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Dogs in Class

Everyone knows that dogs make everything better.  My twenty-year-old son still comes in every night to give our golden retriever a kiss goodnight.  As much as I would love to bring my dog to school each day, I can't. However, I did the next best thing--Beanie Babies!  Lucky for me, I connected with a woman looking to give away her collection of dog beanies. She finally realized that they were not going to be worth a million dollars like so many people back in the 90s had hoped! She wanted to give them to someone who would appreciate them, and that person was ME!

Anyhow, I brought them into class, and just as I expected, the kids went nuts.  They now try to arrive early to class to get a dog to keep at their desk and keep them company!  One boy even asked if he could get one for his friend who was running late.  They put them on their computers, on their arms, on their heads, and even in their pockets.  They all have their favorite dog.  I can truly say that these little dogs have a…
Recent posts

Duck Races Equal Fun

I have found timers to be so helpful in my classes. It's easy to tell students, "Five more minutes" and lose track of time.   There are some great online timers available that students seem to love.  I project them onto my screen, so all students can keep track of how much time they have left. My favorite is the Duck Race Timer!  What is unique about this timer is that you can select the number of ducks for the race.   In my class, all students know their roster number for both my cell phone caddy and their assigned computer.  So, when I use the duck timer, the student with the winning number gets a prize! Beware!  The students become glued to the screen the last thirty seconds.  They began to count down in unison. There's lots of laughing and cheering (who doesn't love laughing and cheering?).  You would think the winner won an Olympic event! I especially enjoy using the timer in my Read 180 class for our twenty minute rotations.  I do turn the sound off for thi…

Magical Moments: Not Always Curriculum Related

When I asked my students for feedback a few months ago, many said that they would like to be able to choose their own article on occasion.  This seemed like a reasonable request, so every four weeks they get to choose their own article. They LOVE it. Yesterday in class, one of my students turned in his Article of the Week on how the song "Baby Shark" has gone viral.  
Anyhow, as I read his response to the article about the song, I became intrigued. I had never heard of the song, and apparently I am pretty out of it.  The song has been around for years, but a few years ago Pinkfong, a Korean children's entertainment brand,  created a  new version of the song on Youtube.  To date, it has 1.6 BILLION views!  
I looked up from my student's paper and asked, "How many of you know the "Baby Shark" song?"  Some began singing, some began laughing, some began imitating a shark opening and closing its mouth, and they ALL begged me to play it. So I did!  I proj…

Writing an Essay...with a Partner

Teaching writing to middle school students is not easy.  All students come with different skills and knowledge.  With 35 students in a class, it's impossible to sit down one on one and assist students with the writing process.  Teaching students to write a literary analysis is particularly challenging because most seventh-graders have little, to no experience.  Students need to learn to  develop a thesis statement, find evidence from the text to support it, provide the context of the selected quotations , and write insightful commentary on the evidence they selected. Remember, these kiddos are twelve! Graphic organizers are particularly helpful to these young writers. The biggest challenge is providing feedback to students as they are writing, rather than after they turn their work in for a grade.  Students need to be able to use the feedback they receive and see the difference it makes in the final product.  I was adamant that I was not going to grade over a hundred horrible essa…

Magic Cards

I was sitting in Vinaka Coffee Shop in Carlsbad about twenty years ago reading a book on classroom management, when I stumbled across a gem that I have held on to ever since--magic cards!  No, these cards have nothing to do with card tricks or Yu-gi-Oh.  Instead, they are a great way to get honest feedback from your students that can help you be a better teacher  I really wish I could give credit to the author of the book, but even after searching the internet, I could find nothing about these cards or what book they came from!

We just wrapped up the fifth week of school, so I felt students had enough information about me and my class to give me some honest feedback.  I had students pack up all of their things except a pen or pencil and passed out a square of paper to each student.  I told them that they should not write their names on the card but that they would be handing me the sheet of paper as they walked out the door.  On one side of the card they were asked to write a "plu…

Why I Still Love Teaching

This morning I woke up at 7 and reached over the side of my bed for my laptop.  I have done this every Saturday since school started.  I wanted  to prepare for our Monday morning meeting.  I spent twenty minutes trying to upload a file to a shared folder. Despite my efforts, I was unsuccessful.  A few minutes later I was in tears. I actually told my husband I didn't know if I could do this any more. You see, I have been teaching for twenty-seven years, and these  meetings are one of many new things added to our already overflowing plates.  I became a teacher because I love teaching. I became a teacher because I love kids. This file that I was trying to upload would have no immediate effect on my students or my teaching. After wallowing in self-pity for a few minutes, I decided that today's blog would have to be about all of the reasons I still love teaching.  There are many!

What I Love about Teaching

1) Coming up with the best way to teach a lesson to my students. Trying to fig…

Organizing Important Student Info

This post is probably more for teachers than parents, but it might give parents some insight into what we teachers do besides plan lessons, grade essays,, and teach their kiddos. :)
Every year I am inundated with emails containing very important information about my students.  Some of the emails contain Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), 504 plans, and important medical information. In addition, I have parents fill out a digital form (I love Google), and one of my questions is whether or not they have anything important they'd like to share with me regarding their child. Many parents tell me things like: my child wears glasses, my child has ADHD, my child has been homeschooled since kindergarten, etc.  With 150ish students, the amount of information I receive can be overwhelming. In the past, I created folders in Google for IEPs and 504s, but they are easy to access. The information was not organized by the period in which I had the student either. The emails I received we…