Skip to main content

A Teacher's Summer

Now that the school year is over, I am already thinking about next year! How can I be a better teacher? I just purchased a book by Kelly Gallagher called In the Best Interest of (200×250)   . I have been teaching long enough to see how things "change" over time in the educational arena.  When I first started teaching, there were no standards.  I was given a list of novels to choose from and three writing types to teach; that was it!  Although it was nice having so much freedom, it was also frustrating at times.  I taught high school, and while some students knew the eight parts of speech, others did not.  While some students knew how to write an expository essay, others did not.  Then came the California State Standards.  It was an exhaustive list of standards, and most of these standards were simplistic in nature.  They really encouraged rote learning.  Now we have the Common Core Standards.  These standards are touted as being much more rigorous, and I do agree.   I like that students actually have to write as part of the state assessment.  I like that they have to synthesize information.  I like that there are questions on the test with more than one answer.  However, as a teacher, what I want to focus on is fostering a love of writing, reading, and learning in my students. So much of our focus is on preparing students for the end of the year test! I want to prepare them for life in the 21st century!  Gallagher's book tackles many of these issues.  So far he addresses both the pros and cons of the new standards.  He's also given me some great ideas for future writing assignments.  I highly recommend this book!

Popular posts from this blog

Oreos in China and Read 180

A few years ago I read an article about what happened when Kraft introduced the Oreo to the Chinese in 1996.  It was not a success.  The Chinese thought the filling was too sweet-the cookie too bitter.  Kraft almost pulled the beloved cookie off the shelves. Instead, they began a quest to find out how to make the Oreo appeal to the Chinese. Enter the green tea Oreo, the mango Oreo, and an Oreo in the shape of a straw (not sure that still qualifies as an Oreo).  The revamped Oreos were a huge success! I found the article fascinating and decided to design a lesson around  it to share with my students.

First I showed them a news clip from CNN about the topic. Then, I taught them a few vocabulary words that appear in the article using Kate Kinsella's method.  Next, we read the article together and marked the text. I did a think aloud as I read aloud to them.  After that, students created a T-Chart listing the ten most important words in the text, as well as five main ideas from the tex…

Bottle Flipping

Last week someone posted article on Facebook about the newest trend with middle schoolers-bottle flipping.  If you haven't heard of it, you probably don't teach middle school or have a child in middle school! Consider  yourself lucky! If you know about it, then you also know it's annoying as heck.  Kids (usually boys), toss a partially filled water bottle into the air so that it flips in midair.  The goal is to have the bottle land upright.  This year I have had to ask several students to put their water bottles away because they wanted to flip them.  I know,  I'm mean!  

After reading the Facebook article I thought, "Hey!  I bet I can incorporate this into a lesson somehow."  Using my Oreo lesson as a model, that's just what I did.  First, I found two different articles about bottle flipping.  I went through both looking for key vocabulary words.  I then typed out the sentences with the words and created an activity where students had to guess the definit…

How to Train, Tame, and Enjoy a Seventh-Grader

I remember when my oldest son went to middle school.  I was a mess.  I was so anxious about whether he'd like his teachers, make friends, and be able to handle all of the work.  I think I was one of those parents that drive teachers crazy. No, I WAS one of those parents. I emailed teachers with questions that I could have asked my son (even when I asked him, I didn't trust his answer).  I checked his grades every day.  I constantly asked him whether or not he was caught up on homework. I asked him who he ate lunch with. If he didn't like a teacher, I wanted him transferred to another class.   If he messed up, I wanted to fix it.  If he didn't turn in an assignment on time, I wanted the teacher to let him turn it in late.  If he forgot his lunch, I wanted my husband to bring it to him (thankfully he refused). If he wasn't starting his homework when I thought he should,  I was practically putting the pencil in his hand and opening the textbook. In other words, I was …