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Showing posts from May, 2013

Genius Time

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Check out Two Writing Teachers for more Slice Of Life posts When I instituted Genius Time in my English 9 classes, I wasn't sure what to expect. I just liked the idea of kids learning for the sake of learning. I embraced the idea that kids would have choice, that they would decide where the learning led. When we started back in March, I said very little about the project. I told them I wanted them to decide what they wanted to learn about. "Can we work in groups?" they asked. "Of course." "You're not going to tell us what to do?" "Nope." "You don't care what we learn about?" "Just that it interests you. I want it to be something you really, really want to learn about. I don't want you to pick something just because you think it will be easy." So every Friday , after our 10 minute reading time (sacred time, never give up), they move on to their learning. Most of worked very hard. Of course, s

Friday Favorites

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This is quickly becoming my favorite thing to write each week. I'm always on the lookout for my favorite things. This week there were many things that brought me JOY. 1. Twitter chats. I have participated in #iaedchat (Iowa Ed Chat) on Sunday nights at 8:00pm for awhile now. It's run by three principals from my state, but is full of teachers and administrators from across the Iowa who care about education in Iowa. It is also full of smart, funny people from around the world. You never know who will pop in.  Each week I am inspired to be a better teacher and person than I was the week before. In the last couple of weeks, I found other chats. On Thursday nights a new chat sprung up--#mnchat (Minnesota chat). And since I'm only about 15 miles from the Minnesota border, I joined them too! And then, Wednesday night, I finally figured out what #tlap was--Teach Like a Pirate! Teach Like a Pirate  is a book by Dave Burgess . I haven't read the book yet (althou

Mind Flip

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June 5th. Last day. And as hard as I am working to stay in the present, to give my current students my best until the very last day, once in awhile, my mind wanders into next year and imagines how things could be. So I've got a notebook that goes everywhere with me where I can jot down those ideas that appear to me at odd times (like 3:00am). It helps. I write them down in as much detail as I can and then get back to what I'm supposed to be doing. For example, next year we will be a 1 to 1 school district. Every student, yes even the kindergartners, will have access to a device. K-5 will have ipads and 6-12 will have 11 inch MacBook Airs. This is a HUGE commitment by our district and I want to use them effectively, not just a toy in the classroom. In creative writing, we use computers every day now, but next year I have a few ideas since students will always have their computer. I want them to have digital portfolios and blogs. I've been thinking about this for awhi

Friday Favorites

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Ahhh. Friday. I can feel the weekend, it's lurking somewhere in the shadows.... In the meantime, here are my favorites from the week. 1. My seniors. ( Yep. They're mine and no one else's. ) Wednesday was the last day for seniors in our district. They will graduate on Sunday and some I will probably never see again. But others will remain as one of "my kids". They'll stop to visit and fill me in on their college lives. They'll friend me on Facebook and keep in touch that way. For them, there will always be a bond. 2. Former students. I've had several visits from students in the last couple of weeks. Home from college, they stop in to visit and realize that they don't really fit in high school anymore. They come home to look for friends and some of those don't fit either. They're growing up and don't even realize it. I've also heard from a couple of former students who graduated from college this year. It doesn't

Friday Favorites

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This week's Friday Favorites: 1) Books in a series:  Right now I am reading UnWholly  by Neal Shusterman and it reminds be how much I love a good book series. It's like coming home to family. There isn't that awkward "getting to know you phase". You can just dive right in because you know the characters and the plot. Learning a lyric dance 2) Making students think: My freshmen are beginning to put together their genius time projects. Some want to stick with the tried and true PowerPoints or some other tried and true method to show their learning. I'm trying to get them to think outside the box. It's hard. And they would much rather have me tell them what to do. But, slowly, they will think... 3) My school "children". We are a little family in my high school. But it started with Roomie . She's called me Mom for years. But then last year, a "rumor" started that Bossman was my son...and therefore, Roomie's br

The Sounds of Silence

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Join me slicing at Two Writing Teachers Quiet conversations: "Did you hear about those women who were rescued? I can't believe someone would do that. Keep them prisoner for so long." "Hey, Mark, my battery lasted six years longer than it was supposed to. "When we jumped it, we had to leave it on a long time." "Mrs. Day, what about the mini-assignments? We never did those, and they are on our portfolio sheet." "Now that, that took a long time." Kids typing, birds chirping, noses sniffling. These are the quiet sounds I am listening to this morning. So unusual for this class, which is normally loud and crazy and a great way to start the day. I miss the energy they exude.... But they are being "productive."

Friday Favorites

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I am flat out stealing this idea from Ruth. On Monday she wrote a post called "Pretend It's Friday" and she wrote about four favorite things. I love that idea. For one thing, Friday is my favorite school day and maybe my second favorite day. And so, Friday Favorites is born... My Favorites: 1. Friday . I love Fridays. Always have. The end of week, the beginning of the weekend. Fridays in my classroom are always a little freer than, say, a Monday.  Most people are in a good mood. Really. What's not to like about a Friday? 2. Genius Time:  This semester I have been giving my freshmen genius time on Friday. They are able to read and learn about anything they want. Some of them have stayed with the same topic the whole time. Others have changed their minds and began learning about something else. Now they are starting to think about how they will show their learning to the rest of the class. I have a few sticking with the tried and true powerpoint. Q