Monday, January 14, 2013

words, words, words

I like the idea of word maps.  They force students to think beyond dictionary definitions and parts of speech when it comes to vocabulary learning.  However, what I'd rather do is have my students engage in each word map activity one step at a time.  They might find it more engaging that way...hopefully.

day 1: introduce the word, definition & part of speech...have students put the definition in their own words
day 2: have students come up with synonyms (examples) and antonyms (non examples)
day 3: create a visual interpretation of the word (symbol)
day 4: come up with other forms of the word
day 5: sort words into categories
day 6: reread the word in context and create an original sentence using the word (or another form of it)

We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


My department decided this year that we would use the I-search model for the ninth grade ELA research project.  I used this model while teaching in another district and I liked it because it forced students to reflect on the research and writing process and allowed them to design their own topic and research question.  I won't be doing the I-search for a couple of months but decided to start compiling helpful internet sources so that I have a clear direction once we begin.  One great source suggests using student blogs as a presentation model for the I-search paper.  I love the idea and most certainly will use it since I've been given the freedom to teach this unit as I see fit.  Twenty-first century teaching can be so much fun!

I-search sources:

Read, Write, Think...Using blogs to promote inquiry for the i-search paper

Reference Book, Writing the i-search paper

Model i-search paper

Well, hello...

I've been away for a awhile. Three years and three months to be (almost) exact.  In that time I have switched districts, schools, and grade levels, acquired my CAGS in reading, written a first draft of a very bad young adult novel, and auditioned for and was cast in a local theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar (I'm one of the leads! Hurrah!).

I guess I'm one of those people who craves movement and change.  I love to learn and better myself which is exactly why I'm coming back to this blog.  In teaching, it's so easy to get stuck underneath all of the paperwork and bureaucracy and I very quickly get overwhelmed and panicked, forgetting the joy and creativity that is possible in the classroom.  Teaching is a great and important profession that is unfortunately often under attack, so sometimes teachers lose track and begin operating out of fear rather than the passion that we started with at the beginning of our careers.  I'd like to start using this blog as a way to pull myself up out of that fog, reflect on what I'm dong in the classroom, and generate new ideas for teaching.

There you have it.  I'm back.  BOOM!

Friday, October 9, 2009

When to change...

I've been thinking....there has to come a time when you need to change what you're doing and not just how you're doing it. A positive attitude is absolutely essential in either case, but there does come a time when opportunity points you in a different and more appropriate direction. I've reached that time in my life. I didn't go looking for it so much as it found me but, since it has, I'm walking through the door...taking that big step. It's going to be worth in the always is.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A look back on the first full week:

Sunday: Hit the wall and had a major "I can't do this job! I just can't do it! It's too much!" kind of reaction all of the paperwork that I can't seem to leave at work.

Monday: Forgot to put on deodorant before leaving for work. Awesome.

Tuesday: Realized that I over-planned my lessons by about two weeks, forgetting that sixth-graders need instruction on how to open lockers, take out their notebooks, and keep their shirts tucked in. Maybe a few more days before we get into character analysis?

Wednesday: Parent Open House two hours after the end of the school day. Prepared a Power Point presentation that might have made me look like a big dork. It was a bit over done...too much text. Later was cornered by two "concerned" mothers insisting that I stop giving their kids homework. They said our extended school day is long enough and why should the kids have to do MORE work once at home. A legitimate concern, however, I had to remind these women that assigning two small assignments to help the students learn the week's vocabulary list is not exactly out of line.

Thursday: One of my students had to teach me how to activate the light on my document camera...I was grateful but it made me feel like a bit of a dinosaur. Later had a meeting with my principal and team teachers...was lightly teased for being a ball of anxiety and a perfectionist. Went to class that night and was told by a classmate that I seemed stressed out. Two hours later was told by another classmate that I should probably go get a massage.

Friday: Eight kids asked me to go to the bathroom during the first fifteen minutes of class. (What the...?) I said 'no' and made several preadolescent enemies. Later in the day I thought it would be funny to mess with the gifted kids and tell them they needed to memorize 100 words by Monday. They weren't amused. I told them to lighten up and made a few more preadolescent enemies.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Touchy? Feely? Read on!


1. I survived the first week with only one relatively minor melt-down.

2. A girl I had last year in a reading intervention group (this girl was initially so angry to be in the group that she used to throw pencils at me) gave me a hug when she saw me today and is very excited to start up again and to keep improving her skills.

3. The shiny new school building seems to have lifted everyone's spirits.

4. I was (FINALLY!) able to incorporate Powerpoint presentations into my lessons now that I have the technology to do so.

5. The school principal has been smiling a lot. Also, she went out of her way to save and return to me the hundred-year old spider plant that I absentmindedly left in the old school building over the summer.

Pretty neat...pretty sweet...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Insomnia and Bubble Baths

The insomnia has set in.

I went to sleep at eleven last night and, after falling into a light slumber for about ten minutes, I remained in a state of constant awareness of my surroundings for the rest of the night...good if you're trying to become more enlightened during daylight hours, bad if you are starting to teach in two days and need all the rest you can get before meeting your students. Fudge-buckets.

So, while shopping at Target for more last-minute classroom items, I picked up a bottle of baby bubble bath with lavender in it. It's supposed to make cranky infants relax at bedtime and I'm hoping it has the same effect on me.

No matter how prepared we are for the kids, I would imagine that the first-week jitters get to all of us. The week before going back to school after a summer off is like having a huge jacked-up Incredible Hulk-sized version of the Sunday blues beat you over the head with a desk. I'm not complaining about my summers off. Heaven forbid! There are folks out there that want to tie teachers to flagpoles for all the time they get out of work. I'm just expressing my thoughts about the enormous amount of anxiety that comes with going back.

Here's my challenge: I need to ignore my inner perfectionist and just put the work and preparation aside and take some time out for me. The plan: Take a baby bubble bath and listen to jazz.

Here's to a good night's sleep...