Thursday, December 29, 2011

11 in '11 Linky Party

Most of you know by now that blogging is one of my "study breaks" when my typical study breaks (work as a break from grad school and grad school as a break from work) and the snippet of exercise/ dog walking no longer work for me.  Today, I thought I'd participate in this linky party from another teacher.  11 things from 2011.

11. Favorite movie you watched:
10. Favorite TV series: Bones
9. Favorite restaurant: Applebee's-- not for the food, but for the many affordable, enjoyable dinners I've had there with some of the world's greatest company in 2011
8. Favorite new thing you tried:
Teaching at an Alternative School
7. Favorite gift you got:
A plane ticket to see my brother in Italy
Terrible Picture, but it's in the Sistine Chapel, and we had to snap a shot quickly.
6. Favorite thing you pinned:
5. Favorite blog post:
4. Best accomplishment:
Making significant progress towards my life's goals.
3. Favorite picture:
2. Favorite memory:
Italy.  The wine tasting in Florence was a great night.
1. Goal for 2012:
Finish my Masters!

All in all, I'd say it's been a pretty great year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

what your teacher REALLY does for winter break

- Sleep.  After the first couple of nights, generally more than six hours, preferably 8 or more hours a night. :)
- Read books for fun.  Although, some of them are related to the classroom/ designed to be used in the classroom.

- Go to the beach.

- Watch the sunset.

- Play.

- Go out for a night.
- Shag dance to live music.
- Write lesson plans.
- Mostly forget about the classroom.
- Research things for school.
- Think about her students on Christmas day and wonder if they're having as enjoyable a day as she is.
- Watch the snowfall, and dance in the snow.
- Have a snowball fight.
- Keep thinking how quickly this break is flying by.
- Catch up with old friends. :)

Sorry I don't have pictures of all of it. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thank You, Pinterest

As a girl, I love pinterest.  As a teacher, my relationship with pinterest goes beyond love.  I have tried a few things from pinterest in my classroom before and have seen things there that I've already done/ currently do.  Today, I did something that makes SO much sense.  I made an absentee work spot.  I've been keeping everything for the kids that were absent on my desk or front table, but it's too much for me to remember who wasn't here which day and what they missed.  Instead, I made a "Were you absent" crate.  I've warned all the kids that this was coming, and they already know that they will be making up their missed work in the morning (if they ride an early bus), at lunch, or during their gym time.  I have so many grades in the grade book that aren't filled in because the kids were absent.  They're all pretty amenable with the idea of an absent work crate.  Now comes the true challenge-- getting them to accept responsibility for what they've missed.  This is what I made today.  There's a folder for each of the 6 periods I teach, and in each folder are the assignments with kids' names on them.  I went ahead and put some things in there from today, even though I won't fully implement until we get back from Winter Break.  2 more days!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

People to Make Friends With in a School

1. The Custodian.  Free supplies, an extra clean room, help moving things, and in our case, free castoff fresh bread/ veggies/ fruits in mass quantity from the soup kitchen that operates out of our school's cafeteria.  Two thumbs up for free groceries!!

2. The secretary.  Always find a time for a smile and a quick hello to the woman who keeps your life in check.  Want a heads up when somebody's heading to your room to observe? Make friends with the secretary.  Want a little warning when there's a parent on a mission heading to see you or calling on the phone?  Be friends with the secretary.  Unfortunately, I found out today that our bad 277 secretary is leaving to go to another school, where she will be one of many secretaries and will have about 15 hours a week instead of 40+.  I can't blame her too much.  She's been working a lot of hours for a lot of years.  But she's so sweet! It's okay, I'm relatively certain I will greatly enjoy her replacement.

3. Anyone with an administrative position.  'Nuff said.

4. Your coworkers.  My wonderful teammates have my back, and I have theirs.  Can't help but love it.

5. YOUR STUDENTS!!!!!!!!!!!  Although here, the term shouldn't be friends, but make positive teacher-student relationships with them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is Instruction Interfering With High Stakes Testing?

Longer Standardized Tests Are Planned, Displeasing Some School Leaders

Students across New York State will sit longer for high-stakes standardized tests in language arts and math this April compared with past years, education officials indicated Friday, drawing criticism from school leaders and parents who believe that lengthier tests are a move in the wrong direction.
A new Web venture featuring news, data and conversation about schools in New York City.
A week after David Abrams, the state’s longtime testing director, was forced to resign after he sent an unauthorized memorandum about lengthening testing to school districts, officials declined to specify how much time they planned to add. Mr. Abrams’s memo said the tests would grow to more than four hours — over several days — for reading, from about two-and-a-half hours now, and to three hours or more for math, from an average of two hours now.
Top officials disavowed the memo and said the increases would not be so drastic. They said Friday that they would send the new times and other details to districts next week.
The annual tests, given to students in grades 3 through 8, will factor into teacher evaluations for the first time this year. Extending test times, state officials said, would enable them to field-test new questions that would not count toward a student’s score but could be used to develop future tests.
Currently, new questions are tested in practice exams given in selected districts. That has raised the concern that students, knowing the tests do not count, do not try very hard, resulting in misleading data. Such inaccurate feedback, these officials say, has contributed to the state’s score inflation in recent years.
The Board of Regents discussed including sample multiple-choice questions in the actual tests at a meeting in December 2010, and the State Education Department issued a memo in March notifying districts that the change would take effect next spring.
But some school administrators and parents say it was not clear from the memo that a result would be longer tests.
Critics assert that more time spent on testing cuts into time for classroom instruction. They also say that lengthier tests penalize younger children who cannot concentrate for long periods, giving an inaccurate assessment of their abilities.
“I think the last thing we want is a test of stamina,” said Richard Organisciak, superintendent of the 11,000-student New Rochelle district in Westchester County. “The thought of a third grader sitting there for three hours — it boggles my mind that he would stay as focused or perform as well on a high-stakes test.”
The stakes are particularly high in New York City, where a top score can help a student gain admission to some of the city’s most coveted middle schools.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, the union representing 218,000 public school teachers, said the state should be trying to decrease testing time, not increase it.
“If it becomes a burden on the student and teacher and it takes away from instructional time, then we’ve missed the point altogether,” he said. “We’ve moved away from an instrument that measures and improves student growth, and gotten wound up in the concept of how much data we can collect.”
Nationwide, most states already blend field questions into actual exams taken by students because doing so provides more reliable data about questions, said Brian Gong, executive director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, a nonprofit group that provides support to state education departments. “That’s a very common practice; the SAT also does it,” he said. “It’s the best way to get real data.”
New York’s tests are shorter than those given in some other states: third graders take a 150-minute test in language arts, and a 100-minute test in math, compared with 150-minute to 270-minute tests in other states, with sample questions typically accounting for 10 to 20 minutes, Mr. Gong said. “There are many people asking tests to do more things,” he added, “which technically requires the test to be longer.”
Kathleen M. Cashin, a Fordham University education professor who joined New York’s Regents in March, said there should have been more discussion in the state about increasing test times.
“I think we have too much testing now,” she said. “I mean, is the purpose of education just to identify weaknesses through accountability measures? Or is the purpose to expand the child’s learning with knowledge and vocabulary, and give them the opportunity to discuss and think at a higher level?”
Lisa Siegman, principal of Public School 3 in Greenwich Village, said she would like to see evidence that increasing the length of state tests would help schools like hers to better educate their students. “They’re trying to measure something,” she said, “but I’m not quite sure it connects to what we do.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Shot

I often tell my students some variety of "This is your last shot."  Sometimes, this means, "I'm about to document your inappropriate behavior in writing."  Sometimes (and I usually hate these times), this means "You're on the verge of expulsion.  Don't mess up."  That's a side effect of working at an alternative school.  Today, I tried something new when picking up my last period class of sweaty, smelly 8th grade boys from their PE class.  They're so gross by the time I get to teach them science.  Anyway, the kids that finish their assignments early sometimes get to play basketball.  They really enjoy it and get very competitive, but burn off a lot of excess energy, so I can't complain.

The day that I started writing this blog (sometime earlier this week), I tried something new.  I gave them "one last shot" on the court.  It took less time than it would take me to coax the ball from their hands and get them unwillingly lined up.  This little, teensy extra bit of respect for them and their interests instead earned me a chorus of "Yes, Ma'am"s and a quick, easy line up.  Well, that little change will become a part of my daily classroom procedures.  I'm also looking into a way to put some basketball into my review games in the classroom.....suggestions?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Oxford Comma

So, I'm putting the finishing touches on my last final of this semester of grad school.  Almost exactly one year until I'm done with school (hopefully for a long, long time!).  I've always loved commas.  The debate of the night: to use or not to use the oxford comma????  You tell me....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Just A Typical Day At School?

Bless it.  The Assistant Principal's 5 year old son was on our campus not too long ago, and this was the end result.

Drop and give me 50!! Don't talk back!


Teaching 6 classes a day (3, sometimes 4 preps every day) gets exhausting after awhile.  There's no time to transition between grade levels (6, 7, & 8), so it takes its toll on my mental capacity now and again.  On Friday, I did a lab in seventh grade and another lab in eighth grade.  This means I led labs in 5 different classes.  Talk about exhausted and brain fried!  In seventh grade, we're testing the effect of soil quality on grass growth.  This is a hard, abstract concept for many of them to understand.  Luckily, I've got a few farmers, so I have some that I was able to relate to that way.  Hopefully, this lab will do it for the rest of them.  I just wanted to brag on myself.  I built a plant light house all by myself as a demo for my kids!!!  It's one of those things that looks deceptively simple, but requires high levels of coordination, especially hand-eye coordination, which anyone who knows me well knows I lack.  Here it is! I hope the kids continue to enjoy is as much as they did on Friday.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

As a teacher, this is the truth.  Although, I don't at all pity my graduate school professors.  Finals weekend. stinks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Hopefully, you all know what a MILF is.  Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend who referred to my mother as "the MILF." It was incredibly awkward, but entertaining to watch the realization hit my mother.  Anyway, one of the male teachers on my team and I were talking about the things our kids say about us.  He informed me that the kids said that one of there academic teachers was a MILF.  There are only four of us.  One of us is a grandma.  Two of us are male.  That!  Hahahahahhaha.  Then he informed me that he had to tell them that in order to be a MILF, you have to be a mother, which means "have children."  By that correct reasoning, then, the only one of us that could be a MILF is the grandma.  I would've loved to see the realization hit their faces.

But Don't Get Crazy

I still love quoting Bonquiqui to my students, especially my seventh graders.  Today, one of my boys was off his meds.  He decided to sing that song about it being a great day to be alive...the country one.  It's a good song.  He gets to the line "Got a three day beard and ...." I cut him off with this snappy retort: "I'm pretty sure you won't need to shave anytime in the near future."  Oops.  Sometimes, my sarcasm just escapes.  Luckily, this has only happened with students who are also fluent in sarcasm and find it amusing rather than insulting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You know you teach in the country when....

1) Your students "can't come" to the school dance on a Saturday because they'll be hunting during the day and cleaning their kill at night.

2) The local Days Inn signboard reads "Welcome Deer Hunters."

3) You "done bin did that 'un afore."

4) When you ask a student to please take some chairs to the computer lab and start to tell them that they're all metal and really heavy and they might need another student to help or to make two trips, the scrawny student easily hoists all the chairs and hauls them all the way across the school.  When he gets back and you thank him, he says that the chairs "weren't even as heavy as two bales of hay."

5) You now know that a bale of hay weighs approximately 85 pounds.

6) You learn that the term "hillbilly" is offensive and that "mountain hoocher" is the more politically correct term.

7) An entire bus of students enters the school in single-file line all wearing the exact same "uniform"...... camo t-shirt or long undershirt, jeans/ overalls, brown boots, and a camo hunting jacket.  This includes male and female students.

8) Your students are jealous that you live within five minutes of a grocery store.

9) All of your students listen to country music, regardless of skin color or family background.

10) You have a hispanic student whose accent could compete with someone from Blue Collar Comedy.

and so, so many more

In there...

Background: I rearranged my classroom yesterday to keep the kids away from the sneaky back corner of mischief as possible.  This left the sneaky back corner wall empty.


Me to students lined up in hallway: You'll notice that the notebook shelf has moved to the wall directly across from the doorway.  DO NOT mess up my shelf, and please continue to keep it neat.  I straightened it for you, so just make sure your notebook goes back in the labeled area for your class.

Enter students.

5 minutes later:

R: * Holding his head and looking around *  Something's missing in here.  I can't quite figure out what it is.  Ms. G., something's missing.

L: under his breath "a brain."

Me: cracking up at the witty, incredibly fast and clever retort to L and the surrounding two students who'd overheard his comment.  You know, L, you really just can't say things like that, even if they are clever.

L: yes ma'am, but I just couldn't help it.  Sometimes, he's just so annoying.

Me: sigh.  Can't win 'em all.  At least it was funny.

Thumbelina's Vacation

In case you didn't know, our class hamster, Thumbelina, went missing last week.  Here's the backstory if you didn't read it.  PTL I didn't have another heart attack from a scampering hamster AND that there was no rotten carcass in my classroom when I returned from a long weekend for Thanksgiving.  Whew!  I worried about the dumb hamster all weekend.  It seems Thumbelina had an enjoyable vacation.  While there was no damage done to anything except my heart, she did leave a paper trail.  She's a little like Hansel and Gretel, I suppose.  Thumbelina was hopelessly lured in by my gingerbread house, aka the paper stack.  She left some shavings under the door that connects my classroom to the one next door.  She left some poop in the craft cabinet, which was how I found and trapped the sneaky little bugger.  I knew the fact that all the cabinet doors in my classroom hang open no matter what I do would eventually come in handy.  At any rate, Thumbelina is very unhappily back at home, no longer on vacation, and has been grounded to her room with a large encyclopedia on the top of her terrarium.

Metamorphic Rocks

Teaching rocks and the rock cycle is rather boring.  I mean, I know I'm not a geologist, but I never enjoyed geology in school, though I was able to study and earn a high A in the class.  My kids think it's boring too, at least the vast majority of the time.  It's hard to grasp rock diversity when they're all, well, rocks.  I was wishing that the baking soda and vinegar volcano could start with "real" magma and then spew lava, rather than a runny, not-so-viscous liquid.  I stumbled across a wonderful activity for making metamorphic rocks and illustrating the change from a sedimentary to a metamorphic rock.  This was probalby the most effective lesson I've had in this unit so far.  The kids GOT IT and were enthusiastic.  Although, with my kids, I only used one hot plate so had to rotate them through in partners to do the physical part of the lab, the lab analysis, and a little bit of bookwork at their seats.  Anyway, we used sugar cubes to make metamorphic rocks.  It was surprisingly easy.  One piece of advice, though-- if using this activity for middle or high schoolers, you need to do some sort of drug comment/ snorting prevention.  Mine were threatened with a large amount of PT and a referral if I saw/ heard/ even thought something inappropriate was going on.  Unfortunately, my camera was dead for most of the day, but I was able to snap a few pictures of the kids crushing their sedimentary rocks (illustrating erosion and weathering), heating their sediment until it melted, then allowing it to harden into metamorphic rocks.

Here's what we did:

I called it something creative (not!) Sugar Cube Lab

Materials Needed: (per groups of 2)                                             

·         Safety glasses (per student)

·         Hand lens - 1

·         Sugar cube - 1

·         Aluminum foil – five inch square

·         Heat source - 1

  1. Examine the sugar cube with a hand lens and capture your observations in your notebook.
  2. What type of rock might this represent?  (Answer – Sedimentary – the crystals are still visible, was put together under pressure)
  3. Crush the sugar cube into a powder.
  4. Re-examine the sugar with a hand lens and capture your observations in your notebook.
  5. How does the sugar look now compared to before it was crushed?
  6. Now what type of rock might this represent?  (Answer – Sedimentary – no real change has occurred - the particles have just been broken into smaller pieces)
  7. Make a “boat” with your foil. Pour the crushed sugar into the foil boat. Predict in your notebook what the sugar might look like once heated.
  8. Carefully put the “boat” over the heat source. Record your observations in your notebook.  How do your observations compare to your predictions?
  9. What type of rock might this represent?  (Answer – Igneous; molten – the rock has had heat added and melted)
  10. Predict what the substance will look like when removed from the heat source; capture your thoughts in your notebook.
  11. Set the foil boat away from the heat and wait 2-3 minutes. Record your observations.  How do your observations compare to your predictions?
  12. What type of rock might this represent?  (Answer – Igneous – the melted materials were cooled and hardened)
  13. Break the hardened sugar into pieces. Record your observations in your notebook.
  14. What do the pieces remind you of? (Answer - They should resemble the original sugar cube that was crushed)
  15. How might you create a metamorphic rock using the materials you have?  (Answer:  once the melted sugar is almost cooled, add crushed sugar and mold it in a new shape with pressure – the ending product will have both materials visible.)
  16. Using your notes and observations, construct a cause-and-effect model about the forming of a each rock type based on the process(es) involved. 


I'm used to observations.  I get observed all the time, primarily informally.  Crazy confession?  Sometimes, I get a little nervous when I haven't been observed in a little while.  Like the last two weeks or so, I think I've only been observed briefly twice or three times.  Tomorrow, I'm getting a gigantic formal observation.  The worst part of it is that it's an ALL DAY observation.  I mean, starting with morning duty, and going till 3:30 in the afternoon.  No chance for a breather there, since I don't get a planning period.  I'm nervous because this evaluation system is different from the evaluation system I've become accustomed to using.  We'll see what happens.  Most importantly, I think I just need to remember this:

Monday, November 28, 2011


I am thankful for so many, many things in my life.  One thing that I've been reflecting on frequently this month, and especially this past week, is my students and how thankful I am to have them in my life.  They also remind me of how thankful I am for all that they can teach me, and all that I can teach them.  I can teach them so much more than just science.  I love that about teaching.  For Thanksgiving, I gave them all a cupcake and a note that says, "Dear _____________, Your teacher is thankful for you because ______________.  -- Ms. G.

I'd hoped they'd appreciate them, but I had absolutely no idea how much they'd cherish them.  Not a single note from me was left in my classroom.  One of the teachers confiscated a few of them during other classes, and there were even a few students who positively refused to get on the bus to go home for the break without their notes from Ms. G.  It was the sweetest thing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teacher Fail Part 2

If you didn't read the original teacher fail, you should.  My sweet friend sent me this in response....


Thumbelina is our class hamster.  She's a great little outlet for the kids and gives me a chance to make fun examples that involve Thumbelina instead of people in my life science classes.  Recently, she got to move into the glass terrarium I have in my classroom that was serving as a wildlife display.  She got a nice mesh lid and a bigger cage, which I thought was an upgrade for her.  Apparently, she needed a bigger cage.  How do I know this?  Well, during third period, one of the students who absolutely adores Thumbelina announced that she wasn't in her cage.  This isn't unusual because he announces this routinely when she's burrowed into the shavings in her age.  Well today, I didn't see her either, but there was NO WAY in H-E-double hockey sticks I was telling these kids that.  I spent the rest of the day trying to sneak around and find the hamster, but no luck.  Luckily, I forgot to grab my purse at the end of the day when I left.  I turned off the lights and closed my blinds, so when I turned around and opened my door, an oversized "rat" went flying across the doorway and disappeared into a hole I couldn't see.  I screamed, terrified.  After about three seconds, I realized that it must have been the hamster.  Thumbelina, come home please....I don't think you'll make it through Thanksgiving Break without your cage for food and water.  Also, I would really rather you didn't give anybody besides me a mini heart attack.

Thumbelina much smaller

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tutorial: How to carry on the family name

You know those parents that name their kids really obnoxious things, like Lemonjello or Tree or Day Ann Knight?  I think that people that name their kids really obnoxious names are the same, eg. Walter Irelynd Cornucopia Robinson just because the name's been in the family since King Henry VIII was around.  Today, I had the distinct displeasure of calling a parent with bad news about his son's behavior.  As I looked up the phone number, I noticed that his father had the same first and last name, but a different middle name, therefore, my student isn't a "Junyah."  When this dad answered the phone, he used his first, middle, and last names to answer the phone.  I mean, he's not a 12 year old girl born in SC with a double name.  "Andrew James Jackson speaking."  I shrugged it off, thinking maybe he was just being formal since we've never met in person.  As the conversation continues and we're talking about his son, discussing how to improve his behavior, the dad interjects with, "Wait, which Andrew Jackson are we talking about here?  Andrew Adam Jackson or Andrew Alfred Jackson? I have two sons named Andrew Jackson."  Seriously?????  Same middle initial and everything?  No wonder he answered the phone with all three names.

Anyway, the key to carrying on not just the family surname, but your first name as well is apparently to name all of your children after yourself.  That way, the odds of a grandbaby with your name are increased.

Teacher Fail

While grading foldables:

Me: This is another really good one!
*Flips over, marks as an A*
Wait! This is the model I made to show the kids what I wanted.....
O:  hahahah, you had a teacher moment!
Me: *facepalm*

At least I know what I was looking for?

What goes around....

comes around!  One of my 7th graders learned that lesson today.  He was picking on one of the other students in line outside of the bathroom.  He made some ridiculously inappropriate and pain-inflicting fat jokes I've ever heard.  I'd tell you what it was, but I forgot.  No sooner were the words out of his mouth than I was pointing to the floor and saying "25."  In our world, that means 25 push-ups now!

C:  Really, Ms. G?  Come on....*THWACK* now ---owwwwwwwww.

In his dramatic flair on the way to the floor to do his pushups, the poor kid whacked his head HARD on the cinderblock wall.  I couldn't help it.  I laughed. a lot.  He was completely fine, just surprised and embarrassed.  And, I let the other kids laugh, because he totally taught us karma.  Don't worry, he got a "teachable mo-mint" when we got into the classroom for the opportunity he gave me to teach a character mini-lesson.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Veterans Day

On Thursday, we took our middle schoolers to the local cemetery to celebrate Veterans Day.  We had school on Friday, but we planned the trip for Thursday so that we could go on Friday if it rained.  We ended up getting to go on Thursday as scheduled, even though it poured until about an hour before the students arrived and was still a little drizzly upon their arrival.  They were psyched!  We all walked up to the cemetery (about 2/10 of a mile from the school) and the kids started the day off with a mini lesson on Veterans Day, why we were there, what the Veterans that had just left the cemetery were doing, and how to be respectful of a cemetery while you're in it.  Then, they got to do a tombstone scavenger hunt.  It sounds a little morbid, but it really got them interested in what they were looking at.  They had to find the shortest life span, the longest life span, a veteran, a married couple, the person that was born furthest away from today, etc.  Of course, the cemetery is gargantuan, so there were many different answers.  We (students and teachers!) found some really cool graves along the way.  After their completion of the scavenger hunt in pairs, they were given tracing paper and charcoal or crayons and allowed to etch any grave they thought was honorable or really neat.  We got some fantastic things back from the kids  I should have taken a picture of the bulletin board we filled at school.  Anyway, here are just a few pictures of our Veterans Day remembrance.  I was so proud of how most of the kids acted.

One of the kids took this.

Paying Respects
The kids were beyond fascinated with this one.  Cue mini lesson on WWII.

Soooo cool! This was a teacher find that the kids got to look up the coordinates to when we got back.

One of my favorite Veterans Day pictures.  Not posed!

Kinda Like Wine Glasses

I was talking to one of my 8th grade girls today, and she asked when their field trip was going to be.  The field trip in question is a group of kids from all over the county going to an outdoorsy summer camp and staying in the cabins to talk about why they believe that drugs and violence aren't the best things for them.  In addition, they'll be doing some pretty cool stuff, like ropes courses.  Anyway, this girl is p-u-m-p-e-d!  She told me she was almost packed and asked about what kind of clothing she should bring.  She then told me how excited she was to bring and show off her favorite pair of pajama pants.  I encouraged her to keep talking as this girl is rarely animated about anything school related (well, does animated loathing count?? :p)  She proceeded to tell me that they were a black background and they had these things that look kinda like wine glasses, but they have olives in them and they're shaped funny.  "They look kinda like wine glasses, that was the main descriptor," she says.  She was quite repetitive about it.  Eventually, she said she thought someone had called them Marina glasses, but she wasn't sure.  I couldn't help but grin.  My two subsequent thoughts were 1) probably inappropriate for this specific outing, and 2) she's still innocent!!!!!!! Hallelujah!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adderall Shortage

There's an adderall shortage in the US.  It's certainly not the first time it's happened.  I hope it won't be the last time it happens.  I know that there are some people in this world and in the school system who really and truly need adderall, but when the majority (that's not an exaggeration!) of my students are prescribed the same drug, I believe it's overdiagnosed.  Here's something to compare it to: 85% of my students are prescribed a prozac.  That might be nice and make my job easier, but I can't believe that in the long run, it will be good for them or help them.  Here's an article about the shortage.  What do you think?

Pharmacies, students affected by national Adderall shortage

No predicted end, prices go up

By Morgan Searles
Staff Writer
A nationwide shortage of Adderall, a drug commonly prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has left local pharmacies with few options to fill customer orders.
Cheryl Bourg, a pharmacist with the University Student Health Center, said Adderall's raw ingredients are currently unavailable and are restricted by the federal government.
"For each narcotic, only a certain quantity can be produced in a year,"Bourg said. "That's why toward the end of the year there are theseshortages."
Bourg said many students who normally get medication elsewhere have been calling the Health Center to find availability for the drug.
"I'm surprised personally how many students use Adderall," she said. "It's a lot more than I had anticipated."
Bourg declined to comment as to whether the Health Center currently has Adderall tablets in stock.
Mike Anding, a pharmacist with Central Drug Store on Hooper Road, said they have been experiencing effects of the shortage like everybody else.
Anding said ADHD medication in the tablet form is depleted, and more expensive capsules are still available to consumers but in low supply.
"Manufacturers tell you what they want to tell you," he said. "Any ideas I have are pure conjecture. There was a big price increase before it went short, and we can probably look for another increase when or if they come back out."
Bourg said the Health Center does not ever carry Adderall capsules, which last longer than tablets.
A global specialty biopharmaceutical company called Shire manufactures Adderall, among other medications.
Shire cites the shortage to active pharmaceutical ingredient supply issues and uneven product distribution patterns as the reason for the shortage, according to the Food and Drug Administration website.
Teva Pharmaceuticals and Global Pharmaceuticals — companies that manufacture other brands of amphetamine mixed salts — list "[active pharmaceutical ingredient] supply issues" and "inadequate finished product supply to support current market demand," respectively, as reasons for the current drug shortage.
Benjamin Cornwell, assistant dean of students and director of Disability Services, said the shortage has been affecting students for a couple of months, but many students who require services already have accommodations in place.
"It's a little bit scary for a student who can't get medication," he said. "They can go through withdrawal or have to ration the dosage. It can throw mood and attitude out of whack and sleeping and eating patterns out of whack."
Cornwell said accommodations vary on a case-by-case basis, but commonly include extended time on tests, a stress-reducing environment for taking tests and assistance with class notes.
"I've had a couple students comment to me about having problems getting meds," he said. "Many already have accommodations in place, but if they're not registered they have to start the process. But so far we have not had anybody make special requests."
Margeaux Marks, computer science freshman, said she had heard about the shortage and was worried she wouldn't be able to get her prescription filled.
"If I couldn't get it, I would be screwed," she said. "I definitely would not have been able to function at school or even wake up for classes."
Marks said she called a Walgreens pharmacy and didn't have any problem getting medicine because she takes the capsules, not the tablets.
Anding said he is recommending customers convert to the capsules form of Adderall even though they are more expensive.
"It's price prohibitive for some people," he said. "Capsules are hundreds of dollars and tablets are far less than that.
Some people have to rearrange incomes because these medications have gone up and a lot of them need it to function at their jobs."
Contact Morgan Searles at

New Classroom Motivator?

I just found this really awesome classroom motivating tool that I can display on my promethean board during class.  It's an incentive website, and it looks super cool.  I'm excited to try it!  I think it might meet with a little opposition at first, and I'm sure that the avatars will get made fun of, but I hope it will work after a few days.

It's called classdojo.  It's super easy to do (even for me, and I'm not the greatest at trying new technology things without help/training).  It would be really really great for elementary school and I think it'll work well for middle school.  I'm not sure how it will work in high schools.  Here's the link if you're interested in checking out classdojo here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's like falling flat on the sidewalk in front of the entire school

Yesterday, I was joking around with one class of 8th grade boys I teach at lunch (we're separated by grade and gender).  One of the boys said something funny (I don't remember what, and you'll see why), and I went to grab another spoonful of oatmeal.  I continued making faces at the kids and then opened my mouth to eat my oatmeal.  Gracefully and in absolute slow motion, I tilted my spoon and that wonderful bite of oatmeal went right. down. my. face. and slid into a landing on the collar of my shirt.   It was sooo graceful. I don't think I've blushed to that shade of red in a very long time, and never in front of my students.  They were so giggly and chatty about it that the drill sergeant rushed in to see what all the commotion was about.  He started yelling at the boys and I raised my hand and admitted my fault, but not what had happened.  That set them off onto a whole new level.  Seriously, I was way more embarrassed than if I'd fallen flat on the sidewalk in front of the entire school.

High point of the day: I am thankful that I finally connected with one of my newest students.  It's been difficult for me because he's a 16 year old 8th grader that will be turning 17 this year.  To put this in perspective, my brother is on grade level as a junior in high school (11th grade) and will be turning 17 in a few months.  I can only imagine the sort of terror my brother would be if he were still in 8th grade.  My student was good today for the first time in almost three weeks.  I did not have to correct him or redirect him in class AND he did his work.  Until today, he hadn't completed a single assignment in my class.  I was thrilled, and I told him after class how stoked I was about our behavior.  He told me class was "actually kinda cool today."  :D

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Writer's Block

Okay, so I'm experiencing some pretty severe writers' block in two arenas.

1) I'm staring at a blank lesson plan template outline, trying to decide how to fill it in.

2) The reason I believe I'm having so much difficulty completing 1) is that it has been 2 weeks and 3 days since I have heard my sailor's voice or seen his face (except in pictures).  I was given a fabulous idea by my sweet longtime friend at Happily Ever After.  She (as a former member of the Navy, Navy daughter to two Navy parents, and current Navy sister) has just a wee bit of experience with the Navy.  It has been a lifestyle for her throughout her entire life, and it has certainly been a big adjustment for me.  Anyway, I got many great suggestions, some of which I've used already, from my friend.  The one that I'm currently working on now is 2).  I want to make a CD recording of my voice and mail it in my sailor's Christmas package.  There's no worries about posting it here because he can't read my blog on the ship.  I have no idea what to say.  I mean, I keep starting scripts and then not finishing them or throwing them out or whatever.  I know that he adores the way I sometimes act like an idiot, but I don't want that to be what's immortalized on the recording I send him.  I need to send his Christmas package PRONTO, as it generally takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks for things to reach him at sea and I'm assuming the holiday season will delay shipping.  Any help would be much much much much much appreciated.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Neat and Tidy

It's amazing how much easier it is for me to relax when my home is clean and tidy and all in order.  Everything has its place, and it's nice when our home looks neat.  It was also an absolutely beautiful fall day.  It was a little bittersweet because time changes an hour tonight, which means winter and very short days are coming soon.  Many leaves were falling as well, which is sad because they've been so beautiful to look at, but at least I got to go out of my way to step on the extra crunchy leaves.  I'm such a little kid at heart.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Welcome to the Country

M: What do you call a deer with one eye?
Me: I don't know. What?
M: An I-deer.  ahhahahaha

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Sometimes, my students really make my day.  This sweet girl made me this after she finished her test.  She was supposed to be working on an introduction to our next topic, but it was too funny, so I couldn't be mad.  This girl has been dating her middle school boyfriend for the last two years, which is probably about the equivalent of 50 years in middle school time.  This made me literally lol, which is a phrase I hate.  It applied in this situation.

I'm also going to show you guys just a few things that my students have REALLY loved.

birthday bulletin board in the hallway

Before we started body systems, they had to cut out all the major organs and put them in the proper spot.

They LOVE my calendar.  If I forget to put something on it, it is a B-I-G deal!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Grind

After watching my co-workers, I'm thinking that I believed a common misconception for too long.  I believed that lesson planning tapered off to a minimum after a few years of teaching the same subject.  I now know that this is false with one caveat.  Good teachers who strive to motivate their students do not recycle lesson plans over and over again.  Now that I'm using TAP methods for lesson planning, I'm spending tons of time on my plans, largely on formatting and filling in all the little common sense sections of the rubric I use.  Take-home work and lesson planning, I guess we best become close friends in the next 50 years before I can retire.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Family Rockstars..I'm Thankful Even When It's Not Thanksgiving

You know that quote, "You can't choose your family but you can choose your friends?"  I know that it's true, but I am so. so. so. so. so. thankful for my family.  The family members that take the cake this week are, in no particular order:

1) My Aunt-- This amazing woman is basically a superhero.  In fact, I'm not sure that she isn't a superhero.  Her kids are dressing as superheroes for Halloween... maybe she just has them practicing for when they grow up.  You know, like the movie SkyHigh?  Anyway, she has amazing faith, and this faith somehow translates into her always knowing exactly the right thing to say.  Sure, she may have to think about it for awhile, but the notes, letters, emails, texts, and phone calls I get from her always leave me feeling rejuvenated.  She's a teacher, and I called her to talk about building a relationship with one of my students even though he's 16 and her degree is Early Childhood.  She works with a youth group, and I just needed someone on the outside to hear about this kid and how he works.  She was really encouraging and helped me to come up with some things to implement and hope they worked.  Unfortunately, he was arrested the next morning.  I was totally bummed.  I texted her when I left school and just said that the kid we'd talked about had been arrested.  This led to a text conversation in which she said the best thing I could have heard.  The best thing about it is that I'm 100% sure she meant every word and also 100% certain she's correct.  She said,

 "It takes a special teacher to see potential in the seemingly hopeless and care enough to want to reach out to them.  Hopefully you will have another opportunity to make a much needed impact in his life.  If you don't, then we pray that the Lord sends somebody else into his life to make that impact for you.  One way or another he seems to have seen a difference in how you treated him and felt about him opposed to others.  He will remember that and it will make a difference."

Then, she sent me a picture of my sweet, sweet 4 year old cousin in his police officer costume for Halloween and said, "Perhaps you needed this officer today...."

I love her.

2) My Mama-- I decided that I just really needed to spend some quality time with my family this weekend, even though I had a ton to do for my grad school program as well as plenty of take-home teaching work.  I called her at the last minute and asked her what she was doing this weekend.  Her response?  "Entertaining my daughter????" No questions asked, just gave me the okay that she would make time for me if I came home, spur of the moment.

3) My bubba-- Who, as a Junior in High School, stayed home on a Friday night to hang out with me. :)

In other news, the cat, the dog, and I roadtripped out of town for the weekend.  The little lady loves car rides. 


I learned about LURDs today.  Apparently, this is prison slang for "Lesbian Until Release Date."  We busted a bunch of girls for PDA today....girl on girl PDA.  Craziness.  What happened to the days where the girls tried to sneak around the portable with a guy?  I'll just add this to the list of things my students can teach me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bookstore Banter

I decided today that I want to amend my unit plans on rocks and Earth's layers and all that geology jazz.  So, what better way to incorporate more cross-curricular activities and spice up the activities that get a little repetitive in Earth science than to read a relevant, interesting book that corresponds with state standards?  Plus, we all know that a good movie often comes after a good book.  We're going to be reading and watching Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne.  It's one of the few "sci-fi" books that I enjoy. In exploring the book, I was a little disappointed to have a flashback to my middle school days and realize that I read the same book in middle school.  Back then, the new movie wasn't out, though.  Kudos to my middle school science teacher, Mr. G. for introducing me to such a gem.  (Earth science joke, get it? :P)

Anyway, after searching about a gazillion online sites and trying to figure out the best way to obtain a class set of these books with no money for books and no district-wide book exchange, I decided to head to some local bookstores and see what I could do.  The local new, used, and exchange bookstore didn't even have a copy of the book.  The next closest bookstore was Books-a-Million.  I hadn't stepped foot into one of their stores in years, probably not since high school.  I wandered around aimlessly because there were very few shelves of books and most of the books were just stacked on tables.  There was no order to the stacking, and alphabetical or genre order was totally absent.  I finally found someone to help me.  He informed me that I could get the one copy of this classic novel they had in the store (for seven bucks) and could order the rest, but that I would have to pay an ordering charge and wait 2-3 weeks for them to come in.  I bought the one that was there and saved the receipt.

Next stop: Barnes and Noble.  I walked in and, dismayed, found that the store is undergoing massive renovations.  Luckily, some sweet college student greeted me at the door and asked if he could help me find any books.  I explained (just as I had at Books-a-Million) that I was looking for enough copies of the book to make a class set, that I was okay with an abridged version as long as the gist of the plot and the science of the book were still there, but that I was perfectly content with the unabridged adult version.  This guy walked me to the back of the store, which even under construction was a million times neater and more organized than its competitor on an average day, and found me five different versions of the book to choose from.  Not too shabby, eh?  They had 5 copies in stock.  I figured this was a good start and went to leave, assuming I'd go home and start searching the internet again.  As I turned to leave, this sweet boy said, "Ma'am, would you like to order enough to complete your class set? It should only take 3-4 business days."  It was music to my ears.  I'm so excited to try this with my students, and they WILL read this book and do the activities I make to do with it AND relate it to the facts we know from class, even if I end up bald.  I'm so pumped!!!

So, B&N or Books-a-Million?  Experiences?  I'm certainly not going back to Books-a-Million.

The Way to A Teacher's Heart

Americans can be Really Self-Centered

Remember that time Steve Jobs died?  It was really sad.  He had cancer, and he wasted away.  And then the iPhone 4 came out, and they announced an iPhone 5.  Then, people all over the country had a big discussion about apple products and whether or not they would still be amazing and whether we should buy them, etc.

You know what we forgot about?  The children of the world.  Now, you don't have to go to whatever Third World country this picture is from, BUT children everywhere are in need.  In my school, we send home dozens of backpacks full of food every Friday to help some of our kids get through the weekend, since they often don't get fed at home, or don't get fed nutritiously at home. We don't think about them, and so many people (adults and children) go through at least as much as Steve Jobs is.  Granted, they're not as famous as he is, but does that mean we should ignore their plight?  We haven't even touched the iceberg for what some of these kids live through and survive, then learn to overcome.  Cancer? Neglect? Abuse? Starvation?  Come on, guys.  These kids are our future.

And here's one of my favorite songs of all-time.... This is one of those that my mom and I played the track to and danced around the living room singing the whole album.

How do you help without seeming to provide "charity," which so many will not accept?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who doesn't love football?

This is an interesting metaphor.  It's carried out to great detail, but I think it makes a valid point.  There are definitely some things in our educational system that need to be addressed.  (I'm not sure where it came from...I just got it in an email.)

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND---The Football Version 
1. All teams must make the state playoffs and all MUST win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship, their footballs and equipment will be taken away UNTIL they do win the championship.
2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. NO exceptions will be made for lack of interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL!
3. Talented players will be asked to work out on their own without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in football, have limited athletic ability, or whose parents don't like football.
4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th games.
5. This will create a New Age of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals.

So, what are your thoughts on NCLB?  Reminder- please be courteous to the opinions of others.