Category Archives: classroom

Find a Penny..

     You should have guessed by now that I’m the kind of person who picks up every penny I see on the ground. And from the last post, you should know that I accept any and all things people are getting rid of. If I can’t use it, I find someone who can or donate it to goodwill where the donation keeps on giving.

     The other day I’d found a dime on the floor while running to the office during my planning period. I held it up to the Janitor (a fellow frugalist) and he said, Big deal! I pick up all kinds of money all day long in these hallways.  Kids are notorious for not paying attention to what falls out of their pockets.

     I don’t know what he does with his change, but mine gets added to my own money and plowed back into my classroom. Last week, for instance, I bought the strategy-based computer game called “Age of Empires” for use in my classroom (more about that later….); and bought fortune cookies for our discussion of Confucianism and Ancient China.

     What got me thinking of “found coins” was this wonderful blog post by the nonconsumeradvocate. I’ve read it before and it makes me smile each time.

     Along these lines, I have a teacher friend with a large family. Because she is one of seven siblings herself, she knows the value of a dollar! As soon as her children were the age to play sports, I asked if she would like some athletic equipment and shoes my kids had grown out of. “Boy, would I!” came her enthusiastic response. That expanded to passing down clothing and it has had the unexpected benefit of my reliving many enjoyable memories with my own children when I see them wearing a certain dress (worn to a special occasion while carrying a blankie and sucking a thumb) or outfit (worn to a family trip to the mountains where we rode horses up and down nearly vertical terrain in the mud—yikes!)

     Since it’s my blog, I’m allowed to ramble and tell stories here. This same lady is also a teacher. Her own children complain that they have no TV. I should explain: they do not choose to pay for cable or satellite TV and we live in a rural, mountainous area with zero TV reception. As a result, her kids, who I teach, complain that their mother only allows them to watch math videos. I know she is previewing them for her classes and she is a great multitasker. It makes me smile to think of what’s going on. I should mention, however, that her kids are VERY well-read, artistic and are scarey-smart! Since she teaches MY children, I get to hear about these math videos twice.:)

     So, to review: look for pennies and free things—they add up and turn into things you never imagined.

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Filed under cheap, classroom, education, frugal living, Frugality, penny pinching, personal finance, saving, teacher, teaching

2008 Edublog Awards: What Jewels Will Be Found?

     I really enjoy reading blogs of other teachers. There is never enough time to watch our fellow teachers hone their craft. Even the brief time in the lunchroom (and I do mean brief, once you deal with Bobby who lost his lunch money or Shakira who is checking out early) is only spent with the five or so teachers who have the same lunch time as you do.

 

     That is why I am looking forward to seeing the list of best educator blogs after they are published.  I hope someday to be on this list, but that is just a goal at this point.

 

     I must read educator blogs at home with a cup of coffee because our school district’s firewall screens out blogs. That’s unfortunate, because I get SO many excellent ideas for my own classroom from these fine teachers.

 

     I’m going to make it a point to steer some of my readers to the best ideas I’m seeing in other blogs. I’ll try to do a roundup of good posts I read.

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Grading Writing Papers or Will They Even Read Our Comments?

writing-document

We do a lot of writing in my classes. At this level, we are hammering how to organize their essays: topic sentence, detail sentences (or paragraphs) and conclusion sentences (or paragraphs).

 

It’s not enough to TELL them that they must do those things, you must show that their grade is related to whether or not they have met those goals.

 

Here’s the rub: it’s hardly worth my time to seriously mark up the final version. If they haven’t followed the lesson, haven’t taken my “walking around the room” advice, haven’t followed the mark-ups on the edited version, why spend the time to rehash?  They just aren’t going to do it!

 

I have to agree with the following from the Prone to Laughter blog :”A current grading technique (and I don’t know why it took me years to come up with this) is to underline everything important. The thesis, a key piece of analysis, a topic sentence that clearly states the heart of the paragraph. The advantage here is that it creates a strong impression that I’ve read and commented upon the paper, without actually requiring much effort from me. Though I don’t know why I scribble on final essays anyhow. Circling typos is also useful for this.”

 

It takes a lot of time to grade writing, but good teachers give a lot of writing work and grade it anyway! My inspiration this year has been the honors English teacher of my own children who goes above and beyond in her teaching of writing.

 

When I’m ready to give up, I think of her. I really should mention this to her, but I’ll wait until they no longer have her as a teacher so it doesn’t look like I’m brown-nosing.

 

Here’s the bottom line (putting on teacher hat for wrap-up here): before they turn in the paper, I have the student underline their topic sentence, conclusion sentence. That saves me some effort and time on my part to go hunting for these things. I can quickly scan whether they have mentioned what the body of their essay will cover.  In addition, it holds them accountable for what they were told to do.

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Filed under classroom, edit, editing, education, language arts, student, teacher, teaching, Uncategorized, writing

Prudent Classroom’s Collection Plate #1:Classroom ideas that don’t cost a dime…

  • The Two Writing Teachers blog talks about their take on NCTE sesson related to designing effective writing assignments.
  • Need some good handwriting worksheets or explanations for why it’s important?  Look no further:
  • Have you heard of “speed dating?” How  about sparking interest in reading by doing something similar with passing books after a few minutes? Here’s how at teaching tips machine blog.
  • Alan Haskvitz talks about how B is the new C in his article entitled, “The End of the D and F Grade: Welcome to Lake Wobegon” at teachersnet Gazette. Sad but true!
  • What a wonderful quote about NCLB by Doug Noon of Borderlands : “If we’d have used an NCLB-style approach to the Apollo moon mission, President Kennedy would have simply ordered NASA to fly conventional airplanes higher and higher until they fell out of the sky, and then blamed the pilots for lacking the will and the know-how to get the job done. ” Check out his take on how the new administration should approach assessment.

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Filed under Books, classroom, education, lesson plan, student, teacher, teacher resources, teaching

Curriki: My New Online Education Community (and Friend!)

rabbit

The other day I was in a panic because the activity I’d planned months before, a nice webquest of the civilization we are studying, suddenly wasn’t working due to our newly installed firewall at school.  We can, in certain circumstances, request that certain sites be restored, but the process is slow and doesn’t always mean it can be fixed. For instance, I cannot access my own blog (or any other) from school. I’m not complaining, I do understand. I don’t work on personal things at school.

 

But (o.k. a little complaint) there are some teacher blogs that have some great information I’d like to use in my planning and lesson creation.

 

….back to my (then) immediate problem—what to do when your great plans become shambles?  I tried two recently found places that have good lesson plans and background resource materials. The first is curriki, an online learning community started by Sun Microsystems to develop education resources.  There I found a great webquest that did work with our firewall within minutes. While finding it, I came across tons more things I can use.

 

Is it just me, or do other people feel like Alice climbing down the rabbit hole when they start looking for things?

 

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Filed under cheap, classroom, educational video, lesson plan, Lesson Plans, Uncategorized

Free Ivy League Online Video Lectures

My degrees are not from an Ivy League institution, but I “take” Ivy League classes now via free online video classes.  Just for fun, I always intended to sit in on history lectures when I retire. But now with the magic of the Internet, I can do this in my comfy chair and snuggly slippers at home and don’t even have to wait for retirement. 

 

The online universities website has a list of video lectures that are interesting and wonderful for expanding your horizons.  Most of these courses can be downloaded to an mp3 player, so I’ll be happily commuting to my job while listening to lectures. 

 

In addition, I like to listen to lectures while typing my lesson plans.  As I type, I’m listening to a history lecture by a Yale professor about the Hebrew Torah.  One of the advantages of being a person with undiagnosed ADD is that you CAN do several things at the same time. But that’s another post ..

A list of 100 lectures offered in the following areas is posted at the online universities website:

Finances

Science

Health and Medical

History

Political Science

Engineering, Technology and Mathematics

Social Sciences

Literature

The arts

Philosophy and Religion

 

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Filed under cheap, classroom, education, educational video, frugal living, math video, online learning, student, teacher, teacher resources, teaching, tightwad

Saving Energy $$ and Being Green at the Same Time

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Using a screensaver is not energy efficient.  Put your computer and monitor on sleep mode when you aren’t using it.  Don’t leave it on during the day or night when you aren’t using it.  $600 million dollars in energy is wasted each year, according to Real World Green, by businesses not following these tips.

 furnace

If you need some encouragement to save on your heating bill this winter, try the “Freeze Yer Buns Challenge 2008″ at Crunchy Chicken Blog (Putting the mental in the environmental).
The idea is to pledge to keep your thermostat at a low level this winter. In our case, we always keep our heat at 68 in the winter and the AC at 78 in the summer (if we use the AC, that is).
As Crunchy Chicken says, “How low can you go?”
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under cheap, classroom, energy efficient, frugal living, Frugality, green, personal finance, teacher, teaching, tightwad, Uncategorized