Archive for June, 2010

Spirit Week

With last week’s posts about positive incentives there were very few pictures of beautiful children. Which gives me the perfect excuse now to tell you about Spirit Week – the only time at our school when students are allowed to ditch the uniform.

 (Speaking of uniforms, this is a super cool way that someone turned a uniform into art AND raised money for education at the same time. Definitely check it out!)

This year, we had five days of Spirit Week:

You can guess which day this was:

I love the home-made t-shirts!

But I really can’t decide which day is my favorite.

I would show you the Twin Day and Mix and Match Day, but I just got overwhelmed with taking pictures. (Trust me, I’m feeling very sorry about that now.) 

Self-expression. Creativity. Teamwork. All the days offer something different. I’m interested to find out which day you like the most.

I will have more on field day later…


June 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm 4 comments

Students inspiring themselves…

I know that graffiti should make me outraged, but I am so glad I came across this sign because it made me laugh and helped ease the stress of testing:

Continue Reading June 25, 2010 at 2:39 am 1 comment

Is Singapore Math the New Math?

A lot of debate about mathematics instruction divides teachers into two camps: “traditional” versus “reform.” The “math wars” began in 1989 with NCTM’s release of its standards, and the debate continues (here) though I suspect that most people are really more in the middle.

I recently came across a video of Tom Lehrer singing  about the “New Math” that was introduced in the 1960’s. Wikipedia says the song was “intended to poke fun at the kind of bafflement the New Math approach often evoked when apparently simple calculations were presented in a very general manner which, while mathematically correct and arguably trivial for mathematicians, was likely very confusing to absolute beginners and even contemporary adult audiences.”

I find it striking because the math that was so frustrating for parents in the sixties seems absolutely reasonable now. It makes me think that maybe we need to be a little more open to different ways of teaching and learning. Maybe in forty years, the “new math” that spurs so much debate today will be a part of our collective understanding.

June 25, 2010 at 2:26 am Leave a comment

Keep it simple.

I try to modify the presentation and assessment in my lessons to provide different levels of instruction for different learners. But last year I had a student with such severe learning disabilities that it was also necessary to modify the content.

This is the final post in a week about positive incentives because…

Continue Reading June 25, 2010 at 12:26 am 1 comment

High Fives and Shout-Outs

Sometimes a prize for good behavior isn’t necessary. Sometimes it is effective simply to track behavior in a fun way. (I already do this for myself with exercise, and I’m guessing a lot of other people do too. If so, I’d love to hear about it in a comment.)

Continue Reading June 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm 1 comment

Tower of Triumph

At my school we call our most difficult children, “the children we love the most.” The phrase is code for talking about a student who is driving us crazy, but its also a reminder that the same student is struggling and needs support.

I had several children I loved the most this year. One of them was absolutely fun and lovely and smart and hilarious in every way. Until you wanted him to do work. Then he didn’t follow directions. He distracted the other students. He got angry because I gave him consequences. He acted out in every possible way he could think of, and he eventually got put out of class.

This went on every day for quite a while until I finally decided to bribe him. This might sound terrible, but I wanted him to learn, and I thought that if I bribed him long enough he would eventually start to get the hang of things. So it is with great pride that I introduce you to the Tower of Triumph…

Continue Reading June 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm 1 comment

Accentuate the positive…

Teachers like rewards to be intrinsic – the great feeling that comes with answering a question correctly or the confidence that comes with practice. But some students need a little extra motivation to get them started.

In honor of getting subscribers for this blog, I’ve decided to do a whole week of positive incentive ideas. I mean, is there anything happier? Every incentive reminds me of a student who I couldn’t reach at first and who needed just a little bit of extra positivity, designed just for them. Like these paper dollars one of my colleagues made, for instance…

Continue Reading June 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm 2 comments

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