January 30, 2010

Killer Stilettos

I'm not sure what made me remember this story, but it's too good not to share.
Do you ever have those days where you catch a glimpse of your reflection in a mirror and think, "Damn... I look good right now!" I'll admit these days happen few and far between for me, but this story takes place on one such day.

It was date night. I was feeling good in my new, sexy-yet-casual top, trouser-style, cuffed jeans and pointed-toe, killer stiletto heels. After a delicious dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, the boyfriend and I arrived at the mall to see a movie.

After taking the escalator downstairs, we started walking toward the theatre. As I stated, I was feeling pretty good as we strolled toward the ticket booth. I was looking into the lines ahead, half trying to decipher which line would be quickest and half hoping at least someone would look my direction and acknowledge how cute I was looking in that moment.

Somehow, as I strutted down my little "runway," the heel of my stiletto got caught in the cuff of my jeans. Before I even knew what was happening, I was sprawled out on the cold tile like a drunken bum outside a bar (and no... I had not been drinking).

How do these things always happen to me?

January 23, 2010

News You Can Use

I have no idea how I end up on so many crazy email lists (I'm careful to always give my junk email when asked), but my spam box is constantly inundated with messages. The spam box for my work email is typically from local universities reminding me to register for their graduate programs or advertisements to buy classroom resources from workshops I've attended. A couple weeks ago, though, I was intrigued by an email from Tween Tribune and stopped by the website for a little inspection.

What I found was a fantastic resource that pulls relevant, high-interest stories from reliable websites (The Associated Press, CNN, AOL, local newspapers and television stations) into one location for tweens to read and comment. Best of all, all comments are moderated, ensuring a safe environment.

While this site is intended for classroom use, I would certainly recommend its use in the home as well. I think it's extremely important that our children are aware of what's happening in the world, but I know most 8-14 year olds aren't signing on to msnbc to weed through the hundreds of articles for something they a) understand and b) care about. I think this site is the perfect way to get children interested in the news! They will especially enjoy the comment section where they can share their thoughts and read what others think about the weekly news.

I've already used this website in my classroom as an aide in teaching my students how to write extended responses and even debates. It's a great way to encourage high-order thinking and backing up opinions with evidence from the text.

Check it out... share it with your tween!

January 22, 2010

To the Parents

Dear Parents,

If your child's teacher writes (or emails) home to let you know about an altercation between your child and another student, please do not respond with, "What did the other kid do to make him do that?" or "Why isn't the other kid in trouble?"

1. Do not assume the other child did not also receive a reprimand.
2. The teacher cannot discuss other children with you.
3. Your child is responsible for his own actions. Regardless of provocation.
4. Stop making excuses for your child. You're not helping him.

One Frustrated Teacher

Helping Haiti

Like many others, I was overwhelmed at the devastation in Haiti after last week's earthquake. I watched the investigative reporting on my favorite news shows half wanting to turn off the television because I couldn't stand to see the hurt and fear in people's eyes.

And then came the guilt.

How selfish of me to want to turn the channel. This is not an issue that should be ignored. It should be painful to watch. That is the very compassion that makes us want to step up and help.

But how can I help? What can I do?

I honestly thought about taking in a Haitian child (and even the thought of adopting is appealing), but if I'm honest, I'm really in no position to be taking on such a massive responsibility. Not to mention... I live with my parents.

I've prayed. A lot. But sometimes, that doesn't feel like enough. I wanted to do something.

I knew student council would be bombarded with requests, but Ed (my student council co-sponsor) and I were hesitant to take on another fundraiser right now because we are deep into the planning of our annual charity basketball game. This is a massive undertaking, so the thought of another activity right now was overwhelming.

Candy sales are always popular, but we do that all the time. (Not to mention, our Valentine's Day candy gram sale is already planned. And that money is already dedicated to purchasing items for the charity game.)

So, Ed and I pitched the idea to one of my classes yesterday to see what they thought would work. The very first suggestion turned out to be perfect: a staff versus students charity dodgeball game!

We immediately received support from our administrators, and the staff seems very eager to participate. There must be something about taking out aggression on the students that's appealing! The best part: it's completely free! We are using our school gym 3 mornings (one morning for each grade level. Students will pay $1 to come watch the game, and those that want to play on the student team will purchase 50 cent raffle tickets, which will be chosen on the morning of the game.

I am SO excited!

January 14, 2010

Things Students Say Part 3

I have a boy in my class who loves to talk. Okay, I have a lot of boys in my class who love to talk, but one boy in particular who is a constant stream of words. I've literally caught him speaking out loud to no one... no one. And he wasn't talking to himself... he just doesn't realize or care that no one is listening (or, in this case, even within earshot).

Despite his constant chatter, I really do love this child. He doesn't have the best relationship with many other teachers, but we get along quite well. And for this, I am very grateful since I have him for three periods a day. I love that we have a good enough rapport that I can redirect him as necessary (often) without the threat of his negative attitude.

We even have our own little code. Rather than always asking him to stop talking, I can look at him and ask him, "What's your number?" He knows immediately that I am asking him to rate himself on a scale of 1-5 on how self-directed he is being at the time. If he's out of his seat or talking to a neighbor (or another student halfway across the room as the case may be), he will respond, "2 or 3," in which case I respond, "Let's make it a 5!" and he typically gets back on task. I've had mixed success with this. I like that I can redirect him without the rest of his peers knowing what we're talking about, but sometimes he just needs to hear the words, "Please stop talking!"

On one such day, I was particularly tired of having to redirect him. Our of sheer frustration, I asked, "N, does your mother have to yell at you all the time like this too?"

His completely sincere response was, "No. I'm allowed to talk at home."

After a great laugh (which was a great cure for my frustration in that moment), I stepped back and thought about things from his perspective. I realize that it's probably equally as frustrating for him that he's always getting reprimanded for saying what's on his mind. Poor kid!