Tag Archives: success

It’s Not Always a Bad Day

Today did not start well.  I was blamed for a bad grade.

 

The Question Is What Is the Question?

The Question Is What Is the Question? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

STUDENT: Why did I get a zero?

 

ME: You did not answer the question.  Your answer was off topic.

 

STUDENT: I didn’t know what the question was.

 

ME: It was in your Reader’s Notebook packet.  You were to respond to Ch. 9-11.  See, it says that right here on the rubric.

 

STUDENT: But, it doesn’t have the question there!

 

ME: The question is in the Reader’s Notebook that I gave you.

 

STUDENT: But, Sally stole it from me.

 

ME: You never told me you needed another one.  Plus, I wrote the topic on the board and explained to the class what was being asked.  You were here that day.  Why didn’t you copy it down?  Why didn’t you ask me if you didn’t understand?

 

STUDENT: But, Sally stole it from me.

 

I guess if you run out of excuses or blame, you just repeat yourself.

 

I walk away to get her a new copy of the Reader’s Notebook.  Fortunately, she did well on today’s writing assignment.

 

Later, I learned why one student struggles in class even though she sits right in front of the board where I write the homework assignments:

 

STUDENT: When did you get that large cupboard?

 

ME: It’s been there since the school was built 10 years ago.

 

STUDENT: No Way!  I have got to start paying attention, more.

 

Thinking of grades, I could only nod my head in agreement.

 

Then, she asked if she could go to her engineering class because she just noticed she forgot her books and binders there.

 

I could only nod my head in agreement again.  I wrote her a pass.  After all, I have had these moments, too.

 

However, my day continued to improve.  After writing creatively for a class period, I had this conversation with a student:

 

STUDENT: I think I got carried away.

 

ME: Why? What were you writing about?

 

STUDENT: I wrote 600 words on having a monkey as a pet.  I started with some background scientific information and then went into a story.  I will continue it tomorrow.

 

ME: Excellent!  Good luck with it.

 

And during the last class, a student shared the start of an amusing story that he began in class and continued at home.  So far, his first four pages (he only had to write two) describe a man waking up late and locking himself out of his house when he went to get the morning paper.  I look forward to reading more of it.

 

What kind of day did you have?

 

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How to Be the Best in Your Freshman Year

We are almost half way through the freshman year.  It seemed like just yesterday when students arrived with high hopes and dreams, and a little apprehension. As the weeks progressed, many kids fell into their old study habits.   The old habits work for some; and a few need to change their habits.  In a few more weeks it will be exam time,  and exams are something new to many of the kids. Science teachers will give review packets full of the terms and information they studied all semester.  Math teachers will give hundreds times hundreds of math problems.  History teachers will hand out packets full of questions about who killed whom or what happened in ancient times (when the teacher was a kid).   I will hand out a half sheet of paper that informs kids to use handouts I have already given them or resources they can find on the World Wide Web, which I invented.  (Just reviewing fiction there.)

Besides preparing for exams I have also recognized 5 ways for freshman to succeed:

1. Don’t let fear rule.  It is difficult being a freshman.   You are the new kid, going through changes that can be confusing.  Facing the fear and gaining confidence is the #1 success driver.  Every one of the hundreds of classes I have taught has had a student who started out shy and unsure.  Then, he or she begins to participate in the small groups, gains confidence when others ask for help, and then adds to the whole class discussion.  Too often we think we have to be ready to present an idea to a large group.  Instead, talk to one or two people.  Speak up in a small group assignment.  Others do want to listen.  I remember Janie.  She would was quiet during our first class discussion, but once she was in a group of 4-5 people, she was a born leader.  She was in her comfort zone.  After gaining confidence, she joined Mock Trial and performed the role of attorney in front of many people.

2. Network.  Make friends with successful students.   Schools don’t like to label kids so they give reading groups nondescript names like blue group, red group, etc.  However, the kids know who the better readers are.  Being nice to someone who is better in math or science or English can help a person learn new ways to study.  I remember Jared and Nick, who did not know each other.  They were paired together for a Study Buddy activity.  They became close friends, met others, and their grades began to improve because they enlarged their network and added to their support system.

3. Smile and say hi to people.  Smiling is contagious.  Too many kids walk through the halls or sit in classrooms and feel lonely.  I know from personal experience.  When I was a student, I waited for others to say hi to me first.  At a class reunion a classmate told me she thought I was stuck-up.  I did not think about how others saw me.  I expected others to make me smile.  I realized the happiness comes from making someone else smile.  Now, I say “Hi” to as many students as I can.  Sadly, some kids may go through the whole day without someone talking with them, even for a moment.  The most successful students I see are the ones who smile and say hello to others.

4. Leave  your options open.  Explore topics in classes.  Take time to learn more on your own.  I remember Jenny who enjoyed acting out scenes from Romeo and Juliet in class.  The next year she went out for the school play and got a major part.  Another student, who loved art class, noticed all of the art work depicting scenes from mythology.  He started researching more and more about how different artists in different time periods depicted the gods.  Now, his goal is to work in an art museum.

5. Know what is expected.   Pay attention to what the class wants.  Of course, I am referring to behavior and assignment expectations the teacher has.  However, the others in the room have expectations.  To truly be successful with others, you have to be cognizant of their expectations.  Being the class clown may get you laughs, but it won’t get you classmates who want to work with you, unless, of course, the grade is based on laughs.  The other morning, I had the class answer a question about our reading and present it to the class.  One group had the class clown, a student who did not do the reading in it, and a student who wanted to get a good grade.  The concientious student asked to move groups and I allowed it.  I felt the clown and slacker earned the right to flounder together, with the clown having to do all of the work.  The funny thing is the next day the clown made sure he had his work completed and asked to be in different group.  Will he continue to improve and take his work more seriously?  I hope he does and continues to be a clown because he is funny.  We may be watching on the Tonight Show or watching his TV show one day.

 

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Lessons for Marriage and Parenting from Star Wars

A few months ago my children found my high school yearbooks.  After seeing my pictures, they decided I was a nerd.  However, I was never a nerd, nor am I one now.  Honest.  In fact, for a few months in 1995 I was even suave and debonair enough to fool my future wife.  Along this journey that started in a galaxy far, far way, I have learned a few things:

1. When picking up women, make sure there is little competition.  Han Solo won Princess Leia’s heart.  The only competition on board the Millennium Falcon an Old Jedi, a twin brother, a walking giant hairball, an annoying droid, and a rolling vacuum.  When I met my wife, I was the only single guy at the Euchre Party.  I was her Han Solo rescuing her from the Death Star.

2. Jedi mind-tricks work.  I can never seem to find the droids I am looking for.  No matter what I may be thinking, my wife always has a way of making me agree with her.

3. When you think: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” you are probably right.  I have never been in a dire predicament like being in a garbage masher or giant slug.  However, I have been too close to crying child who either blows out his diaper or vomits all over me, the dog, and the carpet.

4. Wookies and some people are poor losers.  I have yet to lose an argument with my wife because I am a poor loser.   Unfortunately, this characteristic has been inherited by my youngest son.  He is a sore loser when I crush him in War, Go Fish, Sorry, and every other game.

5.If one of your family members disappears, expect a trap.   In Cloud City, C3PO knew Darth Vader and his storm troopers were there but he disappeared before he could warn anyone.  When my daughter was an infant, my wife would disappear.  Immediately the little baby would scream and cry until Mommy returned.

4. Yoda is right: “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  Luke doesn’t believe he can lift his fighter out of the swamp.  He is right.  You have to believe to succeed.  We have learned to make the kids do the chore right.  They get to keep doing it until it is done correctly.

5. Do not negotiate with bad guys and children.  While Leia is held prisoner on the Death Star, Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader ask her where the secret rebel is.  She reveals the location to save the planet.  They blow it up anyway.  Negotiating with children works the same way.   You give them a cookie and then they want a glass of milk.

Yes, Star Wars has helped many of us “cool” people face what life has to offer.  The Force is with us!

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Where to Begin?

” I don’t know where to start,” Joe, the master procrastinator in my first period class, sighs.  Thus, my day begins.

Actually, it started many days ago when I came up with the idea for this short writing assignment.  Students were given a chapter of To Kill A Mockingbird to read, and they would rewrite this part of the story from another character’s point of view.  Students were to retell the major points from one of the witnesses in the trial of Tom Robinson.

My first response to Joe is, “Start with the details of the reading selection.  Make a list of what you know.  Next, ask yourself what thoughts would this character have?  Then, free write for five minutes.  After the brainstorming, organize your thoughts and ideas.  Divide the process into chunks or small steps, ignore the others in the class, focus on your thoughts, take time to review and revise, and you will end with a good final product.”

Alas, if only I could help myself as easily, as I have had trouble writing lately.  To help me get started, I researched procrastination.  I found that about 20% of us procrastinate and there are over 600 published books on the subject.  Of course, I haven’t made the time to read any of them.  I just skimmed articles and blogs.

I did learn a few things; my problems are described in any psychology 101 class:

  1. I am afraid of failing, so I wait and use the excuse, “I would have done a better job, but I did not have enough time.”  (Notice, I do not take responsibility on how I managed or mismanaged my time.)
  2. I do not develop an achievable goal for each day.  Instead I say, “ Today, I am going to write a book.”  Instead, I should say, “Today I am going to write for 15 minutes.   A person can do any task for 15 minutes.  Fifteen minutes is plausible, manageable, and doable.  I can always write for longer.  I need to break the larger goal into smaller goals.
  3. I don’t pay myself first.  Well, I do when it comes to my paycheck.  I put money aside for retirement, rainy days, and vacations.  However, I do not always place my tasks before the tasks of others.  I could use to be a little more selfish, at least for 15 or more minutes a day.  One way I can do this is to schedule my time to write and to do it when I most creative, which is in the morning or afternoon.  I like to revise my work in the evening.

Wow!  I did it.  A little research or background knowledge, a little creativity, and a short list!  I am back on track!

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Integrated Learning

In the old days, high school teachers would disappear into their rooms, close the door, and lecture, lecture, lecture.  Today, a few dinosaurs continue this practice, but soon, they, too, will be extinct.  Most of us old teachers have adapted to changes and the fresh-out-of-college younglings are creative, energetic, and inspiring.

So, aside from Mr. T-Rex, our teachers of today have been trying to get kids to think.  Our new national curriculum, or Core Curriculum as the federal government prefers it to be called, does a great job in promoting thinking and collaboration.  Although it is only a matter of time until Old Man Triceratops retires, there are a few Neanderthals who are far from retirement and in need of being dragged into the Twenty-first century.  Thus, we have been mandated a “new” curriculum.

I write “new” because it is not so new in Language Arts.  We do many of the lessons already – teaching reading and writing skills.  The curriculum does offer many ideas for lesson planning, most of which we already use.  Nonetheless, one focus in the new curriculum appears to be integrated learning and teaching to the multiple intelligences of the students.

I was involved in an integrated class in 1993-1995.  For the first year, our district allowed the science teacher, math teacher and myself a common planning period.  During the second year, the district added Spanish I to the integrated team and only the science and math teachers and myself shared a fifteen minute study hall with our students.  Needless to say, the integration of all four subjects for many lessons was either contrived or forced.  In English and Spanish we were able to compare and contrast mythologies and folk tales.  In English class, we could research some scientists or mathematicians.  Or, I would help students write lab reports.

The class was cancelled when our district changed school course offerings and science requirements at the junior and senior high school.  However, I was able to see how integration can work, and I began to develop ideas that would have students utilize multiple intelligences and promote creativity.  I found the projects to be successful when I gave points for creativity (with formats, media, and figurative language) and graded student’s effort,  yet I continued the focus on their writing skills.

This year, though, three of my classes had the opportunity to work with the choir director to create a visual and oral presentation for the 9/11 Remembrance and Veteran’s Day Concert.  I designed assignments to be used with the songs being performed.  I came up with four possibilities students could choose from:

1. Immigration and why people move here.

2. People’s reactions to the 9/11 attack.

3. Explain what happened at the battle of the La Drang Valley during the Vietnam War.

4. Use the novel we read, Sunrise Over Fallujah, to show the effects of the war in Iraq.

I was impressed with the quality of work produced by the kids.  It was difficult to choose four to be part of the choir concert.  The choir performed for the community on a Thursday evening and for the students on a Tuesday morning.

When I was in choir, we stood on the stage and tried to sing louder than the snores of our parents in the audience.  Some of the kids even tried to sing in tune.  Not me.  My philosophy has always been the louder the better.  However, this collaborative effort between my students, the choirs, and a multi-media class produced an entertaining and moving performance.  Several choirs moved around or danced.   Videos, accompanied with music and slide shows with narrations, were used as transitions when the various choirs entered and exited the stage.   The narratives and videos produced a few tears in the audience members as we thought of those who died on 9/11 or in military service.

What did the students learn?  They learned a little about the topics they researched.  They learned that freedom is not free.  They learned that our country is home to people from all over the world who came here to escape persecution or famine and to seize opportunities that seemed to abound in every city and every state.  They learned how words can paint a picture and pictures can stir emotions and songs can soothe the soul.  They learned that no subject is an island to itself.

Any ideas for our next integration project?

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There is an old adage: The apple does not fall far from the tree.  When a parent comes in for a conference or when we talk on the phone, I can see how true this statement is.  For example, I had a parent arrive late for a conference to discuss the child’s frequent tardiness to class.  During another conference, I was subjugated to excuses why work was not completed; many were similar to the ones the teenager gave me in class.  I am not heartless and understand that feces occurs once or twice a year, and these occurrences prevent an assignment from being completed on time.  However, some folks make it a habit to create the excuse prior to doing the work.

I could sit on my throne, look upon all students and their parents and judge their shortcomings, for I am perfect.  Just ask my wife.  On second thought, don’t do that.

The truth is I watched one of my little  apples waste away his evening last night, and I never realized I was doing something similar.  It was a free night for our family except for the wife; she had to work.  However, the kids were free:  no swim practice, no soccer training, no basketball practice, and no Tae Kwon Do.

There was a catch though.  My daughter, who has missed school due to illness, had to complete her assignments.   My oldest son, who is having a birthday party soon, had to clean the basement.  His younger brothers were going to help him and the chore would take about 30 minutes.

‘We will start at 4:30, Dad” promised the apples.

At 4:35, I asked, “What time is it?”

“It is 4:35!” yelled my first grader.

“Hey Apples,  it’s time to clean” I reminded them.  With a few grumbles, the trio went to the basement to pick up toys.  Within two minutes, the younger two came upstairs.  The birthday boy decided it would be fun to throw toys at them.  When confronted with this poor behavior choice, the oldest reminded me, “Dad, you always tell us to try to make a chore into a game I was just having fun.”

“Nice try” I tell him.  “Only one-third was having fun.  Now two-thirds are not going to help you clean.  Way to increase your fun, son.”

Instead of writing from 4:40 until 8:00 like I should have done, I watched my son avoid cleaning the basement.  I wish I could blame him for preventing me from writing, but he was not the cause.  I chose to empty the dishwasher, run to the post office and the grocery store for milk … again, read my emails, go on Facebook, clean up the patio from yesterday’s storm, fix the grill, and do anything to put off writing.  I was waiting for a topic to hit me, like an apple falling on my head.

Fortunately for the soon-to-be-twelve-year-old, he realized if he was nice to his siblings, they would help him.  The basement was clean by 8:20, a new record!  The boys realized Together Everyone Achieves More.  I sure wish I had someone to help me brainstorm a topic or even write for me.  The only family member willing to hang out with me at this point was one of our dogs, Feces.

I sat down and read other blogs and websites for ideas on education or business ideas.  I found a few, and started to write.  However, the words did not flow from my brain to my fingers with great velocity.  In fact, they dripped like a leaky faucet and then disappeared down the drain.  At 11 p.m., I called it a night.  I had several ideas but no finished product.

When I awoke at 5:30 a.m. feeling semi-refreshed, I stumbled into the shower.  Today’s idea splashed into my face, and I  had to laugh at the irony of last night.  My son is just like me.   When we have too much time on our hands, we are our own worst enemies.

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ZAP!!! Electrifying Learning

Often, I am hit with ideas while teaching.  Although one of my students claims my latest idea is devoid of any intelligent thought, I can easily dismiss his opinion.  After all, he is only a teenager; what does he truly know about school, learning, and education in general?

The spark that ignited my idea was one of the vocabulary words of the day, interrogation.  Since it is Veterans Day, I required the students to create a sentence with a reference to the military.  As students shared their super sweet sentences with the class, one student mentioned torture while interrogating prisoners.

BAM!  My brain was on fire.

“Don’t teachers interrogate students everyday?”  I asked the class.

“Yes,” they responded with looks of curiosity and trepidation.

“Well, if I am interrogating, then I should be allowed to torture, too,” I hypothesized.  “Nothing too hurtful, just a little electric shock.”  I continued, “Imagine, what if I had a row of buttons that would give a little ZAP to a student who answered a question incorrectly?”   Of course, I might hit the wrong button and accidentally shock the wrong kid.  Oh well, feces occurs; the zapped kid probably didn’t know the correct answer either.

People never like great ideas.  For example, people told Walt Disney he was foolish to create a magical place for children.  Disney’s response: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”  Students can be just like adults, and immediately I was met with negative comments.  The naysayers in the class told me the district did not have enough money to wire all of the desks, the desks were made of plastic and would melt, and one smart girl even said we weren’t allowed corporal punishment.

I use to see the negative side of everything, too.  However, I have been working hard to persevere through problems that arise.  I decided I would invest in the students education and would pay for the set up myself.  (We teachers are always paying for supplies, books, and additional resources for our students.)  Preventing the melting of a desk would merely require testing out the zappers.  I really do not think anything would melt; my dogs do not burst into flames when they get shocked from the wireless fence in our yard.  The last argument given by a student deals with laws.  I am not a lawyer, but Atticus Finch, the lawyer and father of Scout and Jem in To Kill A Mockingbird is my hero.  I believe he would be able to successfully counter that the definition for corporal punishment does not include small shocks.  And, if Atticus says it is ok, then I believe him.

This weekend I will spend some time researching this way to motivate my students to excel.  Yes, we teachers do not always get our job done during the school day.  A few of us even work to become better during the summer.

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How to Have A Productive Meeting

“I can’t wait until our in service meeting today!  It is going to be awesome to learn more about the CORE curriculum we will be using.” exclaimed Bob.

“Like, OMG, it is going to be totally Swag!!!” squealed Robin.

“I concur,”  Tim stated in his big-man-on-campus collegiate voice as he ran to the meeting.

Melissa’s eyes lit up as if she were told she was having triplets, and she shouted, “whoopee!”  

And, young Ben, the new guy in the hall, shouted “Yippie!” as he skipped to the meeting. 

“Wake up Dave!  Dave, wake up!” Sam repeated as he nudged me in the arm.  “You fell asleep during the principal’s introduction and overview on what we would be doing today.”

“Did I miss anything, Sam?” I asked as I wiped the drool from my chin.

“No.”  She basically told us why we were having meetings.

So, That brings me to Rule #1 to a productive meeting.  Attend well rested.  Research has shown taking naps is better than drinking a cup of coffee, and this must be true because I read it on the Internet.

It also demonstrates Rule #2: do not have a meeting to explain why you will be having a meeting.  

These two rules seem like common sense, but we all know that common sense is not so common.  Face it, common sense should have told me that having children would cause me to spend money on toys I don’t play with, go to more doctor appointments for illnesses I don’t have, and  be more responsible by not eating candy for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, and pop tarts for dinner.  But, no, I did not listen to common sense.  Of course, I eventually figured it out, after the fourth child.

Luckily, today, we did not have four meetings to tell us what we were meeting about.  We stopped at two.  So, Rule #3: Never have a second meeting to explain why there was a first meeting that explained what the purpose of the meetings will be.   After all, redundancies can be boring.  Let me repeat myself, don’t keep restating the same information over and over again.

After our second meeting, we moved to smaller groups to concentrate on one grade level.  These smaller groups were then broken down further into twos or threes to work on one standard of the curriculum.  For example, my partner and I examined the standard on informational text, three others looked at the literature standard, and another group analyzed writing.  Why was this part of the meeting productive?  One element would have to be the fact that we had one of our own teachers as a facilitator, and she did not try to be a know-it-all.  She took notes to allow others the time to research the answers.  Therefore, Rule #4 is to break tasks into smaller chunks.  Feeling overwhelmed tends to cause some folks to shut down.  In addition, Rule #5 is to utilize your own people, someone who is respected by coworkers.  

Once we completed our analysis of the changes we would need to implement, we were ready for lunch.  Rule #6, of course, is to never try to be productive on an empty stomach.   Public schools provide the opportunity for breakfast and lunch for students because research has shown kids learn better when they are not thinking about eating.  At least, that is what I read in some text-book in college.  I know I work better without a “rumbly” in my tummy.

After a filling lunch of pizza and salad, we returned to our meeting room to share our thoughts.  Rule #7 has to be to allow people to share ideas.  Instead of all of us doing the same work, we outsourced parts to each other, then shared our evaluations.  All of our sharing was completed quickly.  Therefore, Rule #8 is to make sure participants keep it brief.  Do not be afraid to allow the facilitator to thank a person for sharing while telling him or her to sit down and shut up.  Even though the bruise under my eye will heal soon, throwing a book at someone is not an acceptable way to stop him from sharing important information.

Of course, Rule #9 is to end the meeting when the work is completed, not when the time you allotted is over.  By giving the participants the opportunity to work efficiently and expeditiously, they will be more productive in the completion of other tasks, like creating new lesson plans.

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Study Buddy Time and Staying on Task

*Today’s names have been changed to protect the innocent.”

“OK class, I want you to answer these five discussion questions based on the story you were to read yesterday.  The answers must be written in complete sentences and are due by the end of the class period.  You may work with a study buddy, and each one of you must write your own answers on your own paper.” Thus, with these directions we begin the mini-social hour in English class, and I enjoy the entertainment of having students work in small groups.

Why is it entertainment?  As soon as I say the words “study buddy” or “partner work,” faces light up as if it is Christmas morning or walking into the Magic Kingdom for the first time.  This day, I let the kids pick their partners.  Some students look around for someone who is smart or consistently does his/her homework.   Some students only look for their friend, even if they know he/she never does the work.  After all, socializing is sometimes more important than good grades.

Now begins my fun!  I give each pair of students a set of questions, and I walk around the room to observe.  Soon, one pair of students has trouble with a question, so they ask someone from another pair for the answer.   It takes the kids a couple of minutes to realize I gave each pair different questions.  Unfortunately for Bo and Mo, the two who never read, they never do catch on.  They just copy from someone else and think they have gotten away with something.  (I really think one of them will move to Florida and make the news for trying to use an alligator to rob the donut shop next to the police station.)

Another pair, Dotty and Marie, chooses to work together because they are best friends.  They know everything about each other; for example, what the other had for dinner last night, who was texting whom, their latest Facebook status, and what time they arrived at school.  What they have not figured out is that they have a combined class average of 47%.    Even the worst weather forecaster could predict what happens next: they begin to struggle with the questions.  Before their brains fry with too much thinking, they move on to a discussion on boys, clothes, and, of course, the behavior of other girls.  If they are lucky these two ladies will have a gossip radio show or be on some reality show that promotes drama.

I noticed Zeke and Chloe whispering and writing responses furiously.  I moved closer and listened in.  This pair had read the assignment, was discussing possible answers (the questions were open-ended and allowed for opinions and no right or wrong answer), and writing their own responses.  It was terrific to see intelligent conversation taking place.

I could have given this assignment as a quiz or open book writing assignment.  However, part of our curriculum requires class participation.  Like I do for all assignments, I began with the question: “How am I evaluating this?”  So, for this assignment, I decided that I would be grading the responses as one grade and the class participation as another grade.

As I walked around the room, I kept notes on the pairs of kids.  Of course, whenever I was next to a pair, the kids would be on task.  I knew this would happen, so I would focus on listening and reading lips of the kids who were across the room.  After all, no one is ever off task when the boss is around.  Since a few of my students read this blog, they will be on to my trick.  Oh well.

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Refreshing Lemonade

Today was presentation day!   The assignment was for students to create a visual and a speech that could be chosen to be presented at our school’s Veteran’s Day Choir Concert.  Despite computer problems throughout the creation process, the first round has been awesome. One student chose to honor our veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan after reading Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers:

As is always the case on the due date of an essay or project, several students swarmed me as if I was wearing dog biscuit clothes, and they were a pack of puppies.  One had to meet his mom at the office because he forgot his flash drive at home and she was bringing it in.  One had trouble emailing it to herself.  One girl’s computer crashed last night leaving her unable to complete the project, and one young man had Internet trouble.  Whatever happened to, “My dog ate my homework, or my brother lit it on fire in the garage?”

After 23 years of teaching, I am prepared for the onslaught of questions and excuses.  Furthermore, I truly understand the computer problems since I have encountered all of them myself.  I assuaged the fear of losing points and assured them that we would get through this together.  True, one or two kids may have been lazy or procrastinated too long, and this behavior will catch up to them eventually.  After all, I do have to move on with our next assignment on Monday.

Whenever one of the kids encountered a problem, several kids offered good solutions.   These kids were earning participation points because they were being problem solvers.  I saw teamwork like the kind our soldiers demonstrate.  The students were watching, listening, helping, and learning.  I believe a few kids are spending tonight redoing their projects because they want them to be better.  Competition can be good.  This is good for business.  The best products or services get the business.

Nonetheless, school is not a business.  This assignment is not completely about the final project.  Yes, the best presentation becomes part of the choir concert.  However, all of the kids enjoy the opportunity to learn, to be creative, and to assist classmates.  This is what makes a school a little different from a business. The school’s product is learning.

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Filed under Business, Education, Lessons from students, Measuring Student Success