Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why do I need to do this?

Because I said so - and I'm the Boss!

I'm older than you - I have spent more days on this planet - And I told you to do it, so you will.

These are the things I would like to say to my students when they drone on about how hard the work is and how they aren't going to grow up and be English teachers so why should they have to do this 'stupid work'.

But with a smile on my face and a song in my heart I turn to them and explain:

The state of California cares about your education and would like you to be successful in your future endeavors. And so they created a team of educators that put together standards that must be met at every level and class for students. By mastering these standards you then prove to the state that you can be a productive human and it will be a good idea to let you roam free in the outside world. If you don't complete these assignments then, from what I've heard, they keep you in High School FOREVER!!!!

I try and sound mean so that they believe me - if only for a moment. But in that brief moment in time when fear fills their eyes over the thought of staying in high school forever - I am truly happy. Because usually this means that they are willing to do the 'stupid assignment' that I gave them in the first place!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

21st Century Learner

A Blog - Cellphone - Computer - Netbook - Ipod - PowerPoint - Publisher - Excel.

What does it take to become a 21st Century learner? Tomorrow I will be having my Into to Ed kids make a list of all of the things that they think a student needs to know for the next generation. The class is designed to help students think about what happens next in education. We have been learning about how the classrooms of the past were conducted and how much of what happens in classrooms today is the same as it was 10, 2o, and even 30 years ago.

We have technology in our classrooms and all around us but many teachers don't know what to do with it. Heck most days I go back to the tried and true direct instruction. It's because integrating good technology is hard. It can't be thrown in. It shouldn't be used to just to be used but rather to enhance the educational process.

The grant program that I'm working on has the ability to get new netbooks (don't even ask me when they will get to us!!) - and I can't wait to be able to use them with my students. They are always asking when will we do this or that with the technology that got promised to them a while back. I am feeling the same way. I can't wait until I can get my hands on the tech toys that I too want to explore.

My plan for this weekend is to make a webquest... I'll let you know how it goes :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can I tend to the Rabbits George?

I am in love with this book. I love teaching it - I love reading it - I love just looking at it. It has been two years since I have been able to teach it because I haven't had sophomores. This year I'm on the 10th grade team again.

George looks after Lennie in a way that all of us can relate too. There is always someone who we feel close to but we don't know why. Someone to protect and shelter from the big bad world.

One of the many reasons why I love teaching it is because it gives my students the opportunity to show empathy. They are not sure why they love the characters at first. At first glance they don't have much in common with two grown men working on a ranch in the 1930's. But as the story unfolds they begin to see the friendship that Lennie and George have built - and they find themselves in the text.

Not to mention that Steinbeck is a beautiful writer! So much so that I read my students the first paragraph and then have them draw what they see. It's a great imagery project and what 15 year old doesn't love to draw. I break out the 'colors' and away we go.

I read with enthusiasm - I do the voices - I whisper when called for - and hoot and holler when the characters do too. This does two things - it keeps me entertained as I read something multiple times during the week (This year I only have two sections of English II) - it also keeps the kids listening to what I'm talking about. They have an easier time keeping the characters straight too.

We are only 30 pages in but I am loving every second that I get to read this amazing novel. It has been banned across the nation and still draws great criticism. It deals with Sexism, Racism, Disability, Profanity, and Murder. That list of topics alone would turn many stomachs - but our district has been brave enough to let us teach it - and I am thankful!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Old Friends...

Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends.
A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends.

When I was small I had a best friend who I wanted to be like.

This picture was taken on Twin Day at school. My mom helped me get those signature bangs and we both had homemade t-shirts to wear. We used to joke that Carly was a little bit country and I was a little bit Rock and Roll. (Please notice that I'm in the acid wash denim - ohhh the late 80's). She was the first person I met at Sequoia Elementary school. A teacher saw that I was new and walked me over to meet her. We were instant friends.

During the summer between 4th and 5th grade we move to Temecula and away from everything that I had known. I made friends in my new school but there was something about Carly that was kinder, smoother, happier, than all of the kids out here.

So when I was clearing out some paperwork and stumbled upon the photo you see above I was overjoyed. Now after all of these years we have stumbled back into each others lives. Through the beauty of the internet I'm able to keep up with her on her own blog and see the amazing family she is raising.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to know her as an adult- we still have so much in common. We both have amazing husbands, have degrees in English education, and are pleasantly living lives that fulfill us.

So my old friend. Thank you for those years long ago when we were young. And Thank you for all of the years ahead - I can't wait to see what comes next.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thanks Mom!

My Mom posted this on her blog and I thought I would bring it to you!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A wild 4 day week.

So first let me start by saying that 8 years ago today - life changed.

Here is where I was in 2001.
Living in Flagstaff - loving college life. I was late for my desk shift early that Tuesday morning. I was supposed to sit at the desk from the hours of 7am to 10am. I ran down stairs and sat reading my book. Then I heard two people walk past me and say "We are all under attack - when will it stop". So I turned on the radio and began to listen. For three hours I could only imagine what was going on. I heard the announcers talk about a plane, and the World Trade Center, and how the towers fell. How it appeared that this was not an accident. So I continued to sit there in awe.

At 10 I went to my Spanish class. The TV was on in the classroom and so I was able to see what had happened. I didn't know how to think. I still don't know what to think. It is an experience that may not ever make sense. My professor told us to go home and call our families - to make sure everyone was okay and that we would progress as normal the next day.

I walked back to my dorm room and noticed that the sky seemed so quiet. Everything was just so quiet.

It's hard to put down in to words what that day was like. Today my students and I discussed the after affects of the 9/11 attacks. It was interesting to hear how they remember the day. These kids were around the age of 8 when this happened. So strange to think about it.

So this week we had Monday off. We did some laundry and got ready for the week.
  • Tuesday was back to school night
  • Wednesday was a late start and we had to work in our PLC (professional -learning - community) and that didn't go as well as we hoped. There is one person who is "in charge" of us and that person came in and sent us all into a tail spin.
  • Thursday was a rally day so the kids were all excited about life - and not so much about learning.
  • Today I felt like there was not enough time in the day. That and after lunch I felt ready to go home. I sometimes wonder if there was a way for me to grade papers in my sleep. It would be so nice to just wake up and have a nice little pile of graded essays.

This weekend I need to grade heeps of papers. HEEPS! but I do plan on enjoying time with the hubby and meg the cat - so it should make for a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Something to frown at - and something to smile at.

I had a friend in a neighboring district tell me that there is a board member who is planning on banning books. What year is this?!?

I'm not sure how far this will go but I hope it fizzles in the wind.

*shakes my head and frowns*

Back to School Night went well. I did make a few jokes that no one laughed at. But that can be expected. I had a few parents who said really nice things like "My kid has never talked about a class the way he talks about yours - and he normally hates English"

And then there was the moment that teachers dream of. I see this parent and a former student coming my way - He is an awesome kid and his Mom was super supportive last year. They walk into my classroom Mrs. R gives me a big hug and then says to the entire room of parents who are starring at me like I'm crazy for hugging this woman.

Mrs. R points to the crowd "You have no idea how lucky you are to have Mrs. Parsons as a teacher, She is amazing, Best teacher ever!"

Me - smiles and says thanks.

It was AWESOME! *Grins a happy grin*

Monday, September 7, 2009

A busy day.

Tomorrow is back to school night. I always get nervous about speaking to adults. I don't know why that is. I am supposed to be one after all. But for some reason I could stand in front of 3000 kids and be happy - put me in front of 25 parents and I break out into a cold sweat. I think that part of it is because kids get my jokes. I can play and be myself in my classroom with my students.

But parents are different. They want to know who they are dealing with. And this tall funny young woman - girl to many of them - is not as hart warming as they would like to think. But there are those parents who have met me before and they make the room warm and full of the smiles that ease my mind.

So here I go for tomorrow - it will be a long night!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fire Drills Fire Drills!

So Yesterday about 2:00 (we get out of school at 2:30) I am in the middle of teaching my Intro to Education class. We are having a really great conversation about what helping people is all about - they are about to get out a piece of paper and write their own philosophy of education - and I hear it... the sound is recognizable and I know it's about to hit... The Fire Alarm has gone off.

I teach in a portable building and so our alarms go off about 45 seconds after the rest of the schools. I say to my kids - "where are my keys - grab all of your stuff" - they look at me like they are a bit confused and then the ear splitting sounds begins in my room as well. So I grab my little red clip board - my keys - my M114 sign (we got these last year after an Eagle Scout took it on for his project. Now every classroom has a sign to hold up so students know where their teachers are) - but I neglected to grab my sunglasses. We walk out to the parking lot where we are to wait until the all clear. Then we wait. My students ask me what happens if the drill goes past 2:30 - and I assure them that it's probably just the foods room going a bit over board and we will be back to work momentarily. I was wrong. So wrong. So we continue to sit - and after ten minutes a student runs up to me -

"Mrs. Parsons, I just got a text from my friend and they said that the history department is on fire" -K
"K - I am sure that this is not the case, but there might be a building that's not doing to well" - me
"Oh Mrs. Parsons you know what I mean, wait I just got another text, yeah the air conditioning system is on fire" - K
"Well then, looks like this might take a bit longer than we thought" - me

My brain is thinking, I really hope this isn't true because it's 98 degrees outside and the blacktop is not helping. So we continue to wait... 15 more minutes. The other teachers are now beginning to walk around asking - what do we do if it goes past 2:30 we'll have a riot on our hands, the Friday of a three day weekend. And sure enough as the minutes ticked away, we began to see the natives get restless. They began to move towards the gates and murmur about what was taking so long.

2:30 - no movement
2:31 - nothing
2:32 - adults begin to look at each other and wonder
2:33 - zilch
2:34 - now we are beginning to complain
2:35 - we get the all clear - 3,400 children cheer!

I go back to my classroom and am sad that I lost the last 30 minutes of what was going to be a great lesson. But this is part of the joy of education. So I grabbed my purse, locked my door, and headed out for my own three day weekend. - I also had to take the 60 essays I have to grade too.

After a few hours of being at home I get a call on my cell phone from our fearless leader Mr. D -our Principal. It turns out that there was a problem with an air conditioning unit and sure enough there were some sparks that lead them to evacuate the school. He was sorry for the inconvenience at the end of school but that everyone had handled the situation with "Class, the Bronco way".

My Goodness what a start to a long weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Your Morals - Your Heart - Your Mind.

Today in my Expo class we were discussing the Rhetorical Triangle and how authors have to focus on audience in order to ultimately achieve their purpose. I was talking about devices that authors use in order to achieve these goals and talked about Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Now I would love to say that I too learned about these things in high school but sadly, I did not. I wish I had because it would have made College a lot easier. I had professors talking about Pathos all the time and I had no clue what they were talking about. So slowly I was able to figure out what was going on and with the help of a little thing called the Internet off I went!

So today when I had a student who raised their hand and asked the question "thethos, mathos what?" I took the time to provide them with a 'teachable moment' - we took about 10 minutes to explain what the words mean and how authors use them to produce an emotion from their audience.

So for those of us who have forgotten or maybe never covered this in HS.

Logos - appeal to Logic - encourages the audience to think
Pathos - appeal to emotions - encourages the audience to have emotions
Ethos - establishing credibility - appealing to the ethical views of the audience

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New school year resolution

So I'm not very good at keeping New Years Resolutions. I know this about myself and embrace this aspect of my life. I didn't make one this year because I didn't think it would happen for me. So the new school year has started and I have decided that I'm going to try and blog more. I am teaching three different classes this year - English II (10th Grade) - Expository Reading and Writing (11th Grade) and a new class Intro to Education. I have been trying to be a more reflective teacher and this is a way for me to cover what I've been teaching and blog more often.

So today - we covered imagery in my English II class. We have been studying short stories and I wanted them to review the stories we have covered. I gave each student a piece of paper and had them make a movie poster for one of the stories. I got some really awesome artwork - other kids sat and tried to pick their nose. The goal is for them to use the imagery and produce a piece of work that reviews their own reading and understanding of the text.

In Expo we finished the play The Crucible. We covered how Proctor wants to keep his name and protect his children from the problems that would fall upon them if he had let the paper he signed be pinned on the door for all the town to see. The kids are not happy with how the play ends. I tried to tell them that it is indicative of the time period it was written in. After that they seemed a bit happier - but they are all mad that Abby gets away with it. I can't say that they blame them.

Because I'm on block schedule - tomorrow is the same thing all over again!
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