Wednesday, September 10, 2008


so last night/early this morning, i woke up in a panic!! i had a dream that one of my current students was arrested for hacking into important government files. then, i was taken from a meeting and interrogated by the lovely office ladies and was blamed for the entire incident! when i jumped up from my nightmare, i was terrified because i have not yet gone over the "acceptable use policies" for internet usage. i better do that soon so my nightmares do not become reality!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

word problem

example of a word problem written by a fifth grade student during math centers:

mrs. a = our new classroom science expert from George Mason that will be working with us all year :)

if mrs. a found 58 germ specimens on her plate and 36 germ specimens in her cup, how many germ specimens can she examine altogether under her microscope?

my response: (long pause) i think if mrs. a found all of those germ specimens on the items from which she eats, she would be veeeery sick!

job interviews

so in order for students to take more ownership in the classroom, we decided to assign jobs. in the past, i allowed students to switch jobs every week, but that was just too much maintenance and was overly time-consuming. this year we decided to make the jobs permanent. so to make them a little more invested in their jobs, we brainstormed the necessary jobs to make classroom life run smoothly and then we chose fun job titles to make this whole idea of helping out a little more fun. we came up with names like hermes (the messenger), the mad scientist (for science materials helper) and organizational experts for the north and south sides of the room. then, i asked students to write about their top three favorite jobs and explain how they would fulfill their duties. overwhelmingly, many chose the same three or four jobs which complicated things a bit. my personal favorite proposal included this line: i think i would be a great "hermes" because i can walk down the hall without acting like a hooligan! but with the stiff competition for the coveted "lunch coordinator" position, i soon realized that i would need to conduct job interviews. i asked the typical generic job questions such as "what are your strengths and how would they help you in this position?" i actually found myself laughing out loud by how seriously students took these interviews.
it was both hysterical and a memorable experience...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

silence is golden

so this year there seems to be some issues with volume in the classroom. i struggle with this internal conflict on a daily basis. i have tried a "noise-o-meter", frequent warnings, group incentives, etc. nothing seems to work so far! the students are ridiculously loud, loud enough for me to actually mutter "you have given me a headache!" however, a large percentage of the time they are actually on task while talking ridiculously loud.
when the lovely school counselor taught a fantastic lesson on self-control, ironically she was rudely interrupted numerous times by students yelling out whatever thoughts came into their minds... i was so embarrassed! it makes me look like i allow them to do whatever they choose (which is not the case)
in sixth grade my science teacher had this hand-made "silence is golden" sign that he would place on his lab table when he wanted students to be quiet. if a student earned three strikes from talking, he would have to write "silence is golden" the deemed number of times, typically 100-200. however, there were times when he would warn "it's quadrupled for today!" he was scary! i did admit to being caught SEVERAL times talking when "silence was golden". did i learn any real lesson from that? absolutely not... and now that i look back as a teacher- i think it was an even worse idea! i don't want to stifle enthusiasm, yet i don't want to have impolite interruptions and a loud environment...
so how am i supposed to find a balance between "silence is golden" and total and utter chaos?

sympathy votes

so the small surgery went fine and my class survived. ahhh! i can feel a little more relaxed now! i was a little self-conscious about going into the classroom with an alvin (the chipmunk) cheek- swollen from yesterday. surprisingly they did not say a word until i acknowledged it. secretly, i was hoping to gain some sympathy votes from students and have a well-behaved, quiet class for the entire day and i can't complain- they did sympathize with me a bit, which was nice. it does say a lot about how much one values one's job when you are willing to go in and teach to a class of 22 fifth graders, looking like a chipmunk and exhausted by pain killers.

Monday, September 1, 2008

substitute guilt

so on wednesday, i will need to have a minor surgery. besides being extremely nervous... i am also feeling incredibly guilty. i always seem to feel this overwhelming sense of guilt when i am out for a day. it's ironic because i look forward to having an awaited day off, however, when students are there and i'm not, i feel like i'm missing out on so much! i also worry about that poor substitute who has to come in and try to unscramble my sub plans. i empathize because i have been in those shoes too... it's definitely not easy!
so when wednesday comes, i guess i will have to just let go of my nervousness and see how things go...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


so i was inspired to start a blog... that was the easy part. but what would i call it? it is difficult to choose a title that embodies you as a teacher and/ or your students. however, with this particular class- one similar characteristic quickly emerged: free-spiritedness (if that's even a word?).
this is my reasoning...
first, the students. i have recently transitioned from teaching general ed with several students w/ disabilities to teaching gifted students. one of the main differences that i have immediately noticed is their spontaneity and off-the-wall thinking (in a good way!) example: creating a paper light-bulb on a stick that they raise behind their heads to simulate that a lightbulb is going off in their brain which now is their signal when they would like to share. one thing that i admire about this group is that they are their very own individuals and they really don't seem to care much about what others think of them. they definitely epitomize marching to the beat of their own inner-drummers!
secondly, one of the popular reads within the classroom is this series of books that begin with the smart girl's guide to... (money, survive sticky situations, etc.) well... in the book about "surviving middle school", two girls, that were reading together, excitedly ran up to me and yelled "you're totally this type of teacher!" as i glanced over at the book, i noticed that the girls were pointing to the section labelled "freestyle teacher". basically, the book gave pros/ cons of this style of teaching and suggestions on how to "deal" with the freestyler. i have to admit that i would categorize myself under this title as well- asks A LOT of questions, encourages group work, initiates long discussions....
thus, i felt free-spirit would be an appropriate title to embody the entire classroom this year...
just to further illustrate... on the second day of school, we decided that we needed a class name. last year my students chose the name superstars. a very generic, yet normal class name. this year was a different story. i took suggestions from students and listed the names on the board. here are a few of my favorite suggestions: the hooligans, the flying hyenas, the perseverence deer (my personal fav), and the anklebiters. as the suggestions were rolling in, the just envisioned myself calling out "perseverence deer: please line up from recess!"
i think it's going to be a great (and entertaining) year!