Blog Reading

I’ve been remiss in reading the blogs that I follow. Things have been so crazy that I haven’t had a chance to visit my reader and see what my favorite bloggers wrote. Last week, I went through and set it so that  I receive updates whenever something new is posted.

I didn’t get any emails. Did you know that there is a box that, if you click it, blocks all emails, even emails that you’ve requested?

I do now.

I can’t wait to read what you’re writing, my wonderful bloggers. I’m sorry I was lost for a while.

Warm Bodies Part 2

So, I feel really unobservant right now. I was doing some research on the Warm Bodies movie. On the IMDB website, there is this wonderful little bit of trivia.

The film is based loosely on “Romeo and Juliet”. “R” = “Romeo”; “Julia” = “Juliet; “Perry” = “Paris”; “M/Marcus” = “Mercutio”; “Nora” = Juliet’s “Nurse” (the character of Nora is also a nurse).

It makes complete and total sense. I can’t believe that I didn’t see it. I shall have to hang my English teacher hat up for the weekend. I am not worthy of it. Before I hang it up in shame, though, this novel might be a way to get my kids who are obsessed with zombies to like Romeo and Juliet more when I teach it in May. Hmmmm…. the wheels are turning already.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm BodiesWarm Bodies by Isaac Marion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I toyed with the idea of reading this book since I saw the trailer for the movie. I knew that it would be an easy read and I didn’t want to spend the kajillion dollars (okay $10, but still!) to buy it– especially when I knew it would only offer a couple of hours of entertainment.

After reading a review by my friend Amy, I decided that I would read it. I took myself to the library and requested it. I waited. And waited. It arrived for me this morning; I picked it up at 9. It took me about two hours to read.

They were two of the best hours I’ve spent with a book in a long time. That really surprised me. I wasn’t really planning on liking it. In fact, I was completely prepared to hate its guts. I figured it would be just another zombie book in a long line of zombie books.

This one had heart. R, the narrator, is one of the most fully fleshed out (har-dee-har-har) zombies ever written. Because the book is written in first person, we are allowed inside of R’s head and follow his thoughts as he develops through the book. It is this character development that I love. Through his relationships with the Living and the Dead, R becomes whole again. I never thought I’d end up rooting for the zombies.

I am planning on purchasing this book. It is going to stand up to multiple readings. I am sure that there are nuances that I missed the first time around.

View all my reviews

Teach Like a Champion and Positive Framing

My summer professional development included two book studies. My favorite book out of the two was definitely Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. The book contains techniques that master teachers use on a daily basis to help students succeed. Each technique is broken down into a key idea, rules/methods, and examples. The book not only details the steps for each technique, but it also includes a DVD that shows video of master teachers modeling them in a real classroom. It is a book that you can read in little pieces, something that I really appreciate being a mom.

As I was reading the book, I kept on seeing things that I do without thinking. I realized that the ways I reacted were not the most conducive to encouraging student achievement. The techniques given were fixes that were logical. In fact, Lemov’s suggestions are easy and, if done consistently, become good habits. 
One of the techniques that really stood out to me was number 43 called “Positive Framing.” The key idea behind Positive Framing is: “Make corrections consistently and positively. Narrate the world you want your students to see even while you are relentlessly improving it” (p. 205). The essence of this technique is to live in the now and be positive about what you are asking the students to do. It does not mean that you only talk about the positive things that students do. It means that you focus on interventions for behavior, but you do so in a positive manner. You have the expectation that students will behave a certain way and you use reminders instead of guilt/punishment to maintain the direction that you want the class to go in.

I was really struck by the rule “assume the best” (p. 205). According to Lemov, it is important to not “attribute to ill intention what could be the result of lack of distraction, lack of practice, or genuine misunderstanding.” Now, I feel that I am positive when it comes to my classroom manner. My students enjoy my class and generally feel good about themselves when they leave. However, when I ask my students to do something, I realize that I often frame it negatively.

Lemov, D (2010). Teach like a champion: 49 
techniques that put students on the path to 
college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (p. 109)

For example, when I have a student that isn’t on task, I sometimes say,  “If you don’t get on task, I am going to have to start requiring you to stay after school to make up time.” Lemov points out that, by stating it this way, I am assuming that the student will not stay on task. The solution is to say “Show me your best SLANT” and walk away “as if you couldn’t imagine a world in which (the student) wouldn’t do it” (p. 206). Of course, you may have to go back a couple of times to make sure that the student knows exactly what is expected, but it tells the student EXACTLY what you want him or her to do.

Imagine what it would be like if you started this at the beginning of the year? Off-task behavior would still be there, of course, but I bet it would be much easier to get the whole class back on track if you reacted positively by stating high expectations and standards. The entire book is like that. I kept on having “aha” moments as I worked through it. If are looking for a book that will improve your classroom management almost instantaneously, this is definitely a book to check out!

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Have you read a book this summer that really made you think? Leave me a comment because I’d love to check it out!

Philly "Phirsts"

Okay… I know that was a bad joke, but it made me giggle.

My district sent me to the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference in Philadelphia. I was one of the lucky ones that got chosen. I was very excited to go. What I didn’t realize at the time that I was chosen is the fact that this trip would change my perceptions of so many things.

First off, Philadelphia is an awe-inspiring city. I didn’t realize how much history and diversity is packed in the small area where we were. We stayed at the DoubleTree on Broad Street. It is a gorgeous facility with a lobby that is great for people watching and hanging out. The best thing about it is that it was within walking distance of so much. I took advantage of it as much as I could.

Here are some of my firsts in Philadelphia:

I had my first Philly Cheesesteak at Spatoro’s in Reading Terminal Market. Let me tell you, the experience was definitely an interesting one. I waited in line for 45 minutes for the steaky-cheesy-oniony-peppery deliciousnes. Believe me, it was worth the wait. I now have a baseline for what a good Cheesesteak tastes like.

The buildings had murals on them!

I had my first ride in a taxi. It may sound corny, but it was something that I’ve always wanted to do. Luckily, I was with a very city-savvy young lady who made sure I didn’t die (thanks, Tracy).

I walked around a big city by myself. Previously, I wouldn’t be caught dead by myself in a place the size of Philadelphia. Here is the back story: My travel companions didn’t want to go to a gift shop that I wanted to enter. Instead of just passing it by, I told them that they could go ahead without me. It was a phenomenal feeling not having the pure anxiety that I used to have when walking alone. By the end of the trip, I was completely comfortable with being on my own.

Broad Street

I talked to people I didn’t know at all. In fact, I made first contact. Usually I sit back, observing everyone, thinking things in my head that I want to say aloud, and keeping silent. I pushed myself out there and struck up conversations with complete strangers. I decided that this ISTE conference would be one where I focused on my networking skills. It was very enriching. I think I get why people do it now. I am still not 100% comfortable with it, but I’m closer.

I took my alone time when I needed it. I am not good at taking myself out of a situation or a group because I don’t want people to think that I am not social. I’ve come to realize that I need my solitude in order to process. If I don’t get this, I go into a sort of a panic mode. By giving myself permission to go be by myself without feeling guilty, I was able to avoid some of the troubles that I usually have when dealing with large groups. It also helped that the great group of people I am with didn’t take it personally when I didn’t hang out with them.

Overall, the ISTE conference really enriched my life, both personally and professionally. I am so very thankful for the opportunity. I think I am going to have to figure out how I can attend next year’s conference in San Diego!

Life Interferes Again

Is blogging to yourself the same thing as talking to yourself? It makes me wonder sometimes. Anyway, I am back again. I know that all of my followers (ha ha) have missed me while I was gone. A little bit to catch up on what has been going on:

  • My darling daughter’s broken leg healed perfectly. She didn’t need any physical therapy or anything like that. Yay! I didn’t realize how expensive a broken leg is, though. We are still trying to get out of that hole. It is going well, though. 🙂
  • I never did finish Moby Dick. I decided that life was waaaaaay too short to read a book that bored me to tears.
  • I took a class about technology standards in education by the AZ Department of Education. It was lots of work but massive amounts of fun. Plus, I learned so much. I was complimented when the facilitator recommended me to facilitate one of the next waves of courses. Unfortunately, I was unable to apply for it. Too bad, though. It would have been fun!

    That is the catch up portion of today’s post. Now on to other things.

    Part of one of the classes that I am taking has to do with integrating blogging into my classroom. I think that it would be a really interesting thing to do, but I wonder if I would be able to keep up with it. I have to figure out a direction for this blog. I think that is one of the reasons why I have been deficient in posting.

    There are so many blogs that I have seen that I really, really like. I have discovered Neil Gaiman‘s blog and have thoroughly loved reading his words. Of course, I couldn’t read his blog without reading his lovely wife Amanda Palmer‘s blog. Who would have thought that one of my favorite living authors would marry one of my favorite punk cabaret musicians? Crazy awesome.

    The point is, every quality blog that I read seems to have a point to it. It’s not just a bunch random chattiness. So, my next goal is to find a focus. Ooh! Maybe my focus will be random chattiness. It might suit me perfectly.