Break extended

I really don’t have much to say today.  Trying to find the positive, but it has been a hard day.  My daughter is struggling with some things and trying to encourage her is getting hard and then there came the announcement that school will be closed until at least April 30th.

With that news today, I lost the desire to do much.  It doesn’t help that even though I placed my grocery order, the earliest I can get the order is Saturday evening.  I really need something good right now.

I miss them.

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Today my youngest DD started her online classes.  A couple of her professors just sent a message with what homework to work on, but two of her professors were online with a Google Hangout.  I was able to hear the professors talk to the students.  Basically, they spent some time going over what the new requirements would be for the class and how things would be handled, but what I heard repeatedly from them was how good it was to see their students, how much they had missed seeing them, how worried they were about the students and how they were doing, and how thrilled they were to “see” their students again.  All of them also said repeatedly, that they planned to still have office hours and if there was anything that the student needed, even if it wasn’t related to their class, to please come on and talk to them.  They are still there for their students.  As a parent, I loved hearing this.  It is nice to know that others care about my daughter and she is in good hands.

What struck me even more, is how much I miss my students.  There was no chance to really say goodbye to them.  Are they doing ok, are they following the stay at home rules, what about the one student that I haven’t seen since Christmas, is she doing ok?  So many questions, without any really good answers.

Respect Week

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This week we have celebrated Respect Week at school.  An entire week dedicated to our Special Olympic athletes.  Just like Homecoming week in the fall, we have had dress-up days, different activities during the week (parade through the school on Monday, Respect pledge signing and a few others), today we ended the week with an assembly to honor our Special Olympic dance and boys basketball teams.  Our special needs team beat the varsity boys 20-2 today.  Each of the boys was introduced just like before a varsity game, and then when one of the boys made a 3 point shot the entire student body cheered as if it was the winning shot of a varsity game.  Needless to say, I was so proud of the student body today and how they respected the dance and boy’s basketball team.  Yes, there is hope for today’s teenagers and the world they will be inheriting.

Please just STOP it.

Trying to teach my students (sophomores) how to do in-text citations and works cited entries.  Several of my students just turned in a page full of nothing but the URL.  They think I am being mean and unreasonable because I won’t accept the URL and instead make them do a complete works cited entry.

Students: “But (insert teacher’s name) allows us to just use the URL.  They say it doesn’t really matter. Why are you making us to this other stuff instead?

Me: Really, you are allowed to just submit the URL for Mr(s) teacher?

Me: (to myself)  Well that explains why the students don’t see a connection between what we learn in ELA class and other subjects.  No wonder they can’t seem to in the habit of creating works cited entry and using in-text citations.

If you are that teacher that is allowing them to take side cuts, please just STOP IT!!!

Does the basketball coach teach shortcuts and allow the students to run with the ball instead of dribbling it? Does the volleyball coach allow the person serving to walk up to the net and just toss the ball over?  Maybe the track coach should allow the athlete throwing the discus to just walk out and place the discuss where they think that they could throw it.

No one questions a coach insisting that the athlete practice the fundamentals over and over and that they constantly work on mastering the technique so why do we allow shortcuts in academics instead of just teaching the material and demanding that students use those fundamental skills in every discipline when appropriate?

PLEASE STOP IT AND START INSISTING THAT THE STUDENTS USE THE CORRECT SKILL AT ALL TIMES.

 

 

Different classes, different reactions

What a difference a class makes.  For the past two days (we are on an A/B schedule) I have given my students the topic of immigration for their 10-minute journal writing. I begin the cycle with an LA honors 10 class, then 3 regular ed LA 10 classes and end with another LA 10 honors.

The regular ed students basically just wrote about the assigned topic. Or at least I am believing the best.  A few asked for a different topic because they don’t care about immigration and there are a few that refuse to write period.

The honors classes were different.  Class A started arguing right away about immigration laws, the wall, the president, racism, abortion, and anything else that they could find to argue about.  Not sure much writing took place with that class either.  This class was totally out of control within seconds and took a few minutes to reign them in.

The second honors class was much different. They gladly wrote about the topic for the required 10 minutes, some even took a bit longer to finish up and then they were happy to discuss their opinions and ideas regarding this topic.  We ended up with a 30-minute discussion on the topic.  While that was not on the agenda for the day, it does match up with some other standards that I need to teach, so the class time was not a total waste.  During this time we worked on listening to each other, respecting others opinions, and furthering a conversation.  In my opinion, it was a win-win for the class.

Frustration

After reading several posts on a couple of different Facebook groups for ELA teachers, I am beginning to feel like we are really doing our kids a huge disservice.  I see the books that the teachers are having their students read and wonder how?  How are they able to get some of the more current books available?  How are they able to get their students to read these books (my students refuse)?  How are they able to get the student to read the books, discuss, and do the work quickly so that they are able to use 4-8 different books a year?  I am lucky to get 1 novel per semester.  Some of my students refuse to even read during KBR (Kick Back and Read).

And then I read about the writing assignments that the teachers are assigning their students to do.  Mine are complaining and dragging their feet on one research paper because I am making them use academic databases, in-text citations, works cited, and formal paper language.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to push the students to get more done and go more in-depth with their work.

Time to Crash

2 long days 12+ hours each day at school

1 late notification that your classroom is being stripped the next day and you have to have everything packed up including items that don’t normally come out for the summer cleaning

Being told that some of the stuff will be put into storage until you move classrooms in June.

All I can say is Yikes, it is going to be interesting when I come back from Spring Break in a week.  Will I be able to find the items that I need in time to teach on the 24th?

Should be a fun couple of months until the end of the school year.

No wonder I am so exhausted tonight.

Lowering the bar

Lately, I have been feeling like we are lowering the bar and making it easy for kids to pass.  I listen to what other teachers from out of the area require of their students and I can’t help but think our classes are too easy.  On a good year, we might read two books, one novel, and one Shakespearean play.  We don’t require much writing and little grammar.  In some of my online PLC groups, they are requiring 4-8 books a year, grammar instruction and more writing.

I would love to raise the bar, but so many of my students would just refuse to do the work and then they fail and I get called on the carpet for their failing grade.  Why do you have so many students failing, you need to get that number down.  Just yesterday, when I introduced my requirements for their informative, research paper, they complained about the 3-page requirement, they complained because I am making them use the scholarly database offered by the AEA instead of google, they complained, even more, when I told them that they couldn’t use phrases like: I am going to write about, my paper is about, I researched, In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed my paper etc.  One student even tried to convince the others that if they all refused to do the paper and they failed, that I would get fired.  I informed him that it doesn’t work that way and he would just have the pleasure of sitting in the class again next year.

Some days (many days) I feel like I am harming my students by not requiring more out of them.  How do I manage to increase the rigor and get the students to buy into the work?  What kind of workload do you require from your students?  Do you ever feel like we have lowered the bar or is that just me?

 

Lessons Learned

This year I decided to have my senior class participate in the student blogging challenge.  This was a new class that has never been taught before.  It isn’t dual credit, so the majority of the students are not college bound.  I really had no idea what I was doing with the classroom blogging challenge.  All I knew for sure was that I wanted them to blog daily even though we only meet every other day.  I also knew that I needed to develop some sort of blog so that the students could somehow connect their blog. Needless to say, since I didn’t know what I was doing this project was a major flop. I do want to do it again next year, but at least next time I will have a better idea of what I am doing.

Lessons Learned

  1. Start the unit about 1 1/2-2 weeks before the challenge starts
  2. Have students set up their blogs, create a theme and pick their avatar before the unit starts.
  3. Give students topics for the first several blog posts
  4. Spend some time discussing what makes a good comment verse just commenting on the blog
  5. Have students comment on each other’s blogs
  6. Have students find other blogs that they comment on
  7. Don’t get sick at the beginning of the month
  8. Have students find other student blogs that they then follow.

Those of you that have done the classroom challenge, what else should I add or do during this unit to make it more successful?

 

It’s too hard

I have been hearing this quite a bit lately.  It seems like any more people are more content to just stay with the easier way of doing something rather than grow and learn new material.  I am currently teaching research/informative papers and the students want to just use a URL for their citation, they don’t want to do the in-text citation, or a couple of students have informed me that they have already written their papers, but they still haven’t done the research.  One of the learning targets is to learn to use an academic database.  One student today informed me that was too hard.  They were just going to write the paper off of what they found when they googled it (I am only allowing 2 cites to be from Google and requiring 5 from the academic database provided by the AEA).  Excuse me, but how can you write the paper without doing the research?  The student’s comment was that is too hard.

Sadly, I am seeing this more and more and not just in the classroom.  That desire to learn and grow seems to be fading.  That desire to try something new is no longer. We seem to be content to just be.  We are missing out on so many things because we no longer try to push ourselves to become better.

What is it going to take to get people to care about becoming their best, how do we get people to stretch themselves and not be satisfied with the status quo?