Keep your eye on the prize…

January24

Recently, the Oscars have been getting a lot of attention for, well I’ll let this NY Post cover explain it…

WhiterOscars

 

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Classroom Update #5: Have you read a good book lately?

January24

give me five! (CC)
Howdy, long time, no write. I apologize, but life has been happening and that leads to less writing. Can you tell I’ve been teaching cause and effect lately? I’m doing Colonial American history with the class, and that will be the topic of this post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Classroom Update #4 for 2015

December13

Stockwell graffiti Four

One of the ideas that the ELA curriculum wanted students to get in this first unit was, how author background affects their work. I did like the particular piece they chose for this, Langston Hughes’ Theme for English B. It was a work that I was not familiar with, but it works well with upper elementary (5th grade) since it is made up of statements delivered in a first person voice. The biggest problem I had was trying to get the kids to understand that it was not “auto-biographical” but “semi-autobiographical” since the author was NOT from Winston-Salem, but Missouri, etc. but having facts to point to is easier to discuss, than more abstract ideas. It’s a good way to introduce perspective in race. The line in the poem about being the only black person in the classroom seemed to resonate even among my non-black students. I found this nice video of the poem on YouTube that my students enjoyed.

At the same time I was using the Pam Allyn materials, we were reading Bridge to Terabithia, and I found a great resource for author background AND purpose. NPR did an interview with Katherine Paterson and got some of the story behind the story. It is in written form at the link (edited and in an easy to read format), but I played my kids the audio, to get them used to this format for getting information:

Interestingly, she says one shouldn’t try to discern an author’s purpose (the title of the interview is “Messages Are Poison To Fiction”), but she does talk about some of what motivated her beyond the initial tragedy that the book depicts.

Image credit: Stockwell graffiti Four on Flickr

Bang, bang…

December4

Due to the season and  a number of events in my personal life, I’m not in a happy place. Recent events have not made things better. For a couple of reasons the most recent shooting in San Bernardino hits close to home. It took place at a Regional Center, which is how services for the developmentally delayed and handicapped are provided by the state of California. My son has used their services, and although we’ve rarely gone to the actually center in recent years, the social work staff there have taken excellent care of him, and hearing that bullets were flying in a place like that is unnerving to say the least. 
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Classroom Update #3 for 2015: Math, math, math

November21

3 is the magic number

I could share an earful about the return of benchmark testing (which was on hiatus with the switch-over to the SBAC) and how it’s making a mockery of recent calls by the President to limit testing, but I’d rather talk about my classroom and what’s going on. I’m going to focus on mathematics, and a particular aspect of my instructional practice that’s working, and what needs improvement.
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