August 2007 Archives

After having run-ins with two troubled students, Brian of An Audience of One questions how to make teenagers understand that dropping out of high school will affect them for the rest of their lives: The first student belligerently refused to serve her assigned detention... She said, “I hate school. I won’t go. You can’t make me.” ...My question to her was, “Ok, lets say your mom gives in and allows you to drop out. Then what?” She mumbled something about getting a job. “What kind of job could you do?” She couldn’t name a single job that ...


The Teacher Voices from Teacher Leaders Network are chatting about bulletin boards—and exciting ways to use them. Although most of the Networks’ members agreed classroom bulletin boards should display student work and encourage interactive activities, Patty deviated from the group: We were taught to minimize the amount of visual stimulation on the walls. We covered our boards with fabric in earth tones with no bright paper borders... As an individual diagnosed as having ADHD, and as a teacher of many students with this label, I am amazed at the effect this has on concentration and focus. Sometimes the environment ...


The first day of school has Junior High School Teacher sweating bullets—and it’s not from nerves. Although her classroom’s sweltering temperatures are “unbearable,” JHS says there’s no relief in sight: A few years ago, I complained that the fan system (we have no AC) in my room wasn't working. Or that it was working, but only when I turned on the heat. That wasn't going to do. I brought in fans from home, but still, my room was in the low 90's for three days in a row. They finally came to address the problem. And ...


Gracie from Today’s Homework responds to an inquiry from her former student teacher, now a newbie seeking advice. The beginning teacher asked her veteran-mentor a tough question: I'm trying to come up with a classroom management plan involving classroom expectations, consequences, and rewards, and I'm having a hard time with the consequences and rewards part. Gracie’s response includes a writing assignment she gives to her misbehaving students. As for rewards: I do silly things like The Happy Teacher Dance...or when I get a good answer or comment or reflection I’ll rush over and shake that student’s...


As the school year approaches, Doug from Borderland, self-described "organizational rebel," determines to come to grips with his disorderly habits and rid his classroom of all the unnecessary clutter: I will be ruthless. Old workbooks, lesson plans, my classroom library, science materials…all must be given a brief but hard look before I decide if they are worth putting someplace besides the “pile” that is going out the door. I am good at this purging. I do it every year. But this time is different. I’m burning bridges. Anything that’s really worth keeping is already in my head ...


Ken DeRosa of D-Ed Reckoning criticizes a San Diego Union Tribune article that says NCLB unfairly classifies schools as failing. The article says school leaders in the San Diego area feel the education law doesn’t acknowledge progress over time, but DeRosa disagrees. NCLB contains a Safe Harbor provision that permits a school that is, in fact, failing to avoid the "failing label" if it reduces its percentage of students not meeting standards by 10% of the previous year's percentage. I fail to see how this is unfair. If you are not meeting your state's pass rate and aren't improving ...


Dennis Fermoyle, speaking From the Trenches of Public Ed., is preparing for the school year by developing a new no-tolerance cheating stategy to punish students with wandering eyes. This year, I am seriously thinking about adopting what would truly be a no-tolerance policy for cheating. If I can get the approval of my principal (and that's pretty iffy!), and if I have the guts to go through with it, any student that I catch cheating in any way—eyeballing on a quiz, copying an assignment, using a cheat sheet, you name it—will get an F for the marking period. ...


Sally Ride, the first woman in space, and other bloggers have created a new blog that will detail the out-of-this-world journey of teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan. The former English, math, and science teacher will now have a chance to explore the universe after preparing for over 20 years. The blog includes photos of Morgan readying herself for spaceflight. Recent entries include this one from Todd Halvorson: This morning, Mrs. Laura Bush called Barbara Morgan, an astronaut and former teacher who will travel to space for the first time on the flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station. ...


Huffington Post blogger Karen Kisslinger has taught stress reduction and relaxation classes in public and private high schools for two decades. Kissinger believes a world where teens are plugged in 24/7 to electronic devices creates stress and a distorted sense of privacy: I have absolutely no idea what is going on in the minds of teenagers who have been weaned on instant messaging, television, myspace, cell phones, e-mail, and laptops. One thing I know, is that they have absolutely no sense of privacy as I have always understood it, and that that fact alone is a stress on their ...


Mister Teacher of Learn Me Good has started his to-do list for the upcoming school year. Among the items: 3) Fix the pencil sharpener -- one of my angels broke it last year when I wasn't around, and now when you put a pencil into it, it makes a horrible sound that makes me think that somewhere, a unicorn is dying. 4) Continue my attempts to conjure paper out of thin air -- since my school has been cutting the number of copies we can make every year, I expect we'll be able to give every student one half-page assignment ...


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