Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day 180 - can't

I can't do it. I'm not ready to be done- with my blog. School yes. To be continued.....

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Day 179- one to go



No students to teach or test to give, but I feel like I can't get anything done.  Helped with graduation practice, did some yearbook finances, sold some yearbooks, cleared out one drawer, sent a few emails, finished some grades, but lawdee lawdee lawd...I cannot find the time to sit long enough to grade the US History essays.  I hope tomorrow is the day...but not looking good with graduation practice and a very long Cabinet meeting.
Today seemed forever and a day.  We honored many folks leaving and staying at our school today but there were definite awkward , uncomfortable, sad moments. One teacher made her goodbye statement with a song on her ipod and some signs she held up.  There was definite animosity in the signs and I'm not sure anyone knew how to react. Prior to the signs there were folks speaking undeniably about her worth and impact, so the juxtaposition just threw me.
At least one of my peers nominated me for an award too, and I was grateful to be honored in such great company but just wanted the luncheon over.

The day/ night ended with a Senior Sunset Dinner and the kids enjoyed the food(except my veggie riblets), the music, the games, the company and definitely the water balloon war at the end- along with a baby pool dunk.

A-ha: Mole and brussels sprouts!!!!

Reminder: Its okay to pause and think before I speak.  No need to rush.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 178 - BAM!! last week

The Memorial Day holiday kind of threw all of us into vacation tease and all of a sudden a very short week to finish everything. SO relaxed all weekend knowing its three days, then BAM - reality hits in that you only have 3 days to get everything done- then graduation!!!!  Yes, its always something- but mostly something wonderful.
The final in US History was pleasantly surprising.  All but two students scored proficient and higher on the content  multiple choice and the civil rights issues presentations were very thorough and entertaining.  The third part was the research paper for their presentation and its obvious the students spent time and care in their work and are becoming better writers and researchers. Except of course for the three students who gave up and decided to not do any portion of the final (heartbreaking).

Emotional times these are.

A-ha:  There are not enough opportunities for the staff at my school to enjoy each other and get to know each other.

Reminder:  Keep making efforts to sit and talk with different people. Don't only play it safe.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 177 - pink slips and yearbooks

This day was crazy.  Last day for Seniors to get pink slips(graduation clearance slips) signed and last day of classes for them.  Ya see, I always put the finla and/or the last portion of it on their last day.  I sign their slips after everyone takes the final.  This year, I was not expecting so many people so close to failing that I had to do all the math and grading-- along with after school and at break and at lunch students bombarding me with wanting to purchase and retrieve yearbooks.   Now I know for next year.
The bummer part about all of this busyness is that I didn't get to really say goodbye to any of my seniors.  I guess Graduation practice will have to do for that.

A-ha:  Kids want to buy yearbooks during finals week.

Reminder:  Do it different next year.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 176 - vultures

So much. I was on the verge of tears in Advisory as I realized I won't be seeing my Seniors after next week.  They all want me to sign off on their graduation slips...but...WAIT...I need closure, I'm not ready for goodbye to just be my sloppy signature. But they are.
In yearbook we talked about the loud voices of complaint versus the praise we so quickly forget to hear or give. Creating a very public creation is scary and risky---they should be proud and they are but it is a hard life lesson to learn about handling criticism.  We used sentence starters today to give feedback that empowers.  Every negative rumor/tweet/chat they heard had to be inserted into one of those. Yes there are typos, but the good news is...now we know what good spellers and close readers we have at our school, cuz I have not seen skills like that displayed in any of my classes! ;)!
After school the vultures(Seniors) were circling my desk, keeping me trapped at the computer, hollering and laughing at their own desperation, "okay I emailed you, now can you grade it? I fixed it now, can you grade it? all I need is your class..etc., etc. , etc.   I couldn't help but laugh at this situation with them...but then back to work.
Adult ED Graduation happened tonight too, and talk about not giving up. Those are the best graduations. Its very powerful to see students from last year who didn't graduate--get to finally graduate.

A-ha:  Positive feedback has a lot to do with timing. Some folks at my school have had great timing this week.

Reminder:  Proofread every single page on the big screen/whiteboard next year, not on the chromebooks.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day 175 - community

A little lighter today, as yearbook distribution went smooth and more importantly- the kids were proud of what they made.  Their words of approval to each other made my heart feel like it was covered in soft fur, and purring. School is crazy busy and so many things are happening all at once, for everyone. There was a baby shower today for two very loved friends/colleagues thrown by another Wildcat family member whose birthday it was.  Another teacher's World History class wrote letters that inspired a visit from Jimmy Panetta today(I heard he had to bolt a little early to go meet up with Hilary in Salinas). At the end of the day, I bumped into our sports medicine guy who has been out with cancer--back at work today!  He just hugged me and wouldn't let go as he talked about how much the WHS Wildcat community supported him.
I work in a very special place with some very special people.  I don't think all teachers are this lucky.

A-ha:  There is a lot of myself that I haven't shared with the WHS community.

Reminder: To be connected, to know and believe in the connection- I must reach out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 174- circle of mistrust

Heart broken as I learn some of my students had my school password and knew others had it---but no one thought it would've been a good idea to mention it to me.  They have been using it to override video games and blocked sites. At least one tried to change a grade but most of them, it seems from all the conversations today, know that teachers get emails as soon as grades are changed.  Tired...negative emotions wear me down. Thankfully not too many days like this.

A-ha: In the midst of drama is not the time to decide my future behavior or how I think students are going to act from this day forward.

Reminder:  Just because people act untrustworthy, doesn't mean they get to take trust away from my heart.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 173 - delivery...

Today...the yearbooks were delivered.  I felt so nervous.  I wasn't able to open one of the boxes until like 5 pm to take a peek. Its alright.  It actually looks much nicer than I had anticipated and I only found one spelling error so far ( a name- bummer).  No one else except me and the head office manager have seen it so far.  She was nice to support me through the first cracking of the book.  I didn't expect it to be this nerve racking. Next...we hand them out!!!!!!

A-ha: Feeling nurtured is so healing and new to me-- I really needed it this week.

Reminder: It okay to ask for help and to tell people you need a little nurturing now and then.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 172- plus the weekend

Friday, Friday, Friday...seems so long ago.  Well first off we had our very intense and fun Powder Puff football game, and thankfully my team, the Seniors, won!  It wasn't pretty tho. Girls were down every time I turned around and the darn Juniors surprised the heck out of us with their brutal defense.  But in OT, we won! 7-0.  Honestly we had sooo much fun and the students bonded in a way I had not seen before.  I swung by Applebees after the end of the game and I couldn't have been more proud of all of them laughing and giggling and aching while waiting for their table of 25.  It was definitely a crowd pleaser.

Then Saturday, the WATCH (Watsonville Area Teens Cultivate Habitats) students I mentor had their final presentations at school of their yearlong research projects( WOW!!!).  But afterwards.....all the students and mentors and science teachers go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium - they spoil us with dinner and we have a slumber party in the aquarium.  One of my favorite bonuses for showing up for kids.

Sunday am, time to book it back to school to pick up some students who agreed to take part in one of my students CAP, which she called a funrun for health awareness.  it was fun, but there wasn't a whole lot of running- mostly walking.  We went to Nisene Marks which is full of coastal redwoods and trails. 6 miles- not too shabby.  We ended with a beach clean up and bbq at the neighboring Seacliff Beach.   I think I'm sunburnt- forgot to wear sunscreen.

I'm happy when I am available to show up for kids.  It takes a lot of energy but they fill me right back up.

A-ha:  Kids don't know how much nature feeds them until they are in it.

Reminder:  Incorporating self-care into busy days works. ( Like a bike ride in between student events!)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 171 - a rough start

Today I was totally embarrassed by my 11th graders.  Yes only 4 of them, but of course, when there are guest speakers- it feels like all of them.  Brown Berets visiting my class and a few of my students started arguing, using the f bomb, trying to get each other to "shut up". At the end of the presentation, the girl who dropped the f bomb went and apologized to the presenters for losing her cool at the "annoying boys who wouldn't shut up".  I was half proud of her for that.  it was all of about a 5 second interaction that the speakers may not of even heard( I wish) but it felt like an hour and it was on speaker blast.  Then another one had her phone out, I walked over, she knows the drill- put the phone in my hand, you get it after class.  She refused. I kept standing there. "No, Ms.MacLean, I won't do it, I won't do it".  I had security come and take her phone. It was like a bad high school movie.
But then it turned 9:15 am and everything was fine the rest of the day.
Picked up the Powder Puff t-shirts on my way home!

A-ha:  I would rather start my day rough and finish strong than the other way around.

Reminder:  Sometimes extracurricular activities are the highlight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 170 - smackdown

Everything seems to be moving along just as usual for this time of year.  Some students not in reality about their grade or the time left, students making extra personal efforts to connect and students trying their damnedest to make up work and raise their grade.  Oh, and me taking on too much of the responsibility of their grade.  It's less than usual, but it still keeps creeping in and under my skin causing me to want to grab my hair and strangle...the air. Reality--- not everyone will graduate and some will be summer grads.  As a colleague said today, " Chrissy, with all your flexibility, the students have no excuse."
A bittersweet statement from a student last year on the last day, " Its not your fault MacLean, you did all you could.  This is my F."   And the A's are theirs too.

A-ha:  I feel so full of personal and professional growth, then feelings start creeping in and smack that ego down to "I don't know anything" land.

Reminder: Smackdowns teach me how to get back up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 169- surge

Today my post ovulation hormone surge did not meet kindly with senioritis.   I felt it right away so I just stayed back.  "Here's what you need to do today--do not get in the way of anyone trying to accomplish that. I'm going to be over here at my desk putting in grades and returning your emails."  I made a wise decision today; letting them strangle, I mean inspire, each other instead of me doing it.

Keeping my distance helped the day go much smoother than I had imagined after that first surge of rage, I mean disbelief, I mean concern; I could feel in my blood at the beginning of second. I spotted it , I named it, I got the hell away from it. Day finished and a lot was accomplished.

A-ha:  The kids probably appreciate it when a teacher knows when to go away.

Reminder: But at the same time we get to experience moving moments like the Principals awards when  a kid almost cries and scholarship night when a lot of kids cry. Crying because they are proud of themselves. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 168 - organic

Sometimes you have to just let go and let class grow organically.  This can become a bunch of weeds and ruin the crop sometimes and other times its the best fruit ever!  I guess as we teach longer, we become better farmers and are able to decipher when its time to go organic and trust the sprouts that are growing outside of our plan.  Today I trusted the sprouts and it worked.  It wasn't the best fruit ever, but I believe what happened today in class as students wanted to discuss various rights to fight for, after they created their own 10 point plan of demands(based on Black Panthers demands for African Americans) was much more student oriented and aligned with their final then my plan.  Creating their own plan was timed- but I didn't think they were going to get so into talking about all the issues they brought up. They still need to listen better and paraphrase each other more often and accurately-- but they are getting there. They wanted to be heard, they deserved to be heard. they were heard.

A-ha: I am becoming a better farmer.

Reminder:  Class is most powerful when the students are doing the talking.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day 167 - my favorite things

On Friday I was wondering, "why do I wait to the end of the year to teach my favorite things?"  So in US History we are going deep into Civil Rights and Economics its all about globalization and sustainability!!! I love this stuff and the students are trying to check out.  Why do I wait til the end?  Because the curriculum is built that way? Yep.  So I must do something about this.  There must be a way for me to go into these topics earlier in the year. Of course I touch on them and interject them as often as possible, but having those topics be the focused learning outcomes and the focus of all the learning is much more powerful.  Next year, maybe I should start with globalization????

A-ha:  Students have expectations just like I do. And they get scared and have a lot of feelings of disconnect when those expectations are not met or life changes what  was pictured-- just like me.

Reminder:  almost vacay.........!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 166 - Simba

Today I invited a community member named Simba Kenyatta to speak to my US History class.  He is an ex- member of the Black Panthers, an ex president of the Santa Cruz NAACP and an overall  revolutionary activist.  Wrapping up the Civil Rights unit with looking at different forms of protest and really hoping the students get the reason for the fight and the importance of the fight for Civil rights, I realized this white lady was not leaving a big enough impression.  So I invited Simba.  The kids were excited to hear from him and were perfectly thoughtful and respectful.  He had a great day.

A-ha: It really does only take a phone call sometimes.

Reminder: Always get members of the community in my class.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 165 - rockthevote

A woman from the elections office presented to the seniors today and got quite a fair amount of students registered. I am glad this happened but kind of wish it was a little sexier.  She wasn't really that excited and neither were the kids.  Neither was I.  It was a lot of going through the motions, which is necessary when filling out forms and such, but not any inspired discussions about the importance of voting.  I didn't really prep my econ kids cuz it wasn't on my radar and I am in way Econ mode as opposed to gungho Gov mode.
They got registered and many of them were happy to be.  I think some may have noticed what a privilege it is as many of their classmates couldn't register due to citizen status.  Sometimes I forget how many of our students are not citizens.

A-ha: Undocumented students, passionate about politics, issues and/or candidates can still participate by informing family members on issues and helping register people to vote.

Reminder: use the Rockthevote website more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 164 - use your notes!

I just came from City Council meeting and our proposal to keep the street that goes through our school closed until 4:30, passed.  But holy moley...why do they put the motions for schools at the end every time!?There were some students there, but most left after waiting and waiting. I thought I was going to be out of there by 8 pm at the latest. Well, democracy takes time and we gotta hear the voices.  Even as I am complaining about time, I did feel the end was a little rushed.  They made an amendment to the recommendation and then voted without asking for any further public voice on the matter. I was surprised by that and of course I did have one more thing I wanted to say.

A-ha: I would make a good lawyer, if I used my notes. I wrote down some good arguments and points straight from the issues discussed prior.

Reminder: Use the notes you write down!!!!!

Day 163 - why people take on the AP load

Subbed AP US History today and what an excited group of kids.  Their teacher has done a great job of drilling the facts in while making them fall in love with history. The day before the AP test she had all of them in the quad making a humongous timeline of US History- including important people and noting the economic, social and political impacts.  Those students were chalking and talking like crazy- recalling info, helping each other, asking for help and building on knowledge.  I wasn't surprised today to hear from many of them that they felt prepared and confident in their AP US History test.
Today we talked about the military industrial complex and Eisenhower's farewell speech.  Students were making all kinds of connections, including back to George Washington- and that was before we watched "Why we fight". This is why teachers take on the AP load.

A-ha: Being with AP students today, made me wonder if I am underserving my students and not expecting enough from them.

Reminder: When the water level rises, so does the boat.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Day 162 - Camping

Friday morning was pack up and go time.  It took a few hours but myself, another teacher and some students were able to load up 3 vans full of camping gear and food for our overnight Senior camping trip.  Our academy is pretty male heavy, but I still didn't expect the female students to back out at the last minute.  Too bad, they were feeling out-numbered, way outnumbered.  2 to 17.  SO it ended up being me and 19 dudes- 17 teenage boys and two male colleagues.  I will take it as a compliment that the dudes didn't really notice there was a female on the trip.
I love this trip!!! Its only the third annual, but every time I get to hear these kids laugh hysterically, watch them run wild, joke with each other and take care of each other.  There is no cell phone or wifi access at the spot I take them to and we get a group site away from everyone, so there is no one for them to bother.  They get to be free and it is joyous for me to witness, knowing we have provided this safe opportunity for them to relax, share and have fun.  Even though its the end of the year, a lot of new bonds are made on this trip.  I think its the 7 mile hike that starts the bonding journey....
By Saturday morning they were pretty wiped out and ready to not be camping in the rain anymore. Me too.

A-ha: I totally think it is hilarious and kind of cute when teenage boys play cards against humanity, but anyone else and I cringe in discomfort.

Reminder:  Rainy camping isn't all that bad.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 161 - Cinco de Mayo

My school is a little more than 90% Latino, primarily Mexican-American and very few of my students knew the history (or remembered) and significance of Cinco de Mayo. We had a short lesson and discussion and by the end I think they were all proud of how Mexico's little ragtag outnumbered army, beat the French(who had the strongest army at the time).  School celebrated with a food sale day, a car show and some dancing the Caballo Dorado.
My Seniors were hanging around quite a bit today after school and all of them actually got some work done. They are stressed and bouncing back and forth between desperation, blame and denial.  A losing trifecta, but most of them will cross the finish line.

A-ha: Obsessing about what I think other people are thinking has got to be the most tiring thing ever. Thank god I don't fall there very often.

Reminder:  Listen, its more than just not speaking.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 160 - Not too shabby

Teacher appreciation week and I have received letters from students (I'm sure teacher initiated) and admin; some oatmeal and some coffee.  Oh, and a free Chipotle burrito.  Not too shabby. But definitely not working on the google campus.

A-ha:  I have not been telling my colleagues how much I appreciate them often enough
.

Reminder:  Everybody likes to be appreciated.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 159 - even just one

Wiped out. Tired. Presentations today and Open House was tonight.  "Ms.MacLean, I thought this was impossible, but I did it.  I learned I can do whatever I put my mind to." I heard variations of this sentence 4 times today.  Makes it all worth it and helps me not get too wrapped up in thinking about the groups with great actors pretending like they have been working their butt off.  I'm not angry with those "actors" as much as I am sad that they couldn't get inspired and missed out on an opportunity to discover their own greatness and power.  There may always be some students who wait to the last minute and think there presenting skills can carry them, but more suredly- there will be students who make possible what they thought was impossible.  Even just one of those is enough for me to keep going.

A-ha:  Students, or young people in general, do not get enough opportunities to feel important and listened too.

Reminder:  The ones doing the teaching are doing the learning.  Stay student centered.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 158: If only...

If only I could replicate the engagement and student directed learning that occurred in my class after school! Of course, finished Community Action Projects are tomorrow so students were quite inspired to stay after school until 5:30 and work the whole time.  Yes, this is how I wish the CAP looked every day that we took class time to work on it, but I will take the visions of today which are planted in my mind and  now I can help days like this grow.   The students were so engaged, and they knew it and they liked it.  Groups finally collaborating at the pace that makes sense to me and students constantly checking in to see how they could improve, with me and their peers.


 
Our first set of presenters went today and it felt engaging and alive but there is still much room for growth.  I really want students to identify their own strengths and interests before they design a project.  There were many noble, feeding the homeless and collecting clothes or baking cookies to raise money for a charity, etc. projects but I still vision more innovation and originality- a few got there!  I am excited to see the staff, the community and the students embrace this type of project; now lets go deeper!

A-ha:  I am not used to getting defensive and when I do, I stumble and fumble about how to be because I do not recognize myself!

Reminder: Work on that.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Day 157: the kids are going to miss us

I have noticed this past week that my students are attempting to spend more time with me lately.  In retrospect I do believe this happened last year too.  Towards the end of the year students start hanging out even more after school to do work, but they don't want to leave.  Now there are always some students like this all year but this is a different type of student and usually groups.   They just want to spend time with us.  Its as if they suddenly realize they will never have high school again and they start enjoying the teachers more and want to get every last piece out of them or maybe just make up for being jacka**es in the past. Whatever the reason, it is very sweet and I enjoy all the laughter and stories we share.

And then there was Prom this weekend and everyone looked gorgeous and had a fabulous time!

A-ha: My high heels really hindered my boogie factor this year at Prom.

Reminder:  Take the damn shoes off!!!!



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day 156 - briefs

Next week we will back to normal but on the last leg, which is always the hardest push.  I feel like one blink and the school year will be over...I'm not ready! I was even getting nostalgic with my juniors today, thinking about how hard it will be to say goodbye to them next year when they are seniors.  
Funny moment in class today: As I was putting up my amazon account for Soundtrack to a Revolution, a student says " You buy your underwear on Amazon?", another pipes in "$8.97".  Wow, I didn't see the side panel of past purchases.  Luckily, these underwear were for utility and not fashion or "evening" wear; just good old sturdy Hanes.  I was surprised they weren't more interested in the drone copter purchase...

A-ha:  Its been awhile since I purchased those undies, and actually purchased a history book in the morning. I guess Amazon thinks its time for me to buy new underwear.


Reminder: Turn the projector on when the movie is ready.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 155- teambuilding

Its late, I'm tired. This will be short.  Two things I would like to do before next year starts...go find cheap/free furniture and rearrange and decorate the yearbook lab. If the room has to be shared, it might be impossible.  I don't like that word, impossible.  Decorate and rearrange, that's two things right?  Plus the bonus, do the impossible.

A-ha:  Team building is the key to everything.

Reminder:  Team building is not a one day event.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day 154 - Only Tuesday???

Only Tuesday??? I do not know why I am so tired.  Another day of testing and it went smooth as we are all used it to it and know how to correct problems for the most part.  Seniors are getting the picture that school is almost out and its now or never.  I predict after school drama and tears intermittently through the month of May.  nothing new, just the usual May freak outs.  Don't get me wrong, there will be plenty of celebrations, high fives and tears of happiness too.

A-ha:  I'm going to really miss some of these kids. Almost cried in class today thinking about it.

Reminder:  This happens every year. The world is full of special people.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 153 - I am noticing

Monday, the beginning of the Civil Rights unit and I mam noticing my heightened sensitivity to every student move.  I have noticed this before, when I teach the African American Civil Rights movement.  I want so desperately for the students to get it and be outraged and be motivated and to be altered.   The town I teach in has very few African Americans but the realities of the oppression of people of color and white privilege are very real and alive in our town and its neighboring town, Santa Cruz.   This fact just doubles the importance I feel for my students to connect to the African American struggle.  And honestly, in the last few years, I have yet to be satisfied with my students enduring understanding or my method of teaching this unit.   I am focusing on music this time, and I could hear a pin drop as the students listened to Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit today. Next week, Soundtrack for a Revolution.

A-ha: Written reflection leads to internal change much quicker than keeping self observations in my head and to myself.

Reminder:  Even when done with this yearlong practice of blogging every day, I need to keep on a writing and reflection schedule.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 152 - project day

Friday flew by as my seniors finished building their websites and I had to bolt right at three to drive to Santa Barbara for my partners Moms bday celebration weekend.   On these days when students are doing all the work, one would think that I could get so much done- but its not the case.  Which is fine, I would be worried if no one was asking me for help or guidance.  But it is an interesting phenomena that one can actually get more done with a perfectly scheduled class.  Then you know how long you have - like 10 minute quick write- then you know what you can get done.  Whereas a "project" day, every time you sit down something comes up.  I want them using me, but I just have to remind myself about how those days go, so that my expectations don't get me all ruffled.

A-ha:  It is nearly impossible to get any substantial amount of work done with students in my room.

Reminder: That's what preps for....and home.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Day 151 - the news threw me

More smarter balanced testing today, but it went a lot smoother than the first day- as predicted.   The news about Prince kind of threw me in the middle of the day and luckily I have a few co-workers that I could mourn with.  One even came up to my room and find me to make sure that I was okay.  I do love prince- he is a genius, prolific composer,  a perfect and moving singer and the best overall musician that has lived during my lifetime of loving music.  I am a musician and I wish to have a even an ounce of his talent.   The kids don't really have a connection with Prince- but they will.  Especially after tomorrow in my class.

A-ha:   There is no excuse for not going to one of your heroes concerts.  Its been too long.

Reminder:  Buy Michael Franti tickets.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Day 150 - Always try

Getting the Seniors prepared to present their Community Action Projects and watching some of them begin to scramble for evidence, artifacts and even ways to pull any action off.  This is the first year we are trying senior projects in more of a #20time style, student driven and designed.  These students aren't used to student driven and directed projects, so all of us have been learning a lot. I'm impressed with the GOV/ECON dept. just getting on board and collaborating together on something that was technically, a trial run-- we took a risk.  I think we will be happy with the results....

A-ha:  Seeming untouchables, like it when you reach out to them.

Reminder:  Always try.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Day 149 - Day one of Smarter Balanced testing

Well the hardest part is over, day one of the testing.  I was surprised about how much anxiety I had around doing everything exactly perfect for this damn test!!!!  Students who brought their own computers kept being sent to the library but then coming back to my class with computers that were not updated, more students would show up and then my computer wanted to only remember last years password and I was so anxious I didn't even think of starting the test on my other computer in the room with all my saved info from this year and then  I started the test over a few times because the directions in my binder did not exactly match the screen,....But then we got started.  phew!!! Bonus - all these kids were ready and willing---and by the time we started every kid had shown up.
The lessons we learned during the test were aplenty.  Screens would freeze, one girl had magnification stuck and couldn't read any questions --she sat there for 35 minutes as we scrambled to find someone to help.  SO the trick is to restart the computer and it will save the students work even though they are in this special browser and test.  Now we know.  Next time will be easier.
In my perfect world, the company who receives the 100's of millions of dollars for these tests, should administer the test.  They are the experts, I'll stay in the class with them for morale support. If they are such high stakes tests, wouldn't this make more sense?  Because what happened in my class happened in many classes and I know multiple instances of the same are happening at every school.

"Hang on students, I need to mediate before our test!"

A-ha:  If I had this much anxiety what was it like for the kids?

Reminder:  Everybody did their best today.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Day 148- powderpuff conditioning

Today I found something I am good at and I love to do... leading students in exercising and conditioning!!! I did lead a zumba class once at the first school I worked at-- some students and the school secretary; but this was different.  Only two girls showed up today, but they meant business.  They wanted to workout and I loved cheering them on and working out right next to them.  Full of willingness and perseverance, they made my day.  We used barbells, we used kettle bells, we used dumbbells, we used resistance bands, we did squats we did lunges and we had fun( or at least I did).
Lets see who shows up tomorrow....

A-ha:  Teaching or leading exercise satisfies my physical needs, emotional needs and spiritual needs all at once.

Reminder:  Willing participants in anything can make all the difference.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Day 147- Learning DIfferences

It's Sunday and I am blogging about Friday, but honestly, I can't remember much.  That's good and bad.  We did spend much of the day getting students set up on MArketwatch and their Virtual Stock Market.  It's always fun to give them $100,000 to invest.  Some go for it right away and some buy one share of a $34.00 stock and are afraid to spend the rest.  We are just getting started and already I can imagine who will be the obsessers/future brokers.
But SATURDAY...I spent the day at AT&T Park at a conference revolving around students with learning differences- EdRev. It was powerful, informative, moving and fun.  By 10 am, I had already learned about four very powerful tech tools.  Yes, they are presenting them as tools for resource students... but these tools are great for all my students! Rewordify.com is my favorite so far.  It changes the Lexile (reading) level of any document--the student can just paste it in.  But rather than just simplifying the document, it shows what words were changed and builds quizzes the students can take after to help them learn the words that were altered.  It also tracks student data....and it is FREE.

All the speakers and presenters were inspiring and all had a learning difference of some kind.  I wish there were more teachers there and more students of color there.  There is nothing privileged about having a learning difference, but there is privilege around who has access to the resources to turn that difference into a strength.    

There were only like 500 people there and how fun to see the beauty of the park without the hindrance of 20,000 other people bumping into you.  One of the workshops was in the visitors locker room and they had batting practice in the Giants batting practice area.  The field was open to run around on, with a climbing wall, a bounce house a live band  and green grass to lay on at lunch.

A-ha: There are so many unknown and undiscovered resources out there for all learners.  Tech is changing the game.

Reminder:  It's good to do stuff I might not normally do.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Day 146- Light Days

To be honest, the best part of my day was playing around with my new smartboard software. In yearbook class the students wanted to play jeopardy, connect four, logic games...it was just fun-- and they got to show off all the stuff they remember from history and government.  I do love playing games and I love technology so me and this smartboard ought to get along fairly well.  Of course this is much more that one can do besides play games...but until I create those new presentations, it will be review game on fo sho!

A-ha: Sometimes a game is just what the student ordered.

Reminder:  A light day is perfectly fine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Day 145: Everything takes practice

Pulled in my driveway at 6:30 and realized I forgot to stop at the Salvation Army where some of my students were feeding a meal they prepared to some of the homeless people in the community.  I almost drove back to Watsonville and decided to stay home.  I feel horrible that I forgot about the event, but my afternoon got a little hectic.  I am not looking forward to apologizing to my students and I missed out on witnessing our students taking action in the community.  Tomorrow, I will see the glow of self esteem and purpose in their smiles...I hope. 

A-ha: I have not found the fine line between taking care of myself and being there for my job and students.

Reminder: Everything takes practice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Day 144 - be present

Seemed like an easy enough day, but I was pooped by the end.  A day full of group assessments on pricing , markets and equilibrium  and then after school for those that still needed more explaining and learning time.  Left at 6, but most of the grading is done.
Multiple times I heard students mumble how much they hate school and likewise teachers with similar rumblings.  I'm telling you, its this time of year!  My daily work is just to not go there with them--- must stay present, grateful and available (repeat a million times a day and I will be fine).

A-ha: It's hard for me to watch people feel helpless about their situation because then I feel helpless too.

Reminder:  Maybe I should just be present for them and not make it about me.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Day 143: Defiance

Defiance, thank the TV gods that I can laugh when I think of that word because I always think of Scandal whenever the word comes out of my mouth or I type it in an email.  Yes-- I had two instances of defiance today. It seems so silly; just give me your phone please when I ask for it- you know you will get it back in an hour!  But every month or so, I am greeted with.....DEFIANCE( HA- you are thinking about Kerry Washington right now!)  Another student decided today that the bell dismisses him not me--luckily everyone else stayed put and respected my wishes. I do not think that he will enjoy apologizing to the class.
I wish Scandal was on tonight.....

A-ha: As a kid I was kind of wild, but I was never defiant-- I knew how to please adults.  I think that's why it still surprises me.

Reminder:  I know my work is important, but I mustn't take myself too seriously!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Day 142: TGIF

Friday and the students were able to focus all the way through sixth period.  Sixth period is always the most challenging, I take some responsibility for that.  Not only are the kids over it by the end of the day, so am I kind of.  Its hard to be completely present , available, joyous and free in the 7th hour of teaching.  We all did pretty well on Friday and stayed with each other and available for learning.  TGIF!!!!!!

A-ha:  upon watching an older video today, I see I let a student derail a whole class learning.  In retrospect, I should've exited him from the class.

Reminder:  Its okay to interrupt a Socratic Seminar by asking a student to leave, waiting for a situation to mature within the circle does not always work. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Day 141- I am not the savior

Having students work on a project in class can be a mixed bag. They are building a cold war website in US History and first they are in expert groups, then go back to their website group to teach and build each individual page.  Most students working, researching, sharing info-- and a few slacking off and not worried "cuz its due Wednesday".   I like this set up, because I can visit each group and give a mini lecture on the event that each expert group is working on. Eight mini lectures instead of one long one.

Teachers are starting to get into their "what is wrong with the Seniors?" mode. This is only my 5th year  teaching but I am having deja vu because this happens exactly the same at the same time of the year, every year.  I will not let myself get sucked into this!!!! I will stay available for my students and allow the same make up assignments but I will be reminding myself on a daily basis that this senioritis has nothing to do with me and me losing sleep and showing all my stress to the kids, does not make them do work.  They will do it when they do it- if they do it.  When they are ready, I will be there- they hope.  They have to figure it out on their own- they will.  And yes- a few may not figure it out until its too late....Thats what summer school is for.  Hey- I was a summer grad....

A-ha:  I need to be ultra conscious of how I internalize students(esp. Seniors) not doing work during the last quarter of school.

Reminder:  Stay in my intent-- I am not the savior, I am the teacher.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Day 140 - Brainstorming

Wham-bam, the day is done....today went quick!  Usually Wednesdays feel like forever but this momentary relaxation leftover of Spring Break is really keeping me well paced.  No drama, some kids a little too hot and antsy in 6th period and the teachers after school were even calm, cool and involved in the staff meeting.
I practiced using lucidchart with my yearbook kids to map out what an issue of a school newspaper might look like and I think it got them more interested.  I really think we can do an issue before the end of the year, I just need a little more buy in from a few more students.......and make sure we are selling yearbooks at the same time.....

A-ha:    Brainstorming with visuals inspires people.

Reminder:  I am lucky to have the classroom that I have.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Day 139 - Banana market

"B is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s-, I ain't no hollaback girl"....a little Gwen Stefani playing in the background of my classroom-turned banana market for a simulation/experiential exercise I love to do with my Econ kids!  Teaching them about equilibrium price and how markets work through this game has always been one of my most engaging and impactful activities.  Thank you TCI curriculum - ECON ALIVE!!!!!

This is one of the days when students say, "wow. class is already over? It went so fast!"  In a block schedule, that is a rarity! Its good for me when time flies too.  There was one student who suggested I have the students sell something illegal to make it more fun.  Okay- let me see...drugs? guns? what should I do next year????(no thanks, I will stick to bananas).

A-ha:  There is nothing more inspiring than seeing kids laughing and learning and taking risks.

Reminder:  Don't forget to do reimbursements for my conference!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Day 138 - Back to school/work

Considering how difficult it was to get up, how horribly I slept, how many times I hit the snooze button and how late I was running- I had a pretty good day.  Got to work on time( just not as early as I like) and my room was not too dissheveled from having a substitute before vacation.  Cords were unplugged, my projector was pointing the wrong way and my audio was messed up, but nothing I couldn't fix in a few minutes.
It was genuinely nice and sweet to see the kids. I think we all felt well rested and patient today. First period seemed more mature than I remember and yearbook seemed way more immature than I remember. I think I would prefer to have immaturity in my elective than in a content class.
Its nice having a prep on Mondays, especially after vacation, because I can ease into the week.
My after school credit recovery kids were supersmooth today and a few finished their course. There are now only 8 kids left to finish and they are right on track.  This is the third year of e2020 an online credit recovery program we use, and finally, I think the kids are getting the hang of what is expected of them.
Smooth day back at work, and even though I stayed til 5:40- I made it to the gym and made dinner fro my partner!
Almost forgot to blog tho.....

A-ha:  Being without technology or a phone for 5 days in nature, really did bring a deeper sense of relaxation into my body and mind.

Reminder: Don't be scurred- do it more often!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

DAy 136 & 137 - CABE conference

SO the last two days before Spring break, I was at CABE 2016- a conference focused on EL strategies and bilingual education.  Its hard to be out of the classroom when so much is going on, but at the same time that makes it easy to enjoy too.  I have to remember the students have 5 other teachers and plenty to do. Also with technology it is easy to assign content to students when I am out.  I was most worried about my Seniors conveniently forgetting about their community action projects and my yearbook team needing some fire from me.  I was on the phone with my yearbook crew, lighting the fires under their butts as much as I could from afar.  I did end up doing quite a bit of work in my hotel room on that yearbook- but its done.
A bonus from the conference was two of my students parents also attended.  It was nice to get to know them, practice my Spanish and best when my student called his Dad, I got on the phone and scared him to death when I said I was with his Dad eating dinner in San Francisco!
I had never been to this conference so I didn't know what to expect.  The learning strategies weren't anything that new or exciting- our school and history department really focus on all the common core they were addressing at most sessions.  The sessions that inspired me the most were on culturally responsive teaching and bringing creativity back to the classroom. There was also a very informative session with tools and take aways on how to recognize specific language writing issues and how to address those.
Last bonus, it was in San Francisco, so lots of vegan food for me!

A-ha:  Social interactions with parents may be just as powerful as a home visit.

Reminder:  Keep shooting for an Academy family beach bbq!!!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 135 - Students are going crazy

Students are going crazy about their grades, especially my Seniors.  The last progress/quarter grade is due before the end of the year and SUDDENLY, everyone cares.  Students are forgetting my process. You must email me when you turn in late work- with specifics about what it is you turned in.  There is something about digital work that allows students to disconnect with due dates.  The physical handing in of something is so ingrained in their educational memory and experience that it seems like they conveniently assume things aren't really due or out of sight out of mind.  I think it is just one of those technology shift growing pains.  I imagine kids in a few years will be more used to it- I hope.

A-ha:  I guess there are a few things I miss about collecting "papers"- not the losing them or carrying them around everywhere.

Reminder: Success is often simply how well you can adapt to your surroundings.

DAY 134 - a good problem

Monday felt successful but confusing.  As requested by my students, we are doing even more socratic seminars.  This one was on whether Truman was justified to drop the Atomic Bombs", which morphed into "when is it okay to kill civilians?"  I am overjoyed that the kids were fighting over who gets to be in the first circle- as in wanting to be in the first circle.  However there was a sense of academic professionality that was lost with all of their excitement to speak, be heard etc.  SOOOO, the engagement is their but they seemed to have lost their norms and focus on listening.  Some of the nerves around socratic seminars are gone so I guess their concentration level changed.  This is a good problem, but I am scared to watch the video.

A-ha:  Learning is not linear in any way!!!

Reminder:  Routines are necessary, to allow more learning to pop up through the cracks, from the air, from wherever- and stick.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 133- Last Friday

Overwhelmed with guests from Germany an completely forgot to post for Friday!!! The best thing happened too-- a student came to me and explained how he did his make up work of writing lyrics to the tune of a popular song, about the difference between a command and market economy.  Make -up work, ya- no biggee- but he did it with his Dad.  "My Dad really enjoyed it Ms. MacLean".   Its like a dream come true, one of my students learning about and discussing economics with one of their parents.  I think they both learned too.

A-ha:  Maybe I should design my homework activities toward something the parents would enjoy....

Reminder:  Just because my Seniors have anxiety about thier grades, doesn't mean I have to take that on.  Stay in procedure. Turn in late work. Send me an email. Wait for me now.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 132 - student centered

I felt very productive today.  US History played their PSA's today and we reviewed each one before taking the unit assessment and evaluating the project overall.   The kids feel like they learned, which is great.  The assessment says some of them did not learn as much as they think, or they were not able to convey it in the open ended questions.  Still they did show a lot of learning!  More importantly on the assignment review survey the majority of them said they learned a lot in this assignment- and they really enjoyed working with their teams( appointed by me).  Of course there was one group that was dissatisfied with their group and still haven't turned in a PSA yet.  I miscalculated the dynamics of those students. Can't win them all. I put two uninspired students in one group thinking they inspire each other...yeah- to do nothing and take no learning risks.

A-ha: I get to see my students hidden talents and thinking when they create things to reflect their content knowledge.

Reminder:  Student centered, student centered

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 131-pbu's

Seniors working on their community action projects, yearbook trying to finish their last deadline and US History finishing their final touches and uploading their PSA's  about WWII and what citizens on the homefront can do to win the war.  Lots of student centered, student driven, skill and content based work going on today.  I wasn't tired, cuz they were working just as hard as me.

A-ha:  I would like to spend some serious time designing more project based units and lessons.

Reminder:   Project based lessons( or any) work when the expectations are clear.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 130 - I should look into that...

Teaching, teaching, teaching.  That's my job and some days feel a little longer than others.  Its Tuesday and I don't have a prep but I do teach the same thing all day.  Maybe that's why it felt longer.  But it didn't feel bad; I actually felt good after - and accomplished.  Like a good workout that really starts to feel hard towards the end and you just want to give up but there are all these people at the gym looking at you and they might notice if you just gave up and quit because it was too hard.  Ya, we teachers don't ever get to just give up when its hard.  And today wasn't especially hard but imagine if we gave up as quick as our students do.  Maybe a part of me does give up towards the end of the day.  I should look into that...

A-ha:  I want to bring some awareness to where I may be giving up unknowingly...

Reminder:  no need to judge, just need to be empowered with awareness

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 129 - "clingy" teacher

Today a student said , "Ms. MacLean you're too clingy". "What do you mean by that?" "You're always on us, checking to see if we're working and how we're doing and stuff."  "well, then I'll take that as a compliment".
It is true. I do that.  I guess I'm clingy. I know my partner wishes I was more clingy. Maybe I should have her come to my classroom and I can check on her and assist her, and give her a lot of attention and help until she finishes my assignment. She might like that better than me coming home late from work and blogging at night before bed, instead of talking to her.  I read her my blog, so she'll get a chuckle out of this one.

A-ha:  I can be super attentive, just have to channel that at home!

Reminder: Students need "clingy" teachers, otherwise it feels like no one cares.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 128- and then there's Friday

Economics all day, demand curve shifters all day and lots of guided practice.   I like teaching things that are straight forward, like demand curve shifters-- here they are...here are a ton of real world examples...here's a ton of headlines in the paper or online news source that we could use to identify these things.   Straightforward.  It makes me feel like an expert and really allows time for me to help the kids practice and apply their new learning and thinking.   That's what Friday was and it felt purposeful, effective and realistically challenging.

A-ha:  My blogs are shorter when I do them a day(or two) late.

Reminder:  Start putting some more visuals in my blog!!!! Get creative!


Day 127 - dramatic positive shift

I'm afraid to talk about the dramatic positive shift and change that has occurred in my US History class, because I don't want to jinx it.  My more rambunctious students are finally understanding situational appropriateness and correcting their own behavior often.  But better than that they are just behaving appropriately more often.  The change I think has to do with 1) lots of parent contact 2) help from admin 3) my consistency and 4) they are really enjoying the WWII project we are doing.

A-ha:  I can learn 100 different things from the same situation, so sometimes the universe hands me the same situation over and over again, so I can learn as much as possible.

Reminder:  We all hear what we need to hear when we're ready.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 126 - Wednesday(trying to catch up)

As students work on their community action projects, some are thriving and others are flailing.  The planning and organization comes more natural to some and vice versa.  As my anticipation and anxiety is growing, I'm sure the students is as well.  I am trying to stay focused in vision and possibility and still not try to etch out exactly what it is supposed to look like.  That whole trusting the universe thing and letting go.  When I say "let go", I think some people get scared like I'm just going to let whatever happen, happen.  "Letting go" for me, is actually very conscious and purposeful.  I must stay in the day to day necessities-what is right in front of us- what the kids need right now- while not holding on too tightly of how I think everything is supposed to turn out.  This takes a lot of work.  There is nothing passive about "letting go".  And watching things unfold and grow is much more interesting...

A-ha: I can only see so far...

Reminder: The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 124 & 125 : Conference time

Professional development and new ideas are things I need to keep me in a creative, growing space for the practice of my profession.  This annual conference(Educating for Careers) takes place in Sacramento and is based around bettering school Academies- which in California are SLC's(small learning communities) funded by the state. We have 7 at my school, wall to wall.  Most schools have 1-3, and then the rest of their school. The goals for these academies are to keep students in a smaller group with familiar teachers and students for a better sense of belonging, to have students learn about content material that is tailored more towards a career pathway sector, which ideally, would make all of their classes relevant to want they want to learn about and become in the future.  Easier said than done.  We work very hard at my school, but there is so much more which can be done.  Thus, this academy conference every year.
This year I also presented about the Community Action Project at my school and all of my ideas and resources about the power of any 20time project- especially if we as academies are to help students gain real world skills and be career and college ready.  It went well and many folks had never heard of 20time projects before or Kevin Brookhouser's book, 20 time project.

A-ha: Teachers want to be inspired by other teachers, and we need to be.

Reminder: Always check every link in my presentations on someone else's computer before I present.  My feedback link was not accessible.  That was good feedback.

Day 123: Friday before a conference

Kids want to learn.  Knowing I was going to be out Monday and Tuesday, the kids expressed dissatisfaction.  Of course, the surface part, my ego, feels good about this, but really the good news is that they want to to learn.  Without their teacher, students feel school isn't as useful. I hope they were kind to the subs (I'm sure they were), and managed to complete some assignments.  The prep it takes to leave is always way more work than the actual return of the students completed work.  Inevitably, I will have to re-assign or re-teach whatever was to go on a day that I was out.  I guess sometimes when the boss is away....

A-ha: Even when it doesn't feel like it, the kids count on us and expect us to be there every day.

Reminder: Keep the plan simple on sub days

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Day 122- Celebrate the victories

I'm tired, this will be short and sweet. My 11th graders were more productive today than I have seen in ,,,,ever.  All the hard work I put into the WWII Webquest assignment paid off and maybe they are finally believing all the praise about their capabilities.
After school a student was wondering why I stay there so late and another student quickly chimed in "because she loves us!"  I'm glad they know it.

A-ha:  Every set of kids is different, I just can't believe my heart just keeps making room for them.

Reminder:  Celebrate the victories.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Day 121 - observing ourselves

Today my students were proud of themselves, and they had every right to be. We discussed our Socratic Seminar and their reflections, along with watched some exemplar clips.  They praised each other with specific examples, clearly articulated ways they would like to improve the seminars and resoundingly said- "we should do this more often".  The most surprising twist, they all wanted to watch themselves on the video! I loved telling them how proud I was to share the video with my CSET Hollyhock group from Stanford and how impressed the group was with their skills and knowledge. Letting kids share their thoughts in a supported academic setting is quite a moving experience for this teacher- especially as I see them observe and direct their own growth in the process.

A-ha: Having kids watch video of themselves learning helps them just as watching videos of my teaching, helps me.

Reminder:  Be sure to enact one of their suggestions.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Day 120 - Like riding a roller coaster in slow motion

I keep thinking its Thursday but it is only Tuesday!!!  I feel like I have exerted four days worth of energy already, and tomorrow should be Friday!  But its not, and I have a phone appointment at 6 am!
OH well, in brighter news - the semester is flying- which is good and bad.  I have to try to let it go fast without it feeling like it is going fast.  Like riding a roller coaster in slow motion - that's what I would like the rest of the year to be like.
Self- care is down this week- no gym since Sunday and tomorrow may not be possible either.  There is a conference next week in Sacramento which helps me accept the busyness of this week, knowing next week I will be working with adults only for Monday and Tuesday.  Getting ready for next week is part of my busyness.  But I still must care for myself.  I left school way to late and not only didn't gym but didn't go to choir either.  Neglecting my spiritual and physical well being.  Cannot make a habit of this.  By Thursday, I think I'll feel caught up.

A-ha: The students are posting videos of me when I do funny things in class, like make up raps or sing songs, or dance...or...

Reminder: ask for the link next time!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Day 119 - I love how much we are all learning!!!

Socratic Seminar filming today about "Is it justifiable to take away people's rights for the common good?".  The students are beginning WWII and I wanted to start with looking at Pearl Harbor and Japanese Internment.  We watched a video with a transcript copy to collect evidence.  It wasn't perfect, but there were moments of greatness for a few.  My favorite part was reading the reflections.  Students really do like learning in this format- from each other and through discussion.  They want to speak more- they want to use more evidence- these are all things they wrote.  I guess that makes it my job to work on helping them be even more prepared and have more modeling and videos for what it looks like to listen,  A few were antsy today and the other students noticed and wrote about it in every reflection. They wished a few people were more serious and they noticed when the outer circle had a side conversation.  This time I forgot to control the outer circle seating before we began. It negatively impacted the seminar, but I love how much we are all learning!!!

A-ha:  Everyone is listening when you let the students be the center of the learning.

Reminder: Don't skip steps to finish on time.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Day 118 - Friday seems so far away.....

Only a two day weekend, but Friday seems so far away.....
I was at school all day on Saturday for a Senior Class fundraiser, maybe that's why.
My seniors are behind on a few unit assessments, so instead of going to the school play- we worked on and relearned some of the things that were due last week.  There was pretty much a 95% no turn in rate for the last assessments, so I realized it must be something I'm doing wrong.  I have allowed them to do them out of class- like homework.  I figured if I give them a whole week to due an assignment which shows me they understand the units learning- that would be enough time.  In the past, my assignments that take a little more creativity have been mostly embraced; not so much with this senior class.  But I will keep trying to let them show them selves how brilliant and creative they are!
One of the assignments was a picture of themselves, where they identify and label goods & services , the factors of production and include an explanation of where they are , along with the opportunity cost.  About a 20 minute assignment if you read the instructions and understand those things.  I was able to help them and get them to help each other as we relearned and refreshed. It took about 30, but almost everyone finished and turned it in.  The second was to write song lyrics comparing command economic systems and market economic systems. Again not too hard but they froze on this one, " we're not songwriters", "this is too hard".  I did some more modeling - using the tunes of other popular songs, looking up lyrics of songs and just changing them etc.  Not all are completed, but most have confidence now.  One girl was rapping in the class, recording it on her computer.
Bumped into a student and his mother at Costco. What a pleasure. Those are moments when I wished I lived in Watsonville so I could see students and their parents all the time around town.  I guess that would be some teachers nightmare!

A-ha:  Just because creativity is easy for me, does not mean it is easy for the kids.

Reminder:  Run more errands in Watsonville.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Day 117 - I was due for an adult day

Its hard to be out of the classroom but sometimes it comes at the right time.  A technology workshop all day today and it was the most useful one yet! The pace was good- I learned new stuff but not too much new stuff. Re-learned some stuff and not once did I feel held back by the tech level in the room. After 16 hours together, and practicing in our classrooms- I guess that happens. And, I had enough time to work and apply all of this learning to immediate lessons in my classroom.  Good use of time. Another bonus, I didn't have to ask anyone to put their cell phone away or hand it over.  I was due for an adult day- thank you PVUSD, thank you Jason Borgen, thank you Courtney Rudd.
So just so I remember, some of the new google apps I learned and re-learned about today were:
1) turn off the lights- to blacken my screen- which I need now because I have a smart projector in the ceiling as opposed to one on my desk that I can just close the cover on
2) docent edu - annotation tool for any website I find and want to share with the kids. I can put questions in, arrows---all kinds of stuff
3) Tab resize - so I can like 4 tab pages showing(I need a lot of tabs open sometimes instead of toggling back and forth)
4) In google sites I had never used the single page template - I can make an announcement page or even a list page
5)we used screencastify today, but  use screencast o matic. However screencastify is great for the students
6) google sites Webquest template to help me keep my webquests rigorous and organized.

There was more too, but thats it for now.

A-ha:  I do need adult days sometimes.

Reminder: Sometimes the kids need a break from me too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day 116: " Let it go, let it go..."

SO a little more than 8 years ago I quit smoking. That first day, I finally understood what people were talking about when they said how hard it was to quit smoking...I wanted to kill everyone I saw!!!!!  I hadn't felt anywhere near that full of angst until...today.   Well maybe that's an exaggeration, but I did have a flashback to that day and those feelings, in my search for relief today.
I should track the dates of my blogs and see if there is any correlation ...( pms, hint, hint).  I may have escaped the misery but I had a defiant student whom I had to get escorted by security that put me in a mood and I couldn't really shake it. My other classes were okay but nothing magical.  And so it goes....

I'm happy to be home watching World war II documentaries....

A-ha: NO ONE is obsessing about what happened in my class today except for me!!!!!!

Reminder: " Let it go, let it go..."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day 115- experiential exercise

In Economics today, we learned about gains from trade, specialization and comparative advantage through a game.  I try not to call it a game until after its over, because for some reason students all think games are easy and when we start the directions and the first rounds of this exercise it is easy only for a few and hard for most.  That's my favorite part, watching them struggle and try to problem solve!  It is from TCI Econ Alive and I highly recommend it.  Half of the room are farmers from region a and the other half are farmers from region b-- they have different production goals and different production schedules for potatoes and pineapples.  The ultimate goal is for the students to realize if they specialize in one of their crops, (potatoes & pineapples) they will be able to trade more effectively and increase their production.  We do five rounds and most students don't get it until round three or four. A few don't get it until we talk about what worked and why.  The room is bustling, students think its impossible then they are successful, students keep saying this will never work etc., etc.
These types of activities really deepen the learning. It takes a lot of prep work, a lot of time and a lot of guidance- but soooo worth it.
My mistake today- I made sure to have the kids give me digital feedback on what they liked about the game and what they would change.  Great idea, huh?  Except I read the feedback after school when I was already done administering that activity!!!!  Save it for next year I guess....

A-ha: This type of learning is very new for some of my students and they think they would rather do textbook work.  By the end of class, not so much.

Reminder:  Never decide to forgo one of these exercises because there is not enough time.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Day 114: This is a busy time

This is a busy time.  The work I do with Stanford's Hollyhock program is due- two parts- and lesson plans for my district google certification is due- oh, and I have to teach, plan and grade.   And I need to finish a presentation I am doing at a conference in early March.  Well it's good for me to write that down and see it more clearly than the way it was all jenga style stacked in my brain.
So it has been mentioned that I may want to check my number of commitments, but I don't think people understand how many things I do say no to! I am a doer and as long as I am honest with myself and able to say no and/or back down as needed, I feel pretty good about stepping up.

A-ha:  Taking too many commitments may not be about me, but rather leaving opportunities available for others.

Remember:  Don't be afraid to change your mind and don't be afraid to commit.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Day 113: They heard me. Today.

I saw kids talking to each other today for extended periods of time. It was lovely and reminiscent of how things used to be before everyone had a cell phone.  After catching myself in some laziness on Wednesday I gave a stern refresher of my cell phone expectations PLUS an added- no more warnings. I just don't want to see them.  It worked.  Go figure.  I did confiscate a few, without words just a hand out and then student puts phone in my hand. I told them "I don't even want to say the word cell phone today". They heard me. Today. I will have to repeat myself next class I am sure.
But the best part was seeing how much it improved their group work.  They were all talking and engaged with one another- not one hurrying up so they could be done or one obsessed with sneaking a peak on their phone.  They were interacting, like humans- face to face.
So I guess I get to remind them everyday of the cell phone policy if I want it to stick.

A-ha:  Cell phones really do keep people from being present with others, myself included.

Reminder:  Stay firm and clear.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day 112 - They need more practice.

Lots of opportunity for growth today, me and the students.  Lots of evidence of growth also.  In US we are getting prepared for our Great Depression unit essay and students collected evidence today about whether the New Deal was a success or a failure. Its actually a SHEG (Stanford History Education Group) structured academic conversation assignment but then our department extends it to an essay using the 7 documents from that and students knowledge from the unit etc. Sourcing and evidence analysis is where students need to grow.  They stop at the words of the evidence. We talk about motive of the speaker, credibility of the author, and contextualization over and over but they are not doing this on their own enough yet. They need more practice.  This assignment helps them practice that thinking and my hope is their writing will grow in the reasoning/analysis category.  Historically my students fall flat in reasoning and analysis of evidence, I have to try not create too much anxiety about the essays they haven't even written yet.  One day at a time- they still have to create thesis, outline and choose evidence.
On a growth note, a few of my more challenging students who missed class today came to my room at 5 pm to find out what they missed and excitedly talked about getting together Friday night to go over the documents and collect evidence.  Now that would be hilarious to be a fly on the wall for.....

A-ha:  The Dab is a new dance move. New to me. That is why in every photo kids throw their arms up to the side.

Reminder:  Teaching reading and writing takes time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 111- Letting kids slack off is a disservice to them

Looking back on my day, I realized a few things that I may have done differently.  First block, I singled out a student, who kept going to his phone, as the one who was going to learn something today. but I did this out loud without even thinking about it.- "we're not leaving until "Robert" learns something today"... I was pushing him on purpose because he knows better.  But I know better as well and should've just taken his phone, not tried to shame him into learning.  I really didn't realize I was doing this until I looked back.
Second block, pretty smooth---we got what we needed to get done- students met the days learning goal and they appreciated the screencastomatic video I made, breaking down their on line textbook chapter reading.
Third block, looking back I see I kind of slacked off - and still it was the hardest work of the day. Slacked off, meaning, I did not have the energy to force a few kids into staying on task.  Today was majority online work and during the times they were on their chromebooks I got tired of policing them very quick.  If I take away their chromebook then they can't do the work.  Their textbook is online, most of their quick writes are in google classroom- etc. The most successful part of the day, for some, was the short group work and going to the board to write down details and examples of different economic systems.

A-ha:  There should be a study on technology use effectiveness for youth at different times of the day. Haven't they researched when P.E. is the most effective? How about technology?

Reminder:  Letting kids slack off is a disservice to them.  Explicitly giving them some lax time, is not.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Day 110 - TIME IS FLYING!!!!!

Its 10:00 on the dot and I just got home.  I promised the Senior Girls basketball players I would come to their last home game- we won!!!! It was worth it, even though I am starving and still in sweaty clothes.  I made a pact with myself, that if I stay late for any games, I have to also workout in the school exercise room,  I did. I took time out for me and my health.  It only took me 5 years of teaching to figure that out.  Now to keep the consistency.  So far so good this second semester.
The teaching day went smooth enough, pushed a lot of kids and maybe I could've been a little gentler in yearbook.  But we are past a deadline PEOPLE!!!!  Some of the students in yearbook do not feel a sense of urgency until their grade reflects Failure to meet a deadline.  Right now, I have about 7 Failures to meet a deadline.  I have a strong feeling by next class, those pages will be what they think is done.  Conveniently, the yearbook company sets the deadlines with enough time for me to then help them finish, as in edit etc.  There is only one more deadline after this one...TIME IS FLYING!!!!!

A-ha: Some parents really do lose perspective during sporting events.

Reminder:  Take a shower.




Monday, February 15, 2016

Day 109: pleasantly surprised, again

How is it that I still get surprised by my students?  I am not complaining, I just can't imagine people are as pleasantly surprised in other jobs.  For example today, students were doing their CAP (Community Action Project)  elevator pitches and one student quickly explained how he is going to use microprocessors to design a way to bring the Internet to third world countries and anywhere Internet access is not available.  He seemed very sure of himself and I ma excited to see the next step.
Second half of class, I was doing an activity going into investing, 401k's and IRA's but I opened with a question on google classroom( then we can all see the answers), "What would you do with a million dollars?"  I wanted then to go there and then be able to show them the possibility of creating a million dollars with investing and saving.   Reading their responses I was all teary eyed.  In all of my classes, about 90% of the students wrote about buying a house for their family and paying their parents bills. The few that didn't mention parents did mention investing or starting a business.  I was expecting, buy a Ferrari,etc.  Not these kids.  Screenshots of their responses will be in my next back to school night slide show!

A-ha: The more empowered my students are, the better off the world will be.

Reminder:  They are important, make sure they know it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Day 108- Its my birthday!!!

If you work at a school, I recommend not being shy about your birthday.  It just feels good to hear happy birthday all day.  The students like wishing you a happy birthday and you could probably use it as leverage.  I did not have to do that today, just enjoyed the day.
First thing this morning was the Senior Panoramic picture for the yearbook and never having done it before, I expected chaos.  I coached myself a bit beforehand, " accept any and all help, just let people help you, do not get attached to any outcome....etc." Well, teachers helped, kids were cooperative and we did it in less than 20 minutes. No chaos, low stress.  I am so thankful for everyone who helped, and glad I let them!
After work was the annual high school teacher celebration at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  Fun hanging out and seeing all the teachers from the area while we get celebrated by the Seaside Company.  This year it was karaoke and bowling--a fun, accidental birthday party for me!  I got to sing and dance with co-workers and just have a good time.  Sometimes I think about not going to this event, but every year I go, I bond with a new co-worker and make new connections.

A-ha: I have enough proof; second semester is easier....

Reminder:  Say yes to hangin' with colleagues, especially those you do not know very well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Day 107 - I still don't give enough feedback

More conversations about grading today after school.  Back when my school had more money             (School Improvement Grant) we had some time to get into grading for learning and had a few visits from an"expert" in the field of impactful grading.   As noticed by the Principal, it seems the school is sliding back into old practices and thinking around grading- things like extra credit, zeros, having kids redo whole courses when they could maybe have redone a few units or showed their learning in other ways.  These practices keep the students buried and it keeps them from loving learning and understanding learning is a process.
Today I realized that as much as I focus on wanting standards based grading and to come up with the perfect grading system for our school - I don't know how much it will help. At least not with the thinking that exists now.  The grading system really doesn't matter.  It is the thinking behind grades that matters.  Thinking from the teacher and the student.  Growth, growth, growth!!!!  The more explicit we teachers are with want we want the kids to be able to do and to know, the more able students are able to show success and know when they are growing and getting it right.
But how do you do this and make it cookie cutter for 2000 students?  You don't.  You can't. Grading itself, is subjective - even though people think it is not.
The Principal talked about feedback today, and this is not a new mention but the reminder is sooo important.  Grades make teachers think we are giving feedback.  But a letter grade on something is not feedback. A student only knows "I suck", I'm average" or "I'm good".  They think about and internalize the rating and not what it was that they learned or what they need to improve upon.
"The simplest prescription for improving education must be ‘dollops of feedback’.” -Classroom Assessment & Grading that Work - Robert J. Marzano (2006)
Seeing a school as big as mine, I think Marzano would say" its time to teach teachers how to give feedback- that isn't grades".
My district is trying to do that -- but I think they , like the teachers, need to be more explicit about this.  Just saying "formative assessment", isn't good enough. Teachers need to be taught multiple new ways of doing this. And with technology, it can be even more immediate.....

A-ha:  I still don't give enough feedback.

Reminder: Give more feedback. Use socrative!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Day 106 - nature, naturally

Something has shifted in me.  I do not know what, but I felt different today. Still with a million things to do and deadlines up the wazoo, students not having assignments, students taking to long to give me their phones, computers being slow- you name it- its not bothering me.  I feel relaxed and confident that everything will work as needed.  Here I am blogging at 11:15 and not feeling anxiety about rest, just knowing it will be a short one.  Maybe its because I just feel so grateful for everything.  I was able to spend a lot of time in nature and with people I love this weekend. Food for my soul.

A-ha:  Alone time with nature is fast healing.

Reminder:  I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  Be outside, alone with nature more often.