Monthly Archives: February 2012

Using Collaborize Classroom & Edmodo

Today, with our tenth grade class we started using a website called Collaborize Classroom.  It is a great site that we are using to have students write to given prompts. We do this everyday in the classroom with paper and pencils but this is a fresh way to get the kids excited about writing.  The best part is that they can write their own response, respond to their classmates responses, and have an online discussion.  What is even more great is that they can vote on the written answer  that they liked best and can suggest writing topics (to be approved by the teacher).

Using this site is something we plan on doing on a weekly basis for out tenth grade class, today, being the first day they really took well to it and enjoyed it. Even after we ended for the day they were still talking about and discussing the questions. Even if the students do not finish they are able to go home, log on, and finish the work.

What is great about this site is that there are hundreds of prompts ready to go for your use. The students are getting practice writing, responding respectfully to each other, and thinking more deeply into the prompt.  There is also a great feature that will not let the students post inappropriate words.  Today, for example, a student tried to use the word poop in his response. A pop up box appeared and let him know that the chosen word was not appropriate to use and that it would be removed.  There is also a free app for the iPhone that is well set up and easy to use as well.

http://www.collaborizeclassroom.com/

Another great website that we use is edmodo.  Edmodo is similar to a Facebook account, but is used in the classroom.  Teachers are able to post links, which makes it easy for students to log in there and go to the link needed (such as Collaborize Classroom).  Also we post rubrics, due dates for work, and best of all students submit their work to the site.  Everything is all in one place and there is a lot less paper to deal with on a daily basis.

http://www.edmodo.com/?language=en&auto_selected_lang=true&logout=true

There are a lot more features about these sites that are great, but it would be great if you checked them out for yourself!

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That dreaded FCAT

Today is the day, the fourth and tenth graders are taking the dreaded FCAT test.  I will be the first to say that it will be great when the testing is over.  My fourth grade daughter has been freaking out over this test since before Christmas.  I am an English teacher so I understand the importance of the test (to the state) but what I do not understand is how putting such extreme pressure on students to do well will actually help in any way.  If you prepare them well they will do fine, adding all the extra pressure is not helpful.  I have come across quite a few fourth grade students who are seriously scared that they will fail the writing test and that it will hurt their grade in some way. What their teachers do not tell them is that it will not, it does not affect them or their grade in any manner.

There there are the tenth graders who don’t really give a crap either way.  So even if you tried to put a lot of pressure on them, most still would not even think about it until the day of.  Another issue that I have is they want the students to write a nice 5 paragraph essay and to do so they give them a nice test booklet with two whole pages! This will be a hard task to fit all of the essay on those two pages, especially if they write large.

If you haven’t noticed I find this test wrong in so many ways.  And I really do not think that students can always show their potential on one limited in space, timed, and stressful assessment.

This story is a good example why the test fails in so many ways:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-fcat-placebo-effect-20120227,0,7231999.story

 

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A nice weekend

Yesterday was a great day, my good friend from high school came for a visit since she is in Florida. It was only for a few hours but it was great catching up and it’s the first time she has even seen two of my three children. Every other time I have seen her in the past years it was when we all got together, kid free.  And the kids loved her and did not want her to leave, it was really a great time.

So today, a rainy, dreary day. I really was planning on doing a long 5-6 mile run to prepare for the 15k that is in TWO weeks! I do not think I am ready at all!  But the rain is still going, so maybe later I can fit a run in. But i am having some friends over for dinner, have laundry piled up and need to run to the grocery store. It would really be nice to have an extra two hours in my day for me time. But alas, that is not so.

Today is the last day for me to eat some meat, making a pork tenderloin in the crock pot. Starting tomorrow I am going vegetarian for at least 30 days.  Then we will see how I like it after that.  The hardest part is trying to find dishes for dinner that my kids will eat without complaining.  That is tough as it is!  I can see big weight loss coming on and  I am excited!!

Now I am off to the grocery store to get ready for my friend’s arrival. And hopefully a run later, if it ever stops raining! Happy Sunday.

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Big decisions being made today!

Today was a good day. Had a great observation, all classes were productive and enjoyable, got in a good three-mile run, talked to my husband who has practically been MIA via email and phone for over a week, and asked friends what they thought of my big decision.  First. let’s start with the husband thing. This guy, who never goes more than a day or two without calling has not done so for almost two weeks. I guess he has been busy and tired and whatnot.  Sometimes I really think he is married to the Navy and not me, but its been eleven years, so I am used to it!

Moving on to my big decision.  First off I have just started the Body by Vi shakes.  I have been seeing some good results in just a week!  I decided to step it up a bit more……I am going vegetarian.  I don’t think I am hardcore enough to do vegan, so one step at a time.  I have been toying with this idea for a while now but I really want to lose those few extra pounds and I know that there are a lot of benefits to being vegetarian/vegan so I am going to try it out for a while.  So if anyone out there has any ideas or good vegetarian recipes please share!

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Classroom Thoughts

In one more week I will be half done with my student teaching. It seems like I have just started yesterday! I am having a great time, getting to know the kids better, and feel like I am starting to make a difference!  Tomorrow is a big day for me.  During second period I have my second observation from my university.  The first one was really nothing, I just started so I wasn’t teaching the class yet, but this one I will be all on my own! So I am a bit nervous.  Plus we are doing poetry this week, not my strongest knowledge base.  But I know I will do fine, but when someone is watching it is always more nerve-wracking.

Next week is the much-anticipated (?) FCAT writing tests here in Florida.  My fourth grade daughter is taking it and so are the tenth grade students.  The freshmen are also taking the Clay writes test (done in Clay county where the school is located. Helps place the students in the proper English classes next year).  I have extremely mixed feelings about the FCAT test. I think its good to see where the students are at, but we have done so much practicing and teaching to the test (not our class in particular, all classes that are preparing) that the amount of authentic learning is drastically diminished in today’s classrooms.

One change in coming education is common core standards.  As a military spouse I am excited for these standards to start being used.  As military families we move, a lot, and being able to move from one side of the country to the other and the students still be at the same level, working towards the same goals.  I think the common core standards are not only good for that reason, but also because the emphasis is less on testing and more on portfolio based assessment.  Seeing how the students perform overall, not just what they score on a test.

Check out this article to read more:  What Teachers Need to Know About The Common Core State Standards

http://www.teachhub.com/common-core-need-to-know-teachers

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Why being a home owner can suck.

If you have ever heard the myth that when your spouse is deployed something major can and will go wrong, well, it’s no myth. My husband has been gone for five months now, I was getting the feeling that things have been going way too smooth. I was right, as usual. This is what my dad found today:

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We have only owned the house for 7 months! I am just glad that the tree landed on the dock and not on the house. And thank goodness my dad is here to take care of that. If he wasn’t my husband would have had a nice job to take care of after a long deployment! And the dock is in bad shape.

These are the times that I miss base housing and never having to lift a finger to do anything, especially pricy repairs!

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Taylor Mali– What Teacher’s Make

This guy is funny. I really love his poetry and the message he shares.  And did I mention that he is really, really funny?

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