The Next Page Entry 23: Overheard in the staff room

“It’s a beautiful day! One filled with sunshine…a temptation to escape to the beach.”

“Ah yes, the ‘other’ white meat…cafeteria hot dogs.”

“The best way to teach angles? Take aerial photos of us walking in from lunch after I’ve asked them to form a straight line.”

“I know I’m off by about four months, but I could really go for a box of Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts.”

The Next Page Entry 22: Cooling Off Room 36

Mr. Taylor: Ms. Page, what’s with the fridge tucked away in the corner?

Ms. Page: Is it that obvious? 

Mr. Taylor: I’d say draping a rainbow-colored towel over the thing doesn’t exactly hide it.

Ms. Page: Yeah, I guess I should go for funeral-gray, shouldn’t I?

Mr. Taylor: So, a fridge?

Ms. Page: Here’s the deal. Last week, Max came in after lunch recess with a nasty bump on his elbow. He was in pain and you could almost hear the fluid and white blood cells rushing to the bump.

Mr. Taylor: Well, as long as you’re not exaggerating…

Ms. Page: Okay, okay. But it was swelling up and I sent him to the office with Jeremy and, like I said, he was in pain. And 15 minutes later, he came back with the typical sandwich bag of ice. And I figured, we’re so far away from the office, why don’t I just keep my own ice blocks ready for something like this? So I wheeled one in over the weekend.

Mr. Taylor: Whoa, whoa, I’m still stuck on your sending Jeremy with Max. Wasn’t Max already in enough pain?

Ms. Page: Just an experiment. I’m thinking Jeremy just needs a few responsibilities to distract him from his bullying.

Mr. Taylor: Orrrr, you’re opening up another opportunity for him to torment a kid.

Ms. Page: Just give me time. Besides, I thought you were interested in the fridge.

Mr. Taylor: Okay, back to the fridge. Can I keep some stuff in it?

Ms. Page: Of course, but it’ll cost you.

Mr. Taylor: No way! 

Ms. Page: Just kidding, but I did send the district $50 to pay for Frieda’s estimated electricity costs.

Mr. Taylor: Frieda? You named your fridge?

Ms. Page: What can I say? I’m already attached to it. Besides, I have a whole ‘states of matter’ science unit planned where the fridge will be really helpful.

Mr. Taylor: So you sent the cash straight to the district office. Aren’t you going over the boss’s head a little bit?

Ms. Page: You know how that goes…better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? And I’m not sure it will reflect well on her if I ask the district office for my money back because my administrator wants the fridge removed.

Mr. Taylor: You’re just evil. 

Ms. Page: I prefer the word ‘resourceful’, thank you. And, if you’re interested, there might be some juice bars available after school on Friday.

Mr. Taylor: Okay, now you’re not even playing fair.


For the first 20 entries to this writing project, click here.

The Next Page Entry 21: 10-Minute Field Trips

boy with cameraSo, here I sit at the end of a Monday.

New policy: Do something entirely new each Monday so I have something to look forward to on what used to be my least favorite day of the work week. Today, we took a 10-minute field trip.

Mrs. Nix is gone through Wednesday so I’m taking liberties with the schedule. It’s entirely possible she has a staff member [or three] keeping an eye out for scofflaws like me. Or am I just being paranoid?

No matter.

So, 10-minute field trips. Striking a blow for actual science experiences, as opposed to the current approach of ‘Hey, if what you’re reading for language arts mentions spiders or planets or the ocean, that counts as science!’.

We fanned out with our journals, rulers, and cameras and aimed to complete three mini-tasks:

  1. Find a ‘plant population’ within an area of three square feet.
  2. List five different colors in nature.
  3. Sketch one of the plants.

Goal: Build up their observational skills. Get them to sketch.

And so…I should have confined their ventures a bit. A fair amount of craziness. Decibel level higher than I’d expected, but we were out on the frontier, so not too worried. Got my exercise for the day. Haven’t seen the photos yet. Mr. Taylor and his kids took a break to watch us. A decent first step toward our trip to the park.


For the first 20 entries to this writing project, click here.

The Next Page Entry 20: Learning Elsewhere?

I like the way the kids are handling the outside time. They’re not perfect, of course, and ‘sources’ tell me bullying is rearing its ugly head, but I think overall this is a group that can handle learning beyond the school grounds.

Mrs. Nix will be gone a few days next week [thank you, Mr. Taylor, for that nugget], so it might be a good time to get some off-campus science going without immediate interrogation.

Next steps: 10-minute field trips at the school and parent permission slips for visits to the park.

The Next Page Entry 19: Six Words Only

I threw the kids a curve during journal time. A few are complaining about too much writing, so I zigged. [Or did I zag?]

Today, they could only use six words to describe their summer break. [I don’t want them to put their summer break in the past just yet.]

My hope: Squeeze their thinking, make them focus on the most helpful/descriptive nouns, verbs, or adjectives to recreate that time.

I gave them pieces of cash register tape for their final draft to be pinned on the graffiti bulletin board.

[Yep, there was a short discussion about hyphenated words being treated as single words. I officially broke my own six-word rule and the kids aren’t letting me forget it.]

The Next Page Entry 18: Math Scramble

boys chasing in field of grass
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

So, Mrs. Nix wanted us to be ‘on schedule’ during our 10:00 Flex Time.

Welcome to…

Math Scramble

Required:

–Index cards with numbers or operators [=, – x, ÷] on them.
Some cards will have numbers on one side and operators on the other.

Some will have numbers on one side and an operation [like ‘times 2’] on the other.

–Plastic hoops [Hula Hoops]/traffic cones as ‘destinations’. Teacher decides the distance between hoops.

–Marking pens

Optional: First aid kit for possible collisions. ;-]

Student assistants can be used to: [rotate them in so all kids are doing math during the session]

–play music during ‘computation times’ [i.e. math scrambles].

–video record some of the rounds and take photos of groups with correct results.

–check for correct results or give a quick ‘math boost’ [correct answers to urgent requests—’What’s 4 x 15?’]

**Where do the kids with cards that don’t match the description go? To the middle.

Teacher serves as the ‘math inspector’.

Sample rounds

“All kids with operators [great math vocabulary!] run to the red hoops!”

“All kids with even numbers run to the blue hoops.”

“All kids with odd numbers…”

“All kids with factors of…”

“All kids with multiples of…”

“All kids with prime numbers…”

“All kids with composite numbers…”


Now it’s time to team up. ** Hoops aren’t required for these rounds.

A few students can be given blank cards to use as ‘math ad lib’ [wild cards], as needed.

For example: Your team has to create a ‘15’ and if you’re currently at 30, the ad lib card card be used as a ‘divide by 2’ card.

“Make sure your team knows what number you’ve created and decide who will announce/explain it at inspection.” [Ex. “Our team created a ___. This is what we did…”]

“Team up to create a 10!”

“Team up to create a 100!”

“Team up to create a prime number!”

“Team up to create a multiple of 5!”

“Team up to create a number larger than 20!”

“Team up to create a number smaller than 50!”


“Now…you will need to use at least four people to create a 60.”

“Now…use at least four people to create a 35.”

“Now…use at least four people to create a multiple of 7.”


“Now, it’s time to switch cards. If you have an operator card, make sure you now have a number card…Ready? Let’s do a few more rounds.”