Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lesson #1 Sophomores

Tomorrow is our first day of school.  We're on a short schedule, but there is just enough time for one quick lesson.

Lesson # 1-

The word sophomore comes from the Greek: sophos which means wise and moros which means????   Someone always answers with moron.  I accept that answer.  (Actually, it is foolish, but close enough!)  

So, I teach wise morons?  Why yes, yes I do.  

Three definitions of the word sophomore:
1.  a person in their 2nd year
2.  a know-it-all whose thinking is really immature or foolish 
3.  a wise foolish person

We extend this to include sophomoric:  marked by shallow or immature thinking.

If you teach sophomores, you know these definitions fit.

I will spend the rest of the year struggling to pull mature answers and wise reflections from my classes.  And with any luck, by next spring I'll see more wisdom than foolishness.

Wish me luck with that!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Welcome Back

Who needs a back to school nightmare when I'm living it??

First of all, I found this on the floor of my classroom, just waiting to be discovered.
I thought maybe my IT guy had left a rubber lizard as a joke.  Then I smelled it.  This was no joke.  Just lovely.

Lizard disposed of.  (Well, after pictures of course!)  The custodian promised to spot shampoo the carpet and use some room deodorizer.

Then, I rearrange the desks in my room, clean through my desk, and begin to put up my Word Wall.  (Mind you, that means putting my magnetic letters back on one corner of my whiteboard.)

While placing the first W, a pain shoots from neck into my scalp.  I almost went to my knees.  Tears sprang to my eyes.  About five seconds later (it seemed like an eternity), it was gone.  From then on, any movement brought on that shooting pain.  It was all I could do to lock my door and exit the building.

Frozen mixed vegetables (ice pack), a heating pad, and Ibuprofen gave me some relief.  My neck is stiff a day later, but no more shooting pains!

Good grief.  Is this any way to start a school year?

You might think this is related to moving classroom furniture, but I doubt it.  My daughter said she had this a few weeks ago, so I'm wondering if I have something viral.  CraZy!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Arranging Student Desks

I keep student desks in rows quite a bit, and I hate it.  Yes, it is organized and maintains classroom discipline.  And it is easy to make seating charts for a substitute.

The Core Standards are revising my lessons plans and teaching, so it was time to arrange the desks for a different learning environment.  I have been trying to figure out how to put the desks in groups without having half the students facing the back of the room.  (Collaborative learning, project work, and peer editing will all benefit from a group arrangement.)

Today, one of my favorite math colleagues (also a former student) showed me her solution.  She is a genius.  (Though she says she read it on another teaching blog.  Yea for teaching blogs!)  I swiped her idea, and it is too good not to share!

I have six pods of four desks each.  The back two in each pod face the front.  The front two desks are turned toward each other and butt up against the back two.  They are sitting sideways to the front of the room.  Voila!  All attention can be on the front of the room when needed, but it will also be easy to work with their group.

Not only does this arrangement work well for group work, but it makes my room look so much larger.  There is plenty of space to walk between the pods of desks.

I love this new arrangement.  Will it work?  Time will tell.  Stay tuned.

Now, I'm off to figure out how to make seating charts for the pods.  (Do you suppose smart young math colleague has figured that out for me, too?!)  Yes, she did.  See here.

By the way, smart young colleagues blog is over there on my blog list or you can access it here. There are tips on this math blog that would work in any classroom.  You won't be sorry you visited.  

Want more seating arrangement ideas-- click on the seating arrangements label in the sidebar.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back-To-School Nightmares

Every year I have a Back-To-School nightmare.  I wake in a panic, and then am relieved I've got a bit of summer left.  (Those darn nightmares can start in July!)

I have to share a couple of funny ones from the past.

1.  One year, I dreamed I lost the class rosters.  It was a year we were low on paper and challenged to make fewer copies.  In my dream, the principal had given us the rosters, and I didn't dare ask for another copy of all my classes.  Soooo....I took out a piece of notebook paper and told the students that I was taking roll by having them write their names on the paper.  I did this every hour, and they created my new rosters.  Genius!

The other part of this dream is that my room was a wreck and no bulletin boards were done.  Lesson plans for the 1st day:  I had my students create my bulletin boards and put up my posters!
(True teacher-- fly by the seat of your pants and wing it!)

2.  I teach English.  My math skills are lousy.  Another year, I dreamed I was teaching math to sophomores. (Some cross-curricular thing.)  If that wasn't enough of a nightmare (math!), my lesson plan was teaching them to measure and figure bra sizes and cup sizes.  I had measuring tapes and teams of students working together.  No shocker that all my sophomore boys were completely engaged and on task.

In my dream, the principals showed up, knocked on the door (good news travels fast), and in typical administrative tact asked, "Mrs. E, do you think there is any other way you could teach this skill?  Maybe something a little more school appropriate?"  Darn it. Even in my dream, they kill all my fantastic ideas!!  (I did notice the Assistant Principal stifling his giggles.)

Now if I had been the principal, I probably would have asked, "What the hell do you think you're doing?!"  (And that's why they are the principals...even in my dreams I'd be a terrible principal!)

I woke up from this dream laughing out loud.

Nothing like being a teacher!  No nightmare yet this year. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back-To-School Supplies

Our district puts out a flyer for enrollment.  They include lists for classroom supplies needed at the elementary level.

High School is pretty much left out of this picture.  We tell the students on the first day, and then it takes a week or so for them to purchase what they need.

I'm using my classroom blog to cover the supplies they need this year.  I linked it to Facebook, and hopefully parents and students will be able to get the word out.

Click here to see the supply list on my classroom blog.