The gun debate

It bothers me all the nonsense people are saying about the gun debate, especially when they say that Obama doesn’t want us to have our kids protected, even though his kids do.  That is so much nonsense.

Let us lay it out.  Obama is not getting rids of guns.  Toy and your hand gun and rifle are still allowed and welcomed.  But there is no reason to be able to fire off hundreds of rounds at a time.  No sake person needs that much firepower.

What is worse is that it seems to be all my family buying into these conspiracies.  It is hard to talk about topics of substance when I believe they are 100% wrong.

Lessons that I Love

There aren’t a lot of lessons that I do that I absolutely love.  This is probably because I do a lot of direct instruction because that is how our school day is organized and all it allows.  I don’t like it, but it is what I have to do.  I’m hoping with this move to IB that things will change and there will be more flexibility allowed in when/how we are able to do things.  This hope is because I know that IB has a tendency to be more inquiry based rather than Direct Instruction.


However, there is one direct instruction plan I love.  I do not remember who made it in the first place, but I got it off of the Smart Exchange (for Smart Notebook Files).

It’s all about rounding and starts off with a little story.

“Once, King A decides to send a message to king B.  He calls for a messenger and asks him to take two messages.  One is spoken aloud and king B has the key to understand it.  The second is a written message that the messenger cannot look at or he will die.  The messenger gathers some friends and starts off to King B.  

When he arrives he tells the king the message and gives him the written message.  The king agrees to do what King A asks, and then opens the message and reads it the message makes him so angry that he Immediately he sends his soldiers to grab the messenger and his friends and kills them all by cutting off their heads.”

Rather strange way to start a math lesson isn’t it?  But it’s really a mnemonic device that will help the kids remember the order of rounding.

1. Identify the king (namely, what place value you’re rounding to)

2. What is the message (I’m hefty, or I’m wimpy- hefty is code for go up one, wimpy code for stay the same)

3. The king does it (goes up/stays the same)

4. All the messengers die.  (Because a cut off head looks like a zero, so all the messengers become zeros.)

For a majority of my kids this really works!  This is one of my first math lessons each year.  I know it stuck because now we’re in December and they’re still using it now that we’re rounding decimals.


The December Grinch

Any teacher will tell you that the time right before a break is the hardest time of the year.  Some of these include:

1. The two days before Thanksgiving.

2. The four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

3. The time between end of year testing and the end of the year.

Right now we’re sitting in that middle time.  Not only is it this weird time between breaks but the weather is slowly but surely changing also.  The daylight is growing weaker and it is warming up.  When we get up it is dark, and by the time our after-school program ends it is dark.  The classroom feels oppressively hot after the cool outside, but it is too cold to open the door for more than a few minutes.

The students are tired.  And I’m tired too.  This is the time of year when lesson plans fall apart, interventions get skipped, middle-of-year testing is going on and so forth.  I have to make sure to reinforce my routines over, and over, and over again because they forgetting them.


I have to make sure to focus and be nice.  There are worse things my kids could be doing than talking and not focusing.

Am I complaining?  Yes.  Is it pathetic?  Yes.

I’ll get over it.

The end of Thanksgiving

Today is the final day of Thanksgiving.  It is the day when I need to stop taking naps and pull out that backpack full of things that I chose not to do the other four days.  I did get two things marked off of my to do list.  I read the first two books my students are reading for their lit study.  I now only have two left.

Sadly I have a lot more grading to do.  And I’ll admit…. I hate grading.


How much do you know about the study of robotics?  Probably not much more than I do.  And yet, here I am running a robotics club.  Let’s just day I’m a glutton for punishment.

But I do enjoy it.  I have a great group of eleven boys. They mostly work well together, and are problem solvers.  I really do not know much more than they do, but I usually do know when something had gone wrong and needs fixed.  Right now they have each built a bot and are programming it to go in a square and return to where it started from.  It is a lot harder than you would think!

My current problem is that I cannot seem to make the formula for circumference work right.

It should be 2* 3.14*radius.  if the axis is one wheel, the radius should be the difference between the wheels.  So, 6.18 x 16cm should give me the circumference.  Then, it should be a simple matter of dividing that by the number of centimeters a wheel goes in one rotation to find out how many rotations a 360° turn takes.  Them, if I want to go 1/4 of that, I divide by four.

My math is solid, but keeps coming it wonky saying I need right meters!  What its wrong?


It’s November right? Thanksgiving is coming up. This means I need to start thinking of what it s that I’m thankful for. I do it throughout the year, of course, but I don’t always write it down light I ought.

So lets start simple:
I’m thankful to be working. I’m thankful that I’m in a school that constantly strives for excellence, even if I don’t always agree with the way that we’re moving towards that. I’m thankful that I have a supportive team that really tries to work together to help kids gain the highest potential.

For all else I say, my school does rock. If for some reason, my husband’s job takes me elsewhere I will leave with many tears because I can honestly say, I love this school.

Peter two

I have been reading in First Peter.  It talks about how all men need to serve their masters well, whether they be easy or hard.  It says that we well be rewarded if we struggle without guile.

So, I’m going to try to struggle without guile.  I an going to try to not gossip about policy or people, but just do my best for the kids.

It well be counted unto me for righteousness.

I hope.

Common Core and Movement

Another school year has been upon us for many days now.  We’re slowly slinking our way towards another Thanksgiving Vacation, followed quickly by Christmas and the official half-way point of the year.

I barely know what is going on most of the time.  I just hope my students don’t realize how completely unaware I am of everything around me.  Between the Common Core,  a new schedule, and a move to be International Baccalaureate, things are a bit crazy.  I’m trying to really keep it together, and on most fronts, I’m doing okay.

I do love how the Common Core has changed math.  It won’t help my students much this year, but my kids have much more confidence with fractions than ever before.  They still don’t quite get mixed and improper fractions, but they’re doing much better than either of my previous classes.  I’m afraid of all the things we’re leaving out that WILL be on AIMS this year (I know coordinate plane is one of them, but cannot recall the rest), and just pray that it’ll be close enough not to matter.

It’s reading that’s really throwing most of us for a loop.  I recently found one resource: Readworks that is helping me structure my thinking.  Another one I’ve been hooked into, but haven’t used much, is ReadWriteThink  I’ve also started up some literature circles that I HOPE are good.   I’ve  got two groups reading Snow Treasure, two groups reading The Long Winter, one group reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and one group reading Woodsong.  All of them have something to do with Winter, though Mrs. Frisby’s connection is only barely there.  The kids do seem to enjoy them, though my lowest group is struggling with Snow Treasure, and my highest group is trying to coast through Woodsong.  (Not letting them though, they had to redo ALL of the work from last week because they’d really put no effort into it.)

Things have changed in our classroom too.  In the last two weeks I got two new students.  Once I haven’t learned much about except that he’s a math wiz, reads VERY well, is chatty, chatty, chatty, and loves football (especially the Packers.)  The other I /really/ know nothing about as I’ve only had her for one week.  I do know she’s very intelligent, but stubborn, and doesn’t have a very high self esteem.  I see myself working hard with her on that, because intelligent children often struggle the worst with self esteem any time anything happens.  I mean, she got a 60 on a test that killed four others, even though she’s had exactly one week of fractions and the rest have had four weeks.

Another change occurred on Friday, though I knew it was coming.   I had a very special child in my class with very special challenges.  He came to me late, and I’ve felt badly all year about the challenges he’s had.  I won’t go into specifics here, but I’ve worried about him.  He has more assistance in the school than most kids get, but he still wasn’t getting the best education.  It wasn’t anything in particular that I did, it was simply that I couldn’t do as much for him because I did have to care for the other 29 kids in the class also, and that he spent over 50% of his time outside of my classroom.

Now, on to the change.  It was decided in a meeting that his parents and advocate would tour another setting for him.  A few days later I found out that they loved the alternate setting and would transfer him.  I got to meet his new teachers, and was impressed by their attitudes.  I expressed how I knew this child was special, and that I believed in his ability to learn and wished that I didn’t have to give him up, but understood that he needed more assistance then I, and my school, were able to give.

On Friday, he left half way though the day.  I knew he was leaving, but expected it about two hours later than it did happen.  Because of this I was caught off guard, and hadn’t had a chance to have the kids do anything for him.  We had an impromptu good-bye party (just during snack for 10 minutes) before he was whisked away forever.

Part of me is really sad about the change.  He was a good kid, and I’ll miss him, and will always wonder if I COULD have made a difference in his life.  On the other side though, my work load has been halved in day-to-day scheduling.

I just hope he makes friends.  And is happen.  I’ll always wonder if he’s getting on well.

I also found out that the father of one of my students from my first year died suddenly.  I need to try to reach out and see if I can’t contact them and make sure they know how much I care.  Because I do care.  I want all my kids to be happy… even if they aren’t my kids any more.

Clothing dear

It’s Arizona and it does get hot.  I try not to harp on my girls for wearing too short of shorts, especially as I know that it’s a parent’s decision and I need to shut up.

But there are a few not okay things.

1. If their thumbs reach down on the sides farther than their shorts do.

2. When you can see right though it.


…. At this age, neither is okay!  Especially not for school

My favorite phrases

When students gather around me when they should be doing something else and I also need to be doing something else- “I love you! Go away!”

When people are talking when someone has been called on to talk- “Wait please, the class is being rude.”  (Typically followed by a glare at the talking people)

When a child comes up and says something akin to “I lost my a paper/pencil etc” – “Figure it out.”  Often modified to, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”  

When a child says ‘question’ before asking their question, or ‘ms teacher, I have a question’- “The sky is blue”

When a child asks, ‘Can I ask a question?” – “Is the sky blue?”

When a child says, “I have two questions” – “The sky is blue.  <insert random animal fact.>”


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