Class Pass Story Strategy

Alright, teachers, here’s a post for you. (I know, sorry, it’s been a while since I posted teachery thoughts. You know, summer break and all. : ))

Okay, so each student has his own paper to start his own story. Students sit in a circle (either a circle of smaller students or, if you really have a lot of time, in larger groups (if your school gives you more time for creativity, please let me know. I want to come teach there!) um yes, that was a parentheses inside a parentheses).

Anyway, the teacher might give a writing prompt as a place to start. Students write for 2 or 3 minutes and then pass their writing on to the next student. For example, Shelley wrote this:

**Tip: If reading the pictures is difficult, click on the image for a zoomed-in view.

As students passed the papers around the circle, Shelley handed her story to Blanca, and Shelley got a new story to continue adding to. Blanca read what Shelley had written and then continued writing:

Blanca passed the story on to Maria, and after she read what both Shelley and Blanca had written, she added her two cents:

Today we were only seated as groups of 4, so the fourth student had the pressure of finding a conclusion to this wacky tale. So the final student (who shall remain nameless at this time… see if you can guess) wrapped it up with:

 

This was an activity from our Metodologías Bilingües class. It’s a great team-building strategy as students laugh together as they read their final stories. You might also use it as a first draft activity before demonstrating revision techniques for clarifying your writing.

And yes, you guessed correctly. The last writer was yours truly. : )

Advertisements

Grad School: Top Ten

(Please keep in mind these satirical ratings are generated from the writer’s experience and are in no way binding to all graduate students.)

Top Ten Reasons Grad School = Living the Higher Education Dream

10. You get to write papers to your heart’s content… like this morning, I wrote 3 papers: a reflection regarding 8 hours of class yesterday, a response concerning the longest article ever written by man loaded with teacher jargon and acronyms, as well as a 7-page journal article critique about using Spanish-English cognates embedded within context clue instruction. (Did you have to re-read that last part? Yeah, sorry, that was a hint of teacher jargon.)

9. Make new friends! The bonding is only beginning as a headache sets in on Monday and the syllabus clearly states that by Friday (yes, 5 days from today) you will have completed a 10 page research paper, will have memorized a list of 200 acronyms (so you are one step closer to a fluency certificate in nerdy teacher language), and will have given three 10 minute presentations embellished with extensive Power Points (don’t forget the visuals and custom animations). Bonding continues as you daily cheer each other on and persevere together.

8. More student loans!! Hurray!

7. Become a better teacher and be loaded with ideas for the coming school year. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited about some of the new visions I have for the 2012-2013 school year.

6. Thankful for professors who care directly about your PD and indirectly about your students. (Oops, allow me to translate: PD = Professional Development… those darn acronyms are sneaking into my every day speaking and writing skills…)

5. Resources – articles galore, education current news, websites, blogs… I feel more than updated about any possible bilingual education issue. Many thanks Education Week, NABE (translation: National Association for Bilingual Educators), and  IAMME (acronym for the Illinois Association for Multilingual Multicultural Education). And I am forever endebted to the ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) database for all my researching needs.

4. Using verbs like concerningregardingembellished, and generated, as already used in this blog post. Writing constant research papers seems to be forcing my written vocabulary choice to grow exponentially (as well as my brain cells, lol). Does using more Tier 2 words make me a nerd? (Tier 2 being teacher-speak for words beyond the basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS), but not yet approaching the cognitive academic language proficiency (CALPs) vocabulary. Um, yes, if I said that to you in person, I probably would have used the acronyms instead of the word-by-word phrases. Let me push my glasses up my nose; they seem to be slipping.)

3. Speaking of growing brain cells, mental workouts are another pro. I can’t help but compare the grad-school-required-mental-production with a kettlebells class I go to. (Not sure what kettlebells are? Check this out.) Summary: Think about a ball-shaped weight with a big handle. You swing the weight in every which direction while maintaining control with your core muscles… It never fails that I can hardly go up/down the stairs the next day — physically or mentally, lol.

2. Don’t forget that raise when I turn in a copy of my degree. Oh yes, keep your eye on the $$ goals. #1 goal now and after grad school is to pay off school debt ASAP! (oh shoot, one more acronym thrown your way… hopefully you already are familiar with that one ; )).

1. The privilege of continuing a life of learning. It most definitely is a privilege, and I’m certainly not taking it for granted!

***Follow-up on #8: Dripping with sarcasm.

***Follow-up on #4: You’re right, I don’t wear glasses. Not yet anyway. And when I do, I might just need a nerdy pair to suit this post’s nerdy confessions.

Looking Ahead

Before school was out for the summer, I went to visit my classroom for next year. I was wowed by how RED this room is. They say red boosts energy levels, so that could be a positive or negative, depending on this next group of children : ).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The previous teacher still had her posters and supplies in the room, so at this point, it is difficult to imagine what my future classroom might look like… but it’s fun to start dreaming : ).

Teaching About Change

Change happens everywhere around us, so why not open the discussion about change with students?

Brainstorm a list of things that change, like this:

My personal favorite on the above list is ”puberty.” You can tell we did this as a graduate class and most of us are upper elementary and middle school teachers, ha!

After the initial brainstorm, guide students into ”truths” about change. Then create a concept map, like this:

Once the class has developed their own ”truths” (with strong teacher guidance, : )), the concept map can be added to throughout the school year. For example, you might write ”history” under the ”is linked to time” concept. Or you might write ”relationships” under the ”can be positive or negative” concept.

 

End-of-the-School-Year Madness

I’m going to zoom you through the last week of school so then maybe you’ll understand why I’ve been on a 2 week retreat from anything school-related (including blogging about school! : )).

On your marks…. Ready… Go!

My 5th graders and I took a trip to Springfield to sight see and to conclude our Abraham Lincoln studies, so the next day, we made scrapbooks (chaos pictured above : )). 

Here they are posed with a young Abe Lincoln at the museum. They thought the wax figures were creepy but yet they were so fascinated that it was hard to leave.

We went inside the new capitol building as well. Here’s a photo I captured of the outside, and a student added his thoughts on the printed photo with his Sharpie marker. (To see closer, click on the image above.)

The 6th graders and I went to Six Flags as a reward for following through with their behavior contracts. Somehow I was signed up as a chaperone for an all-boys group (my 6th grade boys plus 2 more from another class). Here we are after our third time on their favorite water ride. These boys sure talked a lot of smack on the bus ride to the theme park, but once we were in front of the X-Flight (the latest amazing rollercoaster), their inner chickens surfaced and they refused to even get in line to wait while I rode the coaster. Bummer. Maybe next time : ). 

Then the 6th graders graduated from elementary school. I was strict about dress code: boys had to wear ties and girls had to wear skirts or dresses. My class was the finest looking 6th grade class this year. Of course, I may be just a bit biased : ).

(Note: To look at the pictures in a larger view, click on the image.)

During the 6th grade graduation, my 5th graders were industriously helping serve cupcakes to the many 6th grade family and friends that attended the celebration. Here’s the aftermath:

Valeria and Tamara not willing to show off their blue mouths…

Oscar and Marcelo begging for a third cupcake…

Ariana’s natural hospitality shining through…

And as Marcelo phrased it: ”Miss Siscoe, I think I just died by cupcake.” (a.k.a. too many cupcakes)

Then I concluded this field-trip-loving lifestyle by packing up yet another classroom… nothing like teaching at 4 different schools in 5 years (hopefully I’ll stay put in this next school for a while : )).

27 boxes of teaching tricks. Impressive considering last year I was only able to bring back 100 pounds of anything from Costa Rica (in other words, I hardly brought any teaching items back to the U.S. lol… seriously, how did I accumulate so much in just one year??!)

And the classroom ready for the next teacher to move in…

Whew! There you have it. The end-of-the-year madness marathon.

Hand Motions Gone Bad

CENSORED FOR YOUR COMFORT LEVEL (because I don’t know if you would be comfortable with this, lol)

I have recently incorporated a wide variety of hand motions into our math learning. Formulas instantly become more entertaining (and much easier to recall the next day) when we act them out…

So we’re learning the formula for finding the volume for a cone or a pyramid, and basically, you find the volume as if the objects were a cylinder or rectangular prism (respectively), and then you need to multiply by one-third to have the volume for only the cone/pyramid. I did not have any brilliant ideas for how to act out one-third, so I polled the crowd, a.k.a, the eighteen 5th graders who are oh-so-privileged to get math instruction from yours truly.

From the back of the room, Ricardo makes these hand motions:

I didn’t see it the first time, so he quieted his friends down around him and showed them. His friend, Jorge, says, ”Miss, you have to see this!”

So I look. Ricardo does his hand motions again and nearly shouts, “One-third!” as he makes the first and second motion.

My jaw dropped to the floor. My eyes bugged out of my face. My eyebrows hit a new height complete with forehead wrinkles.

Ricardo looked back at me quizzically concerning my reaction… Then it hit. A look of recognition of what he had just done came over his face and he now mirrored my reaction.

He put his hands behind him (as if that undoes the fact that he just flicked off his teacher, not once, but twice). His face, neck, and arms turned red. Seriously, I have never seen such a blush from a 11-year-old boy.

”I– I’m sorry!!” he managed to stammer.

Now recovered from my initial shock, I am laughing my head off. Seriously laughing my head off (which my students just learned today does not mean someone’s head actually falls off #iloveidiomeducation). Students that didn’t see what had happened are now pleading Ricardo to show his idea again. He politely refuses, still beet red.

I am still laughing my head off as I write this. The art of making mistakes is to laugh… right? Any mistakes you’ve made lately that you couldn’t help but laugh about?