The Next Page: Beth’s Journal–Ms. Page fritzes out

The Next Page: Beth’s Journal–Ms. Page fritzes out

notebook pageSo, I could have written this on my own at home last night, but I just *had to* save it up for my classroom journal. 

***

Ms. Page went a little zooey yesterday after school.

I was coming out the front doors and there she was marching past me and straight to the office. 

When she came back out, she was putting on one of the yard duty’s yellow vests and she had a whistle hanging out of her mouth and she was heavy-duty glaring straight ahead.

She stepped right in front of a big blue SUV, turned and faced it with her hand held up, and blew her whistle.

mean traffic copThen she waved kids toward her. They were frozen. She told them to move along, that it was safe. I kind of think the kids would rather have stepped in front of the SUV than to disobey her, so across they went, including a couple of kids who didn’t even plan to cross.

This went on for ten straight minutes. 

One of the moms actually honked her horn at Ms. Page. I wanted to cover my eyes, but I just couldn’t. 

Ms. Page blew the whistle even louder and raised her arm even higher. I saw the mom cover her face and look downward.

Ms. Page yelled, “Put your phone down and pay attention!” at another parent. 

And I heard her saying something to herself about ‘not part of the solution…part of the problem’.

It was all over in about ten minutes.

When the last car pulled away…slowly!…the few remaining moms and dads walking their kids home applauded Ms. Page, who by that time looked a little bedraggled [one of our vocab words of the week!] and embarrassed on her way back to the office.

Best. Show. Ever.

The Next Page Entry 27: Another Chat with Mrs. Nix

The Next Page Entry 27: Another Chat with Mrs. Nix

Mrs. Nix: When do you have reading?

Ms. Page: The time varies, but our daily minutes allotment surpasses the district expectation.

Mrs. Nix: But our schedule dictates that everyone reads at the same time.

Ms. Page: I figured that since we’re out here on our own, if we vary our schedule, it won’t disrupt others. And I’m making some judgment calls on when the students are more primed for reading.

Mrs. Nix: Judgment calls? Interesting.

Ms. Page: That time right after lunch, at least in September, isn’t always the best for them. It’s the warmest part of the day and I see the kids kind of sag, especially when I try to teach subskills.

Mrs. Nix: I see. So, you’re using morning for that?

Ms. Page: Very often, yes.

Mrs. Nix: Which book are you reading right now?

Ms. Page: Well, we started with the publisher’s suggested non-fiction book about scientists studying tarantulas, but, even with differentiation, the kids weren’t showing a lot of interest in it. And as I saw them struggle, I confess I was losing interest in it.

Mrs. Nix: So, you’re telling me what?

Ms. Page: I changed things up. They needed something lighter, something they would enjoy as they eased back into the school routines.

Mrs. Nix: Soooo?

Ms. Page: So, for the rest of September, they will be reading self-selected books. Most of them chose fiction, I noticed.

Mrs. Nix: Are you thinking you’re smarter than the publishers?

Ms. Page: I’m thinking I know my students better than the publishers do.

Mrs. Nix: It’s looking like we will need to continue this meeting.

Ms. Page: That seems fair. Do I need to bring anything?

Mrs. Nix: Just your attention and a willingness to be a team player. And we’ll be talking about your leaving Jeremy at school during your jaunt to the park.

Ms. Page: Just let me know the time, Mrs. Nix…

The Next Page Entry 23: Overheard in the staff room

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 18: Math Scramble

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.”

The Next Page Entry 17: Aftermath of Chat with Mrs. Nix

The Next Page Entry 17: Aftermath of Chat with Mrs. Nix

silhouette of person scratching head pondering

So I promised Mrs. Nix that I would look into changing things up.

I wasn’t exactly specific, was I?

Gotta admit, I didn’t realize right then how open-ended ‘changing things up’ is. But I like it…

Anyway, I don’t want to alarm poor Mrs. Nix with my being ‘different’. I would just as soon stay off her radar–like all the other years–where she pretty much just tolerated me as long as I followed the ‘schedule’.

For now, I guess I’m on her radar. I was surprised she sauntered out to our rural setting to begin with.

Questions: Did someone alert her to our ‘rebellious’ ways? Or did she just follow her ‘Spidey-Sense’? Or did she actually have a question for me that she forgot to address?

***

Elsewhere on the teaching front…

Beth Hansen is watching me like a hawk.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she kept a dossier on me, though extra work isn’t exactly her strong suit. She’s just that kind of obsessively observant kid.

**I might need to put a bell on her so I know her whereabouts.

On the other hand, speaking of Spidey-Sense, this kid knows when I’m scrambling and seems to show up when I need saving.

The Next Page: From the journal of Beth Carson…

The Next Page: From the journal of Beth Carson…

notebook page
We’re writing till our hands ache. Ms. Page said something about using our ‘thinking-and-writing muscle’ every day. Yeeesh, I just don’t like the sound of that. All summer I was sure I had Ms. Page figured out. Here I was ready for a whole year of doing as little work as possible. And now we’re in Marine boot camp, doing exercises first thing in the morning.

I swear it felt like breakfast was an inch from coming back up.

Kind of glad it didn’t, since Mrs. Nix showed up right about then.

I looked over at Ms. Page. Suddenly she was the one who looked like her breakfast was an inch from coming back up.

The Next Page Entry 16: A Chat with Mrs. Nix

The Next Page Entry 16: A Chat with Mrs. Nix

Mrs. Nix: So, that was interesting. Shouldn’t you have been teaching math at that time?

Joanna Page: Well, actually, we were about to start counting by multiples of six as we did those burpees, but I figured you’d seen enough.

Mrs. Nix: Oh? How could you tell? And…burpees?

Joanna Page: Burpees are just fancy jumping jacks that I make fancier by weaving in a little math. And pretty much any teacher can tell when an administrator isn’t thrilled with things.

Mrs. Nix: What is it? A knitted brow? A frown?

Joanna Page: I’m not sure I can describe it. It’s more of a vibe we pick up on.

Mrs. Nix: So, Joanna, you seem, umm, different this year. What’s going on?

Joanna Page: Different? How so?

Mrs. Nix: You just seem to be in your own little world. Like you’re not ‘with the program’.

Joanna Page: I’m sorry you think that. I guess I’m just adjusting to a new classroom and a new class of kids.

Mrs. Nix: Well, I have another meeting, so see if you can’t fall back in line with our schedule.

Joanna Page: I’ll take a look at changing things up.

The Next Page Entry 15: Burpees

The Next Page Entry 15: Burpees

Yep, burpees. 

My version, which my brothers taught me, is basically a fancy jumping jack, but why not mix things up?

So, for the second round of 10:00 Flex Time, we lined up seamlessly, marched out Marine-like to our designated safe place, and promptly disintegrated into a roiling swarm of nine-year-olds. 

Once back in our circles, we learned the art of the burpee–do a jumping jack, then, back at starting position, bend at the knees with hands on the ground, shift to a push-up position, return to knees-bent, and back to standing/starting position. Repeat process.

The kids needed a step-by-step demonstration, followed by a  slo-mo demo, and then they partnered up to practice.

[No surprise, they loved the name. Not quite sure how this will be translated at the family dinner table.] 

Once they got the hang of it, I had them do a set of three. Still confusion reigned, and I just shrugged and giggled at a group of two dozen kids in various stages of contortion. Hey, they were moving, right? And laughing. And getting fresh air…

All under the gaze of an unexpected visitor.

Double-yikes. [Would she be at all impressed that there is an actual World Burpee Day? I could only hope.]

The Next Page Entry 14: Overheard in the staff room

The Next Page Entry 14: Overheard in the staff room

“What crawled inside the fridge and died?”

“I want to know who added caffeine to the water supply.”

“Please don’t tell me I have yard duty. I left my Kevlar vest at home.”

“I swear the activity ran itself. The kids were geniuses.”

“Three-day work weeks…that’s the ticket.”

“Yeah, I guess September 16 is a little early to pray for a snow day.”

The Next Page Entry 13: Morning break–My version

The Next Page Entry 13: Morning break–My version

morning break annie-spratt-fBrGckWLQ0Q-unsplash
Okay, ours wasn’t quite as free-flowing. But give me time. **Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

So, morning break.

A first step was to NOT call it ‘morning break’. I’m going with “10:00 Flex Time”. My thinking: Renaming it helps the ‘Why does Room 36 get morning break and we don’t?’ objection.  I like the multiple meanings, as we’ll be flexing our brains and our muscles, while also being flexible with our time. 

Because I wanted this first foray to go smoothly, I took them through each step ahead of time. [Someone calls it ‘journifying’.]

We walked out in two parallel lines. We formed two circles. After a quick review of a proper jumping jack, we did three sets of ten. As we did the jumping jacks, we counted by multiples of four. [Always fun to hear the inevitable confusion of numbers as they get higher…Note to self–a little review of ‘The Fours’ would be a good idea.]

I limited our flex time to just that. I wanted the basic steps to sink in. The kids will eventually ask why we’re always located behind the classroom. While we might be heard, we won’t be seen. No need to call attention our way any sooner than necessary. [With each day, I’m liking this whole ‘exiled to the boondocks’ more and more.]

Tomorrow: Burpees.