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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Natural Supplement for ADD/ADHD Help

My sons both struggled through school with dyslexia and ADD.   At the time I didn’t think it was severe enough to warrant medication (although in retrospect that was probably a mistake), so we soldiered through.  At one point, a reading tutor recommended a rather expensive supplement (expensive for us).  My older son was in 4th grade.  After a couple of days on the supplement his teacher pulled me aside and said, “I don’t know what you’re doing for him, but whatever it is keep doing it!”  We were thrilled!  However we couldn’t afford to continue using the supplement.  I lost track of what it was and have spent years trying to find it again. 

Now that I am working on my Masters Degree in Brain Based Teaching, I’m finding new resources!  One link the University recommended was a site by Dr. Daniel Amen.  I was immediately absorbed in his fascinating site.  Then I saw it… the supplement… or one that appears to be an even better version of it.   I’m so excited I’ve just got to share it with everyone!

It’s called “Attention Support: Children and Teens.”  Following is the description on their website:

“For those of you who need support for attention and impulse control, Dr. Daniel Amen, New York Times bestselling author of “Change Your Brain Change Your Life” has developed a nutraceutical supplement formulated to help improve mental focus, while promoting a sense of calm. Dr. Daniel Amen’s Attention Support: Children and Teens includes phosphatidyl serine to help maintain cell membranes, DMAE for improving memory and concentration and pycnogenol to boost dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters which help improve focus. We recommend Dr. Daniel Amen’s Attention Support for those looking to restore overall brain health and to support attention and impulse control.”

Here is a direct link to the supplement:

My sons are in college now, but I am still purchasing it for each of them.  I’ll post again to let everyone know how it is working. 

Finally

Please know that everyone may not have the same positive result we did with this natural supplement.  Also, don’t forget to search their website for contraindications, and check with your doctor.  Last but not least… I am in no way connected with their site and do not receive any benefits from sales.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to Set Up Your Everyday Math Online Lesson Plan

This is my second post about the online components of Everyday Math.  The first reviewed how to sign in and set up classes.  This post will detail how to set up your online lesson plan.

One of my favorite components of EM online is the ePlanner.   Just input the date range and lessons you want to cover and your lesson plan will be generated.  The option to exclude holidays or flex days is built in.  Another fantastic benefit is the ability to access individual lesson components straight from your calendar (including online games that go with each lesson).  Let’s get started!

Set Up Your Lesson Plan

Access your Everyday Math account and select the ePlanner ‘Launch’ button. 


On the next screen, you will:
  1. Select your grade level.
  2. Leave the next box on "Create a New Lesson Plan," unless you have returned to update an existing plan.  In which case you would need to select that lesson here.
  3. Name the lesson plan.  I chose 'Clegern 2nd 10-11.'
  4. Set the date your lessons should begin.
  5. Select the 'Next Step' button.

After you select the ‘next step’ button, the screen below will appear.  First, be sure to set the correct beginning and ending unit and lesson.  By default the lessons begin with Unit 1/lesson 1, and end with the last lesson in your series. Next, you will be able to select specific days on the calendar to specify non-instructional days.


I’m going to select September 6th to set up a non-instructional day for Labor Day. When I click on September 6, here is what I see:


I set the start day as September 6, and the end date as September 7.  Next I select ‘Holiday’ as the day type.  Finally I type ‘Labor Day’ in the Day Note box.  Select the Save button.  Now you can see those two days blocked off as holidays on the calendar.


After inputting your holidays, field trip days etc., click the ‘Create Lesson Plan’ button at the bottom of the page.


Once you have created your lesson plan, the following screen will appear.  There are several available options.
  1. If you forgot to add a holiday or flex day to your plan, click the ‘Set Up Lesson Plan’ button.  It will take you back to the setup screen.  This does not have to be done immediately.  This option is also handy for adjusting lessons due to snow days.  Again, the rest of your lessons will automatically be advanced for you.
  2. To view the lesson details for a certain day, select the yellow ‘Details’ box.
  3. Toggle month/week view here.
  4. If you need to spread a lesson out over more than one day, move the day, or delete the lesson, select the move/delete button.  A pop-up box will appear for details.  I love this option because it gives you the flexibility to allow for those times when one day just wasn’t enough for a lesson.  You just make the change and the rest of your lesson plan is adjusted for you!
  5. Advance or reverse your view of weeks by selecting the appropriate arrows.

The Details

Click the Details box (#2 above), and the window below will appear.  You will find all the necessary resources at your fingertips.  You can even access games to go with most lessons!  There is far too much to go over.  Most is in pdf format.  I recommend checking it out for yourself… you’ll be glad you did.


Finally

That’s my brief overview on setting up your online lesson plan.  I hope it helps, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.  There are surely tips and techniques I’m not aware of.  If you know any, please comment below!
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Everyday Math Online - Setting Up Your Class

I mentioned on another post that our school district has adopted the Everyday Math Curriculum.  In this post I would like to review some of the online components available with the program.

Everyday Math online is available a www.everydaymathonline.com.  There is a wealth of information and resources available.  Lets start with your basic set-up.  Your school will give you a code that you will use to sign in the first time.  To sign in click the ‘I Have My Registration Code’ button.  You will be prompted for the registration code and guided through your account setup.


 

After setup, when you return to the EM website sign in using the Teacher/Administrator Login button.

Once signed in, you will see the following screen and options.  Take a moment to review the selections.  I will go over more selections in future posts.


Setting Up Your Class

Our district is putting student names into the system, but I believe we will need to put the students into our individual classes.  To do this, select the ‘Build Class’ link at the top of your screen.  A pop-up window will appear as pictured below.



On the left panel (A) are instructions to help guide you through the class setup process.  If you haven’t set up a class before, select (B) ‘Add Class.’  For more encrypted passwords, select the ‘Use Iconic Passwords’ box at the bottom of the ‘Add Class’ popup window.  In doing so, passwords will have a letter, number, and shape.  These are explained in the parent letter.

Once your class name is ready and selected you are can continue.  Go to the bottom of the screen (C) and select the ‘Show’ dropdown box.  Select your grade level.  You may also want to select the ‘Show Available Only’ box so that students already in other classes won’t appear.  Finally, if you have new students to add select (D) the ‘New Student’ button.  A pop up box will appear for you to enter student information.  I do believe that our district is inputting students for us, we will just need to set up our classes.

Passwords

Now that your class is set up, let’s take a look at passwords and parent letters.  Student usernames and passwords are automatically generated.  Here's how to access and print the information.

Go back your EM main page and select ‘Student Passwords.’



I entered a test student so we can see what the password page will look like.  After selecting the above link, a popup box will appear.


In this box we can see the student name, login, and password.  Clicking the ‘Edit’ button under the ‘Reset’ column will enable you to reset student passwords. 
This screen is also where you are able to print individual or whole class login cards.  Finally, from this screen you have the option to log in as your student.

Parent Letters

Now you’re all set up.  Our last task will be to print parent letters.  To print parent letters, you will need to return to your home screen and select ‘Support’ at the top of your screen.


A popup box will appear with several support options.  Two of those options are circled below.  Both contain the Parent Letter, but the second also has some basic teacher instructions. 



Finally

That covers setting up your class, passwords, and parent letters.  I will cover more online components if upcoming posts.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at gr8arteest(at)gmail.com.  Have a wonderful school year!
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

How To Set Up Your Class Wiki

A class wiki is an incredible resource.  I use one with my 2nd graders.  They LOVE it!  However, it is very important to teach students about Digital Citizenship before guiding them to the wiki. Please see my post about Digital Citizenship for the Classroom for more information.  For more information about wiki’s, please see my post about Wiki’s and Moodles.

That said, let’s get our hands dirty making a wiki!  I use Wikispaces.com.  The interface is user-friendly and intuitive.  Furthermore, teachers can have free accounts… and we do love free things!  To start, go to http://www.wikispaces.com.  Select ‘create your own classroom wiki today.’


Next, you will need to fill in your information and name your wiki.  Make sure to set your wiki permissions to ‘private’.   Select the box to certify you are a K-12 educator, then click the ‘join’ button.


Once you click ‘Join,’ the following screen will appear:



This screen will guide you step-by-step through everything you will ever need to know about your wiki!  I love it.  Anytime you need to access this screen, just select the help link at the top of every page.

Next, I want to introduce you to your dashboard.  When you sign in, this is the screen you will see.  In order to access your wiki, you’ll need to select the link as shown below.  If you join any other wiki’s in Wikispaces, this is where you will see links to those as well.


When your wiki page opens, you’ll notice links at the top for email and account information.  You will see tabs for ‘home, page, discussion, history, and notify me.’  (Note that you can have a discussion for every page on your wiki, or one for the whole wiki.  I recommend using only one.)  On the left will be a place to add pages and to manage the wiki.


Select the Manage Wiki link on the left.  This takes you to your wiki control center.  Look through the different links to get familiar with your options.


Setting Up Users 

There are two ways to set up your users.  First, you can send invitations to your class parents by clicking the “Invite People” link above.  Second, you can email a list of your class to Wikispaces and have them set it up for you.  To view the second option you will need to go back to the help screen.  Click help at the very top of your screen, and then select “Inviting Members To Your Wiki.”


Finally

Now you’re ready to go! 

If you would like to add a slideshow to your wiki (I always do!), please see my last post

A wiki is a fun and rewarding addition to any classroom.  Wiki’s also make an excellent home-school connection tool for any subject.  
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Add a Slideshow to Your Class Webpage, Wiki, or Blog!


Have you ever wanted to add a slideshow of pictures to your class webpage, but just didn’t know how?  Imagine if you could have an ongoing slideshow on your page that automatically updated itself every time you added pictures to your photo album.  Better yet, what if parents could buy individual prints by clicking on your slideshow?  Google Picasa Web Albums can do all of that and more.

Here’s How to Get Set Up (if you don’t already have a Google Account)

If you don’t have a Google account yet, the following link will help you set up the account AND get you set up with Picasa.  Google and Picasa set up.

If You Already Have a Google Account, but not Picasa

If you already have a Google account, sign in and then go to photos.  That will take you to Picasa.  Follow the instructions to set up your account.

Creating Albums and Uploading Pictures for your Slideshow

Now that your account is ready to go, you will need to set up a specific album for your slideshow to pull pictures from.  To set up your album, click on the ‘upload’ button at the top of your Picasa Web Albums page.


A box will appear titled “Upload Photos: Create or Select Album.”  Select ‘create a new album’


In the new box, title your album (I usually use the current school year), do not select the show location on map box (for security reasons), and finally in the share dropdown box select ‘anyone with the link.’ Then click the ‘continue’ at the bottom of the box.


The continue button will take you to the upload page.  Here you can upload pictures individually.  I highly recommend downloading the free Picasa software instead as it will automatically update your web albums for you!  To choose the latter option, select ‘learn more’ in the More Ways to Upload Pictures box and follow the directions.

Creating and Embedding Your Slideshow

Time to make your slideshow.  First, open the album you created.


Next, on the right side select ‘link to this album.


Once you have selected the link, more options will appear below the link.  Select ‘embed slideshow.’


A box will appear showing a preview of your slideshow.  You will need to copy the html code in the box, and paste it into your webpage html where you would like the slideshow to appear.


You will need to access the html for your website, then paste the code where you want the slideshow to appear.  Many sites, such as Wikispaces, have tools to help you add slideshow html.  For help in embedding your html in your site, follow the link Need help putting this slideshow on your website?

Finally

Your slideshow will continue to grow throughout the year.  A wonderful last day of school activity is to watch the slideshow as a class.  The students can’t get enough of it!

Have fun with your Picasa Slideshow!



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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do You Have a Class of Bucket Fillers?

I've been scouring the internet looking for new things to use in class.  I stumbled across Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and decided to order the book.  This book is nothing short of wonderful!  I know my description can't do it justice, but here goes anyway... 

The basic premise of Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is that we all carry an invisible bucket.  Kindness and compliments fill our buckets, but meanness (being a bucket dipper) empties our buckets.  The cute illustrations in the book fit the story perfectly.

To further compliment the book, visit http://www.bucketfillers101.com and download a free coloring page and Bucketfiller certificates for your students. Posters, stickers, pencils, and more are available to purchase on the site.

Here is an excerpt from the Bucketfiller website:

www.bucketfillers101.com
Bucketfillers 101: School assemblies, staff trainings, adult seminars, and bucketfilling books and classroom resources based on the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? We stop bullying before it begins.

After reading the book and looking at the website, we've decided to have a class bucket as well.  When our class bucket is full, we will do something special.  We'll be a class of Bucketfillers! I am looking forward to using this series year after year.  Check it out for your students.  I promise you will not be disappointed!
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Update to Everyday Math Post

I wrote about Everyday Math on July 20th.  I ran into a fellow teacher in Mardels today and we were discussing how to color our thermometers and number grids.  That's when I realized I had not included that important information in the article!  So here is a repost of the previous article with information about the number grid and thermometer added.


Our district has adopted the Everyday Math curriculum for the next 4 years. I’ve just been to a couple trainings for EM, and it looks like a wonderful program. I’ve spent the summer reading through the EM books to get a feel for it. However I am in no way an expert!

Here’s what I like...

The spiraling method of teaching. EM continuously spirals back to reinforce previously learned concepts.

Students learn more than one way to solve a problem. Everyone thinks differently, so it just makes sense that one algorithm doesn’t fit all. Differentiation is built in.

EM encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills. From what I understand, that is the basis for how EM got started. A college professor noticed that his students could figure out all the straightforward math problems. However, these same students were unable to think critically and problem solve. So he went to the Chicago Public Schools to see what could be done. A partnership grew, extensive research was done, and now we have Everyday Math. Don’t quote me on the specifics there; the basic premise is correct though.

EM uses fewer worksheets and makes excellent use of manipulatives.

There is a wonderful online support system connected to EM. Students and parents can access it as well for math games, tutorials, their math book, and many other things.

An online planning calendar that automatically fills in lessons. Need I say more?

Introducing EM to parents

Everyday Math is different from the traditional math parents are used to. It will be important to discuss the highlights and address questions on Back to School Night. If you already have your books, you’ll notice a book called the “Home Connection Handbook”. This book is a wonderful resource for Back to School Night. Inside you’ll find everything you’ll need to explain EM to parents, plus a FAQ section to help you prepare for questions. Be sure to show your Content Strand Poster so parents can see how the content is spiraled.

Parents will be comforted to know that they will receive a Family Link letter with every unit. (These are found in the Math Masters book.) Each letter will explain what their child is learning, how it is being taught, math vocabulary, supporting home activities, and an answer key for the homework.

Teachers may want to consider having a Math Night for parents to explain things in more depth.


Substitutes

We all have those days when we are too sick to come to school and we are unable to secure a familiar substitute. Don’t panic… pull out your Differentiation Handbook and look at page 135 (2nd grade). There are some great options to print off for students to utilize on substitute days.  Another fantastic option is the Skills Link book that comes free with our order.  You're covered!

Classroom Management

I highly recommend reading the Teachers Reference Manual. The manual gives excellent explanations for the different activities in EM, as well as suggestions for classroom management.

Student Journals and My Reference Book

Daily work for students will be found in their Student Math Journal (although sometimes it will be in the Math Masters book). Please notice that these pages are not to be torn out. The journal is considered a work in progress. Within the journal are Math Boxes. Math boxes are not done for mastery, so don’t feel that students need to do all the problems. You may want to allocate about 20 minutes to spend on one page. For example, students could work 5 minutes alone, 5 minutes with a partner, then 10 minutes as a class. This is where you will see the spiraling. Students will also have aReference Book. Encourage students to look in their Reference Book for help before asking. The Reference Book also has instructions for the many games included in EM.

Homework

Weekly homework won’t work with Everyday Math. Homework will need to be sent home as the skills are taught. Homework is found in the Math Masters book. Parts 1 and 2 are considered ‘must do’. Part three is optional. If you have difficulty figuring out what is to be sent home, look in the upper right hand corner of each page. If there is a house there, it is supposed to go home.  Another homework option is the Skills Link book.  Pull work from there for remediation or differentiation.

Assessment

There are many ongoing assessments throughout the year which can be referenced beginning on page 8 of the Assessment Handbook. The formal assessments and assessment overviews begin on page 51 (2nd Grade). There are only 10 formal assessments a year. These assessments have two parts (summative and formative) which you will see explained beginning on page 19 (2nd Grade). Check the back of the handbook for excellent charts to track student achievement.



Online Support

As I mentioned at the beginning, there is an eplanner to help with lesson plans. You can set up your first day of teaching, and move dates within the calendar. To see a detailed lesson plan for the day, just click ‘details’ by the date.

In the support section you will be able to print a parent letter with teacher instructions for accessing EM online. Student passwords are auto generated and can be printed on cards or labels.

An Educator Resources link brings up games by grade level range.

Wallcharts are my favorite. Pull up the Wallcharts on your smartboard, select your grade level and go. This is for daily use. I showed my students the wallcharts at the end of the year last year, and they loved it!

Preparing Your Classroom - Number grid and Thermometer

First the number grid.  If you teach Kindergarten or 1st grade, you will need to color your number grid.  (I teach 2nd grade, but I went ahead and colored my number grid like the 1st grade since this will be the first year students are exposed to Everyday Math.)  

Kindergarten:  Color numbers 10-19 the same color, then color 20-29 the same color, then 30-39 and so on to the end of the grid. 

1st grade:  Color numbers 10-11 the same color, then 20-21 the same color, then 30-31 and so on to the end of the grid.

Now for the thermometer.  If you look in your Teachers Reference Manual on page 48, there is a graphic showing what to color each section.  I'll go ahead and post the colors here also.  
0-20 degrees=purple
20-40 degrees=blue
40-60 degrees=green
60-80 degrees=yellow
80-100 degrees=orange
100-140 degrees=red

I colored both the number grid and thermometer with regular crayons then laminated them.  Don't forget to hang up your number line as well.

Some Final Comments

I’ve looked around the internet trying to get a feel for Everyday Math. I’ve found people either love it or hate it. In reading the comments posted by parents who didn’t like Everyday Math, I could see that the teachers were not using the program in the way it was meant to be used. So we need to be careful to implement the program appropriately. With that in mind… don’t forget to put your number grid and thermometers up!

It is very likely that I have left some things out. Please feel free to comment with any additional comments or suggestions.


Links of interest:

Here is a link to Everyday Math technology resources broken down by grade, unit, and lesson. http://www1.center.k12.mo.us/edtech/everydaymath.htm

http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/

http://www.everydaymathonline.com/

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Teachers: What Your School Secretary Wants You To Know

Schools could not operate without their wonderful secretaries.  Secretaries are arguably the backbone of every school... for better or (sometimes) for worse.  Yet, these very people are usually overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.  We may not be in a position to influence the workload or the pay scale of our secretaries, but every one of us can help make their jobs easier and make them feel more appreciated.

I was an elementary secretary for 6 years before becoming a teacher.  Therefore, I’ve seen and heard both sides of the coin. Fortunately I was at a wonderful school with an exceptional staff, but I heard a lot of comments and complaints at secretarial meetings.   Believe me, your school secretary works just as hard (if not harder) than you.  

From that viewpoint, here are some things your secretary might like to say:

·     I appreciate it when you’re in the office and pitch in to help when I’m really busy.  Thank you for doing that.
·      Need to schedule a substitute for a sick or personal day?  If you have the capability there is no reason to bother me, go ahead and do it yourself.
·      Thank you for the cards and gifts on secretaries’ day.  It means a lot.
·      Turn in your attendance on time.  I understand you will forget from time to time and that’s okay.  However, I shouldn’t have to remind you every day.
·      Thank you for asking how I’m doing.
·      Please don’t ask me to work as your personal secretary.
·      Sending an occasional child for copies is okay. I understand that mistakes can happen.  However, sending more than two or three kids in a day is a problem, and doing that more than once or twice a week is also a problem
·      Please only send students to the office who genuinely need help.  An imaginary cut on a finger does not qualify.  I stay busy enough with the daily hypochondriacs (and please limit those while you’re at it).
·      I appreciate it when you check your mailbox every day.
·      Please follow guidelines closely when turning in money you’ve collected.  I can get in trouble if you don’t do things correctly.  I don’t have time to track you down for corrections.  I understand an occasional slip up, but not every time.
·      Please avoid telling me how to do my job unless you are my boss.  (Although constructive criticism is appropriate… it’s all in the delivery!)
·      I appreciate it when you remember to appreciate me!

I’m sure there are many other suggestions that could be made.  If you are a school secretary, please feel free to add your comments below. 

Finally

We are all part of a team working for the best education for our students.  Therefore, let’s support each and every part of our team, including the secretaries, custodians, lunch ladies, and monitors.  Our school will be a better place for it.
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Children of the Code - A Must See!


Both of my sons have Dyslexia.  Therefore this topic is near and dear to my heart.  Following are excerpts from the Children of the Code website.  Please visit their website for the full article and a wealth of resources.

Excerpts from the Children of the Code Website:

According to the U.S. Department of Education more than 60% of K-12 school children are reading below the level needed to proficiently process the written materials used in their grade levels - reading below the level necessary for the brain-work of reading to be transparent to the mind-work of learning from what they are reading.  Obviously, reading is the skill that matters most to success in school and children who fall behind in reading are in great academic danger. However, it is not just the lack of reading skills that most endangers these children. It's the mind-shame.

None of us like to engage in activities that cause us to feel ashamed of ourselves.  So what happens to children who feel ashamed of themselves when learning to read?  They are in serious danger. The shame they feel not only motivates them to avoid reading, it also fosters self-disesteem and undermines the cognitive capacities they need to learn to read in the first place. Millions of children are caught in this learning-disabling downward spiral. Not only are they in danger of being improficient readers, which is learning disabling with respect to educational content access, they are also in danger of developing aversions to other learning situations that trigger similar shameful feelings. Such mind-shame is learning disabling and it can have a very powerful effect on how children learn their way into adulthood.

According to the latest National Assessment of Adult Literacy report (NAAL), over 90 million (4 out of 10) U.S. adults  are living lives socially and economically disadvantaged due to poor reading skills. Adults with low levels of literacy are significantly more likely to live in poverty, engage in crime and other forms of social pathology, and to live unhealthy, and even shorter lives. 

Our mission is to call attention to and provide resources for such a reframe. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We don't endorse any particular expert, methodology, or product and we aren't trying to sell anything. We aren't trying to persuade anyone about anything except the necessity of deepening their learning. We don't look at reading difficulties through the lens of how to improve the 'teaching' of reading, instead through the lens of 'understanding the challenges involved in learning to read' -  from the learner's perspective. In fact, our primary allegiance isn't even to reading improvement per se, our work on reading is part of a larger mission we call  'Stewarding the HEALTH of Our Children's Learning'.
 
Our premise is this: regardless of particular methods of instruction, the better educators and parents understand the challenges involved in learning to read the better they can help children through those challenges. Thus, the mission of the Children of the Code Project is to help educators, parents, and all who care for children develop a deeper first-person understanding of the challenges involved in learning to read.

Please see The Children of the Code website for the complete article, more information, resources, and opportunities.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to Curb the Prolific Tattler

21st Century ClassroomImage by Michael @ NW Lens via Flickr

If you teach in elementary school, you know that tattling can be a huge issue.  Tattling leaves hurt feelings and takes up valuable teaching time.  We all know students who are more prolific tattlers than others.  So what can we do?

The Difference

A good start to taming the chronic tattler is to explain the difference between tattling and telling.  I usually do this in the first week of school since second graders are some of the most notorious tattlers out there.   Tattling, I explain, is when you are trying to get someone IN trouble.  Telling is when you are trying to get someone OUT of trouble.  For example, if someone is hurt, then they are in trouble and need help.  If a student is getting bullied, then they are in trouble and need help.  Conversely, if another student were talking too loud in the restroom… they don’t need help, so it would be a tattle.  Finally, we brainstorm other examples of tattling and telling.  There will be some trial and error while students figure it out.

Kids will be kids, and they will want to test you from time to time.  They want to know if the teacher really means what she says.  This can be tricky.  Let’s say you just had a discussion with the class about being too loud in the restroom.  After the next restroom break, little Johnny comes back to inform you that little Jimmy was being too loud.  The temptation is confront little Jimmy as soon as he comes back.  If you choose to confront little Jimmy, then you’ve just sent a message to the class that you have a tattling loophole.  Your prolific tattlers will quickly make the connection that where there is one loophole, there may be others.  Make no mistake… students have no compunction about finding and exploiting a tattling loophole!  Therefore, in that type of situation it may be best to tell students up front that since talking in restrooms has been such a problem, they should tell you if someone disobeys until further notice.

The Hard Cases

You will have those cherubs from time to time who just can’t resist tattling no matter what.  These are the hard cases.  I talk one on one with these students to try to determine what is behind their tattling compulsion.  It could be oversensitivity, a need for extra attention, problems at home, almost anything.  Sometimes getting to the root of the issue and talking it out helps.  However, there are some students who simply enjoy tattling.  There are several ways to handle such individuals.

Ideas

First is the quick comment.  After little Connie has shared her predicament, you can simply say, “Thank you for telling me.” The student feels like she’s been heard, and that will sometimes be enough.

Next, try the Tattle Box.  Have some sort of closed box with an opening on the lid, and set scrap paper beside it.  Next time little Claire runs up to tattle, direct her to the tattle box.  She’ll write down her issue for you to read later and will likely forget all about it. 

One year I had a class with more than the usual number of tattlers.  I mentioned it to another teacher in frustration one day, and she told me about the Tattle Form.  It’s a form on a legal sized paper that the student will fill out in order to tattle.  I’ll attach the tattle form I created at the bottom of this post.  The form serves more than one purpose.  First, they have to fill in their name, address, phone, and answer some other questions.  Here they’ve worked on the skills of knowing their address and phone, plus properly writing an address.  Next they have to say who it is they’re tattling on, how long they’ve known the person, how they met, and then list 4 good things about the person.  Most of the time a student will decide not to tattle after filling that part out.  If they persist however, they must consider whether the issue will matter in two days, and if it will matter… why? Finally they must use correct capitalization, punctuation, and paragraph skills to describe their problem.  Once the student returns the form to me, I check to make sure they filled it out correctly.  If not, I send it back for them until it is correct.  Once your hard-core tattler has experienced ‘the form’ a couple of times, they will typically stop tattling. 

Finally

I do want to emphasize that none of these alternative solutions take place until you have determined that the student is, in fact, just tattling.  I tell my students, “I’ve got your back.” I mean it, and they know I mean it.  How do you do to handle your prolific tattlers?

My Tattle Form
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Students Say The Darndest Things!


Time to lighten up a bit and have a nice laugh before school starts.  I’ve been reflecting on some of the cute things students have said to me over the last few years.  I’ll share some of mine, and I’d love to hear some of yours.

Here we go…

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is getting to know the students.  Kids are just precious… and they can say some pretty funny things.  Here are some of my favorites.

~ This is my all time favorite.  I shared with my students that my son was having his tonsils taken out soon.  A boy approached me later and informed me that his dog was also having his tonsils taken out.  “Really?” I asked, “I didn’t know dogs had to get tonsils removed.  Are you sure?”  He was adamant.  I chuckled to myself and let it go.  The next day, the same boy approached me.  “Um, my dog isn’t getting his tonsils out.” He fidgeted a moment before continuing.  “He’s having his ‘technicals’ removed so he can’t make babies.”    I literally had to leave the room.

~ “Teacher, I’m not feeling well,” the student groaned.  “You don’t have a fever,” I responded, “Why don’t you see if you can make it a little longer?”  “But I think I’m allergic to the winter,” she moaned.  “Thankfully it’s not the winter then,” I answered while trying to suppress a grin.  “Well what season is it?” the student queried.  “The fall.” “Oh, well I think I’m allergic to the fall also, so I may need to go home.”  Sigh.

~ “Teacher, I need to get a bandaid,” the boy said in a panic.  “What happened to your finger? I asked.  “I got a paper cut last night in the bathtub.” :o  I didn’t ask.

~ A teacher friend of mine in Texas shared the following story.  She was talking about a police car when a student excitedly raised his hand. “Teacher,” he blurted out, “My dad has ridden in the back seat of a police car!”  “Really?” she asked.  “Yes, it was when he was arrested.”  The teacher quickly moved on.

Now it’s your turn.  What funny things have your students done and said?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tool for Combining Blooms Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences

If you are like me, you understand Blooms Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences, but finding ways to combine and integrate the two can be challenging at best.  Following is a review of a publication that will help you do just that!  If you have never seen the Curriculum & Project Planner for Integrating Multiple Intelligences, Thinking Skills and Authentic Instruction by Sandra Schurr, you are in for a treat!

The Curriculum and Project Planner (which I will refer to as CPP) is a five-page foldout that is easy to tuck into your lesson plan book.  Within these five pages are four valuable sections.

Section One

This is the largest fold out section.  CPP presents a large grid.   The top of the grid lists the following columns:
‘Blooms & Williams’ Taxonomies – Action Verbs and Student Behaviors’
‘Suggested Student Products and Performances’
‘Optional Assessment Formats’
‘Sample Learning Tasks’

The rows on the side of the grid list the 9 Multiple Intelligences.  Therefore if you needed to find a good student product for a Naturalist Intelligence – just follow the Naturalist row over to the Suggested Student Products and Performances column.  There you will find a wealth of ideas. 

Section Two

Section two gives an overview of the 9 Multiple Intelligences.  The focus of each intelligence is described as well as tips to identify students of each intelligence.

Section Three

This section describes the levels of both Blooms Taxonomy of Cognitive Development and Williams’ Taxonomy of Creative Thinking. 

Section Four

The fourth section is a graphic organizer titled Considering it All!  It is a guide to help teachers plan lessons that integrate the Intelligences and Taxonomies. 

Where to Get the Planner

You can find the Planner several places.  Most educational stores sell it.  You can also purchase it on Amazon.

Finally

Remember that you won’t be able to hit every Intelligence every day.  I think a workable goal is to hit every Intelligence at least once during a school week. 
What tools do you use to help you combine skills into authentic instruction?
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Great Shoes for Teaching!

I have found a new type of shoe (new to me) that I just have to share.  They’re called Shape Ups.  Supposedly they help tone your legs and straighten your posture.  I admit I was skeptical.  However, I went ahead and ordered a pair for walking. 

The shoes arrived a couple of days later.  I put them on, laced them up, and went out for my walking experiment.  Sure enough, I could feel a burning in my legs.  How exciting I thought, a new way to work my legs!  I left the shoes on as I went about my business of the day.  By that evening, I noticed that the shoes didn’t hurt my feet at all.  In fact, they were quite comfortable and cushy. 

After several days of enjoying my new shoes it dawned on me… these would be the perfect shoes to teach in!  I’m not saying I’m going to have beautifully toned legs by the end of the year, I’m sure I won’t, but I will be comfortable!  I am so thrilled about my new discovery in comfort that I decided to share it here. 

Shape Ups are made by Skechers.  You can buy them at almost any shoe store or online.  I order mine from Amazon.com because I have a difficult size to find.  I encourage you to try just one pair.  You will be comfortably amazed!
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