Posts In Category Reflections
24 hours ago, I was preparing for the Kimbell Event. Two teachers who had planned to attend had to cancel: one teacher’s father had a heart attack on Monday and she was on her way to Oklahoma to be with him; the other teacher had unexpected family pop in on her. I nearly cancelled for the same reason: I had unexpected family pop in for a visit but I was able to foist them off on others so I could host the event. Who would show up?
I was astonished by who showed up: a teacher from California.
As it turns out, only one other teacher came but what a story! Lora was not in any way connected with DEN. Instead, she is the distant relative of a friend who had heard about my event through Facebook. Lora is from San Francisco and on her way to visit family in the Northeast. Her flight was cancelled, rerouted, etc. and she found herself stranded for the day in DFW. She asked for ideas of stuff to do on Facebook to while away the time and someone pointed her in my direction at the Kimbell. Thus, we met.
Lora doesn’t use Discovery; she’s not even sure they have it available at her school but she’s going to ask. We spent the afternoon talking about school, Discovery, lesson planning and curriculum, art, and how to use art in the classroom. We ended up visiting both the Kimbell and the FW Museum of Modern Art. We both found art we thought we could use in the classroom. We both had ideas for lesson plans by the time we left.
She asked for information about DEN, which I was able to supply. I’m hoping she left as inspired by me as I was by her.
Even though it was just the two of us, I’m glad I didn’t skip the event. I feel I made a very important contact… and perhaps a new friend.
From my book review on GoodReads
In 2012, I was selected to be a giver in the US’ first World Book Night giveaway. I was given a list of 30 books to provide to reluctant readers from which I was to choose three titles as possible giveaways. In addition to Because of Winn Dixie, I chose Friday Night Lights and Speak. World Book Night and Barnes and Noble selected Because of Winn Dixie as my giveaway book.
I hadn’t read the book nor had I seen the movie. To introduce World Book Night to the students selected from ESL and remedial classes, I bought and played the movie. (Watching the movie first is a “best practice” for ESL students. The movie provides a visual context for the book.) To lure students to this afterschool activity, I provided Oreos and fruit juice.
13 students showed up. Several students began reading the book as the movie was running. A small group of ESL students held commentary as the movie played. All the students appeared pleased with receiving their very own copy. One child, Lester, couldn’t believe that he was getting his very own book. (He’s in the foster care system and carries all his belongings in a plastic bag.)
Over the course of the next several weeks, students would drop by and let me know where they were in the book. Lester asked if he could borrow the movie to watch at home as he read. I lent it to him over Spring Break. Later, he asked if he could have another copy of the novel. Some boys had bullied him and torn out the pages before he was done. Fortunately, I had extras.
I donated the extra copies of the book to the medium security prison my mother works at. She runs a program at the prison wherein the prisoners record themselves reading books aloud. The books and recordings are sent to the prisoners’ children so that the children have books read to them by their parents.
Last night, in a final effort to put off doing my summer homework, I finally read Because of Winn Dixie. It’s a charming book and I can see its appeal. Animal and dog lovers will appreciate the good qualities of Winn Dixie, the dog. Both children and adults can appreciate the loneliness of a girl moving to a new town as well as the loneliness of her father, an abandoned husband. Parents in my very conservative school will appreciate the “Christian” feel to the book which never feels preachy.
I really, really appreciate Kate DiCamllo’s afterword. I think I’ll be adopting her mantra “writing is seeing” as part of my theme for the next school year.
Note: I have posted this book as one of my books for reluctant/struggling readers on Pinterest
When does summer end?
Is it when I set my alarm clock?
Does it end when my alarm clock goes off?
Is it over when I climb into my car?
Is summer over when I enter the building?
Is it over when I begin setting up my classroom?
Is summer finished when my classroom is ready for students?
Does it finish when that first bell rings?
Does it end when the first child sits in a seat?
Because it definitely ends before the calendar says it does!
At least it ends for me.
It’s summer and summer training season has begun
The first training of the summer is CLN (bhahdy-blah-Notebook), the district-approved form of ISN (Interactive Student Notebooks (trademarked)). The Social Studies Dept. got together with the GT (Gifted and Talented) Department to create CLN. Originally, the training was limited to the Social Studies Dept. but GT opened it up to all departments, all grades.
The trainer was very well-informed. The training made sense yet I left the building infuriated.
The morning session began with a lesson on Accountable Talk, the next wave of the latest and greatest best practice for the district. Teachers will be expected to implement Accountable Talk in the next school year. Accountable Talk is, basically, the norms of group discussions. Students will be evaluated on what they say and how they act. Are they respectful? Do they stay on task? Do they stay on topic? Are they supportive and helpful of one another? Do they ask questions? Failure to follow the norms will result in lower grades.
As the next district-wide push, all discourse will be graded according to rubrics. Grades demonstrate the importance placed on polite, task-oriented discussion.
After lunch, the presenter tackled reading and writing. We learned about public and private writing (essays vs. text messages and notes). The Language Arts teachers were happy to hear that Social Studies students were expected to generate five public writing samples each year and to practice private writing at least three times a week. Then the other shoe dropped.
“We don’t take off for spelling or grammar.”
Other departments admitted to following the same practice.
No one else is taking off for spelling or grammar!?! Do you mean to tell me that the only department that takes off points for spelling and grammar is the Language Arts department!?!
If no other department is taking off points, then how important is grammar and spelling?
What is the message being sent to the students? (Hint: It’s not “spelling and grammar are important.”)
Adding to my outrage is Accountable Talk. I’m being told that the district is going to support grading class discussion (which is not recorded and, therefore, we have no evidence to prove the validity of the grade) yet student writing, with its inherent evidence of writing skills, will not be evaluated for mechanics by any other department.
By my calculations, what students say is more important than what they do/produce in my district.
I am not a happy camper.
I received a thorough reaming yesterday because I require too much reading for my preAP classroom. I left school depressed and ready to quit teaching, at least at the public school level.
I reluctantly returned to school this morning and found this note in my e-mail.