Archive | February, 2012

My Vacation

27 Feb

I am dancing around the idea of changing the theme of my blog to more than just teaching. I’ll start by sharing a day in the exciting life of a teacher on mid-winter vacation.

It’s Sunday night and I’m procrastinating making my lesson for tomorrow morning….grades might be due this week…I’ll deal with that tomorrow. I didn’t even so much as look at my school bag over vacation! Should I feel guilty? I kind of do- however- it’s supposed to be vacation, right? Which means no work. I did however do some work in the kitchen.

I started out my vacation by a lovely, three hour drive to Olean, which is always fun. And for those of you who think there’s nothing to do in Camden haven’t been to Olean.  There’s the park in the summer but I didn’t want to go hiking in February. The most interesting town near Olean is called Elicottville, which we traveled to on Monday. There’s a fancy brewery.

Not as good as Hoop Duerr’s of course…..

On the way back we visited the Salamanca Casino. Me and Hasky aren’t really the best gamblers. Were both extremely cautious with money so I suggest if you want to have a good time at the casino to not go with us. I toyed with the idea of playing a couple of rounds of roulette but in the end it’s not worth it. Hasky won $13.00 on the slot machines. lol .

Since I had free time during the day while Hasky was at work…of course I was trolling around on Pintrest and found this healthy dessert blog, Chocolate Covered Katie. I went shopping for baking supplies and experimented with a couple of different healthy desserts. First I made chocolate chip cookies but only had white flour.

 They were fluffy and absolutely delicious. But I didn’t really feel like they were healthy. The recipe said 23 calories but I didn’t see how this was possible. I still ate a few. Then I went to the store to buy wheat flour. These ones were still good yet more grainy since made with whole wheat. But I was more confident in their healthfulness which allowed me to eat more of them.

So I had all this wheat flour left over and tried to experiment with different things over the weekend. All were delicious. Friday night we had home made whole wheat pizza.

Home Made Dough

Ready to go into the oven!
Finished product- yum!
Then Saturday morning I made whole wheat flax waffles with chocolate chips. So delicious! I bought this whole big bag of flax and was googling different recipes to use it in…. and I wanted to try more with the wheat flour so this was perfect. They were so good! And so much more filling than regular waffles. I ate one with some agave syrup and was full. The agave syrup only has 60 cal per table spoon as opposed to regular syrup that has 200. 
 A lot of these recipes I found on Pintrest- which is amazing! I am addicted to it. It’s turning out to be really handy for finding and saving recipes.
That was the exciting life of a teacher on vacation! Now it’s back to school

My new job should be motivational speaking

11 Feb

I set out to create a Prezi (presentation tool) about goal setting for my students because we had this speaker come to our school yesterday, and one of the things she said is that our students literally don’t know how to set a goal and achieve it (which is true). It kind of turned into more or less a rant about students making excuses for not doing work. I’m sick of complaining about students being ‘lazy’ and not doing work. I’m sick of looking at all the zeroes in my grade book and sighing. I’m sick of coming off as mean to my students when I lecture them about turning in homework. If I’m just complaining and making excuses without at least trying to fix the problem I’m just as bad. And I hate being negative. They just look at me with blank stares and probably think I’m crazy.

So I began a Prezi about how to cut up the reading assignments for the novel we just started ,To Kill A Mockingbird , so the students could actually consider reading the book a do-able activity. To us it is an amazing, Pulitzer Prize winning, timeless piece of American literature. But most students looked at the book as I was handing it out, realized they had to read it on their own and said “Miss I ain’t readin’ this”.

But they have to read it!!!!!! So I decided to attempt the goal setting lesson as this lady taught us at the workshop. What started as a presentation on goal setting with passing the third MP as the goal in mind ended as sort of a rant/lecture/motivational presentation on achieving goals in life and making excuses. Most students will probably just think I’m crazy again and not care, but I want to at least try to instill a goal setting mindset that I had when I was their age. Students of poverty just don’t have the same social norms and ideas about setting goals in life and achieving them as I did when I was growing up. It’s a whole different mindset and world they live in. I understand that their world is probably more scary and difficult than mine, but I do believe in doing everything I can to help them succeed in spite of (and more importantly because of) their home lives. Doing the same thing over and over again is insanity. I can try different things until something works. Here’s the presentation:


Types of Love Jigsaw

1 Feb

In order to introduce Romeo and Juliet, I wanted to go with a love theme and have students explore different types of love. I designed this lesson when I was down and out after tonsil surgery. My 9th grade classes were put into groups of 5. Each group was given an article on a different type (or counterfeit) of love. Their job was to read the article, make a poster that taught the class what their type of love was, and teach it to the class.
Some of the articles can be found here:

Here are some student posters:

  I don’t know why my computer won’t let me turn the pictures around…..

While groups were presenting, students had to fill out a graphic organizer as a jigsaw activity. This forced them to listen to the other groups quietly and really made it obvious if a certain group did a bad job teaching. Students were allowed to ask the group questions if they had trouble filling out the sheet. Overall the lesson worked well and students cooperated and enjoyed it. This was the worksheet students had to fill out. It was collected and graded.

Types of Love Jigsaw Activity
There are different types of love and different ways that the media (movies, TV, music) portray what love is. Each group will study a ‘type’ of love and present their findings to the group by making a poster. Each group will take notes on the type of love as the other groups are presenting. You do not have to take notes on your own group’s section.
Type of Love
Notes- what is it?
Is it true love? Why?
Romantic Love & Marriage
Abuse and Manipulation
Unrequited Love

Reward Point System for Motivation

1 Feb

Lack of motivation and effort is an ongoing issue in my classroom. Students have no intrinsic motivation to do well- sometimes it seems like they simply don’t care. This is due to a combination of social and cultural factors. I have been trying to combat this problem with lessons that have a lot of transitions, material and lessons that interest students, and something new I just introduced which is the points- rewards system.

Students have to earn a check by exhibiting good behavior and in turn can redeem these points for rewards. Students have to receive a check in all four categories to receive any points for the day. They can receive 2 points per day. We’ll see how it works! More is explained on the actual worksheet featured here:

How the attendance/behavior Record Works
Having good attendance, being on time for class, and behaving on task all helps our classroom run smoother. You can now earn points for this behavior. Earning points will allow you to receive different rewards based on number of points. Each day a total of 2 points can be earned. In order to earn your 2 points, you must earn all four checks on the grid for that day’s class. If you come to class on time and prepared, however you put your head down, you earn no points. If you participate and have good behavior, but you were unprepared, you earn no points. You cannot earn partial points. If you are absent for any reason (illness, skipping, family emergency), you cannot earn any points for that day. If you do not bring this paper to class, you cannot earn points.
Here is how you can earn a check in each of the categories:
On time– be on time for class. Even if you are late with a pass you do not earn this check (unless it is a one-time thing).
Prepared– You have something to write with, your TKAM  book and packet, notebook, and attendance and participation record. Obviously, if you do not have this sheet you cannot earn any points.
Behavior– you earn a check in behavior if at no time during class do I have to address your behavior in terms of talking, staying on task, being rude to other students, and using cell phones of headphones.
Effort-You earn a check in effort for completing work and staying on task; not putting your head on your desk.
Rewards: You may redeem your rewards by approaching me after class, or during independent work time when I am not busy. Once you have used points, you start back at zero. You may use points right away or save them for a larger reward.
4 points: piece of candy
6 points:5 points on a TKAM quiz
8 points: Free homework pass on an approved assignment
10 points: Receive chapter summaries for one section of TKAM instead of reading the whole thing.  
12 points: Free detention pass
16 points: Receive 2 points on your MP 3 average (can only be used once)
18 points: Use of ipod or MP3 player for one class during independent work (while not reading)
20 points: Exemption from one TKAM quiz
Anyone who has a perfect point score at the end of the marking period will be put in a drawing to receive a $10 gift card to Dunkin Donuts.
On Time
Points Earned
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