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3/11/10 07:03 pm - rnddaway - 1st Post

I just wanted to say I'm glad I found this community. I love my job. I am very lucky though. I work in a good school with pretty good administration. I believe 90% of my school is full of committed professionals, down to the janitors. In fact, one of our janitors is part of the backbone of our school. Again I am lucky. My first year I was not supported. I was bullied in and out of the classroom.

Now that I am a member of my Union, I am much more active. Trying to make the change I want to see in this world. We are underpaid and overworked but still I believe if you are teacher down to your soul, you are a teacher down to your soul. It doesn't matter to you. You are always kickin ass everyday for your kids.

We are grunts in a war.

2/24/10 09:53 pm - imbrub - Learning Student Names

Hi everyone,

I'm a new teacher that's taking over a contract in a big school. I'm just simply horrible with names. Always have been. What are some of your favorite ways to learn the names of students?
Just a little background info:
I'm a very visual person, so just looking at a class list doesn't seem to help me. I know "fixed seating plans" is probably the first thing on everyone's mind, but I've never been a huge fan of them so I'm looking for alternatives.
Today I handed them all cue cards and got them to write their names on them. Then I explained to them that I want them to think of a song that personally defines them, i.e., their very own "theme song." Then write a short defense of why they chose it. My logic was that if I could think of the song I could potentially think of the student associated with it, since I'm good at memorizing lyrics. Plus I could make a burned cd with all the songs on it and listen to it in the car on my way into school as a test.
While they loved the challenge of the activity, I'm thinking that it's going to be a task and a half to memorize all their favorite songs. Don't know how practical it is.

Anyway, such is teacher life.

What are your strategies???

1/12/10 07:54 pm - mshrmit - Writing Workshops

After habitually banging my head in frustration over high school students that can not write a decent paragraph to save their lives, I have fallen back on my Writing Lab training. I have broken my students up into ever-changing groups that focus on one aspect of writing, starting with a basic paragraph outline. I cringed as I did it, because even freshmen SHOULD be able to write a five-paragraph essay. It's starting to really work, though.

Today, I had six groups going independently of each other.

1) Paragraph outlines and paragraphs (banging head commences)

2) Basic thesis

3) Advanced thesis (same assignment as #2, but they are a lot closer to comprehension and don't need to be babysat as much)

4) Essay outline

5) In-class essay (from last week's outline)

6) Focused revision on last week's essay (today it was conclusions)

Now that my students know what to expect, it only takes a few minutes to get everybody going and the couple of groups that need explicit direction quietly (?) wait their turn. Once they get to Group 4, they are pretty much in a rotation between 4, 5, and 6. As my writers become more skilled, though, I foresee several different groups of focused revisions.

As ecstatic as I've been that I'm finally breaking through to these kids, I've been saddened at the end of the semester, because we will be reading two novels and a play. After talking to my sister, though, I think I've figured out how to keep my workshop: just focus it around the current week's reading. By the second novel, I can probably also add a group that is working toward the traditional end-of-the-novel essay from the beginning.

Yes, part of me is actively cringing at the fact that I'm taking such baby steps with sophomores. On the other hand, though, there is no sense in doing the same thing over and over again if it isn't working. As one of my coworkers reminded me yesterday, that is the definition of insanity. For whatever reason, whether it is apathy or lack of proper foundation building in the lower grades, most of my students are not capable of writing a decent essay at this time.

What have other people tried that works?


1/9/10 10:23 pm - hi_im_kelsi - stepping

on fridays we have something called power day where we need to combine pe and music together for each grade level to ensure that each student has the minimum required time in pe each week. last semester we exhausted the pe teachers games, so this semester i thought that i should step up. last semester we tried to play singing games, but it got too out of control with the echo of the gym and 100 kids in each class. the only thing that really did work with that many kids and combining music and pe was teaching them solja boy. i thought i might run with the whole hip hop dance thing (they seemed to really enjoy it) and try stepping. first i thought we could watch some videos of step groups and individual steppers, then try a simple one all together, then make the rhythms more and more complex instead of adding on more. another idea would be to encourage the students to create their own step routines out at recess or at home with their friends and then they would be able to perform them for their grade level.

this will be with 100 5th graders, yes, at one time. any teachers out there that have done stepping , do you have any tips? What has worked in your class?

11/10/09 01:53 pm - imbrub - Favorite Activity Book?

Hi everyone,

I'm currently a sub teacher and looking for books that include sub resources, specifically activities that you can give students if they've finished their class work, or if you're given no preps by the regular teacher. What are your favorites?

Extra points for more than multi-disciplinary activities!
Extra extra points if the book is available on chapters.indigo.ca (I have a gift card I want to use!)

Thanks :)

10/13/09 06:12 pm - cosmopolitenne


I'm hoping someone can help me so that I don't have to deal with the agita brought on by NYSED.

I have an Initial teaching certificate, valid from 09/01/2005 until 08/31/10. Does anyone definitively know the soonest date I may apply for an extension of my Initial Certification?

The thought of dealing with Albany makes my skin crawl.


9/26/09 10:01 pm - indomitable_one - I'm sure this has been talked about before, but why not always allow kids open-note tests?

Disclaimer: I'm currently sick (yaaay teaching and walking germ cultures!) and hopped up on cold drugs, so this is fairly rambly, but I wanted to get all of my thoughts out of my cold-addled brain before I "sober up" from my cold drugs and forget them.


So this is my 8th year teaching, and I've been back and forth with my views on this issue, and I've read many arguments and ideas on the topic of how to reduce cheating. I've been back and forth with my own beliefs as to whether to allow students to use any study materials on tests (note cards, note pages, etc.) but I was just reading this blog post and had a revelation. Why not allow students to use any notes they want?

I'm not in the classroom anymore (I teach at an independent study charter school) but, for the first time since I left the classroom, where I taught HS English, over a year ago, I wish I was, so that I could try this out.

Here's my logic.

long post ahead, so bear with me--comments are really appreciated!!Collapse )

(Crossposted to real_teaching and badass_teacher, as well as to my own journal.)

9/14/09 10:03 am - celestialnyte - solar system activity


I teach 1st/2nd grade classroom and in science we're doing the solar system. I need a project that they can do thats artsy (I dont mind mess!) for the solar system... but I'm not sure what to do...
I'm thinking model? Paper mache?


9/8/09 04:08 pm - hi_im_kelsi - is it supposed to be this hard??

This is my third year of teaching elementary music, I was hoping that by my third year I would have figured out how to deal with the pressures of the day without it resulting in a headache. Almost every day of teaching this year (this is our third week), I've come home with an awful headache. I can't enjoy anything after work, I dont listen to music, I dont play music, I can't practice with my band, I dont have the energy to exercise. Is this normal? Or am I over exerting myself at work?

8/30/09 08:34 pm - hi_im_kelsi - a rant of sorts

i just stumbled upon "learning focused schools" i thought it sounded interesting, so i looked more into it. have any of you read up about it? i like the name, certainly. but when i found the website it just seemed like a bunch of made up phrases.

i'm just going to point out some silly things about it nowCollapse )

my favorite part of the whole website is this quote:

"One of the most frequent requests heard in our Learning-Focused Strategies workshops is "I wish there were more examples and a deeper explanation of how this works". "

thats exactly what i was wondering...
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