Monday, April 25, 2005

Greetings from Raleigh...

Monday, April 25, 2005 has been a full day for this old country boy. It was day of professional development. The presenters at this year’s Distinguished Teacher Forum were among the best I have even attended. The day started with a wonderful breakfast buffet. We were treated to scrambled eggs, bacon, link sausage, and fruit-juice of your choice, coffee, and good ol’ hot runny grits. I looked for some country biscuits, but did not see any and was too polite to ask if they had left them in the kitchen. My mama always told me—“Son, it you don’t see it, don’t ask for it.” She would have been proud of me for holding my tongue. If I would have been at home in Chadbourn, I would have been fine with a bowl of 2% milk and raisin bran cereal.

After breakfast, around 8:30 am, we were off to concurrent sessions. The first one I attended was titled: “Integrating Science in the Middle School Inquiry-Based Science Class. Fellow talented educator Tommie Evans presented it. She is the Piedmont-Triad/Central Region Teacher of the Year 2004-2005. Tommie’s handout is a wonderful resource. After listening to her presentation, I know what activity I want to try with my middle school science students the last few weeks of school. I have to try Water Rockets. She told us that her students have been “doing them for the last 12 years and has yet to find a group of students who do not love it and learn a lot from it.” She pointed us to a website as a resource for the materials we need for this activity. I was impressed with her lab activity sheet for this activity. In addition to Tammie’s lab activity worksheet, she also presented ideas on how to use science lab notebooks in the middle school inquiry-based science class. This handout blew me away. I have to start using them with my alternative school science students. It is a perfect way to document and access their science skills. Her science lab notebook ideas appear to require students to develop organizational skills and force them to write, graph, sketch and label diagrams, and much more. The 8 clear steps she presented in her presentation help students to see how real scientists record their work. Best of all, she provided participants in her work session with photocopies of actual student work. Lat but not least, Tammie surveyed how her school uses a thematic approach to teach ecological topics. Her students read HOOT by Carl Hiaasen and integrate math, social studies, language arts and PE in this science concept. Great job Tammie! You made my day.

I attended several other sessions during the morning. In up coming blogs, I will share some of the other excellent sessions.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Saturday- Finally

I jumped out of bed this morning and walked the dog. It was beginning to drizzle rain and the wind was blowing. Just glad I am not in the NC mountains. They are forecasting snow. It is April 23! I thought it was Spring. I am heading to the coffee pot. I need some motivation.

Today, I will participating in a field test for some national teacher testing program. I think it is a bunch of horse hocky, but they are crazy enough to offer to pay me to take a test. I know I am a terrible test taker so my lack of knowledge and horrible test taking ablility. I jus hope they do not have a spelling part on it-- haha!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Teaching is running in place....

I recently came across the following poem that Jim Brooks, a distinguished English teacher in Wilkes County NC wrote about. He had tucked away the summer after his first year of teaching. After the first time he had seen it since he heard the poet read it at a summer seminar years ago. Even with only one year of teaching behind him, Jim was struck by the poem's truth and insight. I appreciate it all the more as a veteran of the classroom and want to share it with you. It is taken from the book, Vein of Words , by Jim Wayne Miller , a wonderful teacher in his own right.

is running in place
with weights on your feet.

It's an old injury
that never heals and so
I go into each hour still
sore from the last exercise.

Loving the possibilities
of wood slender shapes,
wings, visions of flight
frozen in seasoned stock
dry and durable I work
in a sultry greenhouse air,
sculpting in ice

Shapes that melt in the mind.
I write on water, I sweat
and always come away wet
behind the ears.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sunday Reflection Time

While everyone is asleep here in the my home, I am trying to think about how many times I missed up this past week. My students are entering their last grading period for this school year. Science class with my middle schoolers has been a challenge. I now have the largest number of students in one class that I have ever seen in four years at our alternative school. Every class is extremely difficult. I have two students with technicians. The technicians job is to help monitor the student's personal behavior. My room is very small and with all the other students, the addition of two adults makes my room wall-to-wall students. I understand I will be getting another student this coming week. The thoughts of getting one more added to this class is horrifying at best. I am not sure how I am going to survive this last six weeks.

I have always considered myself as a creative problem solver. I have my work cut out for me. Looking at the diverse nature of these challenged learners, I have not idea which way to head. We have been learning about light and sound. I think I need to pick a theme in science that I have enough hands-on materials to use. I have more students now that I have computers, so I am not really excited about using them. Maybe I need to set up a schedule for students to work on computers, while others work on activities. I have not tried that. Not sure how to manage it.

I could have the students create a movie about sound and light.

Let's work on that idea.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Franklin St. crowd

Franklin St. crowd
Originally uploaded by RossWhite.
Tarheels Win National Championship! Wow. Congrats to Coach Williams and all the team. Hate we missed the party on Franklin Street. I liked this one so I decided to blog it so I can look at it later...Thanks Ross White for being their for this old Alum.

--Class of '78

Monday, April 04, 2005

Quotation of the Day

"Education costs money, but then so does ignorance."

Claus, Sir Moser (b. 1922), German–born-British academic, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford. Daily Telegraph (London, August 21, 1990).

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Vacation is Over--

Well. I have not posted anything on this site since last Saturday. I have been resting my brain. Not completely resting, but I have just not put any energy into thinking. Unless you consider picking out which pair of blue jeans to put on as a major negociation. Teaching is stressful because we are constantly making decissions. Hundreds of decissions per hour is not unrealistic. Which student to help next, who needs remediation, what worked the last time a student had trouble with understanding plate tectonics, how long should we spend on faulting, why does Johnnie hate Billy, did you turn off the coffee pot at home...

So, it is time to think about exactly what we can fit into the last seven weeks of school. Pacing guides work fine when you have average students. I have not looked at it in a while. We cover as much material as we can. If my students have not mastered a concept, I reteach it. We use multiple strategies to cover the topics. Time to write some lesson plans.

Monday will be a double-whammie: Daylight Savings Time started Sunday morning, our body's time clock tells us that it is 6 AM, but we feel like it is still 5 AM. Plus, we have been out of school on break and the students have had no one telling them to do a thing. Blogging is hard work, but teaching is ten times more challenging.