Monday, November 25, 2019

Making Comic Books in the Classroom

Last year some of my students wanted to make comic books for their classmates to read and I wanted to have standards for what I would allow in my classroom so I created a lesson for all of my students.

To be honest, that lesson didn't go well.  I allowed students to turn in either a comic book or a story in Google Docs and the comic books didn't look good and the stories didn't accomplish the purpose I set out, so I scrapped the whole thing and started over.

This year, I read aloud the first book in the Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series and since I had the same request to do comic books, I tried again.

I used my Heroes and Villains lesson that I had posted previously on my blog and added a rubric and story guidelines, etc.  This assignment was much more successful.

The second half of the request was that students get to share their books in a bin in class.  We came up with a set of rules, because these books are rare, one of a kind works of art.

Comic Book Bin Rules

The books in this box are one of a kind irreplaceable works of art.  Your classmates spent hours making these books.  We agree to follow these rules to protect these rare books:
1.     Borrow one at a time
2.     Read it gently.
3.     Return it to the bin right away.
4.     Never put it in your desk.
5.     Never take it home.
6.     Leave the book in the same condition as you found it.
Remember the platinum rule: treat others the way they want to be treated.  People may not want to share their work with you if you don’t treat it respectfully.

You can purchase the product "Heroes and Villains" in Artistry of Education at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Have a great week,

Monday, November 18, 2019

Trauma Informed Instruction and Real Life

My teammate took this picture at the end of the first day of school this year.  I'm smiling and that's a good sign. This is the beginning of year 28.

Three years ago, a woman I'd never seen before knocked on my door and asked me if I planned to divorce my husband. I discovered that the life I thought I had wasn't real. I joined a recovery ministry to get help for myself and ended up co-leading it. (This is the story of my life.) My ex passed away suddenly this March. It's been a rough three years.

I share this on a teaching blog, not to get sympathy, but to share how experiencing multiple emotional traumas affected my ability to focus and learn.  It's one thing to read a book about trauma.  It's another thing to live it and process it and try to come through it as a whole human being.

Speaking of focus and reading, I used to be able to read at least a book a week.  I am doing well if I finish a book in a month. This is one way life's events have affected me. Experiencing this helps me understand why my students struggle to focus on school work.

The morning my school introduced trauma-informed instruction, the school counselor began with a list of adverse experiences. I identified with so many of the experiences on the list, that I bolted from the room. 

As I have processed through my own emotions, I have gained empathy. I have students who have been through so much and yet they show up every day and try to focus.

My life right now is so different than what I expected, but I'm finding ways to be better not bitter.  My support group has an elementary teacher as a recovery leader, and they are okay with that.  My students have a recovery leader as their teacher, and I know they are better off for that.

As a person of faith I do believe everything works together for good...even when I don't feel it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Veterans Day 2019 (A Day Late)

Ft. Dix 1983 -- I didn't share my military experience for a while except when participating in two truths and a lie. People would thank me for being a veteran and I would awkwardly thank them.

A friend and fellow veteran has encouraged me the last several years to stand for those who can't.  We teach at the same school so we would both stand during the school assembly.  Students would turn around to stare.

I think what I have is survivor's guilt. I didn't make any difficult sacrifices. I left service better off than when I went in. The military paid for my college and gave me some life experiences that helped me when I became a teacher.

If identifying myself with those who didn't have it as easy helps them, I'm in.

Happy Veterans Day 2019

Monday, November 4, 2019

Did you survive Halloween?

Did you survive Halloween?

This year Halloween was on a Thursday, which meant that Friday we had school with overtired, over-sugared students.

We weren't supposed to wear costumes, but some students ignored that directive.  Since we changed the dress code, we don't really do anything when students come to school dressed inappropriately.

One of my students came dressed as a unicorn.  She refused to math and when I pushed her, she whined, "My biggest problem is that Halloween is on a school day!"  I wanted to agree with her.

One year I had a class where costumes were a regular occurrence.  There were hoodies that looked like animals.  One day three of them came dressed in Hogwarts robes.  They did okay until they got carried away with the wands at recess.

To paraphrase a meme, if nothing exciting happened today, did you even teach?

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