Archive for the ‘transition’ Category

Wait – I’m how old?


Today is my birthday, yes I was born on 4th of July, and yes I get fireworks every year.

I had just gotten used to telling people I was 33 (alright I didn’t get used to it, but I didn’t have to think about how old I was before answering – wait is that a sign of old age?). It feels weird to be 34, I don’t feel like I’m in my mid-thirties. But everyone says that don’t they? Seriously though, I don’t always act like a (now) 34-year-old – I can get laughing uncontrollably (Jennie says I giggle), I still think farting is funny, I enjoy cartoons and video games, I like to eat dessert first and often, I like YA books, I like to make different hair styles when I have shampoo in – mostly the mohawk (though with the little hair I have I’m limited), and other things that I’m not going to tell you about.

Here’s what I think has kept me feeling young:

  1. Jennie, she’s my wife and best friend (she’ll be in her twenties until January so that makes me feel young) and we laugh everyday together.
  2. I hang out with 8th graders as my job for 9 months out of the year – Our sense of humor overlap (see “I think farting is funny” above).
  3. I don’t take myself too seriously (actually I try not to take most things too seriously, it can be annoying to others)
  4. That’s all I can think of right now (I’m also easily distracted)

There are some things I’m looking forward to about getting old:

  1. Yelling at kids to “Stay off my lawn” (I practice inside sometimes)
  2. Being a curmudgeon
  3. Having a good reason for being forgetful.

This afternoon we’ll go get a good spot on the Eastern Prom for all the festivities (Bob Marley is performing stand-up, Portland Symphony Orchestra is playing) where we’ll eat a sushi picnic dinner from Benkay (so delicious) and birthday cake!

Happy Fourth to you!

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First day of 2010-11 school year


It is rapidly approaching. I see tweets and blog posts everywhere about teachers and students who have already begun the school year. This will be my third year as an 8th grade English teacher (I’m trying to shift the vocabulary at my middle school to call it English in 8th grade instead of Language Arts, even though LA is a more appropriate title -I haven’t told anyone about my plans yet. More on this as it develops) and I am PSYCHED!  As a third year teacher I feel pretty confident in the content and can really work on my delivery and integration of technology, especially collaborative technology.

The word in the district is that we’ll be set up with Google for Education this year – I’ve been hoping, mentioning this since I started, along with some of my colleagues. This means Google docs – can I go paperless this year? I think that I’ll certainly use less. The blog helped with this goal and Google apps will further it. It will also fit nicely in with my belief that learning is collaborative – real-time collaboration is so effective. The class wiki is good (I use Wetpaint) but real-time collaboration can be tricky when people start saving and exiting the editing tools.

The other exciting thing that is happening in the 8th grade is Expeditionary Learning. You can read this previous entry about how this new model unfolded. We have done the bulk of the planning for a Spring expedition that is modeled after one we saw at King Middle School called Truth and Consequence. The team is on board, the administration is on board, and I’m certain that the students will be on board. I will be blogging about the process once we start in February.

There is also construction going on at the school. We recently changed from a 6-8 school to a 4-8 school and construction should be finished by February break (hey that’s when we’re kicking off our expedition, good unplanned timing!). The hallway to the new addition is going between 8th grade social studies room and 6th grade math room. These two rooms were gutted over the summer. A permanent wall was erected between my room and the SS room where before there was a movable wall. Most of my room is covered in dust and everything is smooshed against the opposite wall. This does have a plus side though, I can put things against this wall now. I think I will change the set up of my room and put the SmartBoard against this new room and make a horseshoe seating arrangement (I didn’t have the space for that before and had seating pods).

I’d love to hear about what you are going to do this year. Trying something new? Changing how you teach a lesson? Let me know!

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Puddle thinking


“Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”

Douglas Adams

Dealing with Transition


I have a student that has become increasingly disruptive and defiant. I have a pretty good relationship with this student and am sad to see this change in behavior. Now, this hasn’t always been the easiest person to get along with but I do like this student and want them to be successful and happy, and right now it seems like the first is being sabotaged and the second is in battle with a growing anger.
This behavior could be a defense mechanism to create distance in order to make leaving easier. This student, along with all the other 8th graders, will be leaving the safety and familiarity of the school they have spent three years in and have rose to the top of the middle school food chain in and entering High School as freshman. Leaving is difficult, but this behavior is making the now difficult.

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