Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tweets of the Week

Using proximity in the classroom.
The best thing about teaching is kids! The students constantly challenge our methods, amaze our expectations, and morph in fascinating thinkers analyzing everything in the world.

Here's a good link to help us analyze ourselves in the classroom.
And an excerpt:
  • Ensure that you face students who are speaking in class.
  • Stand so that you have sightlines that allow everyone to be noticed.
  • Mention students' good behavior and successful completion of assignments more frequently than you mention those that go wrong.
  • Sit or noticeably pause to listen when a student is making an important point.
  • Write good ideas on the board for later consideration.
  • Teach the art of piggybacking ideas in class discussion so that students learn to connect what they are saying to the ideas of the person who spoke before them.
  • Remember that your own physical presence in the room models your mission.
My emphasis on the last point. Proximity is an underestimated tool in the class. And accentuate the positive! Eight positives to two negatives in the comment department (because the negatives are more powerful.) Seriously.

Here is the quote of the week: "Think of oppositional behavior as an ingenious attempt to actually contribute."

That is truly positive thinking! And its true, too. Rascals are paying enough attention to class activity to successfully identify the perfect moment to joke, interrupt with sounds, gestures or motions, or propose a preposterous question. That takes paying a lot of attention! Use it to your advantage.

Hey, where's the Kindle?
Kids learn in so many new venues.

 Maybe with too much input from too many sources.

"There is a palpable concern among these experts," Rainie puts it, "that new social and economic divisions will emerge as those who are motivated and well-schooled reap rewards that are not matched by those who fail to master new media and tech literacies." As a result: "Many of the experts called for reinvention of public education to teach those skills and help learners avoid some of the obvious pitfalls of a hyper-connected lifestyle."

There is still a class divide in the educational realm.
All kids need a jump-start at education.

You are what you eat, so they say. At least now cafeteria mystery meat is revealed.
What's in that stuff we feed our kids?

Behavior modification and all its glory; are rewards effective? This is a very interesting article about when Jolly Ranchers and stickers stop working.
I like the blue ones.

Teachers are getting tired and worried. So this is news?

"More than half of teachers expressed at least some reservation about their jobs, their highest level of dissatisfaction since 1989, the survey found. Also, roughly one in three said they were likely to leave the profession in the next five years, citing concerns over job security, as well as the effects of increased class size and deep cuts to services and programs. Just three years ago, the rate was one in four."

Not enough Jolly Ranchers and gold stars going out to teachers. I feel that pain!

How to evaluate teachers? Who gets the credit and who receives the blame?
Mr. Unknown Teacher is not a happy camper.


Teaching is going through a massive transition; I believe we will think of the kids' best interests and collaborate for the new methods of tomorrow. And I mean, like tomorrow! The day after will be too late.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Good Wishes To My Russian Readers

I miss you! Suddenly--after 76 views in January and February--this week my Russian readers have disappeared. Don't know why. Hope to visit with you again soon.

As Paul McCartney said, "Come and keep your comrade warm!"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tweets of the Week

To quote John Lennon, "I've got to admit, its getting better..."

More research to help kids learn.
Thinking, concentrating, analyzing better. Up the ladder of Bloom's Taxonomy.

We all hate to admit we are not perfect, but a little self-examination goes a long way.
Are we undermining ourselves with bias?
Various wheat seeds.

This is a cool thought about saving seeds since we're always worried about truffla seeds disappearing.

This is a real group that is more like a wonderful group of fictional superheroes. The Bioneers.

Quote of the week:
'There is as much cause for hope as for horror. As David Orr said, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”
Students at a Bioneers convention.

This program helps develop positive emotional and character development.

Ewww, testing.

I know that feeling.
This article, as much as I wish it was true, seems pretty bogus to me.

Well, since I mentioned John Lennon, here is the amazing song with the jolly, jangly guitar, and the shocking admission of abuse. Kind of like a musical 12 Step Meeting.
The Beatles also got better at growing moustashes.
Someday soon I'll post a blog on the Beatles as poets.

Movie Review: The Lorax

This is not Dr. Seuss' Lorax. It is a spin-off. So now that we established that, you can go and see it and know what to expect.
It's pleasing, and appeals to baby-boomers and those who like classic pop music and classic T.V.  Which is fine. Cutesy baby boomer in-jokes that little kids don't get are just fine since the little kids aren't paying for the tickets. But where is the message from Dr. Seuss?

If you really want the Lorax, buy the book and sit down with a little kid and read it together. Use a real book. With pages. It doesn't matter what the age of the reader is, since all of us care about trees, and our natural world. After reading the book, go into the garden and plant something like a truffla tree. Or maybe just a pot of pansies. Get involved with real nature that you can smell, and water, and stick your fingers in. Grow a kidney bean--little kids are astonished how fast they grow. We're looking for kids to fall in love with nature-- not a Glee-like animation Broadway production.

I don't think the original story of the Lorax was really meant to entertain, although in the film I really did love the fish. And I was amused by the song about capitalism and Darwin. But the story by Dr. Seuss was intended to be expressed in the partnership of  readers, big and little, with room for conversation, questions and plans for what we will do about our world. Maybe some justified anger and environmental activism.

The Lorax was written just nine years after Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, which was the shocking expose of the damage to the environment by pesticides. And, of course, the nuclear age was still on folks' minds because testing hadn't stopped yet. What a thought, huh?

An unestimable number of Americans have adopted green habits since childhood and continued for decades and decades because of Dr. Seuss. So, we can enjoy the superficial fluff of the Seuss inspired films, but let's not skip the origins.

Dr. Seuss apparently loved children, and wrote material that affected their minds in a very positive way. In part, because reading the book is generally a shared experience with an older reader that creates an enormously positive memory. Or a lovely event at school.  And the experience is reviewed when the child reads the book again. Dr. Seuss incorporated marvelous themes while being wildly creative. And we would trade that in for an average movie day or cold, isolating dvd to be watched alone?
The best--daddy and the boys reading
An autistic boy , brother and dad enjoy Dr. Seuss this week.

Teachable Moment: Book Review: Martin's Big Words

Martin's Big Words
This is a picture book by Doreen Rappaport and profoundly illustrated by Bryan Collier. The quotations arise from Dr. King's childhood up to his last speech. The thoughts and words insert themselves into all open minds, and really encourage kids to feel empowered.

If kids want to know more about Dr. King's early years, that he loved to play baseball and really missed his grandma when she passed, here are some links:

"You are as good as anyone."
Dr. King relied on his knowledge of the Bible, and also leaders such as Ghandi to encourage the non-violent movement. Why was there a need for a civil rights movement? Segregation of the races in the USA. "You are as good as anyone." resonates in kids and adults for all reasons of suggested inferiority.

Here are some links to enhance a kid's self image.:

"When I grow up, I'm going to get big words, too.

Infusing confidence in kids is vital "When I grow up, I'm going to get big words, too." Even a little boy or girl can have a vision of a future where they are empowered, valued, and important.

Dr. King included everyone in his philosophy. When he stated, "Everyone can be great." that included all people of all races, ages, nationalities, genders, and religions. Everyone.

Everyone can be great.

Comments from President Obama.

"Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that."

Kids need strength to overcome negativity just like adults do. Moms, dads, families, schools, churches all coordinate to grow strength of character and develop focus for positive emotions in the young. /social_emotional_learning_what_it_how_can_we_use_it_help_our_children
"I have a dream..."

 Now we can all have a dream.

There is more to this book.

This is a must-have book for all teachers' library, no matter the age of the students. Read it aloud even to seniors in high school.

 There is a wonderful site called 'Frame-a-Quote' with thousands of quotations listed by topic and author; kids can also create their own quotes and frame them. It is very empowering. Please check it out. I used it with high school sophomores, and it was excellent. We pretty much wall-papered the classroom with their original quotes, their 'big words.'

 Looking forward to visiting Washington, D.C., and the new monument with Martin's Big Words on a granite wall. Dr. King used his brilliant mind to help us all. He influenced civil rights, women's rights, special education, gender equality, opportunities for all workers. I recently read a comment about the Occupy Movement (which I think Dr. King would have supported) that racial equality was a settled question and now the question was economic. I'm guessing the writer was sitting in the penthouse of his ivory tower when he posted that. We need all equality all the time. Every human born needs to be educated in equality.  Ongoing. Every new baby.

Cheesy Jokes and Serious Thoughts for St. Patrick's Day

We're all Irish on St. Patrick's Day--and since the Irish diaspora was over  600 years long, and the Irish lived long and prospered wherever there was a Catholic church worldwide--it's probably true we're all Irish. Geneticists say that Genghis Khan was the foremost contributor to Y chromosomes worldwide, followed by O' Neill of the Nine Hostages (Irish).
My grandmother was completely Irish, her mother immigrating from the Old Sod, so I have been successfully  indoctrinated about the Isle of Saints and Scholars. Trust me, no demeaning stereotypical jokes about the Irish in my growing up. Sister Francis Eileen, O.P., was the principal of St. Louis Bertrand's School in Oakland, California, and her lilting Irish brogue came over the P.A. system every morning. She was cool, all the nuns I had were cool; I never had a negative experience in parochial school. Many were from Ireland, many were Irish Americans like my sainted grandmother. And I was in that school both when John F. Kennedy ran for president, was elected, and was assassinated. Powerful stuff.

I am so thankful I didn't have to unlearn prejudice and bias--my Oakland elementary school was perfect. The only almost-bias I had to unlearn was that not everyone was from my church.

I was stunned when I heard my first negative joke about the Irish. Didn't they realize we saved western civilization?
The Isle of Saints and Scholars-to be sure

And I didn't even say, "Pog Mo Thoin." Which shows a lot of maturity and restraint.

Ethnic jokes and teasing are a form of bullying--so kids and adults really need to knock it off. Are we that desperate to feel superior? The quiet kid in the back of the room won't be able to stand up for herself in the midst of  biased-based laughter. Bullying includes those jokes about physical appearance, churches, where you're from, and let's throw in sports teams since kids are so sensitive about them. Kids should have the right to be in school without bullying or humiliation of any type. Grown-ups, too.

 So, anyway, here are the jokes. (That's pretty Irish of me:  stick up for the underdog and then tell jokes.)
Green, and Garfield provides the orange

How did the leprechaun get to the moon?

In a shamrocket.

Why is Ireland like a bottle of wine?

Because it has a Cork in it.

What would you get if you crossed a leprechaun with a Texan?

A pot of chili at the end of the rainbow.

No relation to Bono. Or the Edge.
What kind of music does a leprechaun band play?
                                      Shamrock and roll.

What do you call a leprechaun's vacation home in Fort Lauderdale?

A lepre-condo.

 Love Irish music. O'Sullivan's March, The Chieftans.
My gggrandmother (later immigrated to Kansas)  was a Sullivan leaving from Cork in 1844, and who survived a coffin ship to Grosse Isle Quebec. 
Top o the mornin' to ya, from Betty O'Boop