Generally, I avoid politics. I like debates and intense discussions, I like supporting my claims with evidence, but around elections facts seem to get skewed and evidence doesn’t always support claims. And, it seems like no matter what claims I make or evidence I use, it won’t do anything to change someone’s mind anyway. Therefore, I tend to avoid politics.
But, sometimes statements come along that cannot be ignored.
After the third and final debate (which was supposed to be on foreign policy…), Ann Coulter tweeted the following…
Do I really need to go into detail about how I feel about this? No. Do you all know me well enough? Yes. Good.
This statement is so unbelievably inappropriate I could not even form words after I saw it. (True story – I had to wait to post this blog until I had calmed down. It might also need to be said that I would have the same reaction if the R-word was directed towards Romney as well. Politics has no role in this debate. This is about people.)
John Franklin Stephens, a Special Olympics athlete, knows that this is about people and not politics. In an eloquently worded open letter to Ann Coulter, he writes,
“After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV. I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash. Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor. No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much” (An Open Letter to Ann Coulter).
Take home message – calling someone the R-word reflects worse on you than it does on the person you are name-calling.
Standardized testing makes me sad for a variety of reasons.
- Testing schedules mean that I don’t see all of my kids every day. Not only is this a significant loss of instruction time, but it’s weird to not see all of my students during the day. These students brighten up my day (they’re half the reason I love my job, after all; the other half is a love of science), so I feel this void in my day when I don’t have class with all of them.
- The students that I do see after testing are mentally drained. I don’t remember much about testing in elementary school, but I do remember that the first time I took the SAT, I came home and immediately crashed for 3 hours. It’s exhausting and stressful.
I’ve tried to combat this in a few ways. First, between each test I’m doing energizers with the kids so that they’re not half-asleep when they’re testing and when they go on to their next class (thanks, Yen!) Second, my lessons this week involve a lot of movement and class discussion. Talking is important when you’ve been sitting in silence for 3 hours! Truthfully, I haven’t planned much differently this week than I have any other week, except to accommodate the “no homework” rule this week.
I’m not the only one with particularly strong feelings about standardized tests. Parents in NYC are keeping their children home from school during ‘field tests’ in which new standardized test questions are piloted for data collection. As described in this article from the New York Times, this is the second time this year that math and English ‘field tests’ will be given to elementary and middle school students in NYC schools. That is truly excessive and bravo to parents that have decided to take a stand.
I think the most powerful statement in this article is from parent Lori Chajet: “I want my school to use tests to help instruction, to help find out if kids don’t know fractions…I don’t want my child to feel like her score will decide if her teacher has a job or not.” Ah, assessment for learning and assessment of learning. Preach.
Saw this post on NPR and thought I’d share it with my GRS buddies!
Perhaps the novelty of the beginning of the school year has worn off and a slump is starting. (I can’t believe that I’m already halfway through my second marking period! This year is going so fast!)
I haven’t hit a slump yet. This is such a blessing to me. I think its partially due to being in a middle school. Seventh and eighth graders have so much energy that it’s hard to not be on my A game at all times. My students make me a better teacher every day.
Regardless, I think that this NPR discussion is good to keep around (maybe even for those of you in GRS right now as you’re working through your field placements, STARS, and coursework!)
Click here —> How Teachers Can Avoid the October Blues
“Miss S, I really like how when you grade, you always put PLUS a number and not MINUS a number. Minuses are sad.”
I think so too, C.
My 8th graders went on high school visits today. When they returned to school, some girls ran into my room and told me this story…
“Miss S! We went to a physics class today and we understood what was going on, even when the high school kids didn’t!”
It’s been a tough week. You’d think that short weeks would be easy, but this is so not true!
Exhibit A: Thursday.
Today I went into school and the Internet was down. (There was a big storm last night, so our phones and Internet were both down all day today.) Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal…except I was counting on Bill Nye to help me teach today and last night was the first time I said to myself, “I don’t need to download my Youtube videos today because our Internet always works!”
Biggest. joke. ever.
Two things came out of this:
1.) Always. plan. back-ups. Always.
2.) Because I didn’t have a back-up plan, I had to plan a new lesson in 20 minutes before school. It wasn’t my best planned lesson, but it did include a POE activity for the kids involving momentum. And frankly, I’m glad that the Internet went out and I did this activity instead of having the kids watch the video because I am so impressed with what they did and what they wrote. It was just another reminder that I always have to keep pushing them to think more because when they do, the rewards are so great.
“Hey, Miss S, are we gonna do something fun today like we did yesterday? I thought that was really cool.” – S, today at recess
True story: yesterday I gave a summative assessment. It was basically a test in stations.
Guess I’m doing something right?
“Awww man! Now the best class of the day is over!” – D, after the bell signaled the end of my class
I seriously can’t get over how well Warner prepared all of us to go into the “real” world and teach. Seriously.
Zach and I Skyped today for a couple of hours to discuss unit plans, lessons, and the first days of school. I hoping that all of us GRS kids can continue to collaborate with each other on units and lessons because it was such a valuable experience today. Even though I don’t have a full-fledged unit plan right now (currently falling into the trap of planning week to week as I’m planning and finishing up my inclusion portfolio), it was still good practice for me to give Zach some feedback on his unit. I’m so proud of him! His physics unit is meaningful and authentic and I can’t wait to see what his students produce. I’m really excited for him.
I consider myself so lucky to have wonderful colleagues from Warner. I’m the only science teacher for 7th and 8th grade, so I don’t really have anyone to bounce lesson ideas off of, save my mentor at school. It’s a truly powerful thing that despite living in different cities and teaching in different situations (and navigating time zones!), the GRS cohort of 2012 can still find ways to collaborate to have the very best for our students.
Enough gushing. I’m off to plan some more for this week before parent orientation tomorrow. Weeeeee!!!
I have officially survived my first day of my first year of teaching.
Today was such a whirlwind. I only saw my 8th grade science classes today because of scheduling with a 7/8 unit meeting about the updated discipline system and Mass for the Feast of the Assumption. It will be weird tomorrow to see the 8th graders for the second time when I’m only starting out with 7th grade but it will all work itself out by next week. I’m not worried.
It was awesome to see the 7th graders again in homeroom and throughout the morning. I only got to know them for a week in Rhode Island but I actually missed them when I went back to Rochester. I don’t want to think about saying goodbye to the 8th graders after getting to know them this year. That’s going to be super weird.
I had some great pluses for today. I cannot state enough how well Warner prepared us to do this teaching thing.
+ I felt so confident and jumped right into content while embedding classroom procedures into the lesson. This may backfire on me since it may take them longer to get used to procedures, or they might forget, but I really liked how well they responded to the structure I established. I hoping that this structure will also keep me organized.
+ I was so impressed by the thought process of some of these kids. I did a POE with slinkys with the 8th graders to see where they were with observation skills. We watched this video and then I handed out real slinkys for kids to make their own observations. I did not expect some students to kneel down on the floor to get eye level with the bottom of the slinky. But when they did, I could not help but to exclaim how impressed I was.
+ I really like how my room is set up and it really allows me to move around the room well. That is such a feel good moment for me. In student-teaching, I relied on my CT to give the “ok” for how the room was set up, but this time it was all my own and so far, it’s working.
And some arrows…
–> Names, names, names, names, names. I must know them by the end of this week.
–> Keep the energy up for all classes. I could feel myself dragging during the afternoon a little, and this affected my time management.
–> If “Do Now” is metacognitive, fill out one yourself while the kids are doing it. (I did the “Draw A Scientist” activity with the kids today and many of them were worried about their artist skills. I noticed this during my first class, so I grabbed a sheet myself and drew one. After the timer rang, I showed my paper to the class to assure them that I am not an art teacher and therefore will not be grading them on their art skills. This was an arrow that I noticed early in the day and corrected for the rest of the classes.)
Overall, I’m proud of how today went. I wish I would’ve had the foresight to tape those classes for future reference and analysis. I think once I get my bearings and feel more planned for the future, I will invest in a video camera for self-analysis of lessons.