The Next Page Entry 58: Suspicions arise

The Next Page Entry 58: Suspicions arise

woman spy in dark glasses

So, this was interesting. On Friday, Mrs. Nix was not available for the weekly behavior awards assembly, so she had the head custodian run the show. 

Now I have nothing against custodians and they are pivotal to a school’s smooth operation, but doing what the principal, or at least a teaching staff member, should be doing? 

I guess the reasoning is the custodian sees pretty much every kid every day, whether it’s in the lunch room or in the yard or hallway…I guess.

There just seems to be something more here. 

I can’t put my finger on it, but there are times when it feels like we are being ‘observed’ by Shaina, as if she’s taking mental notes. And who she might share these mental notes with, well, the same person who assigned her Friday assembly ’emcee’ duties would be my guess.

Some of this suspicion comes from the kinds of questions she ‘casually’ asks us when she’s cleaning the room, questions that beg for opinions about how the school is being run, rather than the simpler, more objective, ‘what did you do today?’ type comments. Or even more preferable, ‘I promise I won’t skip cleaning your room every other day.’

And she seems to be lingering in the staff room more than I recall, and that’s coming from me, who keeps staff room time to a minimum.

Odd…this much I can say. I’m buttoning up around her a bit.

The Next Page Entry 58: Word clouds and class rules–perfect partners

The Next Page Entry 58: Word clouds and class rules–perfect partners

classroom rules for respect word cloud gif

Gotta say, I’d be in dire straits without ol’ Beth and Sanjay looking after me. At least when it comes to technology. These kids know everything, and not just about the inner workings of the equipment.

They showed me a site that makes word clouds.

I love the randomness and freedom these things give the kids, who can still show what they know in their own personal style. And when it’s something new, it’s easier to sneak in an actual lesson, some valuable content, without them realizing I’m actually assessing them. They see it as more of an art-type project. Perfect.

Note to self: Ask teachers if they’re open to giving up their designated bulletin board month. We won’t need to let Mrs. Nix know…

***

And so, why not keep up the momentum on mutual respect [I prefer that topic to ‘bullying’.].

Simple: Make a word cloud of rules or guidelines focused on courtesy and consideration of others.

List your guidelines on paper. [At least five.]

Throughout the day, take turns with the iPad to use that list to create your word cloud from your list.

At the end of the day, we will create a whole-class word cloud so be ready to contribute one of your guidelines.

[This journal is turning out to be a good way to think through activities.]

***

I wonder if I can use these things for math…

Science would be a breeze. And it’s time for another field trip to our park…yes, our park. Hey, why not give the kids a little sense of ownership when it comes to a study site? They like that phrase, ‘study site’. Makes them feel all ‘college-ish’, to use Beth’s word.

The Next Page Entry 57: A matter of time…

The Next Page Entry 57: A matter of time…

clock drawing on chalkboard

Saw a cartoon in the paper recently with the caption, ‘Alarm clocks…because every morning should begin with a heart attack.’

My version: “School bells…because every day should end with a heart attack.”

I swear they [whoever ‘they’ is…but I have a pretty good idea.] crank up the volume to 11 [aka’ Led Zeppelin-KISS-AC/DC’] at 3:00.

And is it just for Room 36?

Or am I being paranoid?

Or, should I say, more paranoid than before?

The Next Page Entry 56: P.S.

The Next Page Entry 56: P.S.

Received a memo about a districtwide change in expectations–an uptick, really–re: our adherence to the common core standards. [Hmmm, I noticed I didn’t use upper-case for ‘common core’. Shrug.]

Anywaaaay, an observation…P.S. In a letter, it usually suggests an afterthought, some added notion to throw in at the last minute.

Pendulum Swing.  And.  Paradigm Shift

Both favorite momentum killers in education today…

Both are P.S.’s.

Coincidence?

The Next Page Entry 54: Bullying…fill in the blank

The Next Page Entry 54: Bullying…fill in the blank

bullying prompts word cloud
Click for ‘special effect’.

Re: the bullying activity…

Three additional bullying prompts…more like ‘treating others decently’ prompts, actually.

This time, I asked them to fill in blanks.

I created groups of three for them to share their answers.

I didn’t require them [though I encouraged them] to share their answers.

Sanjay was in Jeremy’s group. Yes, I engineered that. It was to be a test for both of them. If Sanjay could at least address the peripheral issues of bullying, with Jeremy in the group, that would be a step forward for him. 

At the last minute, I switched cards. I decided ‘too much too soon’. And instead—wonder of wonders—Beth ended up in the group with Jeremy.

Here were the prompts I provided:

—By standing up for a friend, I learned to…

—Knowing what’s right is meaningless unless you…

—Respect others, so that…

I was tempted to linger/lurk near the Beth-Jeremy group, but that would have been too obvious. So I circulated and watched from afar.

Beth read her answers and I noticed she went wellllll beyond short phrase fill-in responses. And she looked right at Jeremy as she read, with an occasional glance at Annie. Jeremy sat with his arms folded, looking elsewhere as Beth read, but watching Annie as she read. Watching her intently, in fact.

Hmmmmm…

young black haired girl looking skyward wondering

Do I possibly have another ‘ally’ in my search for justice in Room 36?

The Next Page Entry 53: Thoughts on bullying…

The Next Page Entry 53: Thoughts on bullying…

When I see one classmate…

So, yes, I need to be more proactive with this bullying thing.

And yes, it does stem from one person, but anybody who acts as a fan, follower of, or ‘lieutenant’ for, that person is a bully as well. They seem to get a charge out of seeing someone with less power than they have.

Today, I wrote a couple of story starter journal prompts, but then I drew a horizontal line underneath those and added these two:

  1. When I see one classmate mistreat another classmate…
  2. Some ways kids mistreat other kids include…

I reminded the kids that they were welcome to drop their journal on my desk for me to read and left it at that.

Just out of curiosity, I’m making a point of not using any form of the word ‘bully’. Plus, it’s such a loaded term nowadays.

Next will be a short classroom activity.

The Next Page Entry 52: Who’s who in Room 36?

The Next Page Entry 52: Who’s who in Room 36?

I just realized…okay, not quite just realized…that I really haven’t mentioned many of my students. 

It’s difficult to NOT mention Beth, the strong-willed one who keeps her eagle eye on me seemingly at all times, unless she’s establishing peace and justice [well, her versions] elsewhere in the classroom. [I can almost hear her wheels turning, cranking out ideas on how to make something we’re doing better or more interesting not so ‘borrrring’…as if I don’t do that enough myself. 

And I’ve mentioned Sanjay because he is often linked with Beth. Great that she has taken him under her wing because he really was a lost little soul at first. She seemed to know what connects with him, starting with technology.

But as the days go by, I have noticed that he at times even stands up to her. And that is no easy thing. 

Unfortunately, the person whom Sanjay hasn’t yet stood up to is none other than Jeremy…I know I’ve mentioned him a little. He is actually a classic bully who knows how to dish it out, but doesn’t not deal well when it’s dished back.

I’ve tried reasoning with Jeremy, but he senses another kid’s vulnerability and he swoops in. Plus, he has a few admirers following him around on the playground. (Or are they just kids who don’t want to get on his bad side?). so that just emboldens him. And while there aren’t many who dare stand up to him, guess who seems to live for the opportunity?  Yes, Beth. 

Kind of funny to see that pint-sized dynamo get on her tiptoes to try to go nose to-nose with Jeremy. She’s known him since kindergarten and has put up with his stuff for all those years. I think it was second grade, though, when she finally had had enough and mashed his burrito with her fist and walked away. So I’m told…A cafeteria legend that has lived on.

A few things I have tried have slowed the behaviors for the short term, but I didn’t sustain the momentum. Blame it on my short attention span. My fault.

But this morning before school, Christina  came to me complaining about name-calling without telling me the guilty party. I was pretty sure who it was, though. So it’s time to revisit the issue.  And I have some ideas I’d like to test out. More later.

 

The Next Page Entry 51: Brownies with a twist

The Next Page Entry 51: Brownies with a twist


So, here’s the deal. I’ve been giving myself pep talks every day reminding myself that even though I’m not following the much-revered instructional schedule, it’s not as if I’m poisoning the kids’ minds. They’re still working with most of the expensive, bloated curriculum–it’s just that it seems it’s not a bad idea to mix things up…every day.

At the staff meeting, I brought some brownies that had tahini swirled in. I had decided earlier on oatmeal cookies, but this recipe looked too good to pass up, and I figured the chocolate stream would probably counteract anybody’s uncertainty about the tasted of sesame butter.
Mrs. Helm was extremely ‘on board’ with them. Mr. Taylor showed up at our table as well. Not sure if he knew I had treats or not. but there he was. I guess some people have a sixth sense about brownies. Anyway, I got the usual sneers from ‘the queens’ table [closest one to the exit…reserved for specific people, name cards not needed].
I couldn’t help but turn in their direction, lift a brownie just above eye level, drop it down to my mouth, and ceremoniously chomp down–my eyes rolling, my cheeks full. Probably not appreciated by the onlookers, but hey, you’ve gotta get through staff meetings somehow.
The Next Page Entry 50: The da Vinci Zone spreads

The Next Page Entry 50: The da Vinci Zone spreads

da vinci word cloud curiosity

Seems we’re getting a little bogged down in class.

The kids all wanted to share their videos and their findings from yesterday.

And they wanted extra notebook/codex time.

I guess it’s a good version of being bogged down, but we didn’t exactly dive into any new lessons. That may come back to haunt me…but then again, not sure I’m overly concerned with any possible misfortune.

And more than a few of them surrounded Mrs. Helm today, wanting their work to be included in the school’s weekly newsletter.

I don’t see that happening, but I will say that our class web page [thanks to Mrs. Helm] is, to use her term, ‘vibrant’ with all kinds of video clips and photos.

Kind of fun.

Haven’t caught up to Mrs. Nix re: her wanting to see me. [Or is it, I haven’t let her catch up with me?]

Time to get home to bake for Mrs. Helm. Staff meeting tomorrow and since she joined me last time, I’d better be well-supplied. Plus, I owe her for keeping up our class web page. I sent my right- and left-hand people [Beth and Sanjay] to find out what our beloved librarian would like for a treat.

Verdict: Oatmeal raisin cookies.