Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I've learned.....Linky Party

I thought it would be fun to end the school year with everyone sharing what you have learned this year.I got my idea from a product listed on TpT called "Live & Learn" Life Lessons Class Activity Anytime or End of the Year by Tracee Orman. I did this activity with my elementary special education class and was suprised at some of their answers.  They ranged from, "If an old man tries to do a wheelie, he will crack his back." to "Don't mess with the teachers, they will get you in the end."  We enjoyed it and so I thought I would see what all of you have learned.  The rules are simple.  Link up and list as many things as you wish to share that you have learned this year or over the years teaching.  They can be funny, serious, and everything in between.  Have fun!

I've learned.....
1. When you send a 1st grader to the bathroom with some baby wipes to clean herself, you must include the directions, "Throw the wipes in the trash when you are finished." or she will bring you the used wipes when she has finished.

2.   Never assume a child cannot learn.  Assume that they can and set high expectations.  They may not meet those expectations, but they will learn more than you ever imagined possible.

3.  Everyday is a new day.  It doesn't matter what happened yesterday or the day before.  Focus on today and let the kids know that everyday is a new day.  That doesn't mean there are not consequences for their behavior.  There are always consequences in life.  Sometimes good and sometimes not.  But, everyday is a fresh start.

4.  Although the weather is beautiful in August and April/May and we love to wear cute sandles, they are not made for running.  The first few weeks of school and the last few weeks of school is super tough on students with special needs.  Every year, I end up running through the halls wearing sandles and almost breaking my neck to head off a student on the loose.

5.  Hugs are priceless and it never ceases to amaze me at how many children do not receive hugs on a regular basis.

 6.  Kids who trust you and know that you love them will do almost anything you ask them to do.

7.   Kids need a break too.  Sometimes what we think is going to be fun for the kids is really stressful on them and they can't handle it.  They need to be able to take a break from the activity.

8.  Kids are unpredictable and their words are priceless.  Keep a journal.  It will remind you on bad days why you are a teacher.

9.  The kids who are the hardest to love are usually the ones that need the most love.

10.  The most important thing I've learned teaching is
I cannot change anyone else.  If I don't like how my class is behaving, the only person I can change is myself.  I have to figure out how to change my behavior to get the effects I want.  The children's behavior is usually a reaction to what they are around.  As a teacher, we don't like to admit that.  The hardest class I ever had had multiple behavior problems on top of huge learning deficits.  After much crying and a little yelling, I finally realized that if I wanted anything to change, I had to change me.  And, it worked. I changed my behavior.  I changed the way I reacted to inappropriate behaviors and how I reacted to appropriate behaviors.  Pretty soon, the class changed and we were all much happier (and better behaved!)


Friday, May 6, 2011

State Mandated End of Course Tests: What Is This Doing to Classroom Teaching?

Amy Brown is the author of the blog called “Science Stuff”.  Amy has 27 years of teaching experience in high school biology, chemistry, and AP biology.  Her blog is about ways to make your class more engaging and exciting for the students.  You can find her blog at:  http://sciencestuffbyamy.blogspot.com/

Today in school, my Biology I students had to take the EOC.  What is an EOC?  It is the bane of my existence!!  For those of you who don't know, EOC stands for "End of Course" exam. In my state, every student must take EOC's in certain courses.  We still have three weeks of school left, but the EOC was given today.  Why, you ask??  Because the exams have to be sent to our state department of education and graded.  We MUST get the scores back before the end of the year.  Why, you ask??  So that the EOC can count 20% of their semester average.  Call me crazy, but this seems a bit much to me.

Here are my complaints with a state mandated "End of Course" exam:
1.   Who writes the questions on the EOC?  Certainly not me.  Is this fair to my students?  I don't think so.  I valued the information years ago, when we gave "achievement tests".  I could look at these test scores and see how my students were performing against various benchmarks.  This information let me know what I needed to do differently.
2.  I have a problem with the EOC counting 20% of the semester grade.  My final exam will count only 10%.  And 70% of the semester grade will come from the work done in my class during the course of the semester.  The questions on the EOC are written by some anonymous face that I will never see, and some of the questions are really bad.  I often think that whoever writes these questions must not know anything about biology!
3.   Teachers are forced to be automatons of information.  Many of the really fun and exciting things that I used to do in the lab have fallen by the wayside.  We are in a race against time to teach volumes of information.  Does this get kids excited about science?  NO!  Give me back some time for creativity.  Give me back some time to take the kids to the lab so that I can teach them what science is really about.

I understand all about accountability.  I understand that the "powers that be" want to make sure that every teacher in the state is teaching a core set of objectives.  I think this is a mistake.  Just as asexual reproduction produces offspring with no variation, mandated state testing is producing students who are clones.  Every biology teacher worth their salt knows that variation is key to adaptation.

It is my belief that we will eventually realize that the massive testing of students at the end of each school year is a mistake.  Students are not going to remember the volumes of information that we cram down their throats prior to the EOC.  Along the way, the teaching of critical thinking and problem solving skills are being lost in favor of fact after fact after fact.  An education does not consist of a set of facts.  A good education consists of the ability to be able to think and respond, not recite back facts.

I hope that you will visit my blog and become a follower.  My blog is called "Science Stuff" and can be reached here:  http://sciencestuffbyamy.blogspot.com/.  

You can also visit my TeachersPayTeachers.com store here:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Science-Stuff

My blog has links to quite a few FREE products that can be fun activities for both middle and high school science students.  I hope to see you there!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Teacher E-Books

I found a great site that has e-books for teachers to download.  There are many free books that you can download immediately.  Even the books that you purchase are available for immediate download.  Check it out! We all love free stuff!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Made a Button!

I never thought I would be able to figure out how to make a button.  I have read several tutorials and tried to follow their directions, but failed every time until now.  I found very simple directions and made my own button.  If you are like me and are not gifted with technology skills and want your own button, follow these simple steps at The Little Hen House.

Huge Sale

TpT is having a huge sale on Tuesday, May 3 in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day in the US.  Many sellers are having a sale and the site is offering an additional 20% off your purchase.  Use the code TAD11 during checkout to receive the additional savings.  Everything in my store will be on sale.  Thank you to all of the teachers around the world who work so hard for our children! Happy shopping!

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