Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for May, 2012

26 Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom!

  Thinglink is a tool for creating interactive images. Another great Web2.o tool found on Free Technology for Teachers.

Feeling P*%$ed about Being “Dissed” !

imageI don’t get angry easily. Considering my profession, I think I am pretty patient. I don’t scream or yell. As a matter of fact, I rarely have to raise my voice.  But there’s one thing that boils my blood, it is a disrespectful child. I don’t mean a child who slips once in a while, we all have our moments. I mean that day in, and day out, downright, disrespectful child!

I grew up in an era where children were children, and adults were adults. I addressed my parents, “Yes Mom or Dad” or “No Mom or Dad”.  There was no in-between. I didn’t question them, nor did I question the adults in my life, teacher, aunts, neighbors, etc… I did as I was told, no ifs, ands, or buts!  No one was worried about my self-esteem, and whether or not they would scar me for life. And you know what, I grew up to be a well-rounded person.

But those days are gone.  Total acquiesce can be dangerous. When kids don’t ask questions, or blindly do what they’re asked, they can become victims of abuse. That is not what I am referring to, I do not want, or require,  robots who jump at my every order.

I am referring to these kids who have no concept of the line between adult and child. Yes, there are teachers who call the students their “friends.”  My students are not my friends, my friends are grown folk.  Or the teachers who want to be seen as “cool and popular”, so that they can “reach” the students. I reach my students all the time by caring for them, engaging them, and providing the education they deserve. When did we become a society where children can say what they want, when they want, wherever they want?

There are parts of my upbringing I agree with, no matter how old-fashioned people think they are.  A child is not going to call me by my first name, ever.  If I am speaking to another adult, I do not expect a child to insert themselves into my conversation.  If I ask a child to do something, that causes no physical harm, I do not feel that I have to give an explanation, every single time,  as to why I want them to do it. If a child does not follow through on their responsibilities, then there are consequences, deal with it! And most of all, I don’t expect a child to say things to me like, “You are lucky I don’t tell you what I really want to tell you!”, just because they don’t agree.

And I am sure there are some reading this who are saying, “She must be pretty mean and that’s why they act like that.” Or, “You have to give respect to get it.” I respect my little ones. But, you know what I act like, the adult. The person with whom the final responsibility lies. The person who sets limits and provides structure.  Because no matter how much I allow my kids ownership of our class, in the end, there has to be someone in charge, someone who has to be the adult.

When did the line blur, fade, or disappear? Is there someone or something to blame? Is it us, the parents, who so, so, so, don’t want to be like our parents? We allow our children to question everything, instead of some things? Do we find it easier to let them do what they want, then to set limits? Or is it television? Where the children on sitcoms speak to their parents as if they are idiots, or as if the roles are reversed? Or is it the philosophy where we let them “speak their mind” to whomever they choose? Is it the fact that we take them to see “R” rated movies , or watch TV shows I would be embarrassed to watch? Are we terrified they might not like us?

My students say “Good Morning” when they walk in the door. They can’t answer “What?” when they answer me.  If I am speaking they have to say , “Excuse me.”  And they know they are not my peers, and I am not their friend. They do know I love them though, but apparently that’s not enough for some.

What happened to respect?  I don’t know, but I sure do miss it. 😦


Use Videos to Bring Some “Va Va Va Voom” to a Lesson!

I wanted to spice up my lesson on fact and opinion, but I wanted to make sure I was in the upper echelon of Bloom’s Taxonomy. At this point in their schooliverse, my students are well versed in writing F and O on a worksheet. Not because of me, because you know how I feel about worksheets.  I wanted to step it up! What to do? What to do?

Wellllll, now that we have access to Youtube,  I decided to take advantage of it! I was already a big fan of using videos in the classroom before our Youtube access was granted. Prior to Youtube, I used, and still do, WatchKnowLearn, which is a great way to watch educational videos, especially if you can’t access Youtube. There is also Discovery Education/United Streaming and Youtube Education.

Back to the lesson.  I decided to locate commercials on Youtube, and show them to my students.  They watched the videos, and distinguished fact from opinion.  This led to conversations about truth in advertising.  And of course, I couldn’t stop there. My students are working in cooperative groups, creating original commercials. I gave them a Fact/Opinion organizer so that they could list facts and opinions about their product, and incorporate it into their commercial, which will be recorded. I’m sure watching the videos on Youtube,(commercials), will help them create excellent original commercials.

And this all started with a video….

My class made me play this particular video every.single.day. But, it served it’s purpose, everyone knew everything there was to know about a polygon by the end of the unit.  Whenever I come across an interesting video, I post it on our class blog and/or Edmodo. We are studying Mount Everest, and the videos we have watched…  Well,let’s  just say, only reading about it, couldn’t begin to compare. Videos inspire, teach, entertain, there are a myriad of uses for them in the classroom!

WARNING! WARNING! Never, ever, ever, show a video without watching it first!!!!!

Funny story, well, now it’s funny, it wasn’t funny when it happened.

I set up my Mount Everest video that I have posted on Teachertube.  I turned on the Smartboard because, well, I was on Teachertube. It was my video, so I knew it was safe. I started the video, and what blares out into my room? “Rachel Ray is going to talk about sex!” What the…? It was a commercial for the Rachael Ray show! My kids crack up as I frantically turn off the speaker and flick the remote simultaneously.  The remote wouldn’t work for some reason, so I placed my body  in front of the Smartboard to block the screen, while continuing to frantically hit the off button.!!!   I talked to my kids after I turned off the projector, they thought it was quite funny.  Thankfully, I did not get any irate phone calls from parents. Lesson learned, do not turn on the projector until the actual video begins! Pass it on.:)

Skype in the Classroom:A SlideRocket Presentation!

“If Teachers Were Treated Like Celebrities!” 2012 Version

Can you imagine what it would be like if teachers were treated like actors, athletes, singers, or even “reality tv “stars?”  Wow!

Mrs.Smith, Celebrity Teacher

“Mrs.Smith, Mrs.Smith, can I get your autograph?” She turned and smiled brightly at the young woman running towards her.

“Mrs.Smith”, the young woman gasped, “I have been following your career for years!  I’m about to start teaching myself, and I would be honored if you signed my copy of your book.”

“Are you ready to teach, young lady?’ she asked as she scribbled her signature, “This is a difficult job.”

“I know it is, but I’ve been reading your books,watching your videos, and  listening to your podcasts, I know I’m ready!”

“Good luck”, she says as she handed her the book. “Take care, you have quite a journey ahead of you.”

Mrs.Smith and her husband  entered the Four Seasons and were immediately seated at the best table. The maitre d’ smiled, and thanked Mrs.Smith, again, for teaching his son when she taught at Tower Hill.

“Anything you need Mr. and Mrs.Smith, just ask.”

After dinner, Mr. and Mrs.Smith hopped into their  Mercedes and drove home to their ten bedroom house up in the hills.  They entered  their  home, and stopped to pick  up one of the cameras left by the crew from MTV Cribs-Teachers.

“Time to mark some papers honey, I’ll be upstairs in a bit.”

She sat down, stared out at the ocean, and began grading.  The phone rang, and her assistant teacher, Marjorie spoke excitedly.

” Mrs. Smith,  Oprah wants another  interview, she’s doing another special on teachers, it’s called “Teachers are Tenacious!” She’s going to give away prizes to every school where the teachers in the audience work!”

“Oh, that Oprah, she is something else! Set it up please, Marjorie.”

She hung up and the phone rung again.

“Oh, my gosh, Mrs.Smith, you’ve  been nominated for a Thackeray!” (Named after Sidney Poitier’s character in , “To Sir, With Love”)

“A Thackeray?! Are you kidding? Oh my gosh, I’ve always dreamed…!  What category?”

” Best Lesson Taught During an Unannounced Observation.”

The Thackerays

As teachers walked down the red carpet, former students and teachers screamed their names. Reporters rushed up to interview each teacher as they strode down the carpet.

“Mrs.Smith, what are you wearing?”

She  waved, “This is not about me, it’s about all those kids I’ve helped!”

And the Winner Is…

And the winner of the “Best Lesson Taught During an Unannounced Observation” is… Mrs.Smith!”

She ran on the stage, “First I’d like to thank God.” Next I want to thank all those students who gave me the opportunity to teach. I’d also like to thank my mentor teacher, Mr.Wilson. He made me the teacher I am today! And most of all, my Mom and Dad, who gave me the chance to go to college and become what I am today, a teacher!”

The applause filled the room, and everyone stood, chanting “Teachers, teachers, teachers!”

 I know we all don’t need a Mercedes, a ten-bedroom home, to be filmed by MTV, or have an overrated awards show.  But wouldn’t it be great if teachers were  respected as much as actors, athletes, singers, and yes, even “reality” tv stars?


“Fungagement” is Necessary in Our Classrooms!

This was shown at our workshop by the presenter, John Kuglin , I think it is so appropriate. What happens when you take the same old thing and make it fun? What happens when educators find another way to engage our students? And just because something is fun, it doesn’t mean it is not useful. Let’s “fungage” our students, let them enjoy learning. I’m not saying 24 hour party in your room,  I’m talking about educational “fun”.It’s a different generation, and no matter how much we debate this point, we have to meet them where and how they are.

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