Friday, April 23, 2010

Progress is coming along in room 25; I have 2 more weeks with my students so I needed to assess them ASAP, to their pain (sorry kids). I've much to grade this weekend (math facts, comprehension, fluency .. agh) it's nice to hit em fast and hard, get it over with. They did really well, and I know it wasn't easy for them, or me...I hate tests as much as they do.

You might be asking, was there another ice cream party this week? Nope, unfortunately. I had some items that held them back, yes, I held my student's back (not intentionally) ... but I can only do so much in so little time. They have the tools to succeed now, but I couldn't get it done soon enough for this week. These are HUGE changes in a classroom and it takes time and patience. Some lessons did suffer for it, but behavior has improved, gosh unbelievably! They're so proud to show their initiative! A loud classroom brings out my silent signal (without prompt) from my scholars, and the whole classroom responds quickly. I'm soooo proud of them.

**The desks needed to be re-arranged into groups/teams (The Sharks, The Dodgers, The Sports Team, The Eagles, The Incredibles),

**They needed mailboxes,

**they needed an individual Super Scholar who reads my mind and does what's expected without my prompt awarded daily,

**They needed me to finally own my class.

I talked about this last week, and it wasn't until Wed. that I made it all come together. Baby steps. Thursday and Friday were AWESOME!! I wanted to celebrate, but ... not enough marbles, bummer.

Next week I will be proud to have the BEST class on campus.

PS. Today we had a fire drill (just as the students finished cleaning out their desks moving into their new team, CHAOS). I used my silent signal, the class followed suit and a hush allowed me to deliver instructions to guide them out of the classroom to our safe area. As we walked my 23 scholars kept their silent signal up (2 fingers raised over their head) as we walked I was able to manage the class and guide them safely to the checkpoint. The line was straight and perfect, thanks to my line leader. We were the most impressive classroom on the field for the fire drill! These are not my words, this was said to me by the assistant principal! I have NEVER been so proud of my students. Funny, I was a bit emotional and I definitely them know how awesome they did.

Rock on Room 25!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Manly Manners

Manly Manners
Originally uploaded by *jenny b allsorts

Today my students EARNED an ice cream party. Earned because they had to show me positive behavior for them to get the required points (marbles placed by me in a jar). What is positive behavior? Following my instructions, being respectful and staying on task. Not easy for students to do when my rules and expectations are new and opposed to what they're accustomed to. They did it though, and I wasn't about to let them fail. I actively looked for opportunities to reward students and it helps to encourage a positive environment.

This past week I just expected them to do what I asked ... blind and robotic response. Bla.

Next week the stakes go up. They have to earn 70 marbles. They WILL succeed. This time I'll arm them with knowledge. Wha??? Yes, the most essential knowledge, manners.

Next week they'll know not to just to do what I say, but how respect is earned (everyone wants to be respected) and the tools they need to earn it, manners. My marble dropping will be much more discriminating, but they will succeed because they will have the tools to succeed. Bring on the ice cream!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Open House Brainstorm
Rule # 1: When you are teaching in a classroom for more than a week, OWN IT! I'm subbing for 2 weeks or more in a second grade class.

The first few days I'll admit I trying to blend in with the teacher's structure and organization model, but with the teacher's podium too being too small, papers on the floor, overhead projector not usable, no space for student workstations ... NOT working for my style. Executive decision yesterday? Reboot the classroom structure to meet my needs.

I cleaned up the piles of paper on the floor and moved around desks so that the class is more fluid during transition times and the classroom is structured with better usable space.

I set a check in structure so I don't have to take roll.

I created a lacking positive reinforcement behavior plan using LOUD clanking marbles to sound off students that are doing well and are contributing to a reward at the end of the week (if 50 marbles are in the jar at the end of the week, reward!!) WHOLE CLASS REWARD.

I defined consequences so that students may take ownership of actions.

I created my own lesson plans that best suited my expectations, and offered the support so that students will succeed.

I offered an positive incentive individual behavior plan so that students can evaluate and correct their own behavior choices.

I created my own lesson plans (do this only if the teacher allows deviation from their plan!!!).

One week down, and things are finally rolling along smoothly ... now that I OWN the class. (Just don't forget to put things back :))

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Music speaks. Who cares if the lyrics are accessible, bonus if they are. It's the sound, the emotion that bleeds. I've thought recently about art and the permanence of paint or charcoal ... meanwhile music bleeds it paints across cultures, instantly accessible, instantly creating a memory, soon to be forgotten, soon to be a memory painted in the mind. Water of the soul.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Swim!
My runs have been pretty good, I'm happy there. Now the scary part - swimming.

I haven't swum in at least a month AHH! Getting back into the pool, or bay is both pain and humiliation. I will suck and be disappointed with myself, not to mention getting back into the speedo, which is okay if I'm swimming regularly, sure, it's the uniform. After time off it becomes less a uniform but a pretentious bit of lycra mocking me with it's promise of speed undelivered, fun times.

Doesn't help that in 2 weeks I need to be ocean ready for the Seal Beach lifeguard tryouts ... which I WILL be ready for. Today, it's overwhelming ... next week, it's a challenge to be destroyed.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spilling coffee on your pressed shirt just before work,
knocking over your favorite mug full of coffee, all over the floor,
running out of coins for the dryer leaving only wet clothes,
unnoticed pile of sh*t from the neighbors dog under your shoe,
your favorite pen betraying you bleeding all over your shirt pocket,
last minute print job for directions and the printer says Fu*k you I'm sleeping in,

your co-worker buys you another cup of coffee, with a cap and a smile,
cleaning up coffee on the floor and finding 75 cents you never knew you had,
remembering the 75 cents found can dry your clothes,
the sh*t smell pales to your own feet stench (new socks),
the importance of suit jackets,
knowing that the destination waits for you...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Silent words spill dotting the page white
damn this dry pen. I meant
Thoughts burn and won't write?
Looking for pigment.
Jetty Jog 8.32 mi / 00:57 06:50 pace

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jetty Jog 8.32 mi / 00:58 06:57 pace

not much sleep last night and had an EXTREMELY boring day subbing, my students basically had a catchup-on-work day and there was nothing for me to do but make sure everyone was library quiet. I had to shake off the sleepy ... it worked. Another nice day, ya!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

5 mi / 00:36 07:12 pace

Hot and windy today, and felt every bit of it. Lots of stops and starts. I had hoped to get in 8 miles today but nope, didn't happen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I taught my first high school class today. English Lit, which I love! The students were NOT interested, why? The one question I've been thinking about lately is youth in school and why it's not taken seriously. Sure, I can understand that there may be more um, interesting (hormonish) things going on but still, these ADULTS will be in college or worse yet, working in few years time. Why doesn't this sink in?

One reason I can think of topically is that education is being taught as ed_cation. The u is missing. Without a u, education sounds more like vacation or caution. What? Yes, students don't own anything they do. Ideas are distilled onto a worksheet destined for the bin, destined for the dump. Are ideas just something to be seen and tossed? NO! How can we make learning a point of pride?

Did I mention that I HATE worksheets? Let's strip away the tedium, toss in the conversation. If we say these students are adults then let them be. Save the tedium for test days (which come often enough to dull the importance), teachers should know where their students are at anyway without having to constantly force them to complete a worksheet.

Open ended questions can bring upon more learning that any well prepared worksheet because the questions come from necessity.

I wish I were a better writer, but still ... many people have written before and they should be appreciated. Appreciate Paul Graham and his thoughts:
Pier Run 4.16 mi

again, ugh.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Students Look Bored in Class
Dr. Mike Wong, who teaches a large mechanics of materials class, is frustrated that his students appear bored and disinterested. Mike wants his class to be an engaging and instructive experience, so he talks with a research colleague who offers useful suggestions for enlivening the course.
University of Washington
© 2006, All Rights Reserved
BridgePort - Mono Lake - Bodie - Yosemite
Jetty Jog 8.32 mi


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day after Thanksgiving Day
Published: March 24, 2010
The nation’s school children made little or no progress in reading proficiency in recent years, according to the largest nationwide reading test. Why math scores have improved faster is much-debated.
Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Why is this? Well an excerpt from the article makes the most obvious point ... “We’re not asking them to read nearly enough, and we’re especially not asking them to read enough complex materials,” Ms. Pimentel said.

One of the failures of education today is that we're not teaching students to think and appreciate learning as a way of life. Students are evaluated by taking tests, and so their education centers around how to succeed in taking tests. NOT FAIR. Learning must be centered around critical thinking skills and problem solving in an experiential environment.

Adult life is not measured by bubbling in A B C or D but by being able to think out of the box and coming up with creative ways to solve a problem.

My goal for year 2050, my 71st birthday.
Jetty Jog 8.32 mi / 00:56 06:44 pace

Today's run was a mind game the whole way. I battled against stopping halfway ... it was either that sweet stretch break relief or the proud moment at the end of the run knowing that I pushed through it. I opted to push through. 3/4th of the way I had that gurgling feeling in my bowels, oh, great I think to myself, I've already past my oasis pot. ...gotta make it home.

So when the run hurts and you really want to stop, what do I do?

1. flip my keys in rhythm to my pace, I like the jingling sound.

2. Drum along with my music ... might look a little silly but it's just distracting enough. (I ALWAYS run to music)

3. Punch the air, just a little bit of aggression can go long way.

4. wave to random people as you pass, I always run a bit faster as I pass em for some reason.

What are your strategies?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We feel fine

do you or don't you feel fine? If you do great! Feel happier by reading about other's happiness. If you don't, take solace to know you're not alone.

i carry your heart with me by ee cummings

And so, speaking of breaking rules ... ee cummings could care less about em.

i carry your heart with me by ee cummings
Just signed up for a sub job at a local high school teaching language arts ... Never taught high school before, or lang. arts for that matter. Wait! Does open court have anything to do with art? Um, YESsir! ... only if you break the rules. there was a question today:

Circle the word that doesn't fit (football, soccer, dance, basketball)

Everyone chose dance, I asked why? Blank stares until one student said that football, soccer, and basketball are all sports. "Ah true" I say "so what is dance?" More blank stares! I inform them that dance is art. "ART?" They questioned. I was surprised that they were surprised. It made for a fun conversation about art. Of course dance could be a sport as well, so I didn't really like the question to begin with and so provided me freedom to digress.
Time to get some wings for the seat of my pants.

Any HS teachers out there that have some thoughts to prepare for my sub job?
BridgePort - Mono Lake - Bodie - Yosemite

Random photo post. I love this photo! It reminds me of the long run days when um, you come across that need to erm ... well you look for the oasis bathroom on the horizon. My path has plenty of pit stops, but they're a bit too public (no doors on stall public). There is an oasis on my run 4 miles in, the oh so private port-o-potty. It's been my saving grace many a time. Best feature of the pot is the oh so modern DOOR! Well, it makes me appreciate the noble out house on the horizon.
Pier Run – 4.16 mi / 00:30 07:11 pace

Well, you can't expect me to run the same pace 2 days in a row can you?



A recurring regret ... somehow I lost this shirt, I loved it! Where did it go? I'm very afraid I may have thrown it out in a terrible spring cleaning accident of exuberance ... drat. Not giving up the quest to find it.
So I survived my groggy morning no thanks to HULU. The day went by pretty quickly. I noticed that I wasn't the only sleepy one in class though, the morning was full of big yawns and sighs as we read our open court story, nice to have company in misery. I did eventually wake up, after first recess.

Quick lesson on adjectives and articles ... and I tossed in an off the cuff game for them to play to match the word to the type which was fun. After the game it was worksheet time. It's nice when I can break away from worksheets for a moment and give them something to experience.

Lunch came and I had to run out to find promised rewards for the mos behaved table group. I came across a small store in Paramount, I think it was called the party place? They had just what I needed! I filled my bag FULL of Small tubs of play-doh, little gliders with launchers, and bags of dino-toys! Next door they also owned a tiny sandwich shop ... not only did I get the prizes but I got to eat lunch too! Bonus! I won't forget about this place soon. Total cost for lunch and prizes=$10.00.

My afternoon lesson was about national monuments. Passed out the little book of monuments and was going to have them label each one with me when I realized that I couldn't name them myself! Major bummer for me. Fast switch, I had a book about national symbols in my back pack, so it was off to the carpet for story time (love it when a plan comes together). Now if it were possible I could have done a research lesson: Take the students to the library and fill in the names of the monuments on their own, it might have been doable, dunno.

The story went well regardless and they were learning about the Liberty Bell later anyway so it fit.

The end of the day we had a small celebration to tally the table points and award the prized. I got a few polite thank you's ... love that!
I really have to NOT watch Hulu just before bed. I came across Survival School, which is a reality show about the US Air Force S.E.R.E. training course. These guys are being trained to survive through desert, rainforest, ocean, forest and arctic conditions ... and love it. Part of their training is to feel the pain of hypothermia, hunger and dehydration. They can leave at any time, but they never do ... all to complete this training in order to become part of this elite group of specialists.

I watched about 7 episodes before I realized it was midnight and I have to get up in 5 hrs! Morning came fast! Am I really complaining about sleep? At least I slept in a warm bed for a few hrs and don't have to jump in a frozen lake in the next 30 min.

Moral of the story? If you have to get up early in the morning, please don't watch Hulu before bed unless you're training for S.E.R.E.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jetty Jog 8.32 mi / 00:55 06:34 pace

Best run in a long time, perfect weather! Sunny, with a slight bit of a cool breeze. Definitely pushed hard at the end and finished strong. Not sure if this is my fastest run ever, but it should be.

Time for some coffee before heading out for an 8 mile run, hope it goes better than yesterday. Goal: 6:40 minute pace ... we shall see...
Just home from teaching a second grade class today. I get so see them again tomorrow, which will be nice since I won't have to spend as much time with introductions and rules. The morning went smoothly reading decodable books and discussing the aptosaurus (ah, the demise of the brontosaurus). Students love dinosaurs and fossils, regardless of how they're exposed to it (fiction or expository). They were engaged and eager to share ideas and questions, perfect! After lunch McGruff the crime dog came by to talk about gangs, unfortunate that this is a necessity in schools.

The excitement of dinosaurs and gangs left my students underwhelmed to talk about our social studies topic, government and laws. Now, I can't blame them because I found myself lecturing about a topic they couldn't clearly visualize ... if we had more time we could have acted out the responsibilities of the 3 branches of government, and I should have made it happen anyway but .. I didn't. Ah, so they were a bit glazed eyed and it the discussion, er pontification, took longer than planned. I had a few minutes left in the day so we got to finish the day with a fun art lesson. Woo! Now to think about how I can revisit our government lesson in a quick mini-lesson format ... hmmm.

Hmm, I was thinking about drawing an apple tree on large construction paper with 3 branches. Each branch grows it's own unique apples (green apples, yellow, and red). Each color has a role that that gov't branch is responsible for ... important people within the branch. The students must paste the apples under the appropriate branch on the tree...could be fun. And discuss.
Ugh, early morning. Snoozed in a bit longer than I planned not hearing the alarm. I finally have coffee back in the house, Wooo! 2 more cups and I'm good. I remember really enjoying my dream last night, something about a huge school bus looking moving van that was two stories tall. I get in through the front window and start making jokes to the driver that are not funny now but were hilarious in the dream! Forgot the rest of it about a minute after I woke up, hate that! Hmmm anti-climactic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

About Me

Welcome to my blog!

On May 2009 I finally finished my student teaching and officially became a credentialed elementary school teacher. Five years of juggling work as an Network Admin and school are finally over! Career change complete, well, almost.

The bad news is that I've finished only to find that California, due to budget constraints, is not hiring any new teachers. Guess I've picked the wrong time to begin.

Still, I'm subbing regularly ... a great way to pay my dues, only problem is that it doesn't exactly pay my bills. I'm hardly gonna give up on education just yet, too much invested, too many students yet to mentor.
This blog is a journal of my favorite things: teaching, photography, road trips, running and swimming.

Let's see what happens!