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.

Scene:

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. 

Observations

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

Thanksgiving

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

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 msearles@lsureveille.com

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

LOL

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!