Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rule #8

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs is one of my professional role models.  It is for him that I have asked my students this year to call me Boss.  I am not a TV fanatic, and I prefer not to pay the cable company any of my hard-earned money.  I have, however, watched many episodes of NCIS due to a very generous landlord who paid for cable with DVR last year. 

Gibbs has Rules.  They are good rules, but not as useful in the classroom as I would like.  I have started numbering my own rules to create a list.  This, perhaps, will increase my Gibbs-ish-ness and... well... entertain me. 

Last week I assigned a number to a very familiar rule in my classroom:

Rule #8
Before you are snarky about something, make sure you are right. 

Example of rule in use:
Student insists there are 16 days of school.  
Boss says, "I checked the calendar recently, and I believe there are 19." 
Student insists there are 16, and that Boss is wrong. Student is snarky and pokes fun at Boss for making a mistake.  
Boss again refers to the fact that she did, indeed, use her eyes and calendar to make the determination that she was, indeed, correct in her statement.  
Student continues with snarkiness and even includes a "nuh-uh" in the rebuttal.  
Boss asks student to count the days on a calendar.  
Student counts... 19 days of school remaining.  Student blushes.  
Boss says, "You know... before you are--."
Student finishes for Boss, "Before I'm snarky I should know I am right."

Viola.  Rule #8. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quote of the Week #5

Ms. M: D. please get to work.
D: Okay.  Can I work and talk at the same time?
Ms. M: I don't know, I'm not sure I've ever seen you do it.
D:  True.  Can I try?


Monday, May 24, 2010

Blog Tag

Wear the Cape was blog-tagged! The rules are this:

Go to the 8th folder in which you store your photos
Select the 8th photo
Post it to your blog and tell the story behind it.
After following the above instructions, you are ‘supposed’ to tag 8 other blogger

Wreck This JournalNow, I had to do some finagling to figure out what my 8th folder is as it appears I am a big fan of the "sub folder." This, however,  is the 8th photo in the folder I use to store photos for future posts for Wear the Cape.  This photo is of a page that was completed in the Wreck This Journal I use as a time-filler in class. Each page in the journal has a direction to follow.  Most of the directions are antithetical to journal writing.  The page in this photo required both the borrowing of pens and scribbling with said pens.  R. selected this page at random (random selection is a requirement I added for reasons to be shared later).  

I have been saving photos of the Wreck This Journal activities for months.  This "tag" has reminded me that I'd like to, at some point, share those photos.  I will... soon-like.

Here is a glimpse of the fun to come...

As for the tag part of the post... ummm...  my readership is quite small.  Let's just say, if you are reading this, and have an inkling to do so, take a gander at the 8th photo in your 8th folder.  If you are so inspired, share it with someone (me! me! me!). 

Thanks to my cape-wearing cousin-friend at klt:sketchbook for including me and for the fun dig through my photos!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quote of the Week #4

Waiting for breakfast to arrive...

Ms. M: Is breakie here yet?
M.: No, but the Doom Kittens are invading.
Ms. M:  (very brief pause--almost indiscernible) Okay then, go ahead and wait in here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Averted Eyes

M. is crying.  I am pretty sure it is my fault.  Before you get your knickers in a bunch, though, I will tell you that he is upset because I held him responsible for his actions (or lack of action, to be more specific). He is sitting in the center of the room, at his desk, snuffling.  Red face, runny nose, miserable eyes. 

The other turkey-butts are sitting on pins and needles, pretending they don't see or hear him.  Let me remind you that these are middle-schoolers.  Not only middle-schoolers, but middle-schoolers that have been removed from regular schools for not doing the right thing.  Let me also remind you that middle-schoolers are mean and vengeful little creatures (in case you forgot the horror of your own middle school years).  When they smell blood, they, like Jaws, have the genetic predisposition to attack mercilessly.

But they are not attacking.  They are swimming warily around him, averting their eyes, and letting him believe he is snuffling in private. 

It's sweet. In a vengeful-creature-shows-moment-of-kindness sort of way...

Sunday, May 16, 2010


This week was tough.  TOUGH, I tell you.  This caped teacher doesn't know how to explain it without taking hours and hours, but suffice it to say that the hat-trick of rampant Eighth-Grade Disease, one very troubled child, and shared issues of the foster care  and education systems, had me beat down to a pulp by the end.  

What does a super teacher do when they are all pulp-y on a Friday?  Hit the ground running on Monday, I guess. Stay-tuned.  There were many wonderful moments this week as well.  I will find them in my memory and share.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trading Places

I am tired today.  Foot-dragging, eyes-drooping, body-fighting-every-step-of-the-way tired.  This tired makes me feel like I'd prefer each one of my chicken-heads to be silent and do all of their work.  I know a serious lack of realism when I see it, so I tried.  The end of first period came, the chillins' were working, and the couch was calling my name.  I took my coffee to the couch and settled in for a couple of minutes.  

Miracle of miracles... they kept working.  They spoke quietly, asked me if I was tired, how my day was going, and if I needed a rest. I'll admit to playing it up a bit--you know... hyperbole at its best.  Sighs, back of hand to forehead, my best woe-is-me

It came time for the classes to change.  The younger class came in, saw me sitting, and got a little bit giddy.  M. asked if she could teach.  I said sure.  And she did.  She went to the front of the room, gave the directions (as I whispered them to her), and made sure they had their supplies.  She worded things exactly like I do:

"Do you know what supplies you need?"
"Does everyone have their book?"
"J. can you please be quiet while I finish the directions?" 
"Check your neighbor and make sure they are on the correct page."

We all looked through children's poetry books and read our favorite poem out loud.  M. directed the class to applaud after each poem was read.  One student did not want to read, so M. asked if someone would read it for her.  C.  jumped up and did so with a flourish.  All the while, I was sitting on the couch as a student (albeit a student giving whispered directions to the teacher). 

After we read the poems, M. explained that we each needed to choose a poem to "copy" and write one of our own in the same style.  She even gave an example.  Then, we all completed the assignment.  Midway through, K. asked to take over for M.  K. wandered around the room and made sure everyone was following the directions.  Two students entered late, and K. got them on task quickly.  

What a fun day!  I won't lie and say this was planned, or say that I have research to show that this is an effective strategy.  I will say that it was a fun lesson for all of us, and  a good way to keep things moving when I was just too tired to be entertaining.  

Here are some of the poems turned in today:

The Whale 
by M.
(based on The Elephant by Hillarie Billoc)
The poor whale,
Sitting all alon-ee,
Eating a piece of boloney,
While sitting on a stool,
Drinking in a pool,
While cooking on a grill,
While the krill is sizzing,
And the bees are bizzling,
Scooping up the honey
For your money.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me
by K.
(based on Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou)
A dark park
A bat with a cat
They do not frighten me.
A bad dad
A bar car
Does not frighten me.
Can it be,
Nothing really frightens me?

My Poem
by C.  
(based on Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou)
There's people in the dark
Playing at the park
Having fun for all.

Jumping up and
All falling down
Having fun for all

Rolling in the grass
Fast as a flash
Having fun for all

Going to sleep
Brushing my teeth
Having fun for all

Laying on my bed
Surrounded from hay
Having fun for all.
Sleep Dreams

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Found Poems

Today we started on some poetry.  My theory is that kids like my little muffin-heads should love poetry since it breaks all the rules.  Why hit them with rhyme and meter and stanzas when they can just go hog-wild and make stuff up for once in their lives?  For this reason, I assign Found Poems pretty early in the game. It helps them play with words and not feel the pressure of creating from scratch.  Not only that, but they get to rifle through magazines in the hopes of coming across an underwear ad or a photo of someone drinking beer or smoking a cigarette--this is always a motivator. 

Choose a higher power in the
guide your spirit to upgrade
to peace
[By J.]

The coffee it's good
you have to try the best smooth.
Tell your heart
You love it
We're the acceptable in the world
Let's keep the taste like that
[By M.]

broke down crying
I was so touched
keep it together
a refreshing change?
keeping happiness for my family
trying to like my family
[By S.]

If you camp
Saving the Earth
blackouts stay home!
[By M.]

If you like reading these, I posted the rest of them here. I will try to post pictures as well.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Quote of the Week

D. is working on an independent project that requires him to stretch a piece of vinyl across a square shape.  One of the corners keeps bunching up and misbehaving. R. is following our conversation:

D:  This is frustrating!  I can't get this corner to fit into the square.
Ms. M:  Are you feeling like you just keep trying to fit that corner into that square?
D: Yeah!
Ms. M: Feeling like you keep trying all sorts of things with that corner and that corner just doesn't want to go where you think the corner ought to go?
D: Yeah!
(getting a hopeful look in his eye--thinking he may be excused from the assignment due to ill-fitting corners)
Ms. M: Feeling like you've tried as hard as you can and that corner won't follow the rules that corners need to follow?
D: Yeah...?
(the light is dawning...)
Ms. M.:  Yeah, I know exactly how you feel.
D: Yeah...
R. (to D.):  And you're the corner.  

Thank you R., for driving it home for the Boss.