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Monday, November 25, 2013

The Giver: Chapter 2

Two day weeks are so hard to plan for, but I got this! I'm a supah stah!

After taking baby steps through chapter one of The Giver, I set my kids up for independent work with chapter 2. We began by setting up a Tree Map (Thinking Map). I am a Thinking Maps trainer for my school, but with so many useful strategies out there, I often forget to use these. This is the first one I incorporated this year. 

I established the purpose - to classify and define the rituals associated with different age groups in the community. Although more ages are mentioned in the chapter, I only focused on three (1, 9, 12). For age eight, we connected back to the reference to animals in chapter 1 and did a mini-lesson on inference. 

Once they read through the chapter and identified the rituals for the ages, my students had to summarize the information in writing, plus add a text-to-self response: What are your thoughts about receiving a lifelong job at age 12? Since my students are 13 and 14, this freaked them out pretty fast. 

This was not a complex lesson, but it was enough for a short week before a holiday. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weekly Learning Logs: Take 2

The children are not understanding the point of the learning log. 

  1. There is a great deal of confusion about which class they are supposed to be writing about. I cannot figure this one out. You are in English class; write about English class. When you are in science, write about science. 
  2. I keep hearing, "But we didn't learn anything this week." Are you kidding me? I am the hardest working teacher I know, and we didn't learn anything? This week, we worked on vocabulary strategies, identifying Contrasts & Contradictions, making predictions, and explaining what we have learned using complete sentences. Yep, nothing. 
  3. The kids want a sentence limit. I keep telling them to write enough to tell me what they learned. Next time, I am going to say, with an echo, "One hundred sentences sentences sentences." 
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am willing to learn from my knuckleheads, even if they think they are learning nothing from me. So I am going to make some changes for week three. 

I talked to a couple of science teachers about how they are using the learning log. I was told that they are giving the students a specific question about the material covered during the week, then they follow the same rubric that I established. (One teacher did ask why I had not added spelling. I responded that there is only so much we can focus on at one time, and I had to pick and choose my battles on this one.)

The next time we do the learning log, I am going to give some more structure. As I am writing this, I realized that I actually gave my students to focused questions regarding what they had learned from our reading of The Giver, then I asked them to complete the learning log a day later. I really gave the same assignment twice. Since their answers to the following questions were more specific, I will use this format as the learning log the next time we complete this assignment. In addition to the one hundred sentences sentences sentences, of course. 

This assignment focused on the Contrasts & Contradictions that we had
discussed throughout chapter 1.

This one focused on our vocabulary routine for the week.

Milkweed 1-4: Sample Blog Posts

At 2:30 PM Friday afternoon, I was cursing myself to giving this assignment: Create a blog as the character Stopthief in Milkweed. Create an entry that fits the character's life based on the parts we have read. This is not complicated, people!

My school mascot is a bear;
hence the angry bear. 
I went over the assignment Monday so my Pre-AP kids could start thinking about it. By Thursday, they were clueless about everything I discussed Monday. Because I had to reteach everything from Monday, I had to extend the due date for the assignment until the end of class Friday. By the end of class Friday, I had kids who still couldn't figure out what to do. Grrrr!

Between answering the same questions eight gazillion trillion uberillion times, I started looking at the posts from the kids who did understand the lesson. Right at that moment I had hit rock bottom, the sun started shining brilliantly. I am here to share some of that brilliance with you. These are my two favorites:

I love the approach this student took, and I feel like this entry captures
an eight-year-old voice.
This is from one of my quietest students. I was impressed to see his creativity.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Another silly moment

I have some boys with big crushes this year. I don't mind, as long as it does not get out of control. I did have to threaten to remove one boy from my class, but I never want them to feel like a crush is not a normal teenage experience. Heck, I remember my seventh grade crush on Mr. K., my shop teacher. 

Anyway, in chapter 1 of The Giver, a teacher tells Asher that he was not distraught but distracted. The crusher of my class said, "Ms. Foti, I am distraught by your beauty." 

I insisted that he might be distracted, but I certainly do not want him to be distraught over anything regarding me. 

"No, Miss. I'm distraught. It upsets me."

Aw. Poor thing. 

Identifying Contrasts & Contradictions in The Giver (Chapter 1)

Before beginning The Giver, I explained to my students that we would be going through the first chapter slowly, as we often do not give enough thought to all the information being presented in this introductory piece. Since I have read the story, of course I know that there are certain things I want them to catch, so this was very much a baby-step assignment. 

I established the purpose of our reading of chapter 1: focus on identifying Contrasts & Contradictions, a skill we have been working on for weeks now. I liked them before, but I now believe I am head-over-heels in love with Contrasts & Contradictions. Adam Levine may be People's sexiest man alive, but he ain't got nothin' on 25 students asking some deep questions.

Before I present the list, let me preface by saying this: I helped point out some of the CCs, but any discussion afterward was left to my students. There was oohing, aaahing, and oh-my-goshing from them and a lot of shoulder shrugging and playing stupid from me. 

So here is what "we" uncovered in chapter 1:

  • Jets flying overhead is not frightening to us, especially since we live in proximity to the DFW airport, but this is not the same for the people in the community. 
  • We do not have speaker systems set up in our neighborhoods with unknown voices telling us what to do. We have a speaker system at school, but students often to not even pay attention when an administrator comes on because they deem it unimportant. In the community, these not only exist, but any directions are followed immediately. 
  • Being released from class is a good thing, but being released in the community does not appear to be a good thing at all. The kids did discuss what the possibilities might be. They suggested everything from death to banishment to the desert.
  • Jonas is concerned about word choice, but we say whatever they think whenever they think it. 
  • We do not tend to recognize when apologies are necessary, but in the community, they are required. (The kids also noted that the repetition of the apology was an Again & Again signpost.)
  • We don't share feelings with our parents. Eeeew! Jonas and family have to discuss feelings because it is a rule. 
  • Jonas and Lily do not know what animals are. (Although they identified this one, many of my students were quite confused about how this could possibly be. I am curious to see how they react when they learn why.)
  • Job roles are reversed in the story based on our stereotypical views (nurses are women; law enforcement workers are men). 
  • In our culture, we are not given spouses. (This did lead to some discussion of different cultures and religions around the world. I also started giving them classmates and spouses, and they were not happy.)
  • In our culture, there is not a limit on the number of kids or specified genders. (Some of the classes discussed that the babies must be given like the spouses because that's the only way this arrangement could happen. As they talked about this, they began to realize that the babies must be made in some unnatural way.)
I am proud of myself for a much better start to teaching this novel than I had last year, and I am proud of my students for showing that their brains do work right before a holiday. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Special Moment

I had a special moment with some students from my sixth period class today. I do not mean Church Lady "special" but a truly special moment. We talked about books. 

One student asked me what my favorite book is. The first one to pop in my mind was Emma Donoghue's Room, one that I share with every adult who asks me about books. It is a remarkable, haunting story, and I was explaining to a group of kids that I list it among my favorites because I have never forgotten the story. 

This opened up the flood gates. They were telling me about books they liked, books they didn't like, books they planned on reading, books that are better than the movies. Two even mentioned wanting to read The Lord of the Rings series. They were all talking over one another, and sure, my head was spinning, but I was silently basking in the glory surrounding me. 

They taught me something today. When I mention reading, they groan. When I start talking about specific books and what they are about, the kids light up. I told them about The Maze Runner, The Burn Journals, The Bite of the Mango, and The Fault in Our Stars this afternoon, and they were ready to run out and find them all. 

My passion, my addiction, my need for reading surpasses that of most people. When I can ignite even a flicker of a spark in my students about books, I am on cloud nine. 


On a side but related note, I keep hearing my Pre-AP students talking to my academic students about reading Milkweed. I have academic students pleading with me to let them read it.

 I also have a Pre-AP student who finished the book last night. She said she couldn't put it down. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Giver: Chapter 1

While my Pre-AP students are reading Milkweed, my academic students will be reading The Giver. Last year, I will honestly admit that I did some of my worst teaching with The Giver. I was frustrated with my students. They refused to read outside of class, impeding the lessons I was trying to cover in class. For the most part, we listened to the book and did very little with it. Of course, when I was doing this, my newly-promoted secondary superintendent was brought to my classroom to view some of the finest teaching our school has to offer. (sigh) Not my best moment, but I refuse to let it happen again. 

Prior to beginning the novel, we will be going through our Texas Literacy Initiative vocabulary routine with the word release. Although I know my kids know this word, I want to put focus on it since it is such an important concept in the novel. We will be viewing the presentation with Nearpod so that I may assess understanding of the term. I am not expecting any issues here. We will come back to discuss this more after reading the first chapter of the book. 

Last year, I began by having my students create their own perfect societies, but it become more of a distraction and never truly connected to the novel the way I had initially intended. This year, I'm throwing that out the window. For chapter 1, we will focus on Contrasts & Contradictions from Notice and NoteThey are already familiar with Contrasts & Contradictions, but now we are going to shift away from characters and focus on the setting. I want them delving deeply into the differences between Jonas' world versus our own to see what this "perfect" world is like. 

In preparing the Contrasts & Contradictions lesson, I incorporated Christopher Lehmans' Close Reading Ritual from Falling in Love with Close Reading. The lenses will be focused on the setting of the story. The patterns will be the Contrasts & Contradictions. We will then use this information to create a picture of Jonas' society. 

As with some of my previous lessons, I am going to have my students respond to the presentation questions using Nearpod. By using Nearpod, I ensure that every student submits a response, rather than letting another student answer on his/her behalf. I can skim through their responses and see who is understanding the text and the strategy, as well as who is not. This information is also saved in a report that I can use as needed.

This is definitely a better start from last year's teaching. Ain't nobody comin' back this year to say I ain't doin' my J-O-B!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Milkweed, Chapters 1 - 4

My Pre-AP class is reading (or going to be) Milkweed to wrap up the first semester. I handed out the books Thursday and asked them to read chapters 1-4 by Monday. During an informal survey Friday, I learned that about a third of my students had already started reading the book, and many were well past chapter 4. All responded that they were finding the book very interesting. Since I have never taught this book (nor have I finished reading it), I am excited by their initial feedback. 

The biggest problem I have with novels is wanting to teach too much and not being able to finish. I think I have already  made too much work for the first few chapters, but better earlier than later. I would rather enjoy the end of the novel rather than cram too much in at the end. 

Our big assignment for the entire novel is going to be to create a blog for the main character Stopthief. Through this, I can reinforce a number of skills, including point of view and characterization. I have never done this before, but since I have started blogging, I figure I can handle it. I'm excited to see what happens with this. 

For their work, we are going to be using Kidblog. I have heard wonderful things about it and have been playing with it. The site is easy to use and understand, and all work is private. Once I see how things go with Pre-AP, I will decide whether or not to add my other classes to the site. 

For their first blog assignment, I modified a lesson I found on Read Write Think:

To make sure they have done the reading this weekend, I have a quick "higher level" assignment for them to complete on Edmodo. I believe this assignment will be a bit more challenging than a quick T/F or multiple choice did-you-read pop quiz. It should also show if they actually read. 

We will then return to chapter 1 to discuss the Memory Moment signpost from Notice and Note. This will be the third signpost added to our class discussions. I debated about whether or not to include this piece since the students are reading ahead, but I still think that it is important to cover. If the kids already know too much, they can discuss why the moment turns out to be important rather than predicting. 
I have then created an interactive lesson for chapters 1-4 using Nearpod. I made the basic presentation then added slides for my students to ask questions about the text. As we go through the questions they write, I am going to have them write down three that they want to discuss with their groups. They will take notes over this in their Google documents. This group discussion will be used to write their learning logs next week. 

After all this, I need to figure out how many days I actually have left to finish this novel before finals! 

Questions? Feedback? All is welcomed. 

Another one down: Chime by Franny Billingsly

My insane need to read means that I will never be able to get through everything on my list, so in the past year, I have taught myself how to listen to audiobooks. Chime is one I listened to, and I have to admit that I was not impressed with the story. 

Chime was added to my list shortly after it came out based on a Kirkus starred review. Despite the Kirkus
claim, I am far from enthralled with Briony. I find her to be whiny and insecure, much in the same way I find Bella of Twilight to be. Weak female characters annoy me, especially teen ones. I do not want my female students to idolize these types of characters (although I cannot seem to get them to see the reality of Bella Swan). The first person narrative left me trapped in Briony's mind with no escape. 

The plotline itself drags through massive repetition. If I had read the book, I would have been able to skim through quite a bit. Unfortunately, I was forced to endure every word with the audio. I know the author used some things stylistically and for characterization, but at times, it was downright annoying. 

I will admit that there were three or four moments that I thought were wonderful. I perceived some bigger messages from Billingsly about imagination and fantasy in our world today. But I could have probably understand that in a lot less than ten hours of audio. 

My suggestion: PASS. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Darn you, learning logs!

Next week, we go school wide with the weekly learning logs. Since I made the assignment, I decided to do a trial run today. Of course, I expected it to be an easy day. I was trying not to talk much due to a sore throat, but the best made plans...

I discussed the learning log with the students. I explained how this is going to be used throughout the school, that they will see it in all classes, that I will make them the experts, blah, blah, blah. I discussed how they do not have to address the four questions directly but are to use them as a guide for their response, as the response will depend on what they have learned in a class for the week. I waxed eloquent on the need to write in specific detail and not just make a list, using complete sentences, capitalization, and punctuation. 

I feel like all I did all day was waste my time and breath repeating myself. Days like this make me wonder if I am really doing any proficient teaching at all. 

Is this a complete sentence? Did this happen in the story?
I do not remember blood.

No, dear. This is not specfic. Nor did you know all of this.
You told me so in class. And you do not read outside of class.
Oh, thank goodness. We are at least headed in the correct direction.

Thank you. Someone listened in class and read the directions.

All right, all right. Maybe I do not have to quit after all.

So what have I learned from this?
  • My students need explicit teaching on how to write about what they have been taught during the week. 
  • My students need a review of what they have learned during the week before writing about what they have learned during the week. 
  • The non-English teachers are about to feel some English teacher pain when it comes to reading student writing. Wahahahahahahahahaha!

My middle school funny of the day

In the middle of an independent work lesson, one of my male students says, "Ms. Foti, do you have a period?"

A female student sitting nearby burst out laughing. 

At the same time, my phone rang. My class and I were laughing so hard that my colleague on the other end starting laughing. 

Once I got off the phone, I asked the male student how old he thinks I am. I mean, forty might be "old," but it ain't OLD. 

So I asked why he was asking. With tomato-red face, he responded, "That's not what I meant! Do you have a class next period?"

Oh, the joys of middle school. TGIF.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Playing with Nearpod

I am a lifelong learner. I will never know everything I would like to know, but every opportunity I have to learn something, I jump at it. 

Last night, I had the opportunity to work with our district Texas Literacy Initiative technology representatives. They came to campus and conducted a workshop on educational apps to use in the classroom. My favorite of the night was Nearpod, especially since I make PowerPoint presentations for everything. 

With Nearpod, I can upload my presentations, then edit them to include polls, short answer responses, draw responses, quizzes, and videos. My presentations now go from discussion to complete interaction. Not only can you have the students respond, you can show their responses anonymously to discuss (or laugh at, as we did with the drawings today). The program will also save a report of all the responses to whatever you have within the presentation. 

Today was a district testing day for us, so I only had two afternoon classes. I decided to throw together a quick test run. I did tell the kids we were playing today, so you'll see some of the non-seriousness. 

This was a hit from the very beginning. There was so much smiling going on in my classroom, and that doesn't usually happen after three hours of testing. They were 100% engaged. The only complaint I heard was, "I don't wanna put this on my phone. It takes up memory!" Teenagers. 

I have pasted each slide with some of the student responses:










Monday, November 11, 2013

Holy moly! I'm famous!

This blog o' mine had over 2000 hits last week. I was blown away. I am blown away. It turns out there is a reason. My blog was mentioned and posted on a web site. I am so blown away that someone better grab a rope and tie me down!

Point of View Lesson: Day One Reflection

Well, well, well... I never cease to amaze myself. So far, this lesson is actually working. Because of the constant shuffle from one activity to another, the kids have remained engaged. 

Here is some of what I have noticed and heard:

  • There has been some very interesting discussion about what the story is really about. 
  • One of my most airheaded male students said, "I think that the driver caused the accident purposely. He is lonely and wants attention." Say what! 
  • A female student referred to the driver of the car as she. That was the first time it was mentioned all day, and it led to some very spontaneous and interesting discussion. 
  • The kids actually know quite a bit about point of view. I was impressed to hear the word omniscient being thrown around in group discussions. I am glad I chose to have them write down what they know first, rather than simply throwing a full lesson at them of things they already know. Now I know what I can skim over. 
  • "I knew there was a second point of view!"
  • I had a student ask why this would not have been presented to them when they were younger. 
  • In two classes I have heard, "Class is already over? That went too fast!"
I love when my own lessons surprise me. I expected much more moaning and groaning. We haven't gotten to any of the rewriting yet, so maybe that is coming tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekly Learning Log

Our district has decided that all schools will participate in twenty day initiative to advance student achievement (and yes, colleagues, I actually took notes about that in a staff meeting). At our last staff meeting, my principal volunteered the English department to put together a writing assignment for this initiative, and I came home and threw something together, knowing that I could tie this in to our Texas Literacy Initiative needs, as well. 

After receiving feedback from the department and working with my principal, we ended up with a weekly learning log based on an AVID model, complete with rubric and scoring guide. If I was only using this in the classroom, I would not have included the grading scale, but my boss feels that is important for the students to see and to ensure that the teachers are grading this assignment uniformly. 

From what we have been planning, our students will each receive a copy of the learning log during their advisory classes (this is a 20 minute homeroom class in the middle of the day that coincides with our lunch schedules). They will keep the handout in their binders to use in all classes. Each class, core and electives alike, will be required to have the students complete a weekly learning log for four weeks. 

In an effort to continue upping my technology use in the classroom, I have even transferred the assignment to Edmodo. 

By using Edmodo, not only can I copy the assignment from week-to-week, but I will have a running record of learning for AVID, TLI, the district initiative, and my own classroom. Now I wonder if I can somehow use this for my data wall... (sigh)

Point of View (with everything else I could possibly cram into this lesson)

Got another book. Shocking, I know. But I heard great things, so...

My point of view lesson stems from a lesson in this book. As always, I take what is presented and modify for the needs of my classroom. And I have jammed this thing full from top to bottom. 

From past experience, I know my students struggle with point of view. First person is easy, and we talked about it a great deal with "The Tell-Tale Heart." I have still included it this lesson, though, because I want them to be able to rewrite the passages with each point of view. 

The biggest struggle will be the third person points of view. Usually, the kids understand the overall meaning, but they do not want to take the time to break apart limited versus omniscient. For this part of the lesson, I created a writing template to guide them in the rewrite. I use writing templates in class, but I do not normally create my own. I am not sure how effective this one will be, and I may make revisions to it before I get to this part of the lesson. 

I am also having them complete their final writing piece in Edmodo. I love Edmodo and would use it more if I did not pack up my netbooks a few weeks ago in anticipation of the Chromebooks I thought I would already have delivered. 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Strategy of the Week: Entry Routine

SLANT is working. Format Matters is still a work in progress that we will continue to work on for the rest of the year. Time to bring on week three: Entry Routine:

I almost feel silly for choosing this strategy. I have an entry routine. I have used a particular format for years now. When my students come in to class, a presentation slide is displayed with their instructions and agenda for the day. During this time, I welcome them into the classroom and take attendance. By the time I have finished that, they should be ready for class to start.  Monday's entry routine is already prepared (or at least I thought it was until I decided on this strategy):

As I told another teacher this week, just because something has "always been" does not mean that it continues to work or be beneficial. I know my entry routine has room for improvement, mostly because I struggle to get most of the students to actually look at it when they come in the classroom. My intention is that they come into the classroom, put their belongings down, read the instructions, and get to it. But that has not necessarily been made clear as a structured piece of class, rather than a free-floating, unattached bubble of information. 

I do not want to take away their opportunity to socialize within those first few minutes. I read a study somewhere at some point in time that discussed a natural need to people to talk to one another personally when entering a new environment. If you are like my colleagues and me, you know full well that you want to talk to your buddies before (and during) every meeting, professional development session, and break that you get. I know other teachers who have entry routines that are exactly the opposite, but this is one I am not willing to bend on. 

So how do I improve this to benefit not only the students but myself? One step, based on my reading of TLAC and evaluating my needs, is to change my Instruction bullets to numbers. I find myself repeating, quite often, that the steps are  meant to be followed in order. I have the order based on how I want them to move around the classroom as they enter, ending with them in their seats. I am going to try numbering instead to see if that makes a difference in how they perceive the importance or the order. 
Another suggested guideline in the book is to model and describe. Holy moly. I hate to admit this, but in all the years of having an entry routine, and in all my years of explicitly modeling lessons, I am not sure that I have ever explicitly taught my entry routine. Since I am also changing my seating arrangement Monday, I am going to have the students move to their new seats, then model my expectations for the entry routine. I will then have them leave the classroom, entering again, following the entry routine. 

With SLANT and Format Matters, I have been able to refer to classroom posters or use the terms within the lesson. This is a bit different. I am going to change my daily displays to say "Entry Routine for (date)" rather than only displaying the date. 

I am also going to create a sign that says ENTRY ROUTINE (short, sweet, and to the point) to hold in my hands as I greet my students at the door. Maybe a few days of this will enforce the expectation. Once they have the routine down on a consistent basis, I can pull out the sign as needed or hang it by the door. 

Another possibility, and one I have used in the past, is to record my voice saying something like, "Please remember to follow the entry routine immediately upon entering the classroom." I have learned that playing this on a loop becomes annoying quickly (even to me). The kids are usually begging me to turn it off after a couple of minutes. I think I will start this Tuesday and use it for a few days. As with the sign, I can always go back to it as needed. 

What is your entry routine for class? Have you found a magic routine that works incredibly well? I am always looking for ideas to steal. 
Total sidebar:
In looking up images of "steal,"
they were all of men. Hmm...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Getting started with Data Walls

A couple of weeks ago, I was ranting about the stupidity of data walls. I had read an article that I disagreed with. I posted it on Edmodo and Facebook for discussion, and there were definitely varying perspectives. I read. I processed. I did not change my opinion. 

One, I hate numbers. Hate with a capital, italicized, bolded, and underlined H. I look at numbers and feel like I am looking at a foreign language. Despite this, I am really good at looking at and analyzing data. I have even been asked to conduct a professional development session on our database. 

Two, what is the point? Putting a bunch of numbers up on the wall is not going to change my student population or class sizes. I am still going to have students who have special needs and those who do not do their homework. 

Three, I think they are stupid. So there!

Tuesday, we had a staff meeting, and because life likes to play games, DATA WALLS was listed on the agenda. I swear my brain groaned. Not my throat. My brain. All teachers are now required to have classroom data walls and binders full of data and brains full of data and data and data. And guess what. Two weeks to get everything ready. 

I am easily aggravated, but that does not tend to last long. I am quick to step back and look at any change in a positive light and get to work on whatever is expected of me. Therefore, I am making my attempt to create an ever-changing data wall. 

Yesterday, we took our quiz of "The Tell-Tale Heart." As each class was scored and entered into the gradebook, I posted the class average for the quiz. Third period wanted to do better than second. Fourth wanted to do better than third and fourth. Sixth didn't care. And seventh, my Pre-AP class, simply expected to do the best. When second period came in today, they were pretty upset. 

All right, so why did third period do significantly better? I can do this. I can analyze. 

Well, third period is my smallest class at 15. They are a very engaged group, and we have a great time every day. Are they doing the best because they are the smallest? Are they doing the best because of the rapport? Is it a combination? I am not quite sure on this, but I am determined to figure it out. 

Today, we are completing our Istation testing. Istation is a computerized reading program that measures lexile levels. We use this to help monitor student progress throughout the year. The first time they took the test, they did not take it seriously (and it was a Monday morning). I raised the stakes this time.

Throughout the day, I have been keeping track of the September averages compared with today's averages. Despite third periods exceptional work yesterday, they actually decreased significantly. I did have some students tell me afterward that they were not focused and/or concerned. Now I have to try again with them and see what happens. Grrrr

While the kids have been working today, I have also been finishing up grading for report cards (yes, I really can multitask this well; the joys of ADHD). I have been looking at the passing rate for each class for the first and second marking periods. Their focus for this set has to be solely on their own class periods because the different class sizes keep the percentages from matching up to one another. 

Sadly, I had to add 82% to my last box with five students failing. Pre-AP has been completely off their game, and I have been all over them for the past few weeks. I knew it. They knew it. But they haven't seen it. As soon as I walked over the the board and wrote it down, there was a lot of turning around and whispering. Maybe there is more impact here than I realize. 

So those of you who use and/or understand data walls, what are your thoughts about my start? When I don't know something, I ask, and I am really asking. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Day in the Life...

3:45 AM: "Minnie, stop barking! It's not time to get up."

4:00 AM: "Grrr! I'm up. Stop barking!"

4:05 AM: Feed cats. Take dogs out. Feed dogs. Throw in a load of laundry. Breathe deep. 

4:30 AM: Time to workout. 

6:00 AM: Get seventh grade daughter out of bed to finish math review. Shower, iron, eat, vitamins and medicines, hair, teeth, makeup, shoes. 

7:40 AM: Take daughter to Starbucks due to big fight last night. Get her to school for math tutoring before the big math test today. 

8:10 AM: Sign in at school. Get classroom set up today's computer test. 

8: 20 AM: Text 19-year old son with chores for the day that he will not bother to do anyway because he is nineteen, and I can't believe I was ever as awful as he is. 

8:45 AM: Hall duty. "Where is your ID??????"

9:00 AM: Parent conference. "Haven't I said all of this before?"

9:43 AM - 3:07 PM: Teach. Diet Coke. Teach. Diet Coke. Teach. Diet Coke. Teach. Lunch. Teach. Diet Coke. Teach. Do all of this while answering emails and phone calls, grading papers (if possible), monitoring the test, recording data. 

3:15 PM: BREATHE! Run to meeting. 

3:55 PM: Pack up a gazillion things to take home that I may or may not get to. 

4:45 PM: Grade papers in car while waiting for daughter to get out of basketball practice. 

5: 38 PM: Get daughter. Run home. Take dogs out. Feed dogs. Feed cats. Cram massive amounts of food into mouth so that I have to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to workout. Make a cup of tea that I will forget about and never drink. 

6:12 PM: Homework. Grade. Lessons. Blog. Pretend to watch TV. Take dogs out. Bring dogs in. Take dogs out. Bring dogs in. Answer Kik messages about homework. 

7:22 PM: "Is it too early to go to bed?"

7: 25 PM: "Seriously, can I go to bed?"

7:45 PM: "Oh my Bob! I really need to go to bed."

8:00 PM: "Forget this. I am going to bed." Kennel dogs. Take medicine. Read two pages in a book I really want to read but am too tired to read. Set music to play me to sleep. 

8:25 PM: Text daughter upstairs to request that music be turned down. Wonder what time son is actually going to bother coming home tonight. 

8: 45 PM: Ah, sleep. 

10: 11 PM: Awake. Reset music. 

1:32 AM: Wake up thinking about school and students and daughter and son and dishes and laundry and this and that. 

3:45 AM: "Minnie, stop barking! It's not time to get up."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Oh, shoot! My lesson is twelve minutes too short!

Today is mood and tone day. We aren't delving too deeply. We are skimming the waters to get their feet wet. But they have been wading today, and I was not prepared to teach swimming. Fortunately, I had a life jacket nearby. 

I started our lesson on "The Tell-Tale Heart" with a Sketch-to-Stretch vocabulary lesson. My intention had always been to end with a Sketch-to-Stretch comprehension piece, but I did not think I had enough time, and I had honestly put it out of my mind. I am grateful for a mind that works quickly under stress. 

When researching the S-to-S strategy, I had found a template on Read-Write-Think. Although the norm for Cornell notes is to write a summary at the end, I used this response idea as a culmination for the notes and for the kids to show an understanding of mood. A number of them were simply excited to be able to draw, so this worked out pretty well.