Category: high school

Day Thirty-Six

The Vice Principal turned 40 today, so every teacher in the ninth grade house (yay common prep time) snuck into her office while she was in a meeting, decorated with balloons and streamers, and sang “Happy Birthday” when she came back in. We also sent kids down with birthday wishes throughout the day. 

So that was fun. 

Life in the Cavern of Learning was a flurry of activity. Mrs. T corralled the half dozen or so kids who still had to finish narratives and worked with them since it’s due today. I took everyone else and moved on with Africa stuff, so I definitely had the easier job today. I just walked around and fielded questions as needed.

During flex time we closed our dividing wall (we usually just leave it since most kids need us both anyhow) because I had a bunch of kids who wanted retake vocab quizzes, and I wanted it to be nice and quiet. I love that they took advantage of the opportunity. That’s so good.

We re-opened the Cavern for Block 4 and got back to work. A double block, even with breaks like flex and lunch, takes a lot of academic stamina, which many of our students are still developing, but we find ways to motivate them. Today, six boys who were goofing off in the last twenty minutes greed to work silently for fifteen I let them have a “moo-off” for the last five. What’s a moo-off, you ask? It’s when people get down on all fours like they’re cows and moo at each other in silly ways; the person who can keep a straight face the longest wins. 

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OBVIOUSLY, I let that happen. It was hilarious. And the boys all got their work done beforehand.

Such a win.

I explained the moo-off to my colleagues during the team meeting, and to the NHS board (I’m subbing on that while Mr. B is on leave) after school. Then I spent until about 4:30 prepping for tomorrow. Mrs. T is out, so it’s going to be The Me Show! 

Day Thirty-Five

I started my day with a lecture on interest groups and lobbying (with a tangent on PACs and stuff because someone asked about that), then assigned a group project on interest groups and iron triangles. I had lots of little discussions while students did research: communism, chambers of commerce, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the establishment clause, gun control, Reagan… 

It’s good stuff. 

Fed. 10 will come back to haunt them shortly. Mwahahaha.

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Ahem.

Life in the Cavern of Learning was good, too. Mrs. T worked with anyone whose narrative wasn’t done. I moved everyone else on to the new unit- Africa- and to labeling maps, doing some cultural research, and reading books. There was a medical emergency in the building (I have no idea what happened, but the kids had tons of rumors), and a resulting lockdown right before Block 2 ended. That caused minor chaos- lots of questions, kids trying to look out the window at the ambulance, etc…- and basically ate up flex time.

In spite of that, it was a super productive double block, and a great example of the “move when ready” approach to learning that The Principal wants more of. We also got observed by an elementary school teacher after lunch, and she thought it was neat. Go us.

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Now, the other day, a bottle of Axe exploded in boy’s backpack, which was wicked bad for me because I have a fragrance allergy. We figured he’d wash the backpack, but nope. I did my best to stay away, but it wasn’t enough. By Block 5 my nose was stuffy and my eyes were itchy. I had an APUSGOV student in to retake a test, so I just had to sit and resist the urge to sniffle and CLAW MY EYES OUT OMG. 

I managed, though!

Day Thirty-Four

Today was SO much better than the last B day of our A/B schedule. Mrs. T and I assigned seats, which did wonders for the noise level in the Cavern; it did wonders for the productivity level, too, of course. I wish we didn’t have to play it that way, but so far the thing holding several of our students back is worrying how others will perceive them if they choose to separate themselves and focus on doing well rather than socializing. I’ve had a few talks one-on-one about that, and so has Mrs. T.

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I wish I was as good at it as Mr. Feeny.

Anyways. 

Students took a vocab quiz, did pronouns practice, and revised narratives. If they finished all that- and many did, including one or two who surprised themselves- I had them get ahead on stuff for the next unit. Specifically, I had them choose books for The Epic Book Paper and Research Project (redesigned from last year) and start reading.

We had a ninth grade house meeting during Block 5, so I spent about an hour after the bell getting ready for tomorrow. And that was that!

Day Thirty-Three

I just got home from a cold football game. I usually stay the whole time, but my feet were freezing, so I left at halftime when we got done selling tickets. 

My day started with a fun APUSGOV lesson on public opinion and polling data. It involved episodes 33-35 of CrashCourse, this Jimmy Kimmel sketch, and some exploring on PollingReport.com

World/English started with a vocab quiz for me, some pronouns practice on ChompChomp for Mrs. T, and narrative revisions for both of us. We rocked and rolled through the double block- and the flex time in between- and it was super productive. It got a little loud and unruly towards the end of the double block, but we handled that so much better today than yesterday (which is why we reflect after we teach). And, even when it was loud, there was still a lot of really good work happening. Some kids had us checking their narrative drafts 3, 4, 5 times to get them perfect- and team teaching means we have time to do that- which was so awesome. 

Of course, some did just want to be done with class. One boy who was especially determined to act out shouted about having big party plans this weekend. When I told him to quiet down, he yelled, “Didn’t you party, Miss M?” 

I said, “Nah, dude, I was an athlete. I didn’t have time for that.” 

That got a, “Preach, Miss M!” from across the room, and a “Yeah, right” from this boy, so I ended up gathering an audience and talking about collegiate athletics and life choices for the last five minutes of class. The main thing I said was something my coach always told my teammates and I: being an athlete is fleeting; we only going to get to compete for a little while, so we shouldn’t waste any of that time. 

Hopefully they’ll remember that lesson in addition to the content I teach. It’s a good one.

Day Thirty-One

I felt a bit out of sorts today. 

Our juniors were all taking PSATs, so the bell schedule was off, which meant my timing was off. And I am still getting over a cold, and my allergies were haywire. My allergies made my eyes so watery that I could hardly see during APUSGOV, which, of course, my students thought was funny. But I managed.

I did a lesson on media bias and selective exposure, and fake news. It’s a cool lesson, and it went well enough, but- aside from the moment when my students realized I know what 4chan is- it didn’t pop. I was hoping for a more animated discussion, I think. Must do better next time…

World/English was great. Mrs. T started class with some quick grammar lessons (pronoun usage, formatting dialogue) and then we divided students up to work on their narratives. Everyone without a finished rough draft went to her side of the Cavern, and spread out to keep from getting distracted while writing. Everyone with a finished draft grouped up with 2-3 others on my side for peer conferencing. Mrs. T an I did conferences, too. It was definitely a productive day.

And! During Block 5, a student who’s been behind on his work came by to turn the bulk of it in, which was awesome. I was so proud of him, and said as much.

Day Twenty-Nine

I managed to get through last month without catching more than a little sniffle, but this morning I woke up with a headache, stuffy nose, sore throat, and fever. So the September cold got me in October…

I still went to work because it was just a teacher workshop day: meetings, NEASC stuff, PLC & department stuff… I’m doubly bad in meetings when I’m sick, apparently. Like, one of my older colleagues announced- when we were well over our allotted meeting time, I might add- that one way we could save time is by showing each other how to use Powerschool more efficiently. He said there should be a process for that, so I said, “The process is that you find a Millenial and bribe them.”

Thank goodness my colleagues think I’m funny.

We cruised through NEASC. Then I went to lunch with Mr. W, Mr. T, Mr. F, Mrs. T, and Mrs. B. That’s almost the whole Cacophony. Most of them had PLC or Department meetings afterwards, but not Mr. T and I. Social studies is so far ahead of the game. So he went to finish entering grades and comments for progress reports, and I went to touch up my next APUSGOV unit (my grades and comments were done three days ago because I am a wizard). I ended up gutting my unit test and putting a bunch of new stuff in it, so that’s done. I also had time to redecorate the team bulletin board.

Not a bad day’s work.

Day Twenty-Eight

Today was an early release day, so our classes flew by. I introduced a new unit in APUSGOV with a lesson about political socialization We started by brainstorming the ten people, institutions, media sources, events, etc… that shaped our political views. 

Mine:

  • Parents
  • Catholicism
  • AIDS crisis
  • Columbine shooting
  • My AP Euro teacher
  • The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart
  • 9/11
  • Iraq War
  • Staffing on the Dean campaign
  • Twitter

Theirs: 

  • Parents
  • Other family
  • Parkland shooting
  • Orlando nightclub shooting
  • Terrorism
  • NPR
  • Youtube
  • Stephen Colbert
  • Applying for college
  • World Cultures class
  • Literature and Social Issues class
  • Youth and Government club
  • Protests at Standing Rock
  • 2016 elections
  • Working in small, local businesses
  • Political polarization

It was fascinating to chat about all of that, and that was all we had time to do. 

In World/English, we just had students continue drafting, Mrs. T gave a quick lesson about things like flashback in order to encourage them to play. She and I both read several full drafts, and I love how proud students were to show them to us. That’s so cool.

Once students left, we had an hour for lunch. My cacophonous friends and I went to Starbucks because early release days are late days for us. In order to take a day off our required 187, we have two teacher workshops until 5:30- one fall, one spring- which makes for a loooooong day. 

It started with an informational session about vaping; a lady from Poison Control gave a lecture. Then there was some administrative business. After that, our time was devoted to the NEASC self study (it’s an accreditation thing done every ten years). We’re all in groups, working to compile one part of the study.

I had to leave mine for what I though would be a short 504 meeting (and was actually a long one). While I was gone, one of my group members was online and found out the local brewery was having a cornhole tournament tonight, so a bunch of us went (beer, pizza, cornhole). So fun!

Day Twenty-Six

There’s an election coming up, and I have 18-year-old students in APUSGOV, so I invited the candidates for congress, state senate, and governor to come to class for Q&A. It’s a 7:30AM class, so I make sure to have coffee and donuts for my students and the sleep-deprived staffers who accompany candidates (I’m an ex-staffer, so I know what’s up). I think it’s awesome so many agree to come.

The Republican congressional candidate visited today. He and my students chatted about the current political climate, the environment, school safety, gun rights, Afghanistan, biomass subsidies, law enforcement, the opioid crisis, the federal bureaucracy… And about dogs, Jeeps, and Eddie Murphy. It was a lot of fun, and I think they got a ton out of it.

So I’m feeling good about that. 

I’m feeling good about World/English, too, because there are some really cool narratives being drafted. I think most students were super productive over the two blocks; some even opted to stay with us during flex time. One girl already has a full draft! Mrs. T and I both read her work and were both blown away.

It’s a benefit of team teaching that we can both give feedback on finished drafts. It’s also easier to get to the kids who are struggling; like, I sat with one boy and answered questions about the border until it sparked an idea, and Mrs. T was still available to help others. It’s good stuff.

What else? I was extra dressed up because of my APUSGOV guest. I mean, I always wear skirts and dresses- except on casual Fridays- but this dress was new and wicked nice. I got so many compliments on it. Mrs. T decided to get the same one. She’s going to wear it tomorrow to see if our students notice.

We amuse ourselves. 

Day Twenty-Five

I did pilates with a bunch of my colleagues after work on Friday- between the pep rally and football- and I felt it this morning when I got up. My quads and abs let me know exactly what they think of my life choices.

It made walking around the Cavern of Learning a bit more challenging than usual, but I managed. Mrs. T and I did the same thing we’d done on Friday. It was harder today because some of our students have to be redirected a lot, but we anticipated that, so we adjusted our delivery and where we positioned ourselves in the room. Also, this bunch of students asks GREAT questions, so we allotted extra time for them to do it, and had a really cool discussion about immigration policy.

So now everyone is set to draft narratives, and will spend the next several classes working on that. 

We had a ninth grade house meeting during Block 5, so I did all my grading after school ended. I had some assignments to check in, and a few APUSGOV test retakes (kids did it in the office while I was in my meeting) to mark, but I got it all done pretty quickly.

Day Twenty-Four

So today was awesome. 

It’s Spirit Day, so everyone was decked out in school colors, glitter, and face paint. Classes were short to accommodate a pep rally at the end of the day, so APUSGOV was very chill; I went over the unit test they took last class, then we did current events presentations, and that was that.

Then Mrs. T and I did a tag team lesson in our Cavern of Learning. I started by dividing students into groups of six- three who’d read about drug violence in Mexico, three who’d read about drug violence in Brazil- and had them get laptops and headphones, and watch a 15-minute video to supplement their reading. They shared what they’d learned with their peers, I explained the growth of the violence to Honduras and neighboring countries, and we read an article about San Pedro Sula. So they had enough information to answer the question I posed last class-why are so many undocumented minors have been seeking asylum in the last few years- and I could see when it all clicked. 

Mrs. T tagged in to show them how to do MLA citations for my class materials, and set up a works consulted page, and assigned our first major assessment. She’s been teaching scenes and personal narratives for the past few weeks. What students have to do now is write a fact-based narrative based on anything we’ve studied about Latin America. So they’re plotting out ideas, fleshing them out with additional research (and citing it), and drafting. 

It all went SO well. We were happy about it. 

And then the pep rally was a ball. As we walked to the gym, Mr. T revealed he’d never been to one before, which… Wow. I grinned and told him to embrace the experience. Some teachers don’t, but me? Give me the band, the drumline, the fight song, and all the noise and cheering. Mr. F an I played musical chairs, as always, though I got eliminated early. 

Afterwards, it was parking lot tailgating (amazing chili dogs made by our hall monitors), and football. Half the town was there; it was packed! Our team lost, sadly, but it was still a fun day.