Category Archives: Lists

The Counting Game….

Snippet of a Grocery Receipt
Things That Begin With C

 

  • chicken
  • Crystal Light
  • cat food
  • coffee creamer

Creating my list for a quick stop at the grocery store is a mental game for me:

  1. Make a mental list.
  2. Repeat it a few times out loud.
  3. Count the items.
  4. Keep the numbered items in my head.
  5. Enter the store.
  6. Go to it!

I’m sure people wonder why I have a quizzical look on my face as I stand between aisles. Actually, who am I fooling? They aren’t paying any attention to me. They’ve got their own lists and looks.  I wonder:  Are they playing the counting game, too?

Yesterday I added Chobani yogurt, celery, and cheddar popcorn to the cart {bonus!}.

Seemed to be a C sort of day….  😉  How do you keep your brain sharp?

 

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16 Things Successful People Do on Monday Mornings….. {Monday Motivation}

15 Things Successful People Do.....
credit: Pinterest
Happy Monday!

🙂

Six To Consider: Writing Books Worth a Look

I’ve always got a stack of things to read, don’t you? My stack’s typically related to my latest interest or project. I’m a nonfiction reader, my current stack a mish-mash of art techniques and inspiration, small business ownership, and the craft of writing. When writing evaded me over the past year, I figured I’d read about writing until my own writing mojo found its way back! And my dear husband, who reads mostly on his iPad or iPhone (BIG screen) feeds my wish to have books near me… Christmas 2014 found a stack of Writing books and Writing magazine subscriptions under the tree…. a welcome diversion in a year that was often silent.

Here are a few that make my short list in an other otherwise long list of Writing resources, some found in the quiet of 2015 and several from years past:

cover of stephen king's on writing: a memoir of the craftFirst up – Stephen King’s, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, a fascinating read about the man behind the typewriter. The best part is, you don’t have to be a fan of his fiction to get a lot out of this book, though it’s definitely a bonus.  One of hundreds of tips to ponder as you read his book:

“Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”  

Remember his gruesome accident in 1999, when he was hit by a car while out for a walk? That chance encounter makes a small appearance in this book….

 

cover of a book, how to write short, by roy peter clarkAnother favorite is one I wrote about [here] in 2014, How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark. In that post, I ask:

How many words was your last blog post or article?  Under 100? 500? 1,000?  Did you get your message across? How do you know? Could you have said it in fewer words without losing its essence? What would have been the benefit of doing so?

Mr. Clark discusses the history of language and communication in this book, with an emphasis on short-form communication, a style that continues to be one of my favorites.  I’ve read a few of his books, even buying a copy for a few friends…. good stuff!

 

book cover: 140 CharactersThird on my list, 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form, by Dom Sagolla, one of the co-creators of Twitter, is a nod to short-form communication, too, with a pretty cool discussion about the telegraph and Twitter. I originally blogged about this book in 2010 and did a remix in 2014 [here]. Brevity. Practicing.  😉

 

Next up on my list is a little book with a big message that was actually the second one I read by author, Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!

 

 

 

book cover: A Writer Teaches Writing A newer favorite, A Writer Teaches Writing, Second Edition, by Donald M. Murray, is ironically a much older publication, but a serendipitous discovery while reading Roy Peter Clark’s work. He referenced his ‘good friend Donald M. Murray,’ and in an instant I was taken back to a time I couldn’t remember clearly, but the name tickled my brain. Turns out, the copyright date is 1985, the year I graduated from high school, and the book appears to be a soft-cover textbook, like the ones found in high school and college composition classes … I suspect we crossed paths during my tumultuous high school and early college years – the book and I – it waiting patiently for me to be ‘ready’ to read it… which came 30 years later.

I also suspect I may have read some of his work back then and just don’t remember it specifically.  He summarizes his first chapter titled, Learning to Allow Learning, this way:

Several key assumptions underlie this book:

  1.  Writing is Thinking
  2. Writing is a Process
  3. Effective Teaching is Responsive
  4. Writing is an Interaction of the Global and the Particular
  5. There is No One Way

When I read this book in the past year, I remember thinking, It’s as if I wrote some parts of this book, like he was in my head! Now, I’m no Donald M. Murray, but my teaching/learning/writing philosophies are incredibly similar… Somehow, this man’s writing must have influenced me earlier on… lucky me, indeed.

 

book cover: A year of writing dangerouslyThe last book is one that arrived in the Christmas 2014 stack, but only recently made its migration from bookshelf to nightstand when I ‘re’discovered it on one of my Amazon Wish Lists and was about to buy the Kindle copy (because I was too impatient for Amazon Prime …overnight or two-day just wouldn’t do!) and realized, ‘Hey! I think I’ve got this book!’ Sure enough, waiting for me to find it when I was ready, A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement, sat quietly on my bookshelf.

Barbara Abercrombie’s compilation of anecdotal stories and quotes from fellow writers is a pleasant read and a joy to share.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are there others you’d recommend? I’m always looking for new titles to replenish that nightstand stack. 😉

 

Becoming Unnecessary

Number Five
A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.

Thomas Carruthers

Become unnecessary?  Why would I do that?

Because as teachers and as parents, it’s our responsibility to our students/children.

My two cents??

Teach kids the definition of integrity: what you do when no one is looking,” … and get out of the way.

Ever wonder why some teachers seem to just have it all together?  You walk into their room and things are humming along.  These folks might be your colleagues or they might be your own kids’/grandkids’ teachers.  What makes things different in these classrooms?

If you’re a teacher with a classroom, a student in a classroom, or have visited a classroom, how would you describe it?  Chaotic? Organized? Learning-centric? Student-centric? Teacher-centric? Lacking any learning at all?

My goal is simple:  Make myself unnecessary to my students.

Let students own their learning, own their behavior, own our daily routines, and let them know they’re in control. If you’ve dealt with a toddler, tween, or teen, you KNOW what I’m talking about.

Let students/children do what they choose, within established parameters. Teach them to run the classroom, so when a Substitute Teacher (hardest job on a campus!) fills in, students can carry on their daily routines.  Whether they actually do can be a 50/50 crapshoot, but set the standard and watch for the outcome.  When they miss the mark, it’s time to pay the piper.  When they shine, it’s time to celebrate!

It’s not perfect, but Subs often report after my absence, “Great day! These are good kids. Please call on me anytime.” THAT is what I want to hear. Students are in control – of themselves and our classroom.  Bravo!

So what works?   (usually)

 What I’ve learned in  20 years….

As I write this and think about kiddos in general, I think these five could be applied to home life, too, right?  Kids need structure and organization. Heck, we all do … to be successful.  Well, the seating chart might be a bit overboard for home ….

1.  Establish policies and procedures.   Spend time thinking about how you want things to look and sound in your classroom. Make a list. Be clear about policies vs. procedures.  Then, describe in detail, all of the policies (what we do) and the procedures (how we do) for your class, in writing, in your syllabus/Wk 1 packet.  Leave nothing to chance.

  • Want students to sign in to the orange notebook by the front door and put their tardy pass in the blue basket if they arrive late to class? Then say it. In writing. In person. In practice.  (This continues to be a struggle for some of my students… really?!?)
  • One of the most common things I hear from fellow teachers is, “Students should know what to do.”  And I think, Really?  Do you just know all the policies and procedures when you start a new job?  Or, does someone give you an employee handbook and maybe some tips/guidelines?  Give your students a handbook. Leave nothing to chance.
  • Teach students to follow written and verbal directions. I get The.Most.Pushback from students on this one. I tell them, “Bosses expect you to follow directions. Clients expect you to follow directions. Test-makers expect you to follow directions. College admissions officers expect you to follow directions.”  When asked why they didn’t follow the directions that are on the board – in writing – and repeated verbally – students say (when pressed beyond I don’t know), “.. because I’m lazy.”  It’s true. Students admit ‘lazy’ all the time in my classroom.  I admit being lazy sometimes, too. Kids are shocked to hear this.  Lazy is easy. Tip to kids:  It’s a two-way street. We’re in it together. Now, let’s get past lazy and get things done.

2.   Color-code everything. Yes, even in high school! Think about it:  Isn’t it more efficient to say to a student who asks (and some always do!), “What did I miss yesterday?” to go check the pink notebook on the shelf than to say, “Go check the notebook on the shelf” and there are three other notebooks. What’s the student say next? “Which notebook?” (even though they’ve asked you ten times already this year).  Now you’ve got lots of extra discussion. Avoid it.  Color-code everything (including notebooks and baskets) and teach students from Day 1 the routines (When you are absent, you will check the pink notebook when you return to class).

3.  Create a seating chart.  For sure, there are several ways to go about this.  I’ve tried most. Try and try again, right??  Here’s my take on a few:

  • Option A:  Let students sit where they want for the first day or two of school. This allows you to (covertly) identify potential issues (buddies sitting together, slackers/sleepers), etc…. ~ Once you’ve identified the potential issues, build YOUR seating preferences and have it ready to go when students walk in. Be ready for whining. Too bad, so sad. Nonnegotiable. Thank you (with a smile).
  • Option B:  Have a seating chart the first day students walk in.  Meet students at the door. Greet them. Give them a ticket or sticky note with a # on it that corresponds to a number on your roster (b/c yes, students will swap tickets). Direct them to find their designated seat. This helps with attendance and establishes your classroom management from Minute #1 (always a good thing).
  • Option C:  Let students pick their seats and you fill in a chart. I do not recommend this for most K-12 classes. *Note: I had the opportunity to see this option play out early this school year, as a first-year teacher (and friend) decided to “trust her students and let them pick their own seats.”  By Week three, she was crafting a carefully considered seating chart. 😉

In case you’re wondering, Option A stands for Awesome in my book.   🙂

4.   Label everything.  Everything:  cabinets, drawers, crates, doors, teacher area, student areas, pen/pencil cups, computers, tables in specific locations, folders, notebooks …. eveeeerythiiiing.

classroomlabels1

5.   Rock the wall space!  Make it count.  Display things that help students be successful, you be successful, and help classroom guests understand what they’re observing.

uploaded to pc aug 10 2013 1284

In Florida, teachers are currently evaluated under the Marzano model, with unending requirements, also known as 41 elements.  While I agree with the philosophy behind the model, I am annoyed at ~ and exhausted by ~ the relentless directives about how to do things, all to get crappy ineffective teachers on board (or out the door).  I’m annoyed because compliance doesn’t work. Ineffective teachers do a dog-and-pony show when someone walks in, then go back to doing crappy as soon as the door shuts, while the rest of us are exhausted, working 10+ hours a day just to keep up with all those ridiculous mandates.  *Administrators, pleeeeaaase, get these people out of our schools!

Kids talk.

Some teachers people have NO business being in the classroom (because they’re not teachers… they’re paycheck collectors).

Soapbox
Source: http://mediarelations.illinoisstate.edu/report/1213/april9/soapbox.asp

Climbing down from the soapbox ……

Back to those walls….

  • Word Walls (yes, in high school ~ most important in content-area classrooms!)
  • lists of frequently used resources, such as Internet sites,
  • instructions for how to do something (sign in before using the computer)
  • college/career/military information prominently displayed

 

How about quotes that teach, inspire, and encourage?  A few of those strategically placed, go a looong way.  One of my first Community Building assignments (weeks 1 & 2) asks students to look carefully around the classroom, choose a quote that speaks to them, and write about it.

From inspiration to procedures and expectations, wall space is great real estate. Make it count!
From inspiration to procedures and expectations, wall space is great real estate. Make it count!

What kids choose, says a lot about them. What kids say, says even more.

Sooo… How unnecessary are you? 

To your students?  To your employees?  To your family??

What can you teach others to do for themselves?  How much are you willing to turn over?

If you home-school, do your children own it, or do you?

What would happen if you let go …. a little?

If your kids/grandkids are in school, what’s their teacher’s classroom looking/sounding like?

I encourage you to visit.

Why I Teach: Ten (Important) Reasons

  1. Students
  2. Students
  3. Students
  4. Students
  5. Students
  6. Students
  7. Students
  8. Students
  9. Students
  10. Students

 

Oftentimes, when I tell people I’m a high school teacher, I get this response (or a slight variation), “Oh, wow!  I could never do that! Teenagers these days….”

Truth is, the teenagers have been the only reason I keep coming back to the K-12 classroom.  Let’s be clear ~ some are a royal pain in the buttola:  mouthy, lazy, disrespectful, not interested in anything an adult (especially a teacher) has to say, and well, just teenagers.  Increasingly, they have no boundaries and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement… products of our changing culture/society.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, big brother/sister, fellow teacher, remember being a teenager, or have the ‘pleasure’ of interacting with any teenager, anywhere, then you KNOW what I’m talking about.

Interestingly, though (and many of you have probably discovered this, too)…. get them by themselves, away from their peers, and they’re generally pretty awesome monsters, ummm… kids. 😉

My response to incredulous people, “Teenagers are awesome. Give them a chance to show you who they are, and they just might surprise you.”

And to my high school students, I say, “I love working with you guys. You teach me new things every day!” … and THAT is a true statement.

So really, my title is ‘teacher,’ but the truth is, I’m Chief Learner in my classroom. Students are the reasons I teach. Check out a few real-life reasons below….  *NOTE:  Passing the reading portion of one of three standardized tests is required to meet the FL graduation requirement (FCAT, ACT, or SAT). Students in my classes are juniors or seniors who have not met that requirement yet and are working toward passing one of the three.

Notes from students, unedited ….

 

1.   From a senior who struggled all the way through my class:      “I have good news to share with you Mrs. kyle, I forgot to tell you that I got accepted to Valencia college and got the Bridges to Success Scholarship. I wanted to tell you this because you helped me with my first essay which was one of the hardest essay I had to write because it was so personal to me. Thank you for helping me and believing in me.”

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2.   From star bowler and college-bound kiddo, Justin T:      Ms.Kyle I passed FCAT!!!! Thank you 🙂

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3.   From a grieving classmate who knew I was grieving, too ~ Victoria B:     Ms.Kyle I don’t know if you have heard Brandie has passed away

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4.   From military-bound, JROTC student, Michael M:     inspection went okay. I did mess up a little though.

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5.   From star football player and college-bound student (Auburn!) Chandler C:      Mrs. Kyle I got a 21 on my reading part of ACT!!!  Thank you so much!!! I’m so excited too!!!! Tell Mr.Kyle I also said thank you so much too! I couldn’t of done it without you!! See you tomorrow!
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 6.   From always-cheerful Sherbria G, a super-neat kiddo:      Last day of school , I enjoyed you and I want to thank you because you really changed me and also I felt loved and cared for when I walked inside your class , and that made my day because it was many times I really didn’t want to be in school . Thank you so much
Selfies with students
Selfies with students

Friday Five: Influencing, Spelling, Coding, Zipping, Creating

Number Five

What did you learn this week?

I love to learn new things, and think a day’s wasted if something new doesn’t make its way into my already-bustling brain.  A few random things learned this week:

 

  1. German, Irish, Spanish, Indian, and Chinese influences are significant in Jamaica. *Thank you, Ms. Sheldon W., for sharing interesting insights about your culture.  Fascinating!
  2. The word misogynist has a ‘y’ in it.  Wanted to use this word … wasn’t sure how to spell it.
  3. Notepad in Windows is a text editing tool that can be used to build webpages.  Really?
  4. You can zipline in Sonoma County, California.  Had no idea!
  5. SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) offers a super-cool summer Educator Conference – should be a must on every educator’s To Do list.  Nurture your creativity!   Thanks, SCAD, for sending your summer offerings to our school.  Since I can’t make it this summer, I’m paying it forward by sharing the 411. 🙂