Archive for April, 2010

When you teach how to use rulers, dress for success.

If you decide to get these, I would love to post a picture. Please contact me!


April 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm 1 comment

Amazing Math T-shirts

If you decide to get any of these, I would love to post a picture. Please contact me!

April 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm 1 comment

An Opportunity to Promote Justice and Truth

The teachers at my school have had a Halloween costume contest for the last two years. Usually the fifth grade and sixth grade teachers have been the most enthusiastic. They’ve painted masks, sewn shirts,  taped stripes, decorated the hallways and most importantly, trash talked. It’s always a lot of fun, but unfortunately two years ago, the wrong team won.

To make matters worse, last year, it was a tie!

As the third annual teacher costume contest approaches (Oct 28th), I thought I’d let a larger audience have their say. This blog only has a handful of readers, but I think they’re a good, honest bunch. This is your chance to right past wrongs. This is your chance to promote that justice and truth I mentioned earlier.

We’ll start with 2009. I don’t want to sway the polls here so I won’t tell you which team was which. I’ll just say that one team dressed as their college mascots and one team dressed as characters from Winnie the Pooh. You decide.

College Mascots

This was the hallway decoration:

This is a detail of it here:

These were the teachers’ costumes:

And they had the students dress up too:

Michigan Wolverines

GW Colonials

Brown Bears

Winnie the Pooh

 These are the teachers in the hallway that their students helped decorate:

These are their costumes in more detail:

April 17, 2010 at 3:22 am 3 comments

October is a month you just have to get through.

And sometimes you need a little distraction to keep you going. Luckily, working with kids means that you can tape spoons to yourself and not seem wierd.

The Spoon Wars is a simple game to get teachers acting silly. I think it is good for kids to see their teachers acting silly. It is also good for a faculty to do something together besides talk about discipline. And grades. And lesson plans. And – oh man, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. 

Here’s how it works: Every teacher is responsible for having a spoon of some kind. The game is won by asking other teachers for their spoon. If someone doesn’t have theirs, then they’re out. The last person who has not been caught without a spoon is the winner.

If you also want to tape spoons to yourself or run down the hall screaming, “SPOOOOON,” that is up to you.

April 17, 2010 at 12:15 am 2 comments

Sticker Emergency

It was 7AM. I sent an email to the entire staff at my school saying I had a sticker emergency. I got back 6 emails within 30 seconds from people who took my emergency very seriously and offered their stickers. This is why I love my school.

And truly, there is nothing cuter than a smiling 10-year old whose face is covered in stickers.

Today, there were four steps to earning stickers. (Excuse the pictures – I took them on my cell phone and the outside is cracked so this is what happens…)

1. I put a problem on the board.

2. Students do the problem silently.

3. I say, “Strike a pose!” The students freeze in a pose next to their chairs.

4. My “sticker helpers” put a sticker on the forehead of anyone who got the right answer.

And then repeat.

I was able to do this for about an hour, and we did around 20 problems.  The greatest thing about the steps are that “student statues” have to  be silent because obviously statutes don’t talk. It was a great way to review. Since it was the last day that I would see the kids before the BIG TEST, I only gave problems that I knew were a “slam dunk.” And the kids were so excited about all their stickers.

April 16, 2010 at 7:28 pm 1 comment

Working with Volunteers, Part 1

If you’re lucky enough to have someone who is willing to come in on a weekly basis, don’t do like I did and throw a different student at them every week because every week you look up and realize, “Oh right, that volunteer comes in every Friday. Today is Friday.”

Or do. That is what you have to do when you don’t plan for a volunteer, because you want to use their time to give a student some one-on-one attention. In a pinch, you hand the volunteer an old test and quickly introduce a student who is supposed to be at Art or PE. Then you ask them to talk it over and go back to your regular teaching schedule.

However, it is an even better idea (and some years I actually do this) to pair one child with one volunteer over the course of their weekly visits. Then both the child and the volunteer can feel good about the learning and the relationship that will develop over time.  And you can too.

April 12, 2010 at 11:44 am Leave a comment

Coming in over spring break…

The point of tutoring over a break is not to create any mind-blowing new understandings, but to keep the students from completely forgetting everything they’ve ever learned. If you get to sneak in a few reminders about common mistakes, that’s bonus.

Here’s how I do it…

Continue Reading April 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

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