Friday, June 26, 2020

The 'Why I Teach' Folder

So today I'm in my classroom (I know, it's summer!) resetting the room after HVAC work and painting was done.  In the process of moving things around and putting things away, I ran across a folder I created a long time ago called the "Why I Teach" folder.


I do not remember why I started it.  It was early in my teaching career and maybe an older teacher told me about hers or maybe I just had an inspiration. Whatever the case, I stick all sorts of notes and cards and email printouts that meant something to me.  Students telling me what a difference I made, parents letting me know how thankful they are for this or that. 

When I was a younger teacher, I used to go through the folder often.  I am more confident in my teaching skills now, so I don't pull it out so much.  We all reach some kids and parents and we all clash with some kids and parents.  I cannot advise enough, especially if you are a new teacher, to have one of these folders.  I had forgotten most of the notes in that folder and it really made my day to see them again.  There was even sheet music in there - we had a project where we created a Utopia world and one group had come up with a national anthem for their utopia.  The kid later went off to college as a music major and wrote out all the music for it and sent it to me in a letter! 

So get yourself a folder.  Stick the little things in there that make your day and on days you have that makes you wonder why you went into this profession - pull out the folder!

Stay healthy out there!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Fortunate Creative Writing Idea

"Your characters are enjoying a fun evening at China Garden Restaurant when the end of the meal fortune cookies arrive.  There is the usual comment made by one character who wants to point out that fortune cookies are an American invention, but it doesn't stop the enjoyment factor as everyone grabs one for themselves.  Your protagonist opens one to reveal this fortune, which is strangely prophetic..."



At this point students can go to https://secondfortune.com/ or present them with their own fortune cookie that you either saved up from a year's worth of eating take out Chinese or that you got from a box of fortune cookies, which are available at your local supermarket for around $2 or less for 12 cookies.

This random factor requires the writer to adapt and make a move in a direction that maybe he or she wouldn't have otherwise.  Plus, eating a cookie in class is always a blast.  What sort of adventures will that fortune go or what impact will that fortune have on the character's current romantic relationship?  Worse yet, what if that character opens the cookie and there is a blank fortune?  Is that a good omen or a bad one?

Or even put your own sinister fortune in like, "Leave now!" or "meet me at Bennington Park midnight - come alone" using a custom made fortune cookie company: https://www.amazon.com/50-Custom-Fortune-Cookies-Individually/dp/B07JR15BS3

For those of you more extreme than others (and are handy around the kitchen), you can make your own fortune cookies with whatever messages you want inside - https://www.fifteenspatulas.com/fortune-cookies/

If you are using actual cookies or the second fortune, be ready to have a backup fortune, just in case they get a dud for story writing purposes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Best. Grammar. Book. Title. Period.


Buy it at Amazon.  Has anyone out there read this book?  I would love to hear if it is worth getting.  Leave a comment.  Know a better grammar book title?  Leave a comment.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hwaet!

Need  something a little different to add to your Beowulf unit?  Here is a video short (much like Pixar has before their movies) created by students at BYU that shows Grendel in a bit of a different light:



Grendel from BYU Animation on Vimeo.



For your own enjoyment, assuming you are a Tolkien nerd, J. R. R. Tolkien has a prose translation of the epic poem complete with his own fan fiction short story at the end ("Sellic Spell")! You can get your own copy here:
https://www.amazon.com/Beowulf-Translation-Commentary-J-R-R-Tolkien/dp/0544570308


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Macbeth Done Right

The following account is not mine.  I picked this up from Slow Robot.  Whoever this teacher is, he/she is most certainly daring and I would say - EXTREME.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Paper Airplane Research Challenge

Students struggle in English for a variety of reasons.  One of those is learning styles.  Many student I have had are great learners when it comes to working with hands.  Put this kid in a carpentry, auto mechanics, or electrical trades class, and they are showing amazing learning.  Sit this kid in a desk and make him read, well, the learning declines.

Providing opportunities for kinetic learners to shine is not a new concept.  Science sees this in labs and math with manipulatives.  However, this is much more difficult in an English class.

The following activity is designed to help kinetic learners excel at researching by giving them something physical to do with the research.

Extreme English Teacher presents: The Paper Airplane Challenge!


Research methods are what they are.  You teach these methods with any subject.  The paper airplane challenge takes kids through five different research sites to find the best way to fold a paper airplane.  Students will search out and five five ways to fold using five different search methods, then pick one and put it to the test.  After taking kids out of the classroom to compete against each other to find the farthest flying plane, students can also compete for the best and oddest looking.



The lesson comes with directions on how to present the different search methods and a worksheet for students to fill out while searching.


If you like this one, you may also like:
The Movie Report: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/EET-The-Movie-Report-5452641Ben Franklin Quotes: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Extreme-English-Teacher-Ben-Franklin-Quotes-5279912

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Timers

Another little classroom hack I've stumbled across recently:

Sometimes you just need a set amount of time for an activity.  Maybe you're practicing timed tests.  Maybe you need to make sure you get finished with your class discussion at a set moment to have time for something else.  You could just tell a student to keep an eye out on the clock for you (that usually works pretty well).  You could try and keep track yourself (but if you are like me, you often get sidetracked and forget the time).

Never fear, the Internet never lets us down.

An easy and fairly discrete one is on Google.  Just type in TIMER into the search bar to get an adjustable timer.  It has a rather annoying beep until you turn it off.  The pros - it's quick and not distracting.



You could also try these classroom timers: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/classroom-timers/  They are much more fun, but also distracting as all get out.  I imagine my eyes as a student would be constantly on them.  However, if you are doing a long group activity where students are being loud anyway, this might actually help keep them on track.  If nothing else, pick the snail race and let students bet grade points* on which snail wins.



If you have any good timers or time keeping system, don't be stingy!  Share in the comments.



*Facetious is the only word in the English language with all five vowels in alphabetical order.  Facetiously includes the sometimes y.  It is also what I am being when I say "bet grade points", no matter how much fun that would be.

'Nuff said.