The Next Page Entry 22: Cooling Off Room 36

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

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 11: Tech-kids to the rescue

The Next Page Entry 11: Tech-kids to the rescue

ape with question marks
The three question marks give me too much credit.

So… here is my ‘rookie’ showing again…

All these photos were taken. Now what do I do with them?
Beth Carson, and her charming new sidekick, Sanjay, to the rescue.
Paraphrase time: [I’m leaving out eye-rolls, deep sighs, beads of sweat forming on my scalp, full-on blushes]

***

Beth: Ms. Page, when can we see the other kids’ photos?
Me: Hmm…let me think about that. [A lame ‘dodge’ on my part.]
Beth: Aren’t they on a computer?
Me: Tell me more. [Always good to model curiosity, right?]
Beth [turning to Sanjay, then back to me]: Can we help?
Me: Tell me even more.
Sanjay: Can we look in the cameras’ boxes?
Me: Of course you can.
Beth: We think there are cables we can use to transfer the photos to a computer.
Me: I will love you forever.
Beth: Yikes.

The Next Page Entry 10: Budding photographers

The Next Page Entry 10: Budding photographers

boy aiming camera toward sky
The rare occasion when the artist had some ‘alone’ time.

I was so taken with my 30 Circles activity, I had forgotten to write about Day 1 with the cameras…

I launched into the photo scavenger hunt and I ended up with photos of kids’ nostrils [my fault: I included ‘take a picture of a dark place’ in my scavenger hunt. So, I’m a rookie, sue me.]
Other scavenger hunt items:
— a four-sided figure
— something that shows an acute angle
— something that contains at least four colors
— something that is moving
— something affected by the wind
— something smaller than your thumbnail
— something taller than you
— something you might include in a story you would consider writing


Lots of fun and the kids were all over the playground–little bands of four  chasing after and barking suggestions at the one with the camera. A few near-collisions between the groups. No casualties, including the cameras.
Not easy to rein them in. They seemed deaf to the rather forceful blowing of the whistle.
I enjoyed using the camera myself to complete the scavenger hunt and  to document the kids at work.
I think Mrs. Nix had wandered to the nearest wing of classrooms, but I was too busy with my budding photographers to redirect.

All in all, tech is paying off. But I won’t hold my breath. This is me, after all.

 

The Next Page Entry 9: 30 Circles

The Next Page Entry 9: 30 Circles

thirty circles word cloudSo out of the blue I decided to launch into a new creativity challenge for the kids.
It was near the end of the day and they really were dragging.
I reached into my bag of tricks [i.e. my ever-growing library of ideas] and out came, 30 Circles. Normally, I would have given out a sheet of 30 Circles to each kid, but I didn’t want to take the time to print out that many copies.
So, there I went again—one copy for five kids, each taking turns.
And off we went…
They had ten minutes to create a new object out of each of the circles. I showed them how I turned one of the circles into a happy face. Not very original, but that was the point. I didn’t want them thinking plain and boring and obvious.
The challenge? Within ten minutes, complete all 30 circles.
I assured them they weren’t expected to reach that goal, so their more realistic challenge was to complete at least 20. What’s the reward? they asked. I honestly didn’t have one. There was a brief awkward moment…as if they weren’t used to doing something just to, well, ‘do something’.
Then we all shrugged, and I set the timer. [New tech skill! I used and projected on the whiteboard an online timer. Watch out, world! I could be dangerous with all this knowledge and such a reckless (relatively :-] It’s me, after all.) attitude.
I started the timer and played the William Tell Overture on a CD. [I know, I know, old technology.]
I noticed kids waiting their turn either looking around the classroom for ideas [Fine with me! It cranked up their observational skills!] or sketching out ideas on a piece of scratch paper so they would be ready to quickly contribute and move it along to the next teammate.
Four groups reached 20 and for the two that didn’t, I made a big deal over their originality. [One group merged five circles to make Olympic rings and the other created kaleidoscopic images as well as an image of a house as viewed through a camera’s viewfinder.]

Great way to end the first week of school.

The Next Page Entry 8: A Bump in the Road

The Next Page Entry 8: A Bump in the Road

So, the first obstacle to my tech ventures.

I got grilled by Mrs. Nix about using classroom money for the cameras. Okay, maybe not ‘grilled’, but at least ‘questioned with doubt in her tone’.

I told her that including their own photos would raise kids’ engagement with writing.

I told her that using cameras would heighten their observational skills. 

I told her that using cameras and photos link to at least four Common Core standards. Not my favorite fallback, mind you, but sometimes you have to use the ‘language-du-jour’.

And that’s why I should have stopped there.

I mentioned ‘visual literacy’. Not good. Whenever Mrs. Nix is vaulted out of her own comfort zone, she stiffens up.

“Well, I’ll think about it.” 

Uh-huh. That usually means ‘no’. 

So, right then and there, I changed course.

Even if she miraculously changed her ‘no’ to a ‘yes’, I didn’t want her thinking she was doing me a favor.

My words: “You know…I understand your concerns. I think I’ll just use my own money.”

At that moment, the lunch bell rang. I’m not always a fan of the bells, but it gave me a seamless escape.

I checked my watch, did the ol’ eyeglasses adjustment, and thanked her for her time. Not huffy. Not exasperated. Just matter-of-fact. 

And I was gone. With a few conclusions…

–I’m on my way out. From this school, at least.

–And since I am, why not keep stretching myself? [and a few of the ‘rules’].


This book’s excerpts will soon be also appearing in my 7 C’s Teacher Expo.

The Next Page Entry 7: Camera time!

The Next Page Entry 7: Camera time!

digital camera being. aimed at shiny image

Okay, I’ve committed to tech and I’ve already decided on my first venture: cameras. 

I’m starting with eight of them and hey, I have a little class money to spend, so why not?

Why cameras?

—I can afford the film. ;->

—Cameras beg to be part of an art curriculum. Photos’ visual nature can lead to all kinds of discussions about light and color and other elements of art.

—They are an automatic ticket to squeezing art into the curriculum, something at which I’ve failed miserably.

—Photos can amp up any of the other subject areas, as well.

—I have the feeling cameras are going to give me a much-needed kick in the seat of the pants if/when I drift back to my non-tech comfort zone.