Monday, March 31, 2008

History, mine and Mr. Filzen's class

Talk about a text to self!

Mallory today in her essay took me back to my childhood to some of my best challenges, Kick Shoe. That's what we called it. Swinging and kicking our shoes as far as we could. We would spend whole evenings challenging each other, my neighbor and I. Of course, we thought we had invented it, so I was amazed today when Mallory was describing it.

I can still picture the red metal swing set that my father had put in concrete slabs so it would be safe and never move, and it sure didn't. It was good for kick shoe because we lost no motion on the moving set (If we were into being daredevils, we would swing next door. No slabs for them. We were always just positive we were just short of tipping it over we were going so high.).

We could get into some animated discussions trying to tell whose had gone the farthest, drawing imaginary lines in the grass. I tell you it was great. Thanks to Mallory for giving me those moments back today!

Now some pics taken in Mr. Filzen's class today, 9th I think it was. Nope. I just tried and realized they were video clips. I don't know how to upload video. And, I erased it from the camera sorry. Bummer!!

9th, how about coming into my class with some sentences tomorrow. The class with the most time comes the least prepared. Dude!

To end, there's Benny staring at me, wondering when we'll go for a walk. Soon!

Friday, March 28, 2008

What a night!

We just got back from the high school play, Fiddler on the Roof. It was incredible. I was so proud of the cast, the pit, the audience. I saw lots of eighth graders there and sat around lots of them. Thank you for being such good theatre goers. I never once felt the need to wish you could behave. You all did and I was proud of you all.

Then there were three of you in the pit, Jordan, Salma and Stephanie. You were terrific. On the way home, my daughter was commenting how many there were of you in the pit and how wonderful you are. Wow! A high schooler complimenting middle schoolers.

Finally, what can I say about the play itself? The dedication of the students, the teachers, the people willing to help to make it happen? I find it absolutely amazing. We might be a small school, but we are a school with fantastic people.

I don't dare make comments about specifics in the play because I would have a fear of missing something I loved. All the way home we talked about the dancing, the music, the singing, the number of people who were highlighted and the phenomenal job that was done. Mrs. Twitchell and Mr. Toyoma are incredibly talented people who bring out the talent in their students. Wow!

So, here they are. Pictures of the audience, the play, and even, not to forget, the people who will be the last to leave tonight, the custodians.

Can't wait to see it all over again tomorrow.

Friday and an hour delay....

...didn't stop famous characters from history from stopping in at Mr.
Filzen's class.

And, then on Thursday I was invited in by some of you to do dance (I hope you remembered and asked Mrs. Sorenson first!). Look at the great moves there!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Our own 'rocket dog' with vocab and a reading class!

Essays from this week. Some comments.

I had my second period class where everyone did their essay. That was a first for a while. Thank you! I had some wonderful essays about fathers and father figures. I also had students who did the Mark Twain quote and others who did the weekly quote. All in all, it was another good week on essay writing.

Two teaching comments on the father role essay?
Don't be confused by the assignment catcher...father's day. Your essay was to be about a role model in your life. The history of father's day has nothing to do with your essay....unless you can incorporate it in. Most of you can't.

Secondly, you must have two specific topics for your body paragraphs: work ethic and having fun..... general info and why you admire..... loves you and has fun with you. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that clearly shows you have a specific topic in mind for that paragraph.

The quote? Some tried it and I so appreciate that! As Ashley said, it's basically saying, "you can talk the talk, but walk the walk" too! Another student also did a great job comparing it to another common saying. Wonderful!

Mark Twain's about appearing stupid didn't do so well. Many who tried it (thank you!), didn't really understand it. Mark Twain was trying to say that as long as we keep quiet, people can only think we're stupid; it can't be proven. It's only if we open our mouths and speak about something we know nothing about that we prove ourselves stupid. It really isn't about talking about people or anything like that. It's the common saying: think before you speak.

For general comments? I have some students who are continuing to grow and put forth more and more effort, students who are taking my comments and becoming better writers each week, students who are developing their own style. Great!!

Unfortunately, I also have some who have hit the March slump. I have already written about that, but suffice to say, I'm not really happy. This class of 'good enough is good enough' rears its ugly personality every once in a while. How disappointing to see capable students do just enough. 2,5,5,2 is the base? Okay, some of you say. Doing only 5 words in sp/vocab can still get me a 100? Okay, some of you say.

But, you know next year, or the next, or the next, most of you will realize it's not a grade from someone else that matters; it's how you feel about yourself; it's how others see you because of the way you perform. It won't be an outside force that matters, but you as a person which will matter.

Look at these two essays. Which one did more than they had to? Which one took the topic and really made it their own? Which one is motivated internally? Both of these got a check plus, but which one do you think I value more? They both give good detail about their dads while following the format and organization. But, which one did do I feel cared more and worked harder on their English assignment?

It's time to stop the 'good enough is good enough'.

And, with that, 'nuff said!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Changed my mind on student list to the side

It is always smart to stay focused on the positive. That is definitely true in March. We are all waiting for spring.

Teachers get to the point in the year where we feel we have said the same thing over and over and over...and over, and students begin to itch for summer, sometimes not listening and being even a tad bit more goofy than usual. There can be a slides in work ethic, in caring, in learning. I'm sure I did it, and you won't be the last class to do it. It's a part of spring.

With that said, it still drives me bonkers when it happens. Hence, in trying to refrain from getting upset, you'll hear my 'nice' voice, a way to remind you, with humor, that I am feeling just a little more than the usual frustration. Maybe it'll work and students will try to surprise me and not want to hear the annoying voice (yes?).

Maybe they'll bring the work that they should; have the pen that they should; take the notes that they should; listen the way that they should; even come prepared to start class at the sound of the bell the way that they should. Maybe.

But, to help us all, I'm going to develop a weekly list of students who are making my day. It could be for a great answer, participation, good thinking, good effort, who knows. I don't know if I'll do it for good essays or poems, since those comments come on your praise sheet...but maybe. Who knows what I'll do? I will delete weekly and start all over again. Enjoy reading it; I know I will!

Vocab in its third lesson

I am impressed. We had a few temperamental philosophers, but we also had the soap dispenser dispensing soap, and ankles being weary. Good work on the vocab. By jove, as the British say, I think we've got it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Incredible Bald Eagles

From the Riese family: These pictures come to us by way of Alaska. While we look out and see crows all around, they see Bald Eagles. Amazing! If I were writing on these pictures, I would have compared them to our crows. That would have been my every day object for people to connect to. My intro would be something like:

Have you ever seen the crows that hang around the school? They sit on trees, talk and walk on the track field, grab food from Mr. Devoe's bird feeders and have even been known to steal my burrito that I have had sitting out on the ledge! In Eagle Bay, Alaska, they have bald eagles as common place as our crows. Incredible.

From there I could write an essay on eagles or a visit there or how to save them so they are as plentiful other places as there.
The key is bringing people in with everyday images that they then can connect your essay to.

Vocab and pictures, with an explanation on names

I am very happy how the words went today. We might just end up with close to 20 words rather than 10 when we start to think of their other parts of speech. Cool!! Reverent=reverence=reverently=revere.
Wow!! so much we can do in two weeks. I am excited.
Just keep in mind the posters telling you where or how these parts of speech work, and you will be soooooooooooooooooo adding to your vocabulary.

Kraig's parents sent pictures taken in Alaska of Bald Eagles. I'll get those on this afternoon. They too are sooooooooooooooooooo cool.

You might notice a name over to the left. I am going to try to add a name a day. These students are why I teach. One name a day will take a while so don't despair; you all are why I teach. I'm just trying to show appreciation for specific attributes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

News and movies.

So, I think we can begin to forget the donuts. We're now in 4th or 5th place in Keegan's and I still don't know until I get to school on the girls'. Ah well. Easy come; easy go. It's all fun and that's what it's all about, getting through March and waiting for spring.

We are watching The Sound of Music tonight. I saw it as a kid in the theatre. I was telling my kids that I remember it as a love story and musical. It wasn't till I saw it in play form at the Hangar Theatre that I realized how historical it is. If you have never seen it, do. If you have, watch it again to get a feel for what it felt like to live under German rule and how some wanted it and some didn't.

It really is amazing how much of a picture you can get from movies and putting them into a historical period. Again, Cinderella Man is wonderful for the Depression era. And, like The Sound of Music, it is based on real people.

If you take the second it takes to place what you're reading in time or history, you'll be surprised how easy history can be. Remember: we need that something to connect what we read to in our brains. You've got it; just realize it!

thought of our class

Yesterday, while reading the Ithaca Journal, one of the first things I do in the morning, I thought of our class. Specifically, it was our DBQ essay on the Depression era books. We talked about banks buying stocks off of money they didn't have, people running on the banks-wanting their money because of fear that they wouldn't be able to get it, and the government then protecting people's money for up to $10,000. I thought of all that, and what your history teachers would be teaching you, when I read this article and then saw this political cartoon on the op-ed (opinion-editorial) page.

The picture, more than the article, caught my eye. I'm sure that's why the paper picked it. It looks like the guy is racing off in fear (He is probably doing the 'out of here' race from work on a Friday) . Remember, a picture truly can be worth a thousand words. But, really this company has overextended itself and has been sold. The rest of the article talked above me, but the jist is asking if we're in trouble and headed toward the worst recession since ... the Depression. If you read the article, it never once says that dreaded word, but they talk back to it ....WWII, losing jobs, Wall Street in trouble.

Anyways, what I took from it? Fear and speculation can do us in as much as anything....and too much borrowing.-- that was the cartoon.

I try not to borrow and I try not to let fear get to me, easier said than done. But, learning to think when one gets scared helps a lot.

Anyway, enough of history. Just thought it was interesting (text to text) that we were just doing the Depression era DBQ and here was a lot of it, right in my paper.

Friday, March 21, 2008

News Flash!

As of 11:00 this morning, Keegan, who can't keep quiet and focused for more than a minute in my 2nd period class, but who is a good writer, thinker and learner, can, also, pick bball teams. We're in first. Donuts all around if we continue!

Ladies, don't know how we're doing on that one. I'll check that one soon. (The other one is being done as a math assignment and so he's sending out results.) But, if we win, donuts all around! Enjoy the games.

Lazing about on Friday afternoon

This morning I had to go to school because my daughter had track practice. I worked on vocab work. I hope it helps in the making of sentences. I'm really excited about this.

I have been trying for a number of years to find a way to make vocab more meaningful; none have really worked. And, me telling you all the time how important a good vocabulary is is something I will continue to do, but I do realize you're not apt to go, "Okay, Ms. B. says it's so, so I am going to work day and night to up my vocab!" (Did anyone say that? No, I didn't think so.)

At home, I did my suduko and then we went looking for food coloring- obviously another part of my childhood that they have deemed lethal. We found some at Tops .... for $4.29! I could have a whole new outfit from the Salvation Army for that!!!!

Back home, we watched a bit of bball and then did eggs with the food coloring. Mrs. Saglione gave us an article showing how to do them with rubberbands.Okay, so I like them, but then I also took a couple pictures of Benny with his gerbil buddies, Twitch, the white one--he is very aggressive and is willing to take Benny on, through the wire, of course. It's a lot of fun to see. Huey is the brown one. He was given to us by a friend who had had two 'male' gerbils ...if you get my jist. Huey was only one of a batch of eight!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

And, from me, pics of Benny and Goin' Green

Ben's shirt is of a Dragon Day at Cornell. It was just in the Ithaca Journal for this year. Every year, the engineering seniors build a dragon, carry it through the quad, and then set it on fire.
I really liked Ben's shirt and I'm going to try to find the article for him to read. What history behind some of these!

The other t-shirt came from Mr. Giroux, a Clarkson baseball shirt. (Did I have two of them, or am I going crazy, Chris?????)

I think it's wonderful that students are getting involved in this. We have no need to buy, buy, buy new. Used clothing has lots of life and history to give yet!