Classroom Blog

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Week 1: Character, Courage, Commitment

This week was all about settling into the groove at CHS. My juniors requested that I posted their activities for the week, so here is a sample of what we worked on in American Literature:

Character

Courage

Commitment

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Classroom Strategies, Educators

Welcome to the Opportunity

I must admit, I have neglected my blog this year. Life gets so busy and most people that actually know me can tell you: by “life” I mean work… they are really one in the same for me, my passion. Today I wanted to welcome any and all that are part of my internet, regional, or school community.

My recent teaching experience and new leadership opportunities have encouraged a great deal of reflection regarding my thoughts on education. As I worked the weekend before a state conference, I stopped, looked out the window, and asked myself: “What is my classroom philosophy? What do I truly believe is essential for my students?” I had been toying with an idea for a few weeks, but only at this pensive moment did I realize that my classroom philosophy and personal philosophy really do blend into one Japanese ideology prominent in the business world: Kaizen.

kai·zen
ˈkīzən/
noun
  1. a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc.

This entire conjoining of my personal and professional belief occurred to me in what felt like one of those wind-rushing moments where the entire world grows quiet while you balance in timeless head space. Kaizen. The act of making constant, small, positive adjustments to increase your efficiency, productivity, and success.

As I continued to reflect on this head rushing moment, I thought about how this philosophy applies to the classroom. Our focus at school, arguably the focus of the education nation, is student growth- not just quantitative growth through test scores and grades, but the growth of student character and soft skills that make students industry ready.

Here are a couple of those beautiful opportunities where a teacher, if their true interest is student growth, can take a deep breath, create a positive opportunity, and activate Kaizen in their classroom:

  • A student is chronically off task during independent work. A teacher’s immediate response is to grow agitated and think, “How dare he not respect my assignment. How dare she distract other people in my classroom.” You think about yanking the kid out of the room and letting them have it in the hallway. Stop. Rather than going with that gut response, try setting a smaller goal for your student. Can they get through a third of the work in the time given? This question alone starts a conversation about why the student may be off task AND you have now approached your student as a facilitator rather than a punisher. No one likes a punisher-type teacher. Your willingness to customize their goals also shows how you, the educator, care about the small, obtainable successes. You are acknowledge that any attempt is better than no attempt. The kid might not pass the assignment, but any progress is better than a zero.
  • A student is verbally aggressive with other students and picks fights in class. Again, the hallway is the traditional option, and on this occasion, I tend to agree. Aggressive behavior is always a sign of a deeper scar that the student refuses to share, particularly in front of other students. There are many teachers that, this juncture, would say, “My kids never act like that.” You may be in a school that has less scars than others, your kids may already have that relationship of trust with you, or you may have suffocated your students’ selves so much that they no longer are willing to engage in any moments of your classroom; no matter the answer, at some point a kid will be in your room with scars worth healing. So, use this moment of Kaizen to begin building that relationship. Rather than berating the student, ask how they are doing. Do not be surprised if they look shocked. Talk with them about their day, their home, their family. It takes just a moment to switch what could be a devastating meltdown into a positive, small change for the better of your classroom culture.  This does not mean that you do not write the kid up, if they earned the punishment, so be it; however, by the time the slip arrives in the kid’s hand, not only will they be aware of their fault, but they will look at you and indicate that they totally understand why the punishment was well earned. If this does not happen, your clarification and relationship foundation is not there. Take the time to talk to your kids.

Many will say that this is being soft on kids. Compared to the regimental punishment dealt out by many… yes, this is a softer side to teaching. More importantly, this is the path of least resistance. This is the way to teach kids to work for and respect their selves, rather than just respecting their boss. They learn to think rationally about their attempts instead of turning into mindless drones working for someone who holds their grade or paycheck ransom. This stops teachers from becoming bitter “yellers” in their classrooms. This is the way to get under the skin of your students and become infectious, a healer of broken homes and broken hearts. This is an opportunity for growth. Kaizen.

Research, Resources, Students

AP Research: Preparation for Submission

Researchers!! We are nearly there!

If you are wondering what you should be doing until submission (03.31.2017), here are some key general suggestions:

  • Use the peer feedback form from Week 28 to make revisions to your academic paper.
    • Remember, you gained large amounts of knowledge about your own paper through the practice of peer revision. Don’t let that awareness grow stale as you procrastinate… your score could suffer.
    • Slide Deck from Week 28: Interactive Peer Revision Tool
  • Ask for assistance from faculty members and expert advisers
    • Consider this: the more eyes the better. Talk with adults that know your subject and gain insight from these individuals. Print your paper and workshop with them for a lunch period. The more agency you have now, the better the submission process will be.
  • Prioritize and Plan:
    • You have a week-by-week personalized plan for success. Keep to it and improve it.
  • PDF Format:
    • Remember that your paper will be submitted as a PDF. Try downloading it a couple of times as a PDF to see what wonky formatting will take place. We need to fix these issues before the day of submission.
  • Communication:
    • Tell your support team- peers, teachers, family, friends- that this is a huge deal for you and you need their support/love!
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Week 10: Schedule

9th Literature and Composition: HOMEWORK DUE FRIDAY

  • Monday: Out
  • Tuesday: USATestPrep
  • Wednesday: The Big6 Research Project
  • Thursday:  The Big6 Research Project
  • Friday: The Big6 Research Project

AP Research: PEER REVISIONS DUE FRIDAY

  • Monday: Out
  • Tuesday: Peer Revision
  • Wednesday: Ethics in Research
  • Thursday:  Validity in Research
  • Friday: Technical Writing/Ted Talk/Peer Revision
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Week 9: Schedule

9th Literature and Composition: Narrative Writing Assignment

  • Monday: Introduction to Assignment and Planning
  • Tuesday: Drafting
  • Wednesday: Sequencing
  • Thursday: Revising
  • Friday: USATestPrep Lab

AP Research: Method and Design

  • Monday: Introduction
  • Tuesday: Design
  • Wednesday: Method (Qualitative/Quantitative)
  • Thursday: Instruments
  • Friday: Technical Writing/Ted Talk/Reflection
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Week 7: Weekly Schedule

9th Grade Literature and Composition: Homework Due Friday!!!

  • Monday: “Cattle of the Sun God,” Learning to Clarify Quotations
  • Tuesday: “20 Years gone and I am back again…” Central Idea and Theme
  • Wednesday: “20 Years gone and I am back again…” Central Idea and Theme
  • Thursday: “Argus” and Juxtaposition
  • Friday: USATestPrep Language Lab

AP Research: Literature Review 

  • Monday: Inductive and Deductive Reasoning
  • Tuesday: Outline of Literature Review, Subtopics
  • Wednesday: Details Backed by Evidence and Putting the Outline in Order
  • Thursday: Drafting Begins… Dun, Dun, Dun!!!
  • Friday: Technical Writing/Ted Talk/Reflection
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Week 4: Weekly Schedule

9th Grade Literature and Composition:

  • Monday: Introduction to Writing Assignment
  • Tuesday: Planning Writing Assignment
  • Wednesday: Drafting Writing Assignment
  • Thursday: Revising and Editing Writing Assignment
  • Friday: Language Lab/Picture Day/HOMEWORK DUE

AP Research:

  • Monday: Oral Presentation Template
    • Video from Today. Click Here.
  • Tuesday:  Research question presentation building
  • Wednesday: Presentation of research question
  • Thursday: Revision
  • Friday: Technical Writing/TED Talk/Reflection
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Week 3: Weekly Schedule

9th Grade Literature and Composition: “The Odyssey”

  • Monday: Working with Tone and Mood, “The Lotus Eaters”
  • Tuesday: Identifying Plot Tension, “The Cyclops”
  • Wednesday:  Identifying Plot Tension, “The Cyclops”
  • Thursday: Identifying Plot Tension, “The Cyclops”
  • Friday: Language Lab and HOMEWORK DUE

AP Research: 50 Source Assignment

  • Monday: Current Climate Sources
  • Tuesday: Research Method Sources
  • Wednesday: Discipline Sources
  • Thursday: Housekeeping
  • Friday: Sources Due and Reflection