Calling all doctors.
Report to Room 404. Stat!
There appears to be a medical emergency for patients in Room 404.
On our next day of school, students will be confronted with some changes in the classroom.
Be prepared to scrub in, don some surgical scrubs, and perform some surgery in the Hoggatt ER!
Report to Room 404...STAT!
Here is the video that appears on the Joplin Schools website:
Writing Traits: Sentence Fluency
They say, "Variety is the spice of life." I don't know about spice, but I know that variety makes life more interesting. Without variety in our writing, our writing is monotonous and unworthy of being read. Sentence fluency is a writing trait that provides variety to our writing.
It's often difficult for a fourth grader to find the main idea of a writing. The task is certainly simpler when reading nonfiction, so that is where we began to see progress, this year. This slide show (below) helps, as well, as we continue to grow our understanding.
My question: is it easier to find the main idea first, or should readers find the supporting details first?
We've Seen the Light
To make those all of that happen requires a teacher to plan lessons with purpose. Notice the following about our Mathematicians', Readers', and Writers' Blocks above:
I'm pretty sure I'm not teaching in the same style that my grandmother did (She also taught fourth graders.), and I am convinced that I work harder for my paycheck than she did. That doesn't discount the work she did; it's just an observation that it is no longer acceptable to open a textbook at 8:00 every morning, starting on the first page and working through it as far as we can by the last day of school.
I'm also certain that my students are not sitting in the same classroom that I did. Hey, we were all 10-years-old at some point, right? No matter how long ago you sat in the hard chair and leaned on your wooden (or formica) desk, today's classroom is different. Teachers no longer rely on wit and wisdom to navigate educational requirements; the newest buzz words ring (or is it, buzz?) in our ears during professional development days, such as the one we experienced Friday. We hear about self-regulated learning and visible learners. We establish learning intentions and success criteria. We collect evidence for specific standards, and we report on levels of mastery.
The challenge for me is that, admittedly, I have always stood at the Teaching Is More Art than Science end of the debate. I've always enjoyed the challenge of making things fit my personal teaching style, which I still fully believe is just as important as any of the current trends. I've always described myself as an eclectic educator, taking what makes my engine run effectively and leaving aside the things that will hinder my ability to transmit knowledge and skills to my pupils.
However, the 21st Century has arrived in a big way, albeit 15 years late. Now, instead of fitting things into my natural teaching style, I am challenged with fit my style to fulfill new requirements. That's easy to say, but harder to do.
With all of this, now comes a glimpse at some clarity. Some may see the four tenets of Joplin Schools (left) as a coming of age, a coming full circle, or as a return to uncommon sense. Others will see the tenets as yet another mandate from the top. In reality, we keep saying we can only do our best, but we can also increase our best efforts, can't we?
Making the Switch
A switch is a handy, and energy-saving device to include in a circuit.
This lesson outlined the process for building a visible switch.
Now we can turn the lights off if we want to.
Writing Traits: Word Choice
On the day after two Snow Days, we didn't have outdoor recess,
but we did step onto the porch for a quick picture.
Valentines Day III
Another difficult concept in for the subject of Reading is determining the theme of a text. Sometimes teachers make these things harder than they should be. Not that they are simple for everybody, mind you, but they are not always the monsters that they appear to be.
Here are some resources that are readily available online - a slide show (below left), and a "poster" (below right).
Valentines Day II
Two teams, mittens, and butterscotch candies:
the objective of this game is simply to have a fun time.
Our new publishing interface is designed with the pedagogy of writing at the forefront, allowing students to manage the flow from Draft (getting started), to Review (revising & editing), to Published (ready for others to read).
Friday was our preview day. After a short tour of the tools available on The Bloggatteer Experience, students chose their avatars and responded to a prompt or two from the teacher before making their own posts. Hoggatteers told me that this kind of writing seemed different to them. In a sense, it seemed like they had been freed and that they were writing for a different audience. They dug right in to making comments on one another's blogs, and a few of them have even logged in to make after school posts (Hopefully that's not just because it's something new.).
Naturally, as we slide further into the 21st Century, technology will become more and more prominent in our schools and in our personal and public lives. While students are using iPads in our classroom and laptops in other venues, who knows what the future will hold in the area of technology advancement? Sometime soon, students may well be interacting with virtual presence devices, sentient robots, and holograms.
Soon, Kidblog will enhance our writing capabilities. Hoggatteers will be able to request audiences based on the content of their posts (teacher only, classmates, or public). This makes writing authentic, and expands the purpose of writing beyond just to make a grade. Additionally, Kidblog promises to become a more useful writing tool. Students will be able to mark writings as draft, review, or published. Kidblog provides this explanation:
Whatever the technology, there will be skills that will carry into every possibility.
As an educator, I recognize the importance of safety, image, and citizenship.
Keeping my students safe is of the utmost necessity in today's society, let alone tomorrow's uncertain society. I must directly instruct and follow through with teaching my students to stay safe on the internet. That means keeping an eye on what they allow others to see, both in the photos they share and in the information they make public.
It also means I have to teach my fourth graders to watch the image they portray. We've seen many politicians brought down because of evidence that has been dug up from their pasts - even before the World Wide Web. We're even noticing people who are losing their jobs (or not being offered jobs) after employers are alerted to something the employee has written on his/her social media site. While we have a freedom of speech in the United States, the definition of that right may be narrowing in some ways.
Finally, I understand that technology is one more way that I can reinforce what I have already focused on so much in the past three years. While I expect students to greet one another and others (teachers and visitors) with respect (eye contact, firm handshakes, active listening, and audibly participating in the art of conversation), those skills will not naturally transfer into our cyber-presence. I will need to develop methods to make sure students are able to offer positive, constructive feedback to each other, that they are able to communicate responses in understandable manners, and that they put pride into every post and comment they make. While there is a place for silliness and joking, I will want students to constantly evaluate their words to make sure they meet the standards of our classroom and the world around them - not to mention personal standards, and family beliefs and values.
Mistakes will inevitably happen, but this new, ever-changing world upon which we are embarking will require us to continually adapt and learn from those mistakes.
Valentines Day I
We have done our part in coaxing a Snow Day from school. This winter has not yielded enough precipitation to justify the cancellation of academics in our fair city, but with a little science "magic" Hoggatteers were able to cause snow to appear in our classroom. Already, the temperatures have started sinking again, and we can only hope that the forecast continues to favor some snow for Sunday evening and Monday. Perhaps we can lure some snow our way after all!
In reality, this "snow" is a superabsorbent polymer called sodium polyacrylate. It is a derivative of the substance used in diapers. The white powder expands when soaking up water, growing to one hundred times its original size - a pretty impressive change. The reaction also causes the expanded substance to feel cold to the touch.
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