Thursday, January 31, 2013

Only in a Middle School Classroom...

A conversation today in my classroom.

Me:  *Bobby* you have until the end of the day to turn in your current event.  By "end of the day" I mean 11:59.  That's one of the perks of Edmodo, you can turn in your assignment at the exact last minute.

*Johnny*:  OR!  You could be real Ninja-like and sneak into the school and turn the paper copy into the basket at 11:59.

Me:  Nope.  I don't accept paper copies anymore, only online.  Plus, you shouldn't worry about anything but being a ninja and getting your project done.  Ninja's get their work done. 

Explode various background conversations from all students...

Like me.  I get my homework done.  I'm a ninja!

No I'm a ninja.

I get my homework done.  Ninja's get their homework done. 

Ninjas are smart.  There are no stupid ninjas. 

What about Beverly Hill's Ninja?  He was pretty dumb.

Ha! I'm a real ninja.  I'm Asian!

Hey guys we better stop.  You made Mrs. Weber cry.

She's not crying.  She's ok.  She's just laughing.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Last Minute Ideas = the Best Lessons

It is amazing how many teachers are procrastinators.  Myself included.

Actually, when I really think about it, I wouldn't necessarily call it procrastination, but making big changes to lesson plans in order to make learning improve at all times.

Lately, in my world "at all times" has referred to my drive on the way to school.  I live 18 minutes away from my driveway to the school parking lot.  Or 23 minutes if I have to drop off baby at daycare.  Like I said...I drive a lot.

More times this school year I have been thinking, pondering, or even talking on the phone to my husband or mother and ended up thinking up some new activity to do in class.  This usually involves me hibernating in my classroom before the kids come in trying to scurry and get the last little bits completed.  It makes for stressful beginnings, but more often than not, great results.

Today was one of those days.

As I was driving in to work and chatting with my husband, I was feeling just a little guilty.  You see, yesterday was an in-service day.  Sometimes in-service days can be motivating and full of great ideas to transfer to the classroom.  Sometimes they can be full of meetings where you struggle to find a point.  Monday was mostly good.  We did have a speaker to lectured to us for two hours about student engagement and disengagement   One of his biggest points was lecture is bad and causes students to be disengaged.  (You picking up on the irony of the two hour lecture??)

Guess which subject has the teachers who lecture the most?

If you said Social Studies, you were right.


Now guess what I had in my plans for today.

Yup.  Lecture.

Not an entire hour of lecture, at most 20 minutes.  Still...lecture. (And on a side note, I call mine "interactive lectures" with pictures, explanations, little video clips, me pacing around the room, and questions and answers throughout...I'm no Ben Stein.)  Still lecture.

Ok.  New plan.

In less than an hour of students entering my room bright-eyed and ready to learn, I move from lecture to a four day project that involves partner work, group work, class collaboration  competition, thinking subtextually (is that even a word?), higher level thinking, placing events into political, social, and economic categories, work with primary sources, secondary sources, cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, and a back-up assignment for students who are so sick they miss the majority of the project.  The "experts" of educational strategies for higher-level learning would be impressed.

Did I mention that there were also classroom visits by members of the Site Council.  Instead of walking into my classroom during a lecture or worksheet they walked in on groups of students spread out around the classroom working in pairs engaged in the lesson and hardly taking notice of our visitors.

Now that's what I call a fantastic day!

Friday, January 18, 2013

What Will Become of Them?

You know who I'm talking about.

Those students who misplace everything.

Their locker looks a little like this...

Their binders look a little like this...

The moment class starts they ask if they can go get the assignment, pencil, book, paper, eraser, bottle of water, phone, agenda, or any other imaginable object they should have in class.

Sometimes, when I'm frustrated with what seems like the 500th time "Johnny" needs another copy of an assignment, I need to remember something.

My desk looks like this...

Today I spent two blocks standing in one place during a lecture because I somehow misplaced my clicker.  (My students know how much I HATE to do that!)  It was later found by a student in the office.  I have no idea how it got there!

Last week I had to ask my principal for another copy of my self-evaluation because I'm pretty sure I threw it away on accident (or it's buried somewhere on my desk).

What will become of them???

They will be fine.  They will graduate.  They will get jobs.  They will adjust to the world around them.  

And they may just become teachers...