Monday, March 26, 2012

A rant about attention

So, I just need to vent.  It's probably not actually beneficial for anyone to read this, but this is essentially my journal, so here goes.

I had two kids (and then later 2 parents) that would . not . shut . their . mouths . this morning in my first period. They got tons of warnings, redirections, I used their names in examples to get their attention, etc. They decided to get all huffy with me because I "wouldn't help them."  They were confused because they couldn't figure out how to do the vocabulary graphic organizer that we've been using since 1st 9 weeks.  THEN, they couldn't figure out what the definition of the vocab word was because they "didn't want" to get up and get a science book and weren't paying attention the LITERALLY 8 times I repeated the definition AND wrote it on the board so that the kids that were paying attention could get it.  I also rephrased it a few times and gave several real-life examples.  However, when they clued in 10 minutes later and realized they weren't going to be able to do the assignment, it's "my fault they're not doing well in my class because I won't teach them."  

Sure, I'll teach you, but I'm not going to go back to the beginning of the lesson half an hour in when you two caused your own problems, so you'll have to hang in there for now.  "Why don't you see how much you can do and after you've got the definition down, we can talk about anything that might be confusing you with the rest of the organizer.  I can also help you at lunch.  Oh, you don't want me to help you at lunch?  Then I guess you really aren't committed to understanding this. Let's see if you can finish before class ends." 

*Sidenote- neither of them ever even wrote down the definition (I put it back on the board for their benefit).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

You Can't Fix Stupid

I've been wanting to find the time to write this blog for weeks.  We all know the cliche "you can't fix stupid."  This is where I ask for your advice. 

I have a student who is most definitely NOT stupid.  She does, however, make some incredibly stupid decisions.  We'll call her "Jenny."  Jenny is a cute girl, relatively popular, blonde, and has the potential to be intelligent but makes some really poor choices.  We've talked with her, her "friends," and her mother about Jenny's choices.  Jenny still absolutely frustrates me.  She can be sweet.  She can be manipulative.  Mostly, she's just a follower.

If Jenny gets asked a question about her personal life, what she wants to do, what she thinks is interesting in class, if she's mad at another student, etc., her failsafe response is "I dunno, let me ask Alicia."  She then turns to her superficial bff Alicia (who sells her under the bus all the time) and asks Alicia how she (Jenny) is supposed to feel about anything.  Helppppp!!!!!! What do I do to help this girl use her OWN brain and her own emotions???  Seriously, how do you not know if YOU are mad at someone?!?!?!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Power Team

We got to have the powerteam come to our school this morning. :)  They were fantastic!  The picture quality is really crummy because I can't seem to get my camera lens clean and also because they were CONSTANTLY moving.

"Raise your hang if something embarrassing has ever happened to you."

This is one of those lifetime guaranteed hot water bottles.

This is the same water bottle that this guy blew up as a balloon right
before it popped.

They wanted a baseball player to volunteer. 
This is when they were picking on him good-naturedly for his muscles.

Testing out the Louisville Slugger and trying to break it.

Ripping a phone book in half.  Seriously took him less than 5 seconds.

Here comes the baseball bat.

Huah!  Just broke this over my leg.

Steel bar stunt that's now banned from world's strongest man.

Story time about 7th grade swag.  SO funny and led into such
a good speech about choices.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

FREE field trips! Say what?!?!

My 6th grade class is teensy!  At biggest count this year, we had 8 6th graders (cap at 14/15 with our Alternative Ed kids), and we're holding steady at 6.  They're such a sweet group of wild children, and they all still have their inner "teacher pleaser" trait so common in 6th graders....we'll just ignore the fact that a couple of them would be in 8th grade if they were on grade level.  Anyway, field trips for a school that's technically a "program" and not a "school" are hard to come by....less funding, more things to spend on, etc.  The entire middle school got to go to a (very) local cemetery on Veterans Day since we had school. :) While they were there, they did a scavenger hunt for the graves, got to do some rubbings (a new experience for most of them), honored the graves of the Veterans in the cemetery (more than a few) with American flags, cleaned up a little, and just generally got to experience an outing.  Nevermind that the cemetery is less than a 1/4 mile walk from the school. :)  You can read more about this here.

My sixth graders at the time were only two and so the sixth graders have been feeling left out.  8th grade took an all-day field trip last month.  We have had several "mini field trips" or "excursions" as the kids call them in my science class.  We joined up with NASA and did a cloud and weather study in the fall, but that was back when I only had two students.  We've had parts of class outside as a reward, which is HUGE at our school.  You see, we teach in an area that could be safer, and there are frequently gunshots in the blocks surrounding the school.  Also, many of our kids have a tendency to make a run for it when we take them outside.  I've been promising my sixth graders a "mini field trip" to the great outdoors during our study of plants.  Yes, I know we're super behind.  I didn't get my first 6th grader until 7 weeks into school, and he had just been rotting around waiting to be put in a classroom until we got him.  So, we started at the beginning.  Just 7 weeks late.

Today was THE day.  It was sunny and ended up being in the low 80s, but we went out this morning when it was probably about 70 and just slightly breezy.  The kids were ANGELIC.  They stayed on task, stayed close to me, did everything they were supposed to do and then some, asked intuitive questions, and had so much fun!  It was what they talked about all day.  Here's the big trip:

1. Line students up and remind them that bad behavior will bring us back into the classroom to do something much less exciting.
2. Send them outside and comb by areas to find leaves of plants that are different.  When the kids have combed one section, move to another.
3.  Make sure that the kids have a variety of trees, bushes, flowering plants, grass, etc.
4.  My kids also picked up a few variety of mushrooms (which I told them were toxic--- they're not, but I saw no need for them to try and eat/ smoke them) and some moss.  This worked out wonderfully later when we
5. Came inside, sorted our plants on our own
6. Used a dichotomous key to identify plants and to check the ones that we already knew for correctness.
7.  Reviewed the Kingdoms of Classification- why are moss and fungus NOT plants?
8. Examined our plants closely with the naked eye, then under a microscope.
9. Discussed/ wrote/ drew about angiosperms and gymnosperms, vascular and nonvascular plants, etc.
10.  Ms. Green "dissected" some of the plants and we got to look at them up close under the microscope examining different parts to have a living example of the things we've been talking about and seeing pictures of.
11. They had so much fun, and it was SO easy.  Of course, I forgot my camera ....... again.  I realized when they were all sharing the microscopes and clustered around working as a team and excitedly pointing things out and making connections that I needed it.  I'd thought about it briefly during the collection process, but I have memories at least.

This lesson reminded me that I need to channel my inner scavenger hunt.  I haven't done nearly as many this year as I did last.

Also, Kim at Finding Joy in 6th Grade is super sweet and nominated me for a blogging award.  I was also nominated for this award by one of my best friends from college, Rachel at Happily Ever After a really long time ago, but it got shoved to the back of my to-do list.

It's .... the Liebster Award!

joyin6th Homepage       

Thanks, ladies!  Now, for my nominees....

Boomwhackers and Lipsmackers- This is the diary of an elementary school music teacher.  She's one of the girls that most contributes to my sanity, and her posts are infrequent but always make me laugh.  

Misadventures of Yours Truly- I mean seriously, with a title like that, who wouldn't want to read it?  Em is sometimes a little crass, sometimes a little too blunt, but always honest and generally has a twisted, wonderful outlook on life.

Through the Sunglassed Eyes of a Guy in Nashville- A modern day take on rose colored glasses and life of a non-country singer *though he could be some day* on a year-long volunteering adventure in Nashville, TN.  This is a video blog, which is a type of blogging unknown to me, but bold and interesting.

8six4 from 71six- Adam philosophizes and comes up with ways to save the world...or at least good ole 'Murica.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Best Ever!

I've had some pretty rockin' roommates throughout the years, but y'all? My current roommate takes the cake.  She's seriously the best.  She has a knack for reading my moods and knowing if I need something and what I need.  She knows when to sit on the floor next to me while I'm crying, when I need a hug (happy or sad), when I just need to eat ice cream out of the carton, when I need to celebrate, when it's time for game night with our group, NOT to change the channel if I'm watching lifetime or hallmark (and I know not to do the same) and when to leave me alone so I can focus on my schoolwork.  I can already tell that 2012 is going to be a year of big valleys and big peaks.  I'm so so so so so so so thankful to have her in my life and in my apartment. :)  I know that she'll be there for the lowest of lows, the highest of highs, and everything in between.  I know that I'll get to be there for her highs and lows as well, and it means a lot to me to have a girlfriend that you're okay with letting see you, flaws and all, because you know that you're not going to have anything held against you.  It's incredibly liberating to have a friend like that.

Over the weekend, I was telling the story of our first real time together, our freshman year of college.  We were just acquaintances through a mutual friend and got to go to Montreat, NC for a weekend trip to a friend's grandparents' beautiful, gargantuan mountain house.  I'd share it here, but it was such a hilarious bonding experience that I'm saving it for my toast at her wedding. :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Words of Affirmation

Bless my sweet 7th graders' hearts.  They don't know this, but I had a pretty crummy week outside of the classroom.  We've been doing Punnett Squares and today we talked about real-world applications (as if being able to determine the possibilities of your children's genotypes and phenotypes isn't real world enough).  It was more a day with scenarios and review.  At one point that I've noticed was particularly tricky for them, I stopped and asked if it made sense.  They said yes, and had a little dialogue for a few seconds about what had been confusing them but now made sense.  Several of the kids said things like, "I didn't understand this last year when I was in 7th grade, but I get it the way you teach it." and "You're a really good teacher.  Even when I'm confused and feel stupid at the beginning, you keep telling me different ways to explain it and it finally makes sense."  In my second 7th grade class, one of the kids was getting hung up on the idea of alelles and just COULD NOT seem to grasp the definition, which according to his work and his vocabulary matching, he knew prior to class today and either forgot or something else triggered a little confusion.  He had put his head on his desk and said, "I'm just a stupid head.  I quit."  It was SO sad.  I hate when they say things like that!  I pulled him aside and gave him a little pep-talk and he perked up and then, when he started really listening, he got it like that!  After about 2 minutes, this sweet boy was asking if he could lead the class in the completion of one of the exercises we were doing together.  Then, when they were working alone and I was going around and spending some one-on-one time with the kids, he asked if he could be a "student tutor."  Precious.  They really gave me the encouragement I needed to hear that I'm not such a shabby teacher after all. :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grandmothers Before Their Brain is Fully Developed?

I'm going there....please be respectful. :)

As a teacher, I see a lot of kids who have kids young.  Last year, the majority of my 7th and 8th graders' parents were under or just at the age of 30.  Like, I could feasibly be a step-parent to a TEENAGER! Trippy.  Gross when the parents asked me out.  So, there's this concept of grandparents becoming parents because parents are "irresponsible, financially incapable, too young," whatever......  or grandparents raising grandchildren the right way because their teen pregnancy may not have resulted in the best upbringing of their child.

The article I'm listing below at least approaches this from other countries, where marriage can happen young, and in Britain (yes another country, but also first-world).  This was probably a sound decision on the writer's part, because who really wants to read about an epidemic of teen pregnancy?  But I think that's what it is.  Kids are not taught growing up what the consequences of having a child are.  By the time they get pregnant and a baby pops out, they are starting to realize that babies are going to drastically change a girl's body, take a lot of time, and so forth.  For some of these kids (I'm thinking of one that I know right now), their parents, aka grandma and grandpa, take sick days when the baby is sick.  They will keep the baby for an entire week so mama or daddy can go frolic in the true high school fashion of underage drinking, drugs, and partying.  People my age in the US and elsewhere are GRANDPARENTS!!!!

So, how can we help these girls (and boys) whose bodies are not fully developed, who cannot financially or educationally support their children (sometimes emotionally as well).

Point being, adolescence is a time of massive, massive change.  Throwing a baby into the mix must only complicate things.  Do people think that this is okay, and that is why teen mothers have children who become teen parents?  Are we just not getting the message across?  What's the problem?

World’s youngest grandmother is just 23-years-old

A 23-year-old woman is claiming that she is the world’s youngest grandmother.
Isaiah ChoiceCindy Lookabill-Hall
Isaiah Choice and 2 others read this
Rifca Stanescu gave birth when she was just 12 years old and two years ago her daughter Maria had a baby at the age of 11.
Despite urging her daughter not to follow in her footsteps and stay in school, Stanescu told The Sun that Maria left to get married when she was just 10 and gave birth to her first child the following year.
"I am happy to be a grandmother but wished more for Maria," Stanescu told the paper. 
Stanescu also revealed that she eloped with jewellery salesman Ionel Stanescu when she was 11 and he was 13.
She fled with her boyfriend because she was worried her father would force her to marry someone else in the village of Investi in Romania.
Her mother, also named Maria, became a great grandmother at just 40 years old.
Last month, the woman who is set to become Britain’s youngest grandmother at age 29, said that her daughter becoming a teen mum was ‘her worst nightmare’.
Kelly John gave birth to her daughter, Tia, at age 14. Tia is now expecting her own child at the same age.
'My worst nightmare has always been that Tia would repeat my mistake and get pregnant young. [When I found out] I felt the colour drain from my face and all I could do was cry.' John told the News of the World.

Giggle Giggle

Oh, middle school.  I love them!  They're different every day, and just like the precious little ones in the commercials, kids say the darndest things, even in middle school.

Scene: Grades 6, 7, 8
Note: I have 4 all boys' classes, one all girls' class, and one class with one girl and the rest boys.

I'm trying to expire him with my personal motivation to go to high school.....BIG BOOBIES! *Complete with miming*

Are you cereal, Ms. Green?

I'm cereal, yo! Like fo' real...

300 in the movie font really big on a black to the right side, it reads inches.  The background is a picture of antlers.  The wearer of the shirt is the darkest skinned city boy I have ever seen.

When we walk down the hall, they are supposed to have their arms behind their back, be in single file line, and be silent.  I have a tendency to stop them and make them wait if they aren't quiet, which is, according to them, a form of cruel and unusual punishment.  Every time I say stop, one of my 7th grade classes responds with, "It's hammer time."  I know it's inappropriate, but the vast majority of the time, it still makes me smile- and sing in my head.

I have nicknames for some of my kids "Madea, Bugs Bunny, etc."  One that another teacher uses is Biscuit and Gravy.  As in, "you just go together like a biscuit and gravy."  They have sausage and gravy biscuits as a treat every Friday for breakfast.  They didn't realize that we were mocking these two boys for a little bit.  PS- They asked me to "journal" about them and their nicknames.  They really are attached at the hip, best friends, first cousins, and look like identical twins.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Glad that's over!

Monday, that is.  Today was one of those days that started off great, with my kids cracking me up and (mostly) doing what they were supposed to, making connections, and doing some good learning.  This morning, I was thinking of writing a blog of funnies.  Instead, I think I'll write about my crazy last HALF HOUR at school.

So, it was a Monday.  No doubts about it, but it was pretty good as far as Mondays go.  6th period came, and I could tell it wasn't going to be a good one because of the way they changed back into their uniforms and lined up after gym.  I survived the terrible class that was my last period today.  We walked down to the gym, where they change out of their uniforms and into their street clothes.  Halfway down the hallway, they were getting so out of control that I stopped them and had them walk one at a time (about 20 feet apart) the rest of the way.  It worked.  So, I had 2 kids who had broken into one of the teachers' offices and stolen a jumbo pack of new, super strong hair ties (and a few rubber bands).  These become an instrument of torture in the classroom, especially with kids as sneaky as some of my 8th grade boys.  I confiscated about a dozen during my last class, only later to find out how they'd been obtained.  On the way to the gym while I was spacing out my boys, one of the girls came up the hall crying.  Some "sweet" girl had gotten into her street clothes bag, snuck out her pants, dumped the crotch in the toilet, and left them for her to find.  Poor girl had no clothes to wear home, and the pants were sopping.  That's what we call bullying at its finest. :(  I had one girl distributing gum that she'd smuggled in (which means either from inside her pants, inside her socks, or inside her bra), and one girl verbally assaulting me over something that didn't even involve her.  It was like some weird cosmic sign saying, "Get out and go home now! Get some rest!"  Of course, interim grades are due tomorrow, so I had to get the last of my things updated and stayed late.

A pick-me-up for you

Top 10 Teacher Super Powers
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TeacherAs a pick-me-up for the pre-Spring Break stretch, we want to recognize the superhuman feats teachers perform every day.

Here is the top 10 list of Teacher Super Powers:

X-Ray Vision

Superman’s X-ray vision has nothing on you. You can see eyes roving onto their neighbor’s test, covert texts, uniform infractions or a dozing student from a mile away.

Super Educational Gadgets

Batman’s known for his gadgets, just like those techie teachers who rock the projectors, interactive whiteboards and all things e-learning to live up to 21st century expectations… and beyond.


Physics can’t explain how you’ve stretched yourself to do everything a crazy classroom requires – from differentiating instruction for every student, finishing mountains of paperwork in a single bound, keeping in touch with parents, researching new teaching tools and techniques, attending innumerable meetings and much more.

Bladders of Steel

Lifting heaving objects might be impressive for some superheroes, but not nearly as impressive as holding it from 8-3 after your large morning coffee (because the caffeine fix isn’t an option).

The Firestarter

You light the spark of learning that is the most important tool for young students. Once you light the fire, you extend those super powers to your students as they learn and grow.

Power of Super Patience

Thought not as glamorous as invisibility or flying, the indestructible patience you show in class is more important and more challenging than lifting an 18-wheeling over your head.

Webs of Knowledge

Take notes, Spidey! Students can’t help but be caught up in the enticing web of knowledge you create with engaging lessons, fun projects and boundless enthusiasm.

The Hammer of Teacher

Keeping discipline and rogue classroom behavior in check is your super skill. Like Thor, you can’t be afraid to bring down the hammer when necessary.

Super Distraction Deflectors

While Wonder Woman used her magic gold bracelets to deflect attacks, you use your super wit and classroom command to deflect distractions and students trying to get you off topic.

The Powerful Protector

You’ve created a safe classroom environment that welcomes students, no matter what they experience outside your doors, to create a force field around them while they learn (and hopefully outside the classroom too).

Saturday, March 3, 2012


We had the pleasure of having an assembly yesterday (Friday) morning.  One of the local churches was hosting (and paying for) a guest speaker named Chris Allen.  They contacted the school and offered Chris' services to us for free!

Chris was introduced, and at the beginning, I had no idea how the students were going to react.  They had this white man who's currently attending seminary standing and telling them that they could make better decisions and actually make something of their life because his life had been tough too.  When he told the students that he was raised as a Pastor's kid, I could see their attention start to wither.  It was like the little thought bubbles were hovering over their heads and they were all thinking,
"Yeah right, your life was tough.  You had two parents and a home and all these other people that looked up to and respected your family.  You had a stable income, and you were treated with love."

What they then came to learn is that Chris Allen was sexually abused by a man of authority in the church.  Since his father had hired this man and he was a family friend, Chris didn't feel that he could tell anyone what he was going through.  He started drinking at age 13 and continued to become an alcoholic long before he reached college.  He was the typical kid of past generations who got drunk and lost his virginity on prom night.  Chris' life was on a downward spiral.  He captured some of their attention by saying that he'd been the main event on an episode of Cops.  Long story short, he ended up with a $300/ day cocaine addiction, living on a park bench, then fled the country to avoid the cops, floated aimlessly in the ocean for a few days, and landed on the US Virgin Islands.  He's been a bit of a traveler as a result of his bad decisions.  Anyway, the effect that the assembly and Chris Allen's message had on my middle schoolers has yet to be seen, though even the kids that were trying to sleep at the beginning were awake and listening actively at the end.  If he even reaches and inspires one of them, I'd call it a success. :)  Character development/ education, baby!

Here's a little info about Chris Allen if you're interested.  He's a phenomenal speaker, probably not just for school settings, and I'm sure would be willing to travel some around the SouthEastern US, especially.

Edible DNA

I used Farley's edible DNA this week!  It helped the kids make connections, for sure!

As I was winding down this lesson with my second class of 7th graders (I only teach 2 7th grade classes), I realized that I had COMPLETELY forgotten to take pictures.  I was so upset and disappointed!  So were my kids....they l-o-v-e having their pictures taken.

I used a modified version of this handout and added my own creation of a review of this lesson on a separate handout for the kids to do the next day and recreate their DNA through drawing, color coding, etc.  It was very helpful in reinforcement and retention. :)  Wish I could share more about it with you guys!