Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

When I first saw this series, I had low expectations.  I started reading these books over the summer and was pleasantly surprised.  Each book features a character from Star Wars made out of origami.  One of the characters in the book uses it as a finger puppet to answer the questions posed by other characters.  The problems these students have are typical of ten to thirteen-year-olds.  When they follow the advice these finger puppets dispense, problems are solved somewhat unexpectedly.

What I liked about this book is each chapter is a short story told from the point of view of a different character.  The incidents are funny.  Star Wars' fans will find many references.

Update June 2014: Here is a free worksheet for students to analyze an event in the story from multiple points of view.

To find out more about my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How Class Size Matters

Last week our school had parent teacher conferences, and this year I only have twenty-four students.  I found that I knew each student better than the years I have had 28- 30 students, and I could give parents more detailed information about each subject.  This is because I have the chance to get to each student during the course of a lesson.  Because I know each student better, I can tailor my instruction accordingly. 

Even four or five more students in a class makes a difference.  My school day is divided among that many more needs.  Multiply that times the time it takes to correct papers, make thoughtful comments, and address misconceptions for each child...if you are a teacher reading this, I don't need to continue.  There are only so many minutes in a day.  I feel like I can go deeper with each lesson.

I don't know if this will translate into higher test scores this year.  That's usually how programs are evaluated.  What I do know is I have hardworking students and satisfied parents.

We do not work in a factory.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quote of the Week -- October 28, 2014

"Treat every person with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you.  Remember that you show compassion to others not because of who they are but because of who you are."
~Andrew T. Somers

Friday, October 26, 2012

Abandoned House

Every day after school, you pass an abandoned house.  One day as you are walking home from school, it's getting dark and you see a light inside.  You sneak up to the window and look inside.  What do you see?

Updated September 10, 2014 -- Now with a printable story frame.

For more of my favorite writing lessons, check out my Teaching Genre series.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Cautionary Tale -- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I often have students recommend books for me to read aloud.  Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld, was a request last year.  I insist that I only read aloud books that I have read myself. 

This summer I had a chance to read it.  I confess I barely made it through the first fifty pages.  I am generally a squeamish person and the idea of mandatory plastic surgery on one's sixteenth birthday to turn one from ugly to pretty made me sick to my stomach.  I know there are those who have read it and will disagree with me.  I choose not to include it in my classroom and I'm glad I stuck to my policy to pre-read books.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This Week: Parent Conferences

This week my students are dismissed at noon and I have parent teacher conferences. For the most part, I enjoy the meetings. Any time the adults in a child's life can get together and communicate about what will help the student in school is time well-spent.

For the more difficult ones I need to remember all families advocate for their children. They just may not approach us in the way we like at the times we like. All families want their students to be successful. We may define success in different ways. Behavior that looks like noncooperation may really be fear.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quote of the Week -- October 21, 2012

“Being surrounded by educated people makes democracy stronger, and it benefits our entire society.” 

Seth Godin  from Stop Stealing Dreams Section 8 “Is school a civic enterprise?”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Free Poetry eBook


Happy Birthday Poems of Silliness
On October 23, 2011 I started posting poetry on Poems of Silliness.  I committed to a post every day for a year.  To celebrate this accomplishment, I put together the free eBook: Monster Poems for Poetry Notebooks (TPT).  Here is the link to my Teachers Notebook version.

To find other Poems for Poetry Notebooks in my Teachers Pay Teachers store (paid items), click here.

To find other Poems for Poetry Notebooks in my Teacher's Notebook store (also paid), click here. Then click the custom category on the left side marked "Poetry Notebooks."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I loved this graphic novel from beginning to end about one girl's journey through middle school to high school.  She learns about relationships and true friends.  She endures a more difficult than average experience with braces.  I recommend this book to girls fourth grade and above. My students this year love it.

I have created a fill-in story called the Seven Sentence Story that can also be used for writing a summary for a book.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ignore the Trolls

Both online and in person, I see teachers enduring stress.  Much of it comes from the media.  I have stopped reading the comments on any news story about teaching.  These people don't know me or my job.  It is easier to criticize than to create solutions.  Some people just seem to live for making others unhappy.
A colleague of mine once said she was done playing the blame game. She wouldn’t give it; she wouldn’t take it. When I read the vicious verbal attacks on teachers in the media, I want to stop playing it too.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Quote of the Week -- October 14, 2012

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Have a good week,


Friday, October 12, 2012

That's a Rhetorical Question!

I have been teaching my students about rhetorical questions.  I have defined them as questions I don't want them to answer because we should already know the answer. 
One of my students was cutting out some shapes for a project and he asked, "Should I clean up my own mess?" 
 I responded, "That's a rhetorical question."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

I bought Rick Riordan's book after school last Tuesday and finished all 574 pages in less than a week.  Talking about it with my stepdaughter, we realized that in some books we find ourselves skimming some scenes, but in this series no scene is wasted.

This book focuses on Annabeth's quest to avenge her mother while the seven demi-gods of the prophecy travel together to fulfill their destiny.  If you haven't read the first two books in the series, The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune, I recommend you read those first.

For more Young Adult Literature recommendations, follow Tracee Orman's Pinterest Board.

Update: I would give this a blue ribbon, but it is hard to start a read aloud in the middle of the series.
For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why Technology Won't Take My Place

This weekend the newly licensed driver of the family drove by herself for the first time.  She went to a friends house several miles away -- from Edmonds to Sandpoint if you know the Seattle area.  She got directions from Mapquest.
On her way through Seattle, she got lost.  When I texted her to see if she arrived okay, I received the response "Hate. Seattle."  She knew she was on the right street, but couldn't find the house.
Before she left to come home, I texted her my directions to get back.  She followed a friend out of the neighborhood and then wasn't sure she was following the directions, so we talked and texted when she pulled over a couple of times on the way home.
My point: technology is no substitute for human interaction.  I use technology as a tool, but I know my students need a person to reassure them they are heading in the right direction.

Friday, October 5, 2012

You Can't Believe Everything on the Internet

This photo is from the Field Museum Library and is in the Public Domain

This lesson started several years ago when one of my students was convinced that there was a 1600 pound man-eating bear.  When I questioned her further, she told me she learned about it in email.  This sparked a conversation about Urban Legends and  I showed her how to verify information she received.

Every year since then, I teach how to critically read information.  I don't usually have to plan to teach it.  The topic comes up naturally teaching nine to twelve-year-old students. 

Here are three websites that I show and we discuss during these lessons:

Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
If you know that dihydrogen monoxide is another name for water, you can see how facts are twisted in this website.

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
Since I teach in the Pacific Northwest, my students know from the beginning that this website is false. I have wondered about using this in another part of the country.

Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie
Every now and then I hear a second or third hand story about someone who actually wears a foil hat or a steel bowl to protect one from aliens or rays.

If you have another favorite site that helps students with critical thinking, please post it in the comments.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

Alton Richards has to take his blind Uncle Lester to play bridge because his parents want to be in rich Uncle Lester's will.  Alton learns about his uncle's past while he learns to play bridge.  He meets Toni Castaneda who helps him settle a past wrong.
I loved how the characters developed throughout the book.  I recommend this for sixth graders on up.

Here is a form I use with my students so they can rate books that they have read.  If you post these on a bulletin board, these can be student recommendations to others.

To find out more about my rating scale, click here.

To connect with me at Goodreads, click here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just Another Polite Rant About Teaching

Our school district is having all teachers learn the Charlotte Danielson Framework for teaching this year.  We will be using this starting next year as our basis for evaluating teachers.

I know I should be grateful to be in a place where I am not evaluated on my standardized test scores.  I know from reviewing my scores each year that I would be a wildly successful teacher one year and mediocre the next.

What is really painful is the process of learning the new framework means watching videos of poor teaching techniques.  I was complaining to my husband, and we were relating it to sports training.  Professional athletes spend hours watching videos of people doing it right and practicing correctly.  I would love to watch videos of lessons that inspire me to come up with my own creative lessons.

That's my idea of professional development.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...