Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Chunk of Wood and Some Creativity

      I appreciate, encourage, and acknowledge creativity when I see it in my students.  I observed a nice chunk of wood on one of my fourth grader’s desks.  As I looked closer to admire it, I saw that he had turned it into a pencil holder.  Creative.  Neat.  Ecological.  I like it!  Yay for young men who like to do projects, and for their dads who help them.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Assignment: Creatively Tear Your Journal

     This is another creative idea from Keri Smith’s book, Wreck This Journal.  I honestly don’t know what I would have done with this assignment, but I would not have been as creative as a few of my elementary students were.

This is a snowman.

This is a squid.

And one young lady actually tore the paper and then braided it.    Wonderfully creative!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Paint This Journal


     I have all my English students write something in their journals Monday through Thursday.  On Friday we do something fun.  Journals shouldn’t just be about writing, they should also be forms of expression-- works of art.  I got most of my Friday journal ideas for this year from the fabulous book Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith.  Here are a few of her ideas and pictures of my students’ results.  

     One Friday I put out a box of paint bottles.  Assignment on the board:  Drip paint and press pages together, then pull them apart to dry.

Here is another creative "paint your journal" project.

     One Friday I put a few M&Ms on their desks.  I told them they could lick the candies and smear them on their paper, or lick them and then lick their papers.  One student actually crushed them into his journal.  Here is a journal page actually "painted" with M & Ms.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mispelled Sine's

    I did that on purpose.

     Welcome to the third episode of the Plain Professor’s Misspelled Signs (and Grammatical Errors).
For the other two, click here.
Not the apostrophe again!  Does the bird house own the $5 ?  
Or one bird house is $5.00?  Will you run out if I buy the only one?  
Gas stations are notorious for these.  Maybe that is why I am a teacher and not a gas station attendant.   
So it is your “on camera”?  You own the “on camera”?  
I love thrift stores, but I often see misspelled signs in these places, too.  
Maybe that is why I am a teacher and not a thrift store worker. 
 I guess the hats own something?
And so do the masks?  
Or this is only one hat, and only one mask, and they each own something, 
and the person who made the sign forgot to put what it was that they owned?  

While I was at this store I purchased three costumes for an upcoming honor roll party, and the nice lady at the checkout told me that because these were being sold as costumes around the Oct. 31st holiday (sorry, I don’t like that word), that I could not return them.
“You mean people really buy costumes, wear them, and return them?”

“Yes, they do that.”  

Honestly, what is this world coming to?

And, the folks at this establishment got the first “N” correct, but I guess they got a little distracted near the end of the word.
To see the other "Misspelled Signs and Grammatical Errors" posts click here. 

That’s all for now.  Stay tuned for more, and please send me pictures if you see any spelling or grammatical atrocities.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mennos vs. Rubik's Cubes

     We are still having multiples chess matches all over the school, but another trend is occurring--solving Rubik’s Cubes.

      My husband revived this one from his childhood also.  He got the directions, learned how to solve it, and then taught the students how to do it, too.  We have had a few students over the years who could solve it in less than two minutes.  

      There are Rubik’s Cubes on their desks.  (They cannot do them until all their work is done.)

     They have Rubik’s Cube solving matches to see who can do it the fastest.
     The more mechanically inclined students have even learned how to take them apart and put them back together.  It is quite amazing to see how all the little parts work together.  
      Every once in awhile they are a distraction, but most of the time they are not.  And, they are good for their brains.  Yay for learning!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Passing on the Torch

      One of my greatest joys as a teacher is to see my students take something we have taught them or modeled for them and do it all on their own.  An even better version of this is when students take something they have learned from us and in turn use it to bless their fellow students.  Our students have done this in two ways.  

     First of all, when the test grades were not all that great, we began making them study guides.  We would type up the words or concepts that we expected them to know, give them the paper, and expect them to fill in the definitions, concepts, etc.  Now we have a few of our older students typing study guides for their own classes, or the classes a few grades below, making copies of them, and passing them out to their fellow students. 

     Another way we are “passing on the torch” is by quizzing the students.  Again, when the test grades were not up-to-par we realized that some of them did not know how to study properly.  So, we made the study guides, had them fill them out, and then we quizzed them.  At first they looked at their guides.  Next, they had to put them away.  Then we asked them to give a definition for a word, and last we gave the definition and they had to give us the word.  I call this studying “forward and backwards”.  

     After awhile they began to quiz each other.  Now I try and set aside time before every test for not only a teacher-led oral quiz, but also a student-led quizzing session where the students quiz each other.  They have begun asking if they can quiz each other when all of their other work is done.  This is a wonderful form of positive peer pressure, edifying encouragement, and practicing of good study habits that strengthens their grades, their relationships, and their school.   
     It is also nice when my husband has to go to town for a doctor's appointment for one of our children, and I have two or more of the older male students who are very capable of leading morning devotions and singing.  The torch is being passed!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Loom, Loom, Loom-a-Loom

      After doing a little bit of research, I discovered a quick and easy way to make a loom.  I wanted the students to experience actual weaving, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on those little pot holder looms, and it seemed like a lot of trouble to drive jillions of tiny nails into frames.  So, I asked two of the high school gentlemen to nail two by fours together, and--walla!--we have thirty mini-looms.  

     All of the students third grade and up are diligently weaving and enjoying it at least somewhat (some more than others).  I tied this into our history class about the Industrial Revolution:  “Can you imagine carding all the wool, making your own yarn, and then weaving into cloth like this to make clothes?”

A few years ago one of the students asked my husband, “Do we really have to do art?  Can we just go outside and play?”  Now they ask us, “May I please go and work on my art?”  How wonderful to a teacher’s ears!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Make Like a Tree and Leave

     The other day I went out to check on my sheep and gather chicken eggs when I could not help but notice beautiful autumn leaves drifting down from above my head.  I instinctly began picking them up, like I do seashells at the ocean shore.  Red ones, yellow ones, half green and half brown ones.  Oak leaves, pecan leaves, what are these funny ones?  My pockets were full.

      I went inside and placed them in my huge white teacher’s bag.  It is full of all kinds of stuff-- usually papers to grade, zillions of pens, Advil, anti-itch cream, Frosty coupons, a sharpie, my camera, my clipboard, my choir music because I can’t learn the last page of that hard song, food, my coffee cup, and now, leaves. 
      The next day I gave every student one of each kind of leaf I had gathered.  We examined them, drew pictures of them on the board, taped them to paper, and wrote their names next to them.  I grew up in Texas, but I never knew the difference between the leaves of a red oak and a white oak until yesterday.  We discovered that two of the unknown leaves were aspen and sweet gum.  
      The following day the students showed up with baggies of leaves-- one of each kind for each one of their classmates.  We added magnolia leaves, holly leaves, cedar “leaves”, and maple leaves to our collection.  Then we put them in between waxed paper and ironed them on top of an old t-shirt.
      My husband walked in the room to get a book and asked me, “What are you doing?”   I told him we were ironing leaves.  I felt a little silly, but anatomy can wait for another day or so.  We are having a wonderful time examining different kinds of leaves.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Falling Down the Steps While Having a Golf Disc Thrown at My Head

     Once again it was time for our fall disc golf excursion.  We picked a course in Temple which we had never played before.  It was a beautiful, crisp fall day.  The man picking pecans on hole 6 didn’t mind us a bit.  We just yelled, "Fore!" and kept going.
     Ladies in skirts and veils on disc golf courses always attract a lot of attention.  We only had a few photos snapped of us this day. 
     The ponds claimed three of our discs, but we reclaimed them.  
     We always take time to notice interesting science--like this spider web,
and this eagle--just kidding, sort of.  It was an eagle kite, which one student retrieved and flew.  
     And there are always ample photo opportunities, including the now-obligatory disc golf on girls’ heads shot.  

     I actually fell down these limestone steps while trying to hurry and get this photo and get out of the way of the gentlemen who were throwing frisbees at our heads.  Ok, only one of them threw one, and my husband made the rest wait until we were safely out of their line of fire.