Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crazy things my students say

So the other day, my students and I were talking. I made a joke about one of them not bringing in cake for me since my birthday was on Sunday as she was eating fudge covered brownies right infront of me.

She quickly and politely offered me a piece but since class was right before Girls PE, it didn't seem like a good idea.

I was asked how old I was turning... "27" I replied to the few that had now joined the conversation.

I was asked if I was going to get "crunked up" to which I replied no. (Still have no idea what "crunked up" means but I am guessing it is not something I would like nor is school appropriate)

One student quickly responded by saying... "No, I think she is going to go celebrate by going to CrossFit and then do some math problems".

I laughed and said, "You know me so well... No just probably a movie and dinner with my Husband and a few friends."

I was then asked again, by someone who hadnt heard how old I was turning, how old I was going to be. I again stated "27", she quickly blushed and then moved away... I asked her where she was going so quickly. She stated that she thought I was much older than that and didnt want to offend me. I asked how old she thought I was and she replied "35 or so..."

OUCH! That hurt!

So apparently I am a 35 year old looking 27 year old math teacher who only does CrossFit and Math problems at home to celebrate because I am so cool...

Definitely made my day.

A good change has come...

Wow... So this has been quite a while since I have posted. Most change has been centered around my role at my school. At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, we scrambled to fill a math position and this left us in a screeching halt looking for a math teacher... A few came and went with trial and error and at the end of the first term of the school year, we finally found a HQ Advanced Math Teacher. She works wonders with the kids but due to her limited teaching schedule, she is only a Part Time teacher. This left us with a wonder of where we were going to put all of the rest of the kids who weren't in Geometry or Algbera II.

At the end of the second trimester, I was sat in my bosses office, said that I may be putting my foot in my mouth and offered to take on the Pre-Algebra and Algebra I courses fulltime. We talked it over and within a few days, we were looking at scheduling classes for the third term.

Boy was this an undertaking!

Not only did I take on the Pre-Algebra and Algebra I courses, but I also tested out a course in Technical Mathematics, a STEM based math class with the hopes of this being a Dual Credit course with our local community college in the future.

Last year turned out to be quite a success. Kids worked in math through proficiency since I had SO many students on SO many different levels of skills and understanding. It was chaos and most people would have run scared, but the chaos worked for me. As the kids and I progressed through the term, the chaos became a little less and soon it was a structured and we both succeeded.

This year I am teaching math full time and it has been great for me to move from Social Studies to Math. As I watch the State of the Union address tonight, I definitely miss teaching Government as one of the big things we would do in class afterwards, was to watch and analyze it. 

As I write this, I look forward to the first major project of Technical Math (my Dual Credit college class) of the term that my students begin tomorrow. They are getting the feel for the speed and the demands that a college class has. We are working on creating raised garden beds with students focusing on drafting, 3D drawing and basic carpentry skills. Skills that will be useful in the future. Skills that apply math in an engaging way. Skills that students are able to demonstrate in math without a regular test.

Photos of their projects will be coming soon and I am excited to share their experiences with you.

Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Be a Steward in the Community - Donate your Children's Books!

Dear Dialog,

Working in a charter school, one of our pillars is to be "stewards in the community". Being a steward in the community to us, means being a role model, upholding community values and being an asset to the community.

Tomorrow, each teacher at my school is going to present to the student population one activity they will be doing this term that helps our students be "stewards in the community". Some will include yearbook where your job is to create a living memory of the school year and the people who helped you get there. My activity is a little personal to me.

Over the years, I have seen a severe lack of books that many HeadStart classrooms and Children and Family shelters have. This has led to decide to have my activity be the following:

Students will write, illustrate and publish childrens novels which we will then donate to both HeadStart Programs and Children and Family Shelters across Douglas County. 

I am currently looking for a company that will publish these books and create hardbound copies of them for free. If you know of any, please let me know so that I can get in contact with them.

I hope that my kids are able to produce works like these that will influence kids forever.

Have a good night all!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome to My Classroom

Dear Dialog,

Today I had the opportunity to take pictures of my classroom. It is still a work in progress. I plan on creating a "Graduation Tree" where my homeroom kids will paint their hand print on the tree and sign their name and year inside of it once it dries. This will happen towards the end of the year.

Now, I have three quotes on my walls. These are my themes in my room for the year. This years are:

"I can't teach you anything. I can only teach you to think."
When teaching Social Studies, more importantly History, I could care less about dates and facts. What I want kids to be able to learn is how to see what caused it. How to analyze a primary document. How to interpret what the original author meant over 100 or 200 years ago. I want them to be able to have a productive and meaningful discourse with multiple people and have the skills to do so. Teaching someone to think is a lot harder than teaching someone facts or dates and that is what I aspire to do.

"You will never get where you are going until you decide where you want to be."
This is a big one for my kids. Due to the economic down turn and the overall low socioeconomic status, the majority of my students tend to have a hard time deciding where and who they want to be after high school. This year I am really going to focus on helping them find something that they might want to do or study because without knowing or at least having a general idea of what they might like to do, they are less likely to get that college degree and obtain that higher salaried position that will provide for them and their future families.

"Education without desire, is no education at all."
I feel that in order to enjoy what you study, you have to like what you study. I am trying to make my lessons a lot more kid friendly. My focus has been on creating units that they specifically would want to learn about and projects they would actually want to complete, not just a regular assignment.

My room gets loads of wonderful natural sunlight, has five computers for student use, three whiteboards that get tons of use by me, 20+ mini whiteboards for my students to solve math problems and do mini pop quizzes in Econ, a NowBoard which is a much cheaper but just as good version of a SmartBoard and LOADS of storage space that works wonders!

Lastly, I leave you with some student art that hangs next to my desk. These are some of the extra special items I have collected over my now, soon to be three years of teaching in addition to my student teaching.

I hope you like my room just as much as I do!



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of School! The Excitement Begins!!!!

Dear Dialog,

Wow... What a day today was... If hectic/crazy/exhausting/overwhelming/absolutely amazing are not the words to describe how today went, I do not know what words will.

My classes were great. I have an amazing group of kids in the morning for my Academic Lab. We started their Diagnostic testing today in Reading and will work on their Writing and Math tomorrow. I will be then sitting down each each student and going over how they scored and what I can do in class to help them. This is very personalized and I think suits our kids better. I will also be creating an Education Plan and Profile which will help them see what classes they need to take, what skills they have left to learn and how close they are to meeting the requirements for graduation.

My 4th period US History class was a handful but good. My room is only set up to handle 20 students max, but because of a scheduling mishap, I had 27! It was crazy but fun. I have not had a class that large in 3 years! We are working out some of the bugs and kinks, and thankfully they will be fixed by Friday at the latest. We are also starting our Native American Unit tomorrow which I am very excited about. I have not taught this unit in two years, so it will both be a learning experience for me, but also a great opportunity!

And what can I say about my 6th period... I most definitely have some characters in there, one in particular that can either destroy my class or make my class wonderful. I am hoping to have a sit down with him tomorrow and see if I can make him a class leader so that he is able to keep the kids in line. He is the type of kid that likes to start a riot and then sit back and watch his work. If I can get him in the right direction, I feel that this is going to be my best Government class yet!

With all the craziness of the day, I did not get the chance to take photos of my room. I will post them tomorrow for your viewing.

And so, the glass of wine to my right that needs to be drank, the reading comprehension tests to my left that need to be graded then entered and the dogs who want to cuddle, I sign off for the day.



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meetings Meetings Meetings... Good things to come!

Dear Dialog,

The beginning of this year has been meetings, meetings, meetings... BUT, the good thing about these meetings is that we as a school are so much more prepared for the first couple of weeks of school and the policies and procedures that we plan to have for the entire school year than years previously. We are being held to a higher standard and more accountable but we are also pushing for a new model and one that I truly believe will be more successful.

This year, I for the most part, will be teaching the following classes:
Academic Lab: A class for students who have not met the OAKS Reading, Writing and/or Math requirements set forth by the state of Oregon. Students are scheduled into this class for periods 1-4, but will move to another class during Periods 2-4 if they need a higher level class. I will primarily be working with mid to high level students, meaning they are really really close to passing the OAKs exams. I will be helping them push through that last hurdle.

4th Period, United States History: I have not really taught a full on US History class in a bit so it will be interesting. I plan on having students start with Native American History, we are going to read a chapter from Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen called "Red Eyes". It discusses historical perceptions about Native American Tribes and how Native American History has been taught since Kindergarten. It is definitely a real eye opener. We will then continue on to the Colonial Period and end with the formation of the Constitution. This curriculum aligns up with the Local Community College and I am excited to have students read something that is not in a text book.

5th Period, Economics: I am upping the ante on my Econ kids this year. Instead of 12 weeks, this will be an 18 week course (so a trimester and a half). They will have to create work portfolios, create KBATs, do Quick Writes, Journal Entries and only be able to use an Index Card on exams. We are really going to exam study techniques. One fun thing I am going to have them do though is to Fix the Federal Budget. This will be their final exam after we discusses taxes and tax laws.

6th Period, Government: I am also upping the ante on my Government kids. They are going to have ample homework (although if they use their time wisely in class, their homework will be limited). We are really going to focus in on the formation of the US government, but also compare and contrast it to other nations. The last 8 weeks of the class or so, will all be current event and debates which I am really looking forward too.
7th Period, Girl's PE: This is definitely going to be my most interesting class. I have lots of work out created and just purchased T25. There is definitely an eclectic group of girls in there so we will see how the year progresses as they will be enrolled in it all year.

Well, that is all for tonight. One more day of meetings and prep and then a wonderful three day weekend! Classes start Tuesday so I will have much to report back then!

Till Tuesday!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

And the 2013-2014 School Year Begins!

Dear Dialog,

Tomorrow is the first day of in-service for us teachers here in Oregon. This means that my room is almost done being set up; I have been lesson planning like crazy; getting in touch with colleges with the best help of my colleague and friend, Kelly; I have five straight days of meetings; and I am one year closer to actually knowing what I am doing in my room! 

Year three tends to be a turning point for many educators. Many new teachers, do not make it past year three because of the bureaucracy, teens who think they know everything, parents who could be either over baring or totally uninvolved and because they are just not able to financially make it due to the SEVERELY low pay despite having a MASTERS degree. I hope that I am able to make it past year three and will continue teaching. While I am learning to work around the bureaucracy of education and the horrible and outdated laws that control us teachers, the teens who are learning that they might not know everything, being able to have parents take me seriously (even though for some of them, I am old enough to be a daughter or a sister) and almost debt free allowing me to actually live comfortably on a teacher's salary, I know that there is so much more that I cannot plan for and hope to make it past this last trial year. 

Lastly, many in education say that by the end of your third year, you actually know what you are doing. Your first year, you are a hard ass, over plan and micro manage. Your second year, you are a softie and become MUCH more flexible in your planning. By the end of the third year, you have your classroom management style down, have really started creating, if not already have a repoire with your kids, and know what you are going to be teaching (for the most part)

School starts officially on September 3rd and I have to say that I am excited for it. This summer has been one for the record books. The boy and I moved into a wonderful house. We got a second four legged family member, a German Shepherd/Alaskan Malamute/Lab mix named Kai who is oh so cuddly and thinks she is a human!, and we celebrated five wonderful years together. 
She naps like this but... 

                                          She sleeps like this!
Well it is time to sign off and get my last, good nights sleep before the meetings, hours of grading and sleepless nights due to planning begin... 

Get ready for lots of posts this year! There are so many exciting events to come!