymore.

Mr. Lawyer-man states Heather has come a long way since being arrested, and I don’t mean to sound harsh here. I’m glad she is back at church, with her family, and making good choices.

One of the arguments made about jail time for Heather is she will become lost….a victim of the system….if she has to go to the Big House.

Heather should go to jail and so should her accomplices. Just as she had a choice upon her highschool graduation, she will also have a choice in jail. Sometimes inmates made the right choices….they accept their guilt, their responsibility, and they accept their punishment.

Though the judge accepted Heather’s guilty plea she has opted sentencing Heather until her three co-defendants have been tried.

For now....Heather waits to see if the Judge thinks the way her father and attorney does, or does the Judge think as I do.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

13 Findings About the Reading Habits of Adults...

Folks, if the adults aren't reading why should we expect children to be motivated...

1. An Associated Press poll released yesterday advises one in four adults did not read any books in the past year.

2.Of the people who did admit to reading women and older people topped the avid reader list.

3.Religious works and popular fiction were the top choices for those who read.

4.One excuse mentioned in the article for not reading is that it makes you sleepy.

5.27 percent of those polled had not read a book at all.

6.The non-readers tended to be older, less educated, lower income, minorities, rural rather than city dwellers, and less religious.

7.One-third of the non-readers were men.

8. The people who did read complete and average of 9 books for women and 5 for men.

9. People with college degrees read more and and many that said they read often were over 50.

10. Two-thirds of the people polled stated they read the Bible and other religious works.

11.Only one in five persons said they read romance novels.

12. More women than men read every major category except for history and biography.

13. The poll was conducted over the phone with 1,003 adults participating.

The publishing industry has earned over $35.7 billion around the globe…3 percent more than last year.

Hmmmmm…..someone is reading or are they just buying books and propping the bed up with them?

Join in on the fun with Thursday Thirteen!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eleven Ways to Help Your Child Read Well

One of the worst things I ever heard a parent utter during a parent-teacher conference was, “I don’t have time to read with my kid. That’s your job.”

I was shocked. As a parent myself I was absolutely offended and told her so even though my principal was in the meeting as well.

As parents WE are the ones responsible for our child’s education. We cannot know our child’s abilities or lack of abilities if we do not involve ourselves.

If your child does not see that you hold education as a high priority why should they?

It’s very simple to involve yourself with your child’s reading. You don’t have to be a reading education expert. You don’t need to know what the research says. You simply need to take some time, sit down with your child, and READ!

1. Reading aloud to your child is probably the most important thing for a parent to do. Of course, most parents do this when children are very young. For some reason though, we stop reading at a certain age---usually by fourth or fifth grade. It has been my experience, though, that all children from grades K through 12 love read alouds. As my children got older we would read together. I would read aloud a page and then my child would. Reading aloud builds fluency. This helps in building comprehension which is the key to a good reader.

2. Ask your child to tell you about a book or a story he or she has read. Can they retell the story? Can they discuss the problem/solution in the story with ease?

3. Tell your child about your favorite books at their their age. If you weren’t a reader you can visit your local book store and read through some books that were around when you were younger. Juvenile fiction is enjoyable at any age.

4. Give books as a gift.

5. Listen to your child read.

6. Play games with your child.

7. Limit your child’s time with the television. It’s always amazing to me how my students can relate the plot of Desperate Housewives or any of various reality tv shows, but when a book report is due they tell me they haven’t had time to read. They’ve been busy. Yes, they have been busy---watching television.

8. Go to the library together---not just during the summer, but visit all year long.

9. Read and discuss your child’s schoolwork. Ask questions like, “Why did you answer the question this way? What were you thinking? Why did you color it this way?” Don’t forget to put the work on the fridge as well.

10. Subscribe to children’s magazines such as Kids Discover Magazine

11. Establish a family reading time. We do it at school all the time---it’s called “Drop Everything and Read”. Why couldn’t you do this at home for 20-30 minutes once a week?

Feel free to add other suggestions that have worked for you in the comments.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Weekend Reading Assignment

The Georgia Carnival is open for your reading pleasure over at Georgia On My Mind, and the Education Carnival is underway over at Education Matters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

13 Forms of Technology Students Want in the Classroom

An article in the July/August issue of Edutopia Magazine relates different forms of technologies kids of various ages would like to see in the classroom. While there are no surprises here---like cell phones---the varied uses these devices can serve are eye-opening.

1. Laptop Computers---they can be used all over the room…no more bulky computer tables and miles of wire. I’ve been taking classes for an additional degree online. I love it. All of my assignments are turned in online and they are returned to me with notations and grades. While I wouldn’t want to eliminate paper totally, and I wouldn’t want to go totally online with our younger students I think the idea has terrific implications for our older students.

2. Bluetooth---in case you don’t know this application allows people to transfer information from one device to another. For example, students are given an assignment to go home and find a particular type of insect or type of rock in their yard. They use a cell phone to snap the image. Using Bluetooth they can download the picture from the cell phone to a school computer. It gives a whole new look and feel to show-and-tell…..some items simply can’t be brought to school anymore.

3. Cell Phones---a new program called Mobile Prep allows students/teachers to create decks of vocabulary flash cards. Multiplication cards could probably be created as well. An auto generator could be used to create banks of questions for review. As mentioned before most children that have cell phones have cameras and video recorders right at their fingertips……

4. Digital Cameras---these can be used to photograph what’s written on the board such as a list of vocabulary words or even tonight’s homework. This could be a great motivator for the kids who act as if writing one word will kill them. Keep the pictures, scroll through the images for the week, and the child has all the notes he/she needs to study for the test.

5. Graphing Calculator--- Did you know that some versions have downloadable Periodic Tables?

6. Nintendo DS---yeah, really. There are several brain building programs and games such as Brain Age which involves simple equations and syllibication. String a few together and kids can have a competition.

7. Flash Drives---1-gig devices can be bought for $25 and they can be carried on a key ring. You can carry around all of your info on one device and move from computer to computer to work.

8. Web Cam---great for working with other classes across the nation or the world on webprojects

9. Public Address System---for music between classes....presentations, etc.

10. Video Cameras---students can create news reports from different campus locations, film a class presentation, etc.

11. Universal Remote---the perfect companion for all of the new technology

12. Ipod---Students can listen to book, and many teachers have taken to creating podcasts of their lectures/lessons for students to listen to and/or watch.

13. Sims Virtual Worlds---computer programs that allow students to create homes, towns, cities, etc. These types of programs are great for applying all sorts of content from economics, political science, and even math.

The entire Edutopia article can be found here
Visit other Thirteens!