Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quarter 1

Is done and in the books. Today I asked my students to write about what went right and wrong for them in the last eight weeks. Among the usual things such as not liking their seats, boring stories and promising to try harder next quarter, I saw a couple of interesting things. One of the first things that I noticed with some concern is the fact that the students think the class is easy. I am glad that I had only a few students fail, but I am concerned that they didn't really earn their grades. Now I know a couple of students mentioned that I explain things really well so they don't get confused but I worry at the thought of easy. Is it easy because I explain the lessons so well or is it easy because my standards are too low? I want them to succeed but I want them to learn. I didn't do a bunch of big projects for most of my classes but I will do more this quarter than just the active reading and the narrative.

The other thing was the response I got from a student who said "You make me like English!"

And that is why I teach.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey Mister!

I hate getting a cold. It's bad enough when you have a regular job, but it really sucks when you're a teacher. You can't go through the motions or just call in sick. That means a wasted instructional day and they're precious enough as it is. So this week has been a bit of a challenge to say the least. Fortunately most of my students got the hint about me not putting up with any crap due to my sickness.

And even more fortunately for me, I had the audio version of the story we were reading. "The Cask of Amontillado" so I could simply play the mp3 file and then stop it to have quick discussions. Today I was planning on just finishing the last few minutes and then doing a catch up day. That changed when my AP showed up unannounced to observe me for most of the period. I instantly switched gears (good thing I had not announced my plan) and actually taught the rest of the story along with the audio file. The class did really well today and we had a good discussion.

Near the end of class while the AP was writing furiously in her notes with her head on her arm a student on the other side of the classroom raised his hand to ask a question and when I walked over to him to see what the problem was, he looked over at the AP (Assistant Principal) and said quite seriously, "Hey Mister, why is that lady sleeping?". With a concealed smile I told him that she was awake and was writing some notes. That seemed to satisfy him and he went back to work. When I saw my AP later in the day I relayed the conversation to her and she got a big grin out of it as she headed off to lunch duty.

It was not until later that I realized that the unspoken question was really "Hey Mister, why are you letting her sleep?" I'm infamous for kicking desks to wake up students who are sleeping. Although I have occasionally let sick students alone. I'm firm not a monster after all and the students are pretty good about knowing the difference between the two.

So far that has been the funniest thing that's happened this year!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


So I was talking to my DC today and he had some bad news. Apparently those tests that I had my students take for the last two days were the wrong ones. Oh, they were English I tests and they were most certainly the interim tests for the fall, the problem is that they were the wrong year. Of course nobody told either the DC or the AP. The county finally got around to sending us the right books. Nice, huh? Now all my students have to retake the test a second time which means I lose two more instructional days because of this snafu. Now I am a bit annoyed but what can I do? Yell and scream? That would be your tax dollars at work for you.

At least the quarter is ending on the 21st of this month and then we start everything again. I am so glad I had that internship last year because I'm not nearly as flustered as I would have been had this been my first year. And I get a three day weekend at the end of the month due to Nevada Day! I'll take it!

Monday, October 12, 2009


It's a must have for teachers. You have to be able to adapt your lessons on the fly and be able to reschedule interm assessments from next week to say... tomorrow and Wednesday. Yea, gotta love the schedule shuffling by the powers that be. But I was the good soldier in the hope that when I need some consideration that I'll get it. Plus my Department Chair promised me that this would not haunt me come evaluation time. So after I was done complaining (just so I'd feel better) to my DC, I realized as I was driving home that this could actually work to my advantage.

I am desperately behind on my grading and filing and having two whole days where my students aren't actually turning anything in will give me the chance to get caught up on both. And it will also allow me to get the lessons I had planned over the weekend fine tuned and the copies of the graphic organizers made so I can continue the lessons on active reading.

Finally, my room is all decorated for Halloween and the kids thought it was really cool that I took the time to decorate my room. Apparently I was one of the few teachers who did decorate their classrooms. And if they think it looks cool now, wait until Christmas!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Halloween is coming up shortly and my room is almost decorated. I had to run to the Dollar Tree to pick up just a few more things for my back wall which is almost totally bare at this point. The rest of the room looks pretty good. I have up the fake cobwebs in areas that cannot be easily reached by the students, the window clings, my Peanuts Great Pumpkin Display, spiders, skulls and various other items to add some atmosphere to my room.

I just need to find my spooky sounds CD so I can put it on my PC at school so when we read our short stories I can have a bit of extra atmosphere. The stories I am planning on doing this month are "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Yellow Wallpaper" . I had been thinking about doing "The Telltale Heart", but I didn't want to subject them to that story yet again, nor did I have enough copies of "Dracula", "Frankenstein" or any of the other classics of the horror genre to use in the classroom. In addition, I don't want to overdo it when it comes to reading fiction so I'm also mixing in some current events articles ranging from sports to news and politics. I still have not had time to chase down anything relating to music etc, but I will at some point.

Since we celebrate Nevada Day the last Friday of October I'll be showing "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" the last half of class on the 29th just to give the kids a short break.

No, no costumes for me, I'm scary enough as it is...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Rants and Raves

Why is it when students leave your class because their schedule got changed nobody informs the teacher? I mean I'm trying to do attendance and yesterday my students were there in SASI. Then today? Nothing, no emails, no forms to sign, no notifications in SASI that they had dropped. It looked like it they just fell off the face of the earth. I had to trek down to the attendance office to find out that yes, these two students are now in another class. So I then had to trek up to the 2nd floor office to tell them what happened so that the Assistant Principal (AP) could talk to the counselors about proper flipping procedures. I realize that I'm just a teacher but a heads up would be nice.

Now for the rave part. I'm currently teaching my honors students the skill of active reading and will start teaching it to my regular classes tomorrow. We're working on free response where at the end of every paragraph they jot down some thoughts, questions ect. on what they have just read. This is a continuation of the prereading I did yesterday featuring news articles and posts by bloggers such as The Other McCain, Buckhorn Road, and Jammie Wearing Fool. The goal was to read the headline, make a prediction about what they thought they were going to read and then write down if they were correct or not. The article about Polanski still had most of the class torqued up at Polanski's rape of that girl. So today I used an article from Fox News online that talked about how Medicare knowingly pays too much for equipment and boy did I get a reaction to that article from my students. Here are my favorites...

  1. What is wrong with congress?
  2. These congressmen must be stupid...
  3. It gets me irritated that they keep on wasting money. I find it very stupid
  4. The two guys that are congressmen are pigs.
  5. So much money they could save and their wasting it. It's absolutely pointless and stupid.
  6. And my favorite... This is f*****g c**p (yes they did write it with the stars)
I'm hoping that my regular classes give me similar reactions to all that wasted money. I was also able to rearrange my seats so that my room no longer looks like it belongs in a reform school. It's not perfect but it's a vast improvement on what I had. I may even be able to lose some desks and create enough room for beanbags!

Those are 9th graders in case you're curious. They liked it the last time I brought in current events so I am going to continue to bring them in on a regular basis.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Yet another awe inspiring title from yours truly. I was stressing about teaching reading strategies and I did get some good pre-reading strategies from my AP who used to teach reading before she crossed over to the dark side of administration. Bless them, because I have less than no desire to get into administration. I'd rather just teach thank you very much.

Anyway as I was driving home from school I remembered that I had a binder full of active reading strategies that I learned during training last year. Which is where my brilliant title comes from... Duh! Why not use one of them? Hello! McFly! Anyone home? And to think I'm a licensed teacher to boot!

So what I came up with was to combine what I got from my AP with what I had in my binder. I'm going to use headlines from articles in the Las Vegas Review Journal and The Wall Street Journal, with the writings of blogs that I follow on a regular basis.

Buckhorn Road wrote about how Astroturf is not all it's cracked up to be, especially when it's hot outside.

Jammie Wearing Fool has an update on the Roman Polanski scandal.

And finally The Other McCain discusses his 'appearance' on Meet The Press. And when did become OK to not have proof to back up charges of racism in this country anyway?