Archive for November, 2011

Conversations Update

Posted: November 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking more about having more individual conversations with my students. And so I told them.

speechThis morning I was updating my class on a few things at the beginning of the day, typical stuff. I also explained, like I did in my last post, that I had so enjoyed talking with a 5th grader from another class and it made me think I would love to get a chance to talk with each of my own 5th graders. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much of a response one way or the other.

But, right away a few kids perked up.

  • Can we talk about white boards? I am really interested in them right now. (Ok, something else for me to brush up on.)
  • Does it have to be about school? (No.)
  • This is going to be so fun.

So, I kept going with some logistical options: lunch in the room, before classrooms are open in the morning (Now that it is colder, rather than outdoor play, students have to wait in the lunch room. Not as appealing as the playground.), recess if anyone is interested. I also have a few students who are not able to participate in PE at the moment for various reasons. So, I might grab them during that time.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to chatting with my students and am glad to know that at least some of them are also interested. Now, to think about how not to make it seem like an interview. I am sure with some students it will just become a real conversation. With others it will be harder. I think I’ll start with some of the easy chatters first to warm up.

I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

(Photo by Timothy Morgan used under creative commons license.)

So, I’ve been thinking about conversations I do or don’t have with my students. Two events got me thinking about this.

First, I was at school a few Saturdays ago for an open house event. This year there were a number of 5th graders there too. They were adding a student perspective, which I thought went well. Anyway, I had a 5th grader in my room as we waited for the tour groups to come by. We had quite a bit of time to chat. This student is not in my section and so I don’t teach her directly. Well, we had such a nice conversation. It began with movies, turned to books, then desserts, and finally candy. There was a little horseback riding talk in there too. How great to get a chance to know this students.

Second, my daughter had a friend over last Friday for a sleep over. (It was almost just an over as there was very little sleeping. I personally believe that no one needs to be playing with LEGO at 5 am, but that’s just me.) Anyway, my daughter and her friend are in 3rd grade and are both pretty good readers, meaning that they are reading some of the things that I read with my fifth graders or that I read to keep up with the fifth graders, though I am sure with a different level of sophistication. We had a lovely conversation over spaghetti about the books we have read recently. We each had some to suggest to someone else. We compared Harry Potter to Percy Jackson. (FYI, the girls thought Percy Jackson was a better series, due to Harry Potter’s frustrating perfection! My daughter and I are recommending Project Mulberry. I also suggested Cosmic.) Everyone was excited and enthusiastic.

Last Conversation Piece

cc flickr photo by Cliff1066

These two events got me thinking about the conversations I could have with my students. I would love to be able to have such intimate conversations with them. We began this process of getting to know each other with our 5E Identity day and students are blogging about topics of their choosing, but after the two conversations I just described I am reminded it’s time to pick up the conversation. Of course, there would have to be many more topics of discussion as not everyone wants to talk about books. I’m fine with that. As I think about my students, I suspect I would need to brush up on some sports stats, a bit about Mars, construction practices, swimming, and geology for a start. I’m ready for yoga, skiing, horseback riding, eggs, art, dessert, books, and general sports.

Now, how to make it happen? I am really committed to this. Thinking about how to work the schedule, I’ve always got the option of small lunch gatherings in the room. Hmmm. The wheels are turning, the smoke is coming out of my ears. I’ll keep you posted.

Any ideas on logistics are more than welcome.

So, I’ve been thinking about probability, the probability of getting selected for things.

53/365 - May 11, 2008 - Above AverageLast week I heard back from 2 different things I “tried out for.” First, I found out that I did not get picked to be part of Seth Godin’s “Medicine Ball Sessions.” This was not a big shocker as it was a long shot for many reasons. My super-supportive husband, upon being emailed this information, replied, “Seth is dead to me. We’ll drown our sorrows in crafts.” (We were going to a craft show that weekend. So nice. And, side note, I bought a great hat at the craft show. Sorrows officially drowned.) Then, on Sunday I heard that a proposal that I worked on with 2 other teachers did get accepted for EduCon, which is very exciting and a little nerve-wracking at this point.

But this got me thinking about averages. Because it’s all about perspective here. If I think about it as a test average then 1 out of 2 is not so great, to put it mildly. However, if I change my perspective to batting averages, then I’m batting .500, which is quite a different story. So, I’m choosing to go with batting averages on this one. I like the sound of it a whole lot better.

Sometimes is all in how you sell it, even if you’re just selling it to yourself.


(Photo by meddygarnet used under creative commons license)

It’s worth a shot

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about Seth Godin. I haven’t been thinking about him personally, but his ideas and writing.

I have read several of his books (Tribes, Linchpin,Poke the Box) and read his blog sometimes. Someone mentioned a recent post of his on Twitter and once I read one, I started scrolling back and read a few more, including one announcing a 3 day workshop he is having. I read the post, followed the link, and applied. We’ll see what happens.

One of the things that I appreciated about his explanation of the event was the value he put on being face to face with people, even if they had already read his books and were familiar with many of his ideas. I am finding this to be true in some ways as well. For example even though I participate in a many virtual communities and think Twitter is super fantastic for teachers, I have really valued attending conference recently. I have attended a number of unconferences or edcamps as well as EduCon and ISTE. Sometimes I get to meet people with whom I have interacted digitally and sometimes I meet new people, but in both cases those interaction, in real-time, were really worthwhile.

So, I don’t honestly expect to be chosen for this 3 day event. It’s not aimed at educators, and I would need a significant break on the cost, but I can’t win if I don’t play.

(photo by Incase used under creative commons license)

Costume or no costume?

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
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So, I’ve been thinking about Hallowe’en. It is not one of my favorite days at school.
Halloween Candy
Now, I have quite a sweet-tooth. It’s not the candy I have a problem with; although, I see no excuse for candy corns. What I don’t like is dressing up and marching in the parade. Or, to be more specific, I don’t like being dressed up in some goofy costume, like the students, and marching past their parents, who are not in costumes. I would have no problem being in costume if it were just the students. I will do all manner or ridiculous things in the classroom or beyond for my students. I will dress in costume, admit to all sorts of faults and flaws, and generally do what it takes to be as effective as I can be.

I know, I don’t HAVE to dress up. For the past couple of years more and more teachers have been opting out. It’s not officially required. I do it because the kids get a brief kick out of it and I think many would be disappointed if I didn’t. (One of my students, a boy, dressed up as me as a student: school uniform, purple hair, suede boots. Fantastic!)

The thing about it is that it just makes me feel very unprofessional, and I find it uncomfortable to parade in front of the parents in costume. It’s like those silly dress-down/spirit days. I will wear the pj’s, clashing clothes, funny hats every time for the kids. But, one year one of the days coincided with an all school assembly where parents were in attendance. So, here I come in my pajamas (they were perfectly fine-looking by the way) walking my class into the gym.

As I think about it more. I think the issue is that when I am in costume and the parents are not, I don’t like the divide I feel. No one has ever done or said anything to make me feel this way. But it’s sometimes hard enough to be taken seriously as a professional when you teach elementary school. Being in a Hallowe’en costume doesn’t help me.

Does this bother anyone else?

(photo by Kwbridge used under creative commons license)