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Posted by on in General

Today, the first day after the state writing test, was a day of decompressing, reflecting, and celebrating.  I began each class with my assessment of how I thought the day had gone.

“I’m not allowed to read your work,” I explained.  “None of us are.  But all of your teachers spent the entire day circulating through our classrooms and making sure that all of you were on task.  Let me tell you, our feet are tired.”

I paused for a moment and then continued, “I was so impressed that you listened to me and that you all filled those giant four-squares to the max!  Hallelujah!  We all were impressed.  Truthfully, none of us have ever seen kids spend so much time planning, writing, and revising a rough draft!  There is simply no way your scores can be low!  I am so proud of you!”

Marni raised her hand.  “Mr. Ramsey, you turned some really awful writers into great writers!”

“Thank you,” I replied.  “But you all were already good writers.  That little seed of creativity was buried inside of you.  It just needed a little attention and time.”

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Posted by on in General

 26 standardized full

The first day of this year's state testing is tomorrow. I know I shouldn't be nervous, especially after being a teacher all these years, but I am. Our first test is writing and, of course, the weight of the first assessment is on my shoulders since I am the writing teacher. 

I've worked hard to teach my seventh graders, and I know they have worked hard also (well, most of them). I love reading their work and really can see a big difference from when they were with me in fifth grade. Two years with me - I hope I've done them justice.

Today was my last day to practice with them, and I tried to review every possible thing I could. I reviewed the state writing rubric (for the 100th time), and I reminded the kids that I've been using it all year long to grade their work. I talked about playing the game right and how to get the most points possible. 

Sal sighed and said, "Mr. Ramsey, I'm really nervous. I'll try to do my best."

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Posted by on in General

Problem 1

 

Disrespect for our fellow human beings is abominable.

But, as a nation, we have allowed it to be so.  We’ve encouraged it through our politics, through our entertainment, and through our everyday interactions.

Ask any educator about the rise in hatred and outright disregard for adults, and you will need to set aside a few hours from your busy schedule, to hear all the details. 

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Tagged in: behavior respect

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