Classroom Update #7

April30

Depression

While there is much talk about increases in diagnoses of psychological maladies around attention issues and autism among school age students, I’m experiencing a bubble of depression problems in my classroom, that is starting to be troubling. I’m going to stick to generalities so as not to breach privacy, etc. What I will say is that when I first brought it up to a co-worker, they posited something about entitlement and expectations, and I had to share some of the very real stressors these kids are experiencing; a family death, a family health crisis, and a case with hints of family violence in the history. How serious is this? Serious enough that I’ve had concerns about physical safety, and I’ll leave it at that.

But given the high levels of family stress, poverty, etc. that so many of our children live in at this time, I really can’t be surprised. The scary part is that I’m not even in a high poverty school. We have a school psychologist and nurse in one day a week, solely to do assessments related to special education. There is no counselor, social worker, etc. to work with the over 500 students in my school. Lord knows, we could use it.

Image credit: Depression on Flickr

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Classroom Update #6

March24

Ballot Box for Alameda County

As you know I blog about politics because my attitude is that you can ignore politics as a teacher, but that does not mean politics will ignore you. In the classroom, I try to use culturally relevant materials and to approach lessons from that point of view.

Normally, teaching fifth grade in an “open” presidential election year would be great. We learn about U.S. history, we’ve just finished the Revolutionary War period, and are into the founding of our nation. I haven’t even tried to talk about the current election with the kids yet. Instead, I’m trying to build a base in a couple of areas.

1. The fundamental ideas that the nation was built on, but;
Not turning that into a “worship” of the documents;
2. Things that didn’t work out, and didn’t get worked out until later and then MUCH later;
3. Spending some time with Franklin’s statements about the Constitution and it’s various imperfections. Read the rest of this entry »

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

 

Read the rest of this entry »

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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

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