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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Working Hard or Hardly Working...

I received my school district paycheck in the mail yesterday and realized that things have changed. I only worked 4 days last month and only 4 days so far this month.
The shortened Thanksgiving break accounted for some the lull in activity but the rest was entirely me. 

There were many more opportunities to pick up assignments last month but the urgency to take them has not been the same since reaching a life milestone that I thought would be nonexistent at this time. 

Social Security & Medicare! 

Just over 10yrs ago, I began documenting with this blog my experiences of an entirely different environment from the profession I worked previously. Subbing was a way to cover our health insurance costs and other expenses that come with living in Silicon Valley. Now that those expenses taken care of, I can actually consider real retirement.

If I do not have an assignment booked by bedtime, I set my online status as "not available" to eliminate the automated early morning 05:30AM call. 

I am now more selective on assignments. I find myself preferring 3rd grade up to middle school as choice. There are a couple schools where I will no longer consider working at any grade level. Life is too short for the stress involved.

If the office calls later in the morning, I'll consider it if it doesn't conflict with other daily plans. Time with the grandkids is much more fun & productive at this early age...before they turn into teenagers. 

I don't know if the school district can live with my limitations or not. I assume they will let me know if they can't.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Magic Trash

It's about 15min before dismissal. Everything on the lesson plan is complete. The kids are packed up and begging to leave early.

It's the perfect time to play "Magic Trash".

"There is a single piece of trash on the floor that I have identified. It can be big, medium, small or even as tiny as a single staple. If you are the one to pick it up and place it in the trash can, the game is over and you win the prize."

"Ready, set GO!"

I have to be careful to move around the room and not to stare in a particular direction because the crafty kids will stand next to me to see where I'm looking. If somebody does find it early before the dismissal bell, I still win with a mostly cleaned up classroom.

If it's still on the floor when the bell rings, I then walk over, pick up the bit of "winning trash" to demonstrate that there really was something to find and let them loose.

Monday, November 10, 2014

To Catch a Thief...

It was the last hour of the day when she entered the room and motioned that she needed to talk. "She" was the principle of the school and in a whispered voice indicated that she was sorry for the interruption but needed to speak to the class about a serious matter.  It seems that something was stolen from the school office this morning, and she pretty much knew who the thief was but wanted verification of what she knew.

She knows that, at this age level (4th grade), kids can't keep a secret but also knew that no one wants to be known as "a snitch" that turned them in.

Instead, she had them ALL take out a piece of paper and write their name and what they "actually knew" about the incident. She emphasized the differences between "direct knowledge of an event" .vs. "heard about".

"If you don't know anything at all about the incident, then that's what you write:  I don't know anything"

She then went outside and waited for me to send them out one and two at a time.

I asked her after class if the exercise yielded results. She told me the exercise verified what she already knew. The thief was would be dealt with tomorrow.

...and no, I don't know and don't need to who or anything more about the incident.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Listen Current...

Alternative lesson plan ideas.....

Check it out! If this is something you can use in your classroom, I have been authorized to give away a free premium account membership to five lucky readers in a random drawing. 

To enter, simply respond in the comments section and indicate some way to notify you if selected.

Engage Students With the Power of Public Radio!
Looking for something innovative but practical to try in your classroom?  What about some great public radio stories that grab students’ attention?  They can give a modern spin on a historical event or illustrate a real world application of a scientific concept. They can be a new mode of delivery for informational “texts”.  They can be a great example of spoken academic language.

Listen Current gives your students something interesting to listen to.  Listen Current curates the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time. Non-fiction storytelling works for science, social students and ELA.    We also know from research “If you want people to listen to you, tell a good story” that the easiest way to improve listening is to give students something interesting to listen to.  That’s why Listen Current carefully chooses the public radio stories for relevance to your curriculum and relevance to your students.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Show YOUR Work...

Math exams usually require students to show the work required to arrived at the answer.

Looks like teachers are going to have to get more tech savvy about test taking.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fish Out of Water...

I was flattered to have my college English class anecdote to be included in the Student Tutor Blog written by Dressler Parsons.

Since that interview, I now recall a H.S. incident that would have worked better.

No one wants to be a standout for the wrong reasons in High School, especially after transferring into a new H.S. as a sophomore.

P.E. was still a required class for all students with one exception. If you were on a H.S. athletic team, your team's daily practice counted as your "P.E" requirement.

Since I was on the swim team for my previous school, I signed up for the swim team at my new school.

The first week, I showed up at the pool every day after school for practice. The Monday after the first week, the coach intercepted me before I got in the water.

He told me he was notified by the school office that I wasn't enrolled for the swim team but was, instead, enrolled in last period general P.E. Until they got the paperwork straightened out, I would have to report for regular P.E. starting today.

At this point, I should point out that since I believed I WAS on the swim team, I didn't sign out any P.E. clothes at the beginning of school. When I pointed this out, the coach said he couldn't help.  

"You'll have to sort it out with the P.E. instructor."

So..I walk out to the field where "my P.E. class" is doing drills, hopefully to get a pass for at least today. No such luck. The P.E. instructor made me do all the drills barefoot and almost totally naked wearing only my red, white and blue Speedo.

Talk about first impressions at a new school.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Should Know How To Operate a Door, Right?...

I have been working mostly afternoon half-day assignments Aug/Sept. It is nice not having the morning alarm interrupting my sleep cycle at zero dark thirty in the morning.

Now I've had my share of malfunctioning classroom equipment before, but a door key should not be all that complicated to operate.

On one afternoon, I arrived at the school for my 11:30 third grade class. I checked in at the office, got the classroom key&leash and went to my assigned classroom.

I inserted the key, twisted it clockwise, pulled the self-locking door open in one fluid motion. With my hand still on the key as the door was closing behind me, I tried to extract the key from the lock before the door closed and almost dislocated my shoulder.  

The key was stuck in the lock.

No matter much I jiggled, bumped, twisted left and right, the key would not come out. Seeing my less than impressive classroom entrance, the teacher came over and did some magic twist maneuver to remove the key. She informed me that that the district was supposed to have the lock repaired soon but it was a low priority item.

Every time I had to leave the classroom with the kids at lunch, recess and afternoon PE, I had to leave the key in the lock and call someone from the school office come remove the key for me.