Friday, January 27, 2006

Editing up a storm

I took my ninth grade honors class to the computer lab to do editing on their social issue persuasive essay. We set up each computer with their paper in Word but they had to erase their name. then we used the editing features ( insert comment) to each paper they read. To jazz things up a little bit, I had them editing while implementing a little bit of musical chairs. I would have them start at one computer and then after the music stopped they had to move to another computer to begin editing another piece. It was fun and the comments they made to one another's paper were very good and often quite insightful. We did have to set up some expectations of comments and what was acceptable and what was not. I would definitely do this again. In fact we are doing it again today. The only other problem is some had issues with getting their papers to upload(some used Works even though they were told to use word, or others couldn't email their paper here) This would all be solved if they had access to their folders from home, and as a district, students could purchase for a small price Microsoft Office for students. This way all of our students would be guaranteed to have the same technology. I know I am dreaming big here!

Vocab for the Brave

I came to the realization that I needed to challenge my sophomores with more vocabulary. Instead of me deciding the words and the manner in which they were going to be taught I put the kids into groups and they were responsible for teaching their peers the words and what words would be taught. They have been better than I thought. I am impressed with their creativity, we just need to work on their teaching skills. We have had memory games, a version of Balderdash, cookie quizzes, and one last presentation today to learn their words. I am also thinking that I will have them figure out, with-in reason, of how they would like to be tested on these words and definitions without it being a regurgitation quiz. It needs to be done creatively and with purpose.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


I was having a difficult time thinking of how to construct these goals so instead of two I have one large goal which I have broken down into three specific areas.

My goal: I will ask my students to become greater participants in determing what, how, and the assessment of their learning.

What: I want my student to become producers rather than mere consumers of the curriculum I am assigned to teach. I want them to create knowledge, reflect on their learning and challenge each other to learn. This can be done through the use of blogs, fishbowl, and feedback from my students. I want them to have a greater say in determining where this class is going and the material we are expected to read and discuss. Essentially, I want some of the decisions to fall on their shoulders. I am thinking of allowing them to choose a novel and discuss it in a small book group format. I also want them to be responsible for establishing the background information before we begin reading novels rather than it solely coming from me. I can also see them taking over our vocabulary lessons and possibly grammar lessons as well. Thus making them experts in certain areas and their responsiblity would be to instruct their classmates.

How: This will be done through a wide variety of methods. I want them to decide with guidance how they learn best oand explore that method. I can almost envision the class at different points depending on where each ones sucesses and failures take them. I especially see this with our grammar and vocaulary studies. It is like that concept of anything less than perfection is unexceptable. I want them to determine the directions of our discussions rather than it being solely teacher based. Additionally, I want their feedback on methods they enjoy and that challenge them. I can see this working extremely well with the writing process.

Assessment: This is the area I want to start challenging myslef with more and letting go more control of. I want them to have more of a say in what is to be graded, how it should be graded and the expectations of assignments. I am good at this with new assignments but am too stuck in my ways with assignments I have completed many times. I also think it would be valuable to them to have a say in determining due dates.

Friday, January 20, 2006


One thing I have been doing with my blogging classes is using the class bolgs as a starter for discussion for the class. The problem has been that it is difficult in the class to read the posts from the back of the classroom. So, in solution to this problem, I have the kids bring up a piece of paper to the front of the class and we sit (think story time from kindergarten). They aren't so crazy about sitting on the floor in C-11, but don't mind it in S-1 where it is carpeted. I have them jot down some notes as we are reading the postings to use for discussion. It is been really amazing to hear the student read his entry to the class placing proper emphasis where he wants it. In fact, I am including today's discussion from my English World Lit class. These kids really got into it. They enjoyed reflecting and analyzing each other's points of view with the blog posting as just the beginnings of the discussion.

They never would have had such a deep conversation if they weren't as open with each other from the blogging at the beginning. That allowed for them to ask questions of ones who typically wouldn't speak their mind, but had done so on the blog. Yeah for blogging!

Monday, January 16, 2006


I finished reading The World is Flat over the holiday break. What was amazing to me is how it has affected me both positively and negatively. I am in awe of the stories Friedman has woven over the course of the book regarding other countries deisre to catch-up with America, but at the same time I am scared. Scared of our children's future if we don't start doing something to bolster their creativity and keep them pushing one another. The other worry I have is regarding China and India. With such an incredible population to use to further their countries' interests (I compare it to Cherry Creek's athletic teams year after year success), I wonder how confident businesses are in expanding their interests over seas when these countries can in a way be viewed as a threat to our future. I recall Friedman addressing this concern in the novel by saying that American interests in these countries benefit both the American's and the Chinese and Indian as well so that none of us want to do anything to damage this relationship. Interesting things for us to ponder!

I am really teaching the future

We recieved a web-cam for Christmas from my in-laws. No biggie there, but what shocked me was when we were having lunch yesterday I noticed the change in Emma's vocabulary; she has started using such words as on-line, email, computer, etc... I can remember being three and the most technological words I used were things like telephone and record player (and I am not even talking about a cordless telephone here people!) What a change! I was thinking about what school will be like when she enters and then the changes in education by the time she leaves. What a future!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Almost There

Today I actually began an assignment I have wanted to do for awhile; I had the kids explore in writing their perceptions of war and where they recieved those ideas. Then today we discussed those viewpoints and then I showed them a clip from Band of Brothers. I knew the clip I wanted but I wasn't totally sure of the connections I would see between the movie and Lord of The Flies but then as I was watching it was simply amazing to see the emotion from my kids and from the actors. It has such clear parallels. Tomorrow they are going to share their perceptions of the movie and start seeing connections to chapter one as well as Goldings reasons behind writing the novel. It should be interesting.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Crazy Day Today

One thing I am realizing over and over that with change comes more work. Work is change. It seems to stay ontop and challenging myself and my students it is amazing how much time and effort we put into our assignments and class. I am one of those individuals who doesn't like to be out done (no surprise here) and I know that the drive I have to succeed keeps me pushing myself to do bigger and better things (emphasis on the better)for my kids, but all this comes with the price of hard work. I am amazed with how much work I have done this year and now it is the start of a new semester, and the ball keeps rolling. I guess it is easy to see why some teachers keep on teaching the same things over and over again. It is so much easier. I just needed to vent!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Take Five Eventually I Will Catch Up

After posting my remarks about beginning of the semester activities, I talked with a friend about starting the semester on a very philosophical note with each of my classes. I have previously asked my classes at the beginning of the school year what qualities they believe good teachers and good students have. I am going to expand it this semester to what their expectations are of the class, as me as their teacher, and of themselves as students. Also, I am hoping to have a conversation with them about grades and learning as well. How do they value learning? What do they see as the value of grades? What are the purposes of grades?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Take Five Catching Up Still

Does anyone else out there dread the start of the semester as much as I do? I mean getting ready to teach all new units, meet new kids, try to break down their barriers they have set up and get them excited to learn sometimes is so overwhelming. I am always excited to try new things and I am thinking of doing some different opening semester things with them to help this process along. I am up for suggestions of things people have done and been successful at.

Much like Kristin in her bloggin' I am trying to incorporate more writing into my English Ten and English Nine classes but struggling with the grading side of things. I am anxious to try some of the writing accessories Karl found for us and let my kids explore and give feedback. I wil need your help with this Karl!!! Another thought of mine is to have them exchange their daily writings rather than me always correcting them. This way their peers can see what each other has to say and I can grade less. Any other suggestions?

Take Five Missed Some Weeks

Finals overwhelmed me and so did the end of the year, so here I am back again ready to post my little heart out. My daughter Emma is in a speech therapy class and is working on different pronunciations of words every week. She has class one hour per week but is expected to work at home on her words for at least 15 minutes per night-this might not sound like a lot but she is 3 and her attention span is very VERY limited. What is interesting is that this week she was to reconstrauct a picture story of a chipmunk building a snowman. There are four pictures that she is to put in order to tell the story. Now I thought of course she is going to start with the picture of the one snowball and work her way up to the snowman completely built. WRONG!!! She started with the completed snowman and worked her way down. Afterwards, I asked her why she put the pictures in that particular order and she told me it was because the snowman was melting. What brillance!!! If I would have stopped her and made her do it the "correct way", I never would have seen her thought process. So cool, I just had to share!