Category: technological mishaps

Day Six

Today went very fast and sometimes sideways.

I had APUSGOV first. I grouped students up and had each group brainstorm a list of things a newly established government would need to do in order to keep a country functioning, and then I tried to derail each group’s plans with hypothetical crises (rebellion, invasion, disease, famine, economic collapse… I also tampered with unsecured elections, educational systems, and so on). My point: good governments are multifaceted and hard to make. In fact, our first attempt at it failed. 

See that segue? It would have been SO smooth except for two things: my photocopies of the Articles of Confederation hadn’t printed properly (somehow missing a page), and my laptop wasn’t connecting to my classroom TV. 

D’OH.

I apologized, and took a few minutes to make new photocopies and get a projector from Mrs. T. Then my students got to work figuring out the Articles’ weaknesses, and things they didn’t provide for. I closed with a bit of Crash Course, and previewed what our study of the Constitution will look like next class.

I’m still getting used to the fact that I don’t have my World classes back-to-back anymore (I did for the past ten years). Also, the upperclassmen in my advisory are ridiculous (they fake whine about eeeeeverything) and they know it, so having them in between teaching ninth graders does not give me a breather. I do laugh a lot, though.

I tried to go use the bathroom, which is inside the staff room, after advisory, but The Vice Principal had commandeered the staff room to talk to a student. No idea why there and not her office, but… not my circus. 

I just didn’t get to pee until lunch.

I’m still doing basic intro stuff in World, so today I did vocab (which gives me an idea of how quickly and for what duration I can do direct instruction with each class). Then I did a lesson that’s a pre-assessment of several skills; my students split into groups and looked at different cultural artifacts (letters from the Gulf War, wedding photos from Pakistan, a bit of poetry or art- I vary that yearly). They made observations and inferences, and asked questions, and we discussed it all. For the remainder of class (and homework, as needed), they had to look into something further- their choice- so I’ll be able to see how well they research and cite sources.

I felt good about how the lesson went, especially Block 4. And then I got an email during lunch that an anonymous donor had paid for my dress down Fridays (it’s a dollar a week to our sunshine fund). Mr. F got one, too. We have no clue who did that for us, but it’s super nice.

During my prep, I marked the initial homework I collected in all my classes today (I always give a small assignment on day one because if it doesn’t get done I’ll know right away who’s going to struggle with work completion), and started reading one of the new books Mrs. T and I got about Afghanistan (I read all our new Africa books over the summer). I got about forty pages in before the afternoon bell. Woot.

Day One Hundred Six

Let me tell you about my friend Jonathan. I know the world is better for having him in it; he’s just one of those people. He’s so unconditionally good.

He’s also one of the few people I’ll admit is way smarter than I am. 

And, since he works for the AG down in Massachusetts, he was my guest speaker in APUSGOV this morning. It was amazing, but it almost didn’t happen. The flu is hitting hard, and it got Mr. W, who has everything I need (projector, camera, fancy admin passwords) to use Skype in our school. So I stole his tech and got him on the phone to tell me how to work it.

But then Skype wouldn’t work.

And, I mean, it’s ten minutes into class at that point, so I was a bit panicky. Sooooo I said “screw it” (not out loud), hung up with Mr. W, logged on Facebook (which I’m not supposed to do at work), and did a FB video call.

Forgiveness and permission, you guys…

And, yeah, it was amazing. I already told you Jonathan’s smart. He’s also thoughtful, and humble, and open, and he spoke to my students like he was speaking to his peers. A lot of them want to study law, and do the sort of things he does professionally, so it was such an important conversation for them to have. 

A couple of my ninth graders came in during that block to ask me questions- they’re in study hall- and I could see them listening in, being curious about what was going on. Maybe they’ll want to take the class as seniors. I certainly hope so!

My World classes went pretty well, too, though my Block 4 students struggled with the final part of the lesson (sharing what they’d learned with the rest of their group). They started out strong, but ended up falling off topic or having side conversations. And I get it; it’s Friday before a vacation (it’s a New England thing), almost lunch time, etc, etc… But I did issue a gentle reprimand and ask them to do better next time. Then I ended class by refocusing on the point: key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

I spent my prep time grading up a storm- got it all done!- and walked out with Mr. S and Mr. F as soon as it was time.

And now I’m on vacation! Woohoo!

Day Fifty-Eight

Student A: So, Miss M, there’s a chance Prince Harry’s kid could be POTUS and King of England. I don’t care how little the chance is. It’s still a chance.
Student B: They’re trying to retake the colonies!
Student A: Or we’re trying to annex Britain. That could be fun.
Student C: It’s a whole new kind of Brexit, Miss M!

My classes have been quite quotable lately, right? 

This bit of chatter happened after I was forced to scrap the bulk of my APUSGOV lesson because the video I’d planned to show abruptly vanished from the Internet. I jumped to the lesson I was going to do next class (because I’m no rookie, and I know I should always have a back-up plan), but I needed a moment to grab the right materials for it (specifically, my annotated copy of the Constitution), so I started class by mentioning this zany discussion that happened last night on Twitter and seeing what my students made of it. 

I mean, we were starting a new unit on government institutions, and that includes the presidency, so this was fine. 

And then I rallied! I passed back the tests they took last class, went over the tricky parts, and fielded any remaining questions as I’d originally planned to do. Then I handed out guides for the new unit, identified key due dates, and had them take a look at the Constitution. We read Article I aloud, and discussed some of the key clauses. It ended up taking the whole block, which is fine. It’s not what I’d thought I’d do today, but it worked as a basic intro to studying the legislative branch. 

So yay.

I did the same lesson in World that I did yesterday. The delivery was definitely better today, though. I was able to take questions without running out of time at the end, and it just felt more solid. 

So double yay.

A student was supposed to come by during my prep time to have me edit a paper, but he didn’t show up, so I caught up on my grading and polished my lecture notes for next World class. And then I went to a department meeting, which wasn’t too big. Mr. B wants us to look over some ELO proposals, and think about anything we might want to change for next year in the program of studies. 

I left the meeting as Mr. F finished up helping a student with geometry, so he and I walked out together. It was a gorgeous afternoon at that point- orange and pink sky- but so cold. I suspect lots of snow will be coming soon.