Archive | June, 2012

Poor, poor Texas

29 Jun

Two days ago, the Huffington Post published an article about the Texas GOP’s 2012 Political Platform. The Huff Post decided to focus on the platform’s stance on sex-ed and corporal punishment (which, by the way, is actually legal in 19 states, Texas included). The literature indicates that teachers should have more authority in disciplining students rather than parents. I can entertain this idea – kids and their families hold so much power that teachers are afraid to even touch a student on the arm. Teachers (who truly are the parents-away-from-home) do need more authority. But resorting to corporal punishment? Ehh. The section titled “Educating our Children” of the literature states “corporal punishment is effective & legal in Texas.” It’s effective? In Texas? According to whom? Here’s the entire section of the party’s position on “Classroom Discipline:”

We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas.”

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Clinical 1: Round 2

27 Jun

Round 1 was just observations, so there’s nothing to blog about there…Whoopee.

Ready for Round 2? I was slightly nervous. I mean, it wasn’t my first time in a classroom by a long shot. But it was my first teaching experience being observed…for my masters. That was a ton of pressure. Plus, these clinicals are being done in summer school. Suh-Mer Skool. You don’t teach the normal curriculum in summer school. For starters, there’s not nearly enough time. I have difficulty reconciling what I’m supposed to teach with what is actually being taught in the classroom.

My “assignment” for my clinical was to teach a vocab lesson. Well, if I’m going to be observed for an hour, there’s no way I can stretch vocab to fit a whole hour. Students will be sleeping, no doubt. So, using “The Cask of Amontillado” by Poe, I made a ‘window-frame’ graphic organizer and chose four vocab words I wanted them to focus on (these four words would be on a quiz the next day to test their recall). We went over the words in the book and then I modeled the graphic organizer and we put these words on it: precluded, impose, endeavored, & recoiling. Could I have chosen words with greater degrees of difficulty? Sure. But by choosing these words, I show that I know my students and their performance levels. I chose words that they are likely to encounter in other readings and in other classes…even in life. If I chose words that were unique to Poe’s story, then when would they get to use the words again?

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Poetry Meter Graphic Organizer

21 Jun

I am all about creativity and trying new things and looking for new ways to engage students. Graphic organizers are pretty awesome. Graphic organizers are visual representations of knowledge, concepts, or ideas.

They are also proven to engage students and thus decrease student boredom (we despise boredom, boredom is dead!) and increase understanding, motivation, and interest. Hooray for graphic organizers!

Of course they also take many forms. Some are simply printed on paper and students fill in the spaces. Examples are concept maps, KWL (what do you KNOW, what do you WANT to learn, what did you LEARN?), story map, cluster. The list goes on and on! Visit Enchanted Learning’s page on graphic organizers – they do a pretty good job of explaining how you can use different ones.

What I’ve recently discovered is that there are graphic organizers you can fold and cut and do all kinds of super neat things with. I am currently a graphic organizer nerd. Check out @ATeachTreasure‘s page on graphic organizers. Are those cool or what? They are awesome. And complicated. I’m going to sit down over the weekend and see if I can make some of them and figure out what lessons I can put them with.

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#SummerThrowdown: Day Three

20 Jun

An update on what I’ve been reading for the #summerthrowdown reading challenge. Gooooooo #teamteacher!

Camp by Elaine Wolf


Let us allow my above utterance to encompass the entire book. I can’t say much about it here because I have a review pending. I’ll post more on that later (I’m super excited about that though).

Seriously, I was so heartbroken. I liken it to Mean Girls meets the Auschwitz camp. O.M.G.

I started the book Monday and only got about 30 pages in before I had to stop. I spent all of last night (two and a half hours, approx) reading the last 206 pages. I could not put the book down. At times I’m not sure if it was because I liked the book so much that I had to keep reading, or because I wanted to know what happens that drove me to keep reading. That’s something I’ve been debating in my head for much of this morning and I’d like to open the floor for discussion. Allow me to state my point (note that the following does not necessarily have to do with Camp:

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My Summer Reading/Writing Programs

19 Jun

With the realization that I have been relying on my “tweets” column of Tweetdeck for important links to summer reading and writing programs, I’m posting them here. Can’t I just bookmark them? Nope – I use multiple computers throughout the day. Email? Eh, I’ll just lose the message in the sea that is my inbox.

I also wanted to take the time to share these fantastic opportunities with all of you lovely readers. I encourage you to check these out. Maybe you’ll even sign up for one (or two or three!).

#summerthrowdown: Summer reading competition between #teamteacher & #team librarian. This friendly competition slash reading group runs from June 18 through July 17. Books finished after July 17 don’t count, unfortunately. Log your reading progress here & (sign up link is here for interested folks). Check out Jillian Heise’s blog post for more info.

#teacherswrite: A fabulous, fun, & challenging summer writing camp. Follow along with author Kate Messner, and her guests, on her blog as she guides us teachers with writing prompts. Post a comment with your journaling or post on your blog and link it. Don’t forget to tweet about it too!

#bookaday: This reading group celebrates reading, much like #summerthrowdown, and values all reading. The key is that well-read educators are more effective in engaging their students when it comes to reading. The goal is to read one book every day of summer break, but you can set your own start and stop dates. Read more about it here. Don’t forget to tweet your reads using the #bookaday hashtag!

Are you participating in these summer programs? Post a comment and let us know! Are you participating in other programs? Post a comment so we can check those out too!

Teachers Write: Tuesday Quick Write 6/19

19 Jun

Yay, time for Tuesday Quick Write for #teacherswrite! Here’s the prompt:

“Getting to know your characters is crucial. This means more than just the surface things like hair color or height. It means knowing what they like and what they don’t. What’s in their closet. How they talk and how they perceive the universe. Once you understand these things about your characters, their voices will shine in your writing.

So today, think of the main character in whatever you’re working on. Writing in that character’s voice, answer these two questions: How do you see yourself? How do others see you?”

I’m going to continue working with Sam. I’m not sure yet why she is troubled or even in trouble, so I’m anxious to let her reveal that to me.

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