Monday, December 12, 2011
What was the best moment of today? Well, it had been a phenomena that I had heard about: everyone on task, digging deep into a book, a real page turner, but that’s not all: I was able to sit with the students, relax, and chill with them. I looked around several times and thought to myself, is this really happening? I was able to READ with them. No walking around checking to see if they are on task etc. This class was running on autopilot. I had students in reading chairs, students with their legs propped on chairs, and students reading on the floor. I also joined the prop-my-feet up agenda. The kids thanked me for a great class.
Tomorrow we will discuss the book. I did not want to interrupt their new found pleasure. Reading teachers try to get each student hooked on a good book or a good reading series. I saw the fruit of my labor today. I had so many kids appreciate the time given to devour their book that I am going home patting myself on the back!
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Going back 2300 years ago up until recently today, parents and society have had a negative spin on the teenage years. They ask the commonly asked question why do teens behave the way that they do? They have been caught up in observing and trying to understand their risk taking behavior, their need for novelty and social networking with peers, and their desire for excitement. Since the 1990’s, medicine and technology, married in a closely knitted relationship, has given inquiring minds more insight on the teenage brain, which goes beyond merely making observations and drawing conclusions.
Scientists discovered that the brain goes through a rewiring process between the ages of 12 and 25. During this lengthy time, there is a rewiring wave that begins in the back of the brain and moves towards the front. Teenage brains have the ability to reason like adults, but they are interested in risk taking, novelty, and excitement. This desire actually prepares teens to leave his or her safe world and go out into a world that is unknown. While teens are busy learning to take risks, even calculated ones, this may be why so many teens die taking risks or engaging in destructive risk taking behavior, such as drug abuse, which infects their adulthood.
Scientist now accept the “adaptive-adolescent story” to explain both teen behavior and brain activity and development. Teens are undergoing a reorganization of their brain. Teens require their peers to make sense of their world and to take the final exit of risk: moving out. Parents can’t understand it, but they may remember how it was like. Thus, scientist say that teens can appreciate that their parents once lived in a teenage world and may listen to their parents if they stay somewhat connected but allow their teenager some independence.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
This week I sent out 50 letters to parents and students letting them know that there is missing work and that it has to be turned in to show mastery in the content and skills for quarter one. I offered my services after school once again. I am sure that there will be several types of responses, both good and bad, but I hope that parents understand that the last thing that our students need is to passed on to another grade without gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to function in the adult world. It’s a lot of work for me to take late and missing work at the end of the quarter, but I am there to serve my students and parents. If that is what they need, I am willing to extend myself.
Some students need more time. They may or may not have put it off, but once they do decide to do it, I can go back in and change their grade. When a student does not complete their work, I believe there has to be a reason. There are many reasons; nevertheless, if they need more time, I will give them an incomplete on their report card until they complete it with mastery.
Folks, what does a zero do? It does a lot of things and none of it is good. None of it gives the correct message. Most high school students could care less about a zero, but what they do care about is if the teacher who has invested in them wants them to grow and succeed. If the teacher gets this across, one is more likely to get more work and growth from his or her students. Since I sent out half of my entire class load, I have a lot of work to do building relationships etc. I am not giving up! I will keep trying to reach them and help them to see the importance in what they are doing.
True, students are not adults and do not understand what they will need to be able to do when they get out there in the real-world, but parents and teachers do. In short, we are on the same side and want these teens to be successful both short and long-term.
You don’t have to agree with me on this. We can agree to disagree!
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Let’s not forget that our paid is tied to these new online tests too. Teachers feel their hands are tied. Students feel like both their hands and feet are tied in knots. What else can I do to make them feel better? I praise, encourage, teach them with whatever tools I have, and I hope for the best.
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Saturday, September 24, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
This week we continued to read Native American Folktales in class. The students were given a choice between two folktales to read, analyze, create a script (retelling), and incorporate each person with either a speaking part and or playing some type of instrument or make some type of sound to improve the overall quality of their presentation. We watched a short folktale presentation last week. In short, the students had an idea what an authentic folktale sounded like; they had a clear target!
This activity was another hit in class, but breaking down either "Fox and Coyote and Whale" and "Coyote and Buffalo" proved to be quite a challenge. Though this is not an FCAT preparatory class, I incorporated many reading skills and strategies throughout the lesson. In the end, some students performed a more traditional retelling and others made the folktale more present day.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
I plan to write one entry a week. It should post by Monday evening each week.
This week I am writing about a magical moment that happened this week in my English 3 course. I was given the idea by one of our drama teachers to incorporate music into telling and reading Native American Folktales. I have to admit that at first I was thinking that my students would accuse me of going back to elementary school, which is where I first started teaching. Nevertheless, I trusted her and got the instruments yesterday morning before my first English class!
It was a hit in all three of my classes. They read the story and enjoyed using the instruments. It evoked a discussion about cultural, religious, and historical perspectives, which are objectives for this course. Once again, I saw bright-eyes, engaged learners, and adventure on my students' faces. It's the little things that can spark the interest for learning. Finally, they experienced it and that made the difference.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Today I had the privilege to sit and learn from a dedicated, literacy minded, and caring staff as a facilitated the training. We began to talk about literacy and how to incorporate literacy strategies in our classes; I was blown away by the responses of our staff. We created a lengthy list of ideas to use in our classroom. The sharing went on for a long time. Again, I am grateful for NPHS’s dedicated staff and leadership. It was a difficult year last year, but it was good to come back, hug some necks, talk education shop, and put some new plans and goals in place for the sake of our students. We went home today having our minds refreshed. We had to time to collaborate plan, which is something NPHS teachers have been asking for.
Approximately 70 teachers reported to NPHS yesterday to analyze our school data, get acquainted with our new gradebook program, and collaborate and plan with department members. I came home exhausted but somewhat excited about the new school year.
This year we broke the data slides down into four teacher groups instead of a lengthy data report. We had teachers analyze the data and make recommendations on how to improve stagnant and declining scores, as well as how to continue to improve the areas with gains in informal presentations. It’s hard coming back year after year and hearing the “score” news. Often sitting in those seats listening makes me feel like I have to do more. I wonder how much more can I sacrifice of my life for students and the school. Having said that, this year I felt like we were in same boat together and many content area teachers were making suggestions about what they could do to help the English and
I went home exhausted but look forward to today’s sessions!