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Posted by on in General

My seventh graders were in the process of researching information about Jackie Robinson in order to create an expository essay.  Together, we were reading the book, 42 is Not Just a Number, by Doreen Rappaport. 

In the first chapter, the author writes of how Robinson's family did not have much money when he was a child. Some nights they had bread soaked in milk or water with sugar. I explained to my class that my family had often eaten some very limited meals as well, but as kids, we didn't know that we lacked money.

I have always believed in the power of storytelling in a classroom.  Equally important to me is sharing about my own life so that my students can see that I am indeed a “real” person and not just a teacher who gives them writing prompts each week. They know that I haven’t always been Mr. Ramsey, that I was once “Little Timmy” who drove his parents crazy on a daily basis.

I don’t believe that teachers need to “bare their souls” and share every detail of their lives.  But I do know that there is great value and relationship building when students can relate to their teacher as another living, feeling human being. My students alternate between narrative essays, expository essays, and persuasive essays roughly every two weeks.  By the end of the year, they have written several of each genre.

During those weeks, we also focus on several mini-lessons revolving around language, vocabulary, and technique.  For this time around, I wanted the kids to start thinking about how to infuse their voice into their work.

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Posted by on in General

classroom male teacher

Maybe I AM a loser teacher. 

I mean, why would a successful person stay with a low-paying job for thirty-six years? 

Why would someone get to work every day ninety minutes before the kids and stay ninety minutes after they leave, only to go home and spend another two to three hours grading and planning?

Why would someone try to get a child to understand, to achieve, to progress when sometimes that process takes weeks, even months? 

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Tagged in: dedication teacher

Posted by on in General

2:55 p.m. 

Kids moving out of the room at one door, homeroom kids entering at the other door.  Everyone talking at the same time.  Everyone moving at the same time. 

“Can I go to the restroom?”

“Can I go see the counselor?”

“Can I go to the library?”

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Posted by on in General

kid not listening

There is something seriously wrong with the ability for our children to retain information.  The decline has been swift and severe in just the past decade.

Perhaps they are not listening.  Perhaps they don’t see any reason for listening…or remembering.  Perhaps they are surrounded by distractions – peers, technology, drama.  Perhaps there is something in their diet that is bringing about an organic change in their brains.

Perhaps it is just not cool to think any longer.

I have been teaching a great deal of history in my writing class in order to bring forth some thoughtful essays.  In December, we discussed and wrote about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  After the holidays, we studied the Japanese internment camps.  This past week we began learning about the bombing of Hiroshima. 

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Tagged in: knowledge Learning

Posted by on in General

Sergio seemed a bit out of it yesterday and today. He looked tired, sad...just out of it. I think I asked him about twenty times if he was okay. About twenty times he said he was fine.

Today he showed up the same way. "I'm just tired”, he said.

Sergio is one of my favorite kids. He is usually well-behaved, but he is a 13-year-old boy, so you can't expect perfection. He seems to be sort of an enigma...he's not one of the top students, he's not one of the bottom. He simply doesn't fit in any of the boxes we put kids into. He doesn't seem to fit in any of the cliques. He's not shunned by anyone...he just doesn't seem to be closely connected to anyone either.

One thing that sets him apart is his wonderful vocabulary. He loves words and loves learning new ones, the bigger the better. I love watching him play with the words that roll from his tongue. I love tossing new ones his way to see what he will do with them.

Seeing his head on his desk in homeroom, I asked him if he was okay. Of course, he denied having any problems. I let him be and continued with my teaching.

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