Monday, July 30, 2012

Charter Schools

Charter schools are not allowed here in Washington State, but we will vote on the issue this fall.   (Read the Seattle Times article here.)  I wrestle with this issue.  On one hand, I would like to see less government bureacracy in my profession.  On the other hand, I don't want to substitute the government bureacracy for a corporate one.

I will keep you posted.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Quote of the Week -- July 29, 2012

Intelligence looks for what is known to solve problems. Creativity looks for what is unknown to discover possibilities.

Simon Sinek


Friday, July 27, 2012

A Trip to the Park

Recently I took a friend's children to the park.  The two older children had a great time.  The youngest has some sensory issues and so a change in routine is difficult.  At first he was fighting me and trying to bolt into the street.  Next he through himself down on the ground and became limp -- closing his eyes and looking as though he had passed out.

All of the other parents at the park turned to watch.  I could imagine the collective question, "What is wrong with that kid?"

This was a great moment for me to experience as a teacher.  Parents of children with special needs have these moments in public often.  Their child isn't responding to the park, the zoo, or the grocery store the way other children are.  It may feel like a moment of judgment.

This group of parents were not judging my friend's child or my skills as a caregiver.  They showed caring concern and took my cues for what was needed.  He settled in after about a half hour of lying on the wood chips.  When he was done playing, he bolted again across the field.

When I sit in IEP meetings this year, I need to have empathy for my students' parents.  I'm glad I was able to stick my toe in my friend's sandals for an hour or two.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Frequent readers of this blog know how much I enjoy reading and sharing Rick Riordan's books.  The Red Pyramid is the first of the Kane Chronicles series.  I just finished reading the third and final book in the series.

When my stepdaughter and I started planning our trip to London, there were two places we wanted to see from the first book: the Rosetta Stone (pictured above) and Cleopatra's Needle.  I didn't get a picture of the second of these two sites, because the tour bus was moving too quickly.

Carter and Sadie Kane have been raised apart since their mother's death.  They are reunited when their dad disappears at the British Museum after blowing up the Rosetta Stone.  Carter and Sadie discover their connection to Egyptian history as they battle the evil that has been released into the world.

Click here for a free story plan for students to chart the elements of this story.  This graphic organizer will work for any book.

I give this book a blue ribbon.  For an explanation of my rating system, click here.

You can find me at Goodreads.

Monday, July 23, 2012

School Trips and Holidays

I traveled to London earlier this month just as their schools were ending their terms and getting ready for summer holidays.  My stepdaughter and I took the trains and noticed school groups taking trips to the museums in Central London.  I hadn't planned to be a part of another teacher's field trip, but I felt right at home.  Children are children in every country.

The museums in London are amazing.  Many of them have free admission.  Public transportation gets you within walking distance.  The exhibits themselves are full of artifacts I had only seen in text books: the Rosetta Stone, parts of the Parthenon, and mummies.
I was surprised that they let us carry our backpacks and take pictures.  I could do neither in some museums here in Washington State.  I have to say I prefer to have my bags searched instead of leaving them unattended somewhere. 

I found myself planning my own school trip, although it is highly unlikely I will be taking my fourth graders from Seattle to London.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Diary of a Word Nerd

Thank you, Julia Tomiak at Diary of a Word Nerd who invited me to be a guest blogger this week.  I wrote about choosing books for my elementary classroom.  You can find my guest post here.

Check out Diary of a Word Nerd for other information for teachers and writers.  Her site is dedicated to building vocabulary through literature and "Word Nerd Workouts".

Friday, July 20, 2012

Free Math Spies Episode 3 Teacher Guide

Frequent readers of this blog know that Math Spies is a website I created to encourage math problem-solving.  Math Spies Episode 3: Around the World is a webquest where students solve math problems to find the coordinates for a place on the globe.  Each correct place leads them to a code word.  If they locate all seven places correctly, they have a coded message.
I created an organizer for my students to keep track of their answers.  I have posted Math Spies Episode 3 Teacher's Guide as a free item in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 
Math Spies Episode 3 is also available in my Teacher's Notebook store.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

I love to visit the settings of books I have enjoyed reading.  Many fiction books have real places as settings, so when I planned my visit to London, I wanted to make sure that I saw the London Eye.  I didn't take the time to travel on it.

In the London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim disappears after entering the London Eye, a large Ferris wheel along the River Thames.  The children feel led to investigate despite police involvement.  Ted has Asperger's, yet it is his different way of thinking that solves the mystery.
I have several friends who are raising children with special needs.  Each year I have students who don’t fit in with their peers.  I now have a book whose hero is like them. The part I liked the best was the main character’s different ability was what helped him see what actually happened.

Update: June 2014.  Ted has to change his mind about how and why his cousin disappeared.  As I read it to my class this year, my students changed their minds about the story as we went along and collected more evidence. I created a graphic organizer to help collect evidence and track changes in our thinking about the story. Click here for a free download.

I give this book a red ribbon.  For an explanation of my rating system, click here.
Connect with me at Goodreads.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Virgin Atlantic Rocks!

This may not seem related to teaching, but hang with me for a few minutes.

Recently I made my first overseas trip to visit my family in London.  I have not had great experience with flying across the United States and wasn't looking forward to the trip. 

TSA scares me.  I am a rule follower and I don't like the feeling of being in trouble.  No matter what I do to prepare and follow directions, I do something wrong and get extra negative attention.  It bothers me that all of us are treated like criminals for the actions of a few.

I was pleasantly surprised by the positive attention I received on Virgin Atlantic.  They have procedures that make sense and employees that respond cheerfully when something goes wrong.  My flight from Vancouver, B. C. to London and back was better than many trips I have taken with other airlines.

I started thinking about classrooms that work.  The teacher has thought-through procedures that are deliberately taught and responds positively when something goes wrong.  The whole class isn't punished for the actions of a few.

I started fantasizing that teachers should take over TSA.  We know when someone is up to something without putting them through a scanner.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quote of the Week -- July 15, 2012

“The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior.”
                                                    ~Marva Collins

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the Thirteenth

Collect a list of superstitions from your friends, family or the internet.  Write a story called "The Unlucky Day" or write a list poem using some of the superstitions you found.

Here is my example list poem on Poems of Silliness.

I have a free list poem product in my Teachers Notebook Store.  List Poems is also available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Update October 2015: I recently packaged all my superstition activities as a freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers and my Teachers Notebook stores.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jake Ransom Series by James Rollins

I read the second book in the Jake Ransom series last month and liked it better than the first book in the series. 

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow, the first book, made me think about what would happen if a young Indiana Jones met up with mythological characters from the Rick Riordan series.  There was plenty of adventure and suspense.  It lacked the humor of the Riordan books.

In Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx, Jake and his sister Kady are called back to the land and time that the Skull King wishes to rule.  They battle sandstorms, Neferiti, and the Skull King himself.

I would recommend this book to students who like Indiana Jones, Percy Jackson, and the Kane Chronicles.

Here is a free printable summary organizer called Elements and Events.

I give this book a red ribbon.  For an explanation of my rating system, click here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Leader in Me

A group of colleagues want to implement The Leader in Me at our elementary school.  Two summers ago, we read this book together and tried to develop some lessons.  Some teachers continued to work through this last school year and even visited a school that has implemented the program school wide.

In case you are not familiar with The Leader in Me, it is based on Stephen R. Covey's book
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:
1.  Be proactive.
2.  Begin with the end in mind.
3.  Put first things first.
4.  Think win/win.
5.  Seek first to understand, then be understood.
6.  Synergize.
7.  Sharpen the saw.

We just hired a new teacher who has used this program with fifth graders, sixth graders, and kindergartners.  Talking with her has re-energized me to try again this year. 

 I would love to hear from other teachers who have worked in schools with this program.  You can leave me a comment on this blog, or connect with me on Facebook:!/TeachingResourcesbyMaryBauer

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Quote of the Week -- July 8, 2012

This quote resonated with me professionally and personally.  Right now I am in London.  I have never been overseas. 

We are hiring seven new teachers at our school.  I'm not even moving rooms, but I feel like it will be a different place to work.  I'm excited about the changes.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Teacher talking to a student in the hallway: 
Did you know that I can hear you whistling all the way into my classroom?

Whistler: Really? How far is that?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Savvy by Ingrid Law

I loved the premise of this book: members of Mississippi Beaumont’s family receive a special talent on their thirteenth birthday.  This power has the potential to be helpful and harmful. 

At the beginning of the book, Mississippi  (Mibs) is about to turn thirteen and receive her “Savvy” when tragedy strikes the family.  She spends her important birthday with people who don’t know about the family heritage.  This creates misunderstandings and a surprise road trip.  Will Mississippi learn to control this new power and solve the problems she has created?

 I gave this book a blue ribbon based on my new rating scale.  I want to share this book next year with all my students.

To see more about my rating scale click here.
Connect with me on Goodreads.

My Rating Scale for Books

Happy Independence Day to my American readers!

Starting today, I plan to post a book review each week for a year.  I am challenging myself to do this because I want to read books for my age group more intentionally this year. 

Another blogger asked for a guest post in response to my Favorite Read Aloud Series.  I wrote about how I choose books for my class.  As I was writing I realized I have categories for books:

1.  Books I want to share with everyone
2.  Books I share with select students
3.  Books I allow, but don't promote
4.  Books I ask students to take home and not bring back to school

I won't be reviewing books in level four.  I find that it isn't the subject matter of these books and magazines, but the behavior they encourage.  I want my students to increase their level of concentration during independent reading.  Walking around and showing each other weird pictures from Ripley's Believe it or Not , for example, doesn't foster this deep level of concentration.

Monday, July 2, 2012

To Theme or not to Theme

Update (July 13, 2013): I still don't do cute.
It's that time of year where everyone is getting their rooms color coordinated.  I always feel like a failure in this.  I just want to vent.

Original post:
I visited a fourth grade classroom this spring that was decorated in a college sports theme.  The banners over the table groups were PAC 10 colleges.  There were sports posters on every wall.  I was there to observe a literacy lesson, but I came away ready to redecorate my room.

When I packed up my room last Monday, the roll of paper I meant to recover my bulletin board was still on the window seat.  This is why you never see pictures of my classroom: I don't do cute.

It could be because I teach slightly older students.  It could be that I just don't have an eye for design.  It's more likely that I just don't spend my time that way.

I look at pictures of classrooms on other blogs and dream of how I might redesign my space next year.  I may pick out one or two ideas and see how it goes.  I don't want to set myself up for failure.

I have to say that despite the lack of coordinated decorations in my room, my principal has a stack of parent requests for students to be placed with me next year.  I still envy the beautiful classrooms, but I must be doing something right.

Is anyone else with me on this?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Huge Give Away at Kleinspiration

Kleinspiration is giving away three sets of prizes: an Autographed Book Package, a Software and Membership Package, and a TPT curriculum package.  Head over to her blog and enter.

Quote of the Week -- July 1, 2012

"Read not to contradict and confute, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider." ~Sir Francis Bacon
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