Several months ago I showed my 9th grade students October Sky. As a quick end-of-class assignment, I had them write Homer Hickam letters expressing their personal reaction to his story.
I expected a few fluffy sentences finished with, “thanks for making your movie” type statement.
I received well-crafted, insightful letters expressing their gratitude for knowing Mr Hickam’s story. They could relate to Hickam’s rocky relationship with his father and feeling trapped by a blue-collar community that tends to discourage higher education.
A few weeks ago I finally mailed them and today I received a reply! The letter was from Mr Hickam’s wife, but it included his photograph signed just for us! I cannot wait to get to school tomorrow and share it with my students – now I need to find a special frame to treasure it always :)
Homer Hickam himself!
A girl in my honors class and one of the guys in an introductory level section are an item. I am usually getting on their backs about texting each other in class, but today the girl had an awesome story for me:
“We were in the car the other day and I knew that if I didn’t have to use the brake I could conserve some gas. So I kept yelling, ‘Watch for cars, we’re gonna speed up!”
The boyfriend then turned to her and said:
“Mrs. McCoy would be so proud of us for using physics in real life.”
Haha, so good to know they actually pay attention in class!
I was talking with a teacher-friend today about why I started this blog and why I’ve stuck with it. It all started as a way to catalog all the great resources I was receiving in graduate school in a way that I could easily search and access them once I was in my own classroom. Once my student teaching began, the blog became the ideal place to process my experience and seek help from veteran teachers. Now that I am teaching, I am utilizing my grad school resources and finding it just as important to process my days in writing.
I blog because it gives me a connection to other teachers, it provides an outlet for my thoughts, and it records my experiences so I can read back through them in the future. If you have found any of my posts useful, I’m glad; if you have given me advice and suggestions, thank you(!!); and if you just read to be entertained by my antics, I hope you enjoy them – I am so thankful for technology that allows all of this to happen in one place!
I sometimes wonder why other teachers blog – feel free to share your thoughts…
I haven’t posted in awhile because of the chaos of life’s transitions, but I just wanted to let you know I made it!! I finished and graduated with a Masters Degree (and survived!). I’ve included some pictures of the 2010 Teachers College and Columbia University Commencement exercises.
I am thankful for…
…a husband who puts up with a crazy woman who sits in the bathroom playing with homemade fork pendulums…
…an advisor who encouraged me through the good, the bad, and the ugly…
…a friend who gets as nerdy excited as I do…
…two cohorts of friends to share the moment with…
…a dear friend to that will have the same undergraduate and graduate alma maters…
…a sister who has been with me every step of the way…
…a mom who is always willing to be a physics lesson guinea pig…
…a dad who taught me its cool to like science…
…grandparents who have supported me as the first family member to go to graduate school…
…a crazy university that celebrates together rain or shine…
…and an institution that encouraged me to be a far better teacher than I thought I could be.
Graduation marks a turning point in our lives as we are relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada in the next few weeks. I am certain that posts will be sparse, but I will be sure to share any nerdy adventures we have along the way!
After stumbling upon the Classroom Management Protocols; Designing an Environment for Success, I couldn’t help but dream about how to set up a seating chart for the first day.
I’m not too keen on alphabetical seating charts – especially by last name since those kids get grouped together on a regular basis. The first day of school would be a great way to mix things up and provide students with a Nature of Science (NOS) activity.
If you arrange the seats alphabetically by middle name or by first name in a spiral pattern, you can give kids the opportunity to figure out how the room is arranged. Since I am hoping to get a Physics teaching job, my students will be 11th and 12th graders and will know each other enough to begin to figure out the pattern. It’s a great way to point out to them that they already possess the skills necessary to “do science”: they naturally observe, predict, and question in order to find an answer.
Which methods of seating students have you found most successful?
A classmate sent me this video today. It doesn’t have much academic value, but gives you and your students something to laugh about together. Enjoy!
Today was the day before spring break. One of my 6th grade double periods was total anarchy. The other was a 6th grade mutiny. It got so bad that one girl came up to me to let me know she felt bad for me. Haha.
Here’s to all the teachers on the day before break!
A couple weeks ago a friend and I were walking down the street when we saw this:
Somebody slept through Chemistry class…good thing it was only Nitrogen!!
I am a strong believer in √+, √, and √-.
Now that I’ve been grading homework assignments for a few weeks, I’m sold on it. My cooperating teacher grades on a scale of 10. I find that precious moments that could be spent thinking about and writing down comments are spent arguing with myself about how many points that mistake warrants or that correct answer earns. Since I feel the comments are more valuable than points given, I would rather give the students √+, √, and √- and spend my time writing comments that might help students develop a deeper understanding or elucidate their misconceptions.
This will also reinforce my desire to not base my students’ assessment and confidence based on numbers or grades. √+, √, and √- are much more formative in nature and allow students to evaluate themselves on a more rubric-based scale: excellent work and understanding, good effort with some improvement needed, insufficient effort or demonstration of understanding. This was how I grew up receiving assessment and I find that it took longer for my peers and I to develop grade-based complexes.
I want to encourage my students to focus on achieving understanding and the ability to communicate content and I think √+, √, and √- and comments will help me to do that.
What have you found successful in grading homework?
Along with the teaching philosophy, the teaching portfolio is an essential part of a teachers’ professional life.
Seeing as I’ve got a big interview coming up in two weeks, this portfolio is heavy on my mind. Since I have decided to put “freelance blogger” as a related experience on my resume, I feel it is important to add a few posts that display the essence of Just Call Me Ms Frizzle.
What are your favorite posts and which would you recommend I include? What has been most useful for you?
The bigger question, however, is what to include in the portfolio. I had that conversation with my adviser this afternoon. As a part of my graduate program, we are required to compile a portfolio instead of a thesis, but it is to remain at Teachers College for several years after graduation.
This leaves me with no choice but to create another portfolio three months before I have had the opportunity to collect and create the materials necessary for the more comprehensive version.
I’ve decided to include the following – please suggest any other additions or suggestions if you have any!
Things to include in my portfolio:
- Teaching Philosophy
- Student Teaching Observations and Evaluations
- Cooperating Teacher Recommendations
- Sample Lesson Plans
- Sample Student Work – at least one sample including the rubric used to assess the assignment
- Sample Blog Entries
- Other ideas…???
I can’t help but feel this isn’t enough. I’ll probably think differently once I compile it all.