Tag Archives: Classroom

Wow – Where Did the Time Go! Or, Was I Procrastinating?

I meant to take a short break from writing… due to the busy time of the Holidays.  I reread my last post and, apparently, my student’s question about Thanksgiving and Christmas being the same break was a prophesy for me.   After I graded over Thanksgiving, I assigned another essay to be due before Christmas break.  I encouraged students to turn it in early for some extra credit, and five students did.  The rest, well, they validated the reason I do not give weeks to write an essay or create a project.  We work in class for 2-4 days and then it is due two days later.  This gives the kids a chance to turn it in early for some extra credit or ask me for help before the due date.  But I digress…

Of course, I have Romeo and Juliet essays to grade right now, but procrastinating by writing can be more fun.  See, I learn from the students every year.   The essays were due on Friday by 7:30 a.m.  and we did not have school.  The busses would not start due to the extremely cold weather we are experiencing.  Luckily for the students, our district began using Turnitin.com this year.

Little side story here: Eleven years ago several of us asked for the district to purchase a license to use the website.  However, we were told the money would have to come out of the English Department’s budget of $500.  Yes, you guessed it, the license cost more than that.  Evidently, none of the administrators saw a use for checking the originality of science, history, foreign language, and every other subject’s writing assignments.  Thus, while the English department was teaching proper citation of sources and how not to plagiarize, the rest of the school may have been fine with copying from Wikipedia, the bane of all researchers!  Never fear, we asked again around year six, and were told there was no money, which was true.  In fact, the district had to layoff dozens of teachers and two curriculum department administrators. Luckily, this year the Teaching and Learning Department, formally known as the Curriculum Department, has grown beyond pre-cuts days and saw the advantage to using Turnitin.com.  (I guess it makes one sound more intelligent or more powerful if the department has two names.)    

So far, only the English and Language Arts Department is using it, but I am sure the Math, Science, and the rest of the departments will learn how to use it during one of our weekly Professional Development meetings.  

Back to the main topic (Procrastination): My favorite feature of Turnitin.com is the time stamp.  I can have the submission deadline  be midnight or 7:30 a.m. or whenever.  I can then learn when the student turned it in.  I also do not have to deal with using instructional time to have students staple papers together (no one owns staplers), needing to print during class, and listening to excuses of forgotten folders containing essays at home.  Some students still have the excuses, “I couldn’t submit my essay” or “I do not have Internet” or “My printer was out of ink or broken, or “the dog urinated on my laptop.”  Therefore, I have instructed them to (A) email a copy to me or share it with me on Google Docs, (B) bring a typed or hand- written copy to class to give me as they explain the problem, (C)  print from our computer lab before school, or (D) take ownership of YOUR problem and solve it.  The reality is that 92.4%  of the excuses come about because of procrastination.  (I found that statistic on the Internet, so it must be true!)

Although, the company checks originality, it also enables teachers to grade the essays online.  There is an automatic grammar and punctuation checker; however, it is not always correct.  For example, it always indicates the title of the essay and the first sentence is a run-on-sentence.  Teachers are able to create their own comments; thus, no more writing the same comment over and over again.  We merely highlight the mistake and click the comment!  I am finding it an easier way to grade, as long as I have an Internet connection.

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Filed under 21st century skills, Education, Goals, Humor, Learning, Lessons from students, Measuring Student Success, Writing

Holiday Break

I have had great trouble making the time to write.  I am only writing now to “workcrastinate.”  I should be grading essays, but writing is more fun than grading.  Go figure.

I had to make time to share a question a student had for our class last week: “Is Thanksgiving break and Christmas break at the same time this year?”

I was proud of myself for not responding in a sarcastic manner, which is one of my goals this year.  Then, I realized, the student was not asking that strange of a question.  She may be very in tune with a politician’s work schedule.

I can see her getting elected one day.

As for me, I am thankful that this Thanksgiving I will have the opportunity to grade many essays.


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Another Sunday; Another Change in Plans

Students of Saint Mary's Hall

Students of Saint Mary’s Hall (Photo credit: Robert of Fairfax)

I always begin lesson planning on Thursday, so I can stay focused on my goals.  I have been planning to try Kidblog.org to have my students use the tools of the 21st century to analyze and write about literature.  The blog also allows them to respond to other student’s opinions also; however, they cannot merely say, “I concur.”  I expect students to support their opinions with facts from the reading selection.  It’s Sunday and I am ready to go…

Except I checked the English department’s laptops and we are down to 21.  Five of my six classes have more than 21 students.  I am left with the dilemma: how do I have students create a blog when they don’t have a computer?

I think I will go back to the 20th century and have them write on notebook paper, then share their analysis with a partner who will write a response.  I can cover the same standards in the curriculum.  I have reserved the good computer lab for the first open day, Jan. 6, so I can introduce the blog then.  But, it is late.  Perhaps I will have a different idea in the morning.




Filed under 21st century skills, Education, Lesson Plans, Writing

Non-Responsive Student or Victim?

The day started with an email.  Our intrepid leader sent out the draft of the plan with aiding a non-responsive victim we may find.  She told us about this drill a month ago, and it can help us know what to do in an emergency.  It’s a great idea, but I still felt the need to be facetious this morning.

I ran into one of our vice principals, a former social studies teacher, and I couldn’t resist a little fun.  I asked him, “What if the non-responsive person is in a social studies class?  Isn’t he just sleeping?”

HaHaHa.  Karma sucks.  We had the drill today.  Outside of my classroom.  I was the first one on the scene.  This is how it played out:

“BEEP!” The tardy bell rings.  Students were already getting laptops out to finish their revisions of an essay.  Louis was asking me for help because he has a propensity for writing run-on-sentences you know the kind that never seem to stop or utilize any punctuation what-so-ever.

Then, this stranger, a thirty-something woman with a clipboard, enters my class.  I see many badges, the kind schools, businesses, and hospitals give out that are difficult to read, yet give some people the sense that this person is safe and belongs here.  I didn’t fall for it.  I did not recognize her, and I grabbed the only weapon a good English teacher has: my red pen.

“There is an unresponsive victim in the hallway,” says Miss Stranger.

I get up and proceed to go to the hallway.  As I step through the doorway, she informs me, “It’s only a dummy.”

Seeing four students entering my class tardy, I ask, “Which one?”  I notice through the corner of my bad eye that she smiles.

I approach the dummy.  It is the upper torso.  I choose to not alarm the woman, but I know he is not going to make it.  I follow our written procedures:  I yell for one of my students to run to the office as I pull out my cell phone and call the office.  I call and get a voicemail.  I call again and get an administrative assistant and let her know what the emergency is, where it is, and to call 911.  Of course, I mention that it is a drill because I have no idea if Miss Clipboard has told anyone.  next, we here the announcement for a lockdown.

English: CPR training with Welch Allyn AED 20

English: CPR training with Welch Allyn AED 20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She asks me if I know CPR; my certification expired years ago.  Another teacher arrives; she does not know CPR either.  The nurse arrives and begins CPR.  The AED arrives and the nurse works to save the dummy.  The drill is over.

We learned that we had some flaws in our plan.  I did what was written; however, I should have told my student to get another teacher.  I should have told the teacher to push the emergency button in the classroom and inform the office of the emergency.  When the lockdown occurred, the teachers in nearby classrooms stayed with their students, as we have been taught to do, and did not come outside to help.  We learned some other things, too.  However, these lessons apply more to me.  Soon though, all of us will be trained in CPR and be able to do more than yell for help.

When I explained to my students what happened, I said it was like the first draft we wrote.  We will look at what we did wrong, make improvements, and do it again.  It became a great teachable moment.

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