Archive for December, 2013

Imagination

Posted: December 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

I love Christmas because of the great gifts that we can receive. Now, I know we shouldn’t really be greedy when it comes to gift receiving, but I got the coolest box this year! The gift was actually a sound bar, but then the child inside me took control and saw the huge box that it came in. I can’t remember the last time I got a box I could climb into.

Some people would look at me and call me imature, but really it’s just having fun.

We can’t forget to have fun with students either. Something will catch their eye and they will have fun, so go with it. Have fun with them and really let everyone’s imagination shine.

What did you receive for Christmas this year?

Year Round School?!?!?!?

Posted: December 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

The title alone will make people mad. I know it will. Some people are so dead set against year round school that they won’t even read this. I’m glad to see that you will at least listen to another view.

I’m not proposing school is 365 days, minus the weekends, a year. I’m saying students (and teachers) need breaks to reflect and time to relax.

When do you see stress in students? December (in the United States) is a very stressful time for students and teachers. Some say it’s because of finals and ending of a semester. I say that’s true, but also the fact that there hasn’t really been a good long break. Yes, we have a few days off during Thanksgiving, but is it a break? Not in my eyes. There is traveling to family, cooking for family, shopping for the upcoming holiday season, there is SO much going on, that no one can relax. So then we go into December stressed and it never stops until Winter Break.

I’ve had the luck to have 2 weeks off for the break. It’s a time for me to really relax and forget about school. In fact, I’ve seen several tweets from my teacher friends who are happy to have a break from hundreds of emails during the past week.

Yesterday I read an article about Missouri’s new proposal for a September to May school year. They want to make it law that no school can start before September 1 and must by finished by May 31. With the law they want to add hours to the school year, thus making the school day longer.

Alright, making the school day longer? Students get very tired after a 7 hour school day. Heck, the teachers work 8 hour days (or longer) and are exhausted at the end. What are you trying to do? Kill everyone of exhaustion?

Why make the school day longer and the summer longer? The reason many had long summers is so kids could help in the fields and around the house.  This is no longer needed as mst people work away from home. Also, a longer school day, the kids go and have a part time job, just makes them more tired.

Here is what I think would be beneficial.

School starts on August 1. Yes, I know it’s early, but that makes it possible for the first quarter to be over by the first week of October. Students then get 2 weeks off before starting the second nine weeks. Now, if students do not pass a class or complete all the work in the first quarter, then they are required to go to school during the first week of break to finish their work. This gives students a reason to work during school and not goof off. This also helps students who need a little more time to complete their work to complete the work and be more successful, rather than it snow balling into a big mess of unfinished work.

After the end of the second nine weeks, around the second week of December, students then get another break. Those not finished with work can have an extra week before the Christmas season starts up. The break this time is about 4 weeks. This allows families time to travel and celebrate the holiday season without worrying about missing school.

The second week of January everyone returns to school for the third quarter. After nine weeks, there is Spring Break. This would be around the last week of March and the first week of April. Again, two weeks off gives teachers time to decompress and travel for a week before having a week of getting back into the swing of things. The second week of April would be the time to come back and finish the school year around the second week of June. Yup, I know that I just made some people really mad. However, there ar several schools on the two coasts of the United States that have school go into June.

Summer would then be about 6 weeks though July before starting back up August 1. Yes, it’s not very long, but it’s long enough to relax and prepare for the following school year. It’s short enough that students won’t forget everything they learned the previous year. It would make a huge difference in comprehension.

Australia (opposite seasons) starts school the third week of January and end around December 1. They don’t have a very long summer and they have longer breaks during the year like I mentioned above. Maybe I’m just in the wrong country and should move to Australia to teach.

Anyway, these are my ramblings and thoughts. Now to enjoy the last day of “freedom” before I return to grading and preparing for next semester. I’ve enjoyed the week free from school. It was much needed.

Becoming a Lover of Reading

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

I just read “Stop trying to make your kids read” by Principal Joey, I wanted to share what I do to help students enjoy reading.

First, a little background on me. I grew up wanting to read books at home. I was allowed to buy from the Scholastic Books through book orders and also got books at the book fairs at school. I never really saw my parents read, but I know they encouraged it. However, at school, I would sometimes not read during free read time and I would be sad if I didn’t get my free pizza for the month because I didn’t read enough.

As an educator, I have taught in a fourth grade classroom where I challenged my class of 25 students to read 100,000 minutes (of outside school reading) at the beginning of the school year. We had celebrations at each 10,000 minute mark. Students also had individual goals that I set each week when I would see how much they read that week. Yes, I had some students with goals of 3 hours of reading in a week, and goals of only 20 minutes. Some students needed a little more proding, but when they saw their goal met and their excitement, then they read a little more.

During that school year, we were nearing April and I didn’t think we would reach the 100,000 minute goal. I set a date where I was going to open my classroom doors in the evening and everyone was allowed to come and read. Families, friends, anyone, and all minutes by everyone in the 2 hour time would be counted. I saw families come and read together. They sat on the floor and read their own books, or some read books that I had laid out together. Everyone enjoyed coming in and reading.

Principal Joey mentioned, “Give Students Time”, and I agree. Pulling students from their home and the distractions of tv, computers, games, anything, will help students focus on reading. Some families came for only 20-30 minutes while some were there the entire 2 hours. Giving students time makes a huge diffference in encouraging to read.

I also agree with Joey with the tip of “Match Students With Books/Give Them Choice”. In the past 3 years I have been teaching 8th graders. The building as a designated 20 minutes of reading each day. I take the time to visit with students and find books in my personal library to help them find a book to read. Students who are not so great in the classroom are reading my room. In fact, I’ll see them pull the book out during class when they finish their work.

Helping match students with books is not always easy. I have spent thousands of dollars on the books in my classroom. Some you can’t find in the school library. Yes, I monitor their reading and have discussions with students about the books they are reading and many have told me that their parents are reading the books as well and that “mom is buying me this book for Christmas”. Oh, did I mention I teach math?

I’m a life long reader. I enjoy reading. Just like the kids though, I’m distracted by technology and I don’t always read at home. I have helped students with reading tips that I do. When sitting at watching a tv show, there are commercial times. During commercials, pick up your book and read. In an average hour tv, you can get 10-15 minutes worth of reading in. I also feel that can help with comprehension because you are reading in short snippets. I have seen some students read for 30 straight minutes and not be able to tell you what they read because they are going through the motions and not really thinking about what they are saying (but that’s another post).

I guess to sum up what I’m saying is that forcing kids to read is not always good. Kids can’t just pick up a book and say “I LOVE READING!!!!” For many, it has turned into a chore and they hate chores. Do I have kids fall asleep during the silent reading time? Of course I do. Guess what, I fall asleep when reading sometimes, too. Let them catch that cat nap, but check in on them later about their reading. When do they read? Can I help you pick out a book? What can I do to help you?

Starting Back Up

Posted: December 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Well, it’s the day after Christmas 2013. I use to blog all the time, but the past year and a half, I haven’t. Why you ask? Well, I think because I “didn’t have time”. However, the more I looked at it, the more I realized I have always had the time, I just chose not to blog.

This school year I have been having some rough times keeping up with many things, and I think it’s because I haven’t always kept my priorities set correctly. I know it’s strange to say that I have been having too much personal time and not focusing on my job, but I really think that’s the biggest trouble spot I’ve seen. I feel as if I’m just expecting things to go right, but I’m not putting the effort into helping it get that way.

So here we go. This is going to be a place where I can share what I’m doing in my classroom as well as thoughts of how I want things to go. At times there may be some personal posts as well, but who doesn’t do that once in a while.

Well, I hope you stop by to read my thoughts once in a while. I also hope everyone is having a great holiday season. Here’s to an early 2014 resolution!