Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

One Teacher's Guide To Elementary School Survival

And We Ask Why Our Students Act Out?!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the new Lorax movie not once but twice.  I can not rave enough about how wonderful an experience that was!  The first viewing (and by first, I mean we were the first people in our county!  Thanks to a whirlwind field trip planning extravaganzaa)  was with my class and the entire third thru fifth grades from my building.  Watching "my kids" react to the lessons learned in the movie was truly magical.  They GOT it!  We left jazzed to save the world one seed at a time.  Infact we are starting with our own classroom seedling garden this week.  On Saturday, I watched the movie with our three youngest children.  Their reaction was no less wonderful!  Infact they wanted to know when we could start sprucing up our garden and if we were going to plant some veggies this year too!  What a powerful, wonderful message!  That on person can make a difference with one small seed. 

Ok, so the title of this post is about students acting out....where am I going with this you may wonder.  Put on your seatbelts I'm about to jump on my soapbox and let it rip!   Prior to this truly magical cinematic experience we were "entertained" with the usual 15 minutes of previews.  During which, of course, the words coming from every child within earshot were, "oooooh!  Can we see that movie too?"  Every single movie preview incurred unnecessary violence.  Punching a minion just because it was blowing a party favor?  While I admit I too would love to personally strangle the creator of those annoying party favors that blow out into your face at children's birthday parties, do we really need to encourage our children to beat the crap out of each other everytime the feel annoyed?  Add that to another preview that showed pirates beating the crap out of each other and a small child's version of a horror film and I had an "aha" moment. 

How much time do our students spend watching tv shows and movies?  Chances are quite a bit.  So what are they constantly exposed to?  Violence for giggles.  Now before anyone comments that I need to loosen up, I will admit I too chuckle at these scenes.  But then again, I am not going to go around work on Monday smacking the back of coworkers heads, clocking them, tripping them, or in any other way causing anyone physical pain.  My students, on the other hand, haven't gained that self restraint yet.  And while it may be hilarious to watch a minion or any other ridiculous, inarticulate character beat another to a pulp, it is not appropriate behavior to model to our children.   

"It's just a movie, Carrie.  Chill out!  Take a break!  Relax! Remember what the Roadrunner did to the Coyote?"  True, cartoons of eras past also included violence.  There was a HUGE difference however- these characters were not using fists, but rather anvils.  Where in the world would we get an anvil to practice beating each other with?!  Today's characters use fists.  Something that our kids don't need any further encouragement in using! 


Hats of to the Creator of Hatted Cats

Happy Birthday Dr. Suess!  I am a wee bit early but that is ok.  I was afraid if I waited, my rhyme would fade away!   You are the minstral that gathers gaggles of giggles.  A master of whimsical, nonsensical squiggles.  Creator of Hatted Cats, colorful fishes, and counting feet.  Describer of places and characters we long to meet.  Wonderful Worlds await us as we crack your book.   Crammed with learning and leisure in each and every nook.  Oh the the magical, mythical places you take us as we read be it in the car, a plane, or even a bus towards greatness you lead.  Your words are enchanting, delightful, the best!  Lessons taught heads and tails above the rest!  Self esteem, recycling, awareness you preach- all while staying within a child's reach!  My hat's off to you oh master of word play!  We celbrate wisely on Read Across America Day!

Ok so Suess I am not.  Though you'll have to admire my shot!  Below is a link to a wise lesson to see.  From the dear Lorax who held the key.  Reduce, reuse, recycle and watch our world grow!  Teach your kids wisely to be in the know.  This world is on loan it is not our own!

Click the Pic above to be connected to The Lessons from The Lorax presentation designed for elementary classes


Using Technlogy To Enhance Not Entertain

We have all heard it.  "You need to use more live in the technology era.....get plugged in and relate better to your students.....lrn 2 read txt (learn to read text).....make lessons more enjoyable for more impact."  While I love technology and use it daily, it can be over done in a bad way at times.  Technology should be used to enhance the learning process, not replace it with entertaining, meaningless blurbs.  The tools we use need to still challenge students to interact more with thier own education not turn it in to episodic learning punctuated with messages from thier sponsers (aka the teacher).  I have just spent the better part of a week updating and downloading apps for our schools 80 Ipod touches that are used primarily during center time.  Let me tell you while the process in and of itself is time consuming it was nothing compared to the search I had to delve into to find meaningful, educational apps to purchase.  Wow!  It made me take a step back into mommy mode and think about all the "educational" apps my kids have downloaded.  How many are truly educational and how many are glorified video games?  We as educators and parents need to thoroughly look at the apps and gadgets we are purchasing to check for the skill vs. thrill factor.  That being said, I am so excited to be working with a staff that embraces technology and shares their finds with each other!  I have a wonderful co-teacher who has created awesome powerpoints that combine skill and thrill into one place.  As soon as I can I plan to link a few of her creations as well as a few of my own to this blog.  In the mean time, keep using great technology, but only to enhance already great lessons not replace them.  Teach on my friends!




Balancing Mommy Me and Teacher Me

This week I felt like a circus juggler.  It was one of those weeks when everything in the universe aligns perfectly to test how much you can handle.  Unfortunately I was tested not only as a teacher but also as a mommy.  Planning for the week I was so excited!  We are celebrating our 100th day of school tomorrow so I got to break into my creativity chest to plan fun and outside of the box activitites for my students.  I also got the opportunity to take my youngest on a field trip to the aquarium with her preschool class.  Woo Hoo!  Two fun days back to back!  This should have been an amazing week right?  Ha!  This is where things got interesting.... My older daughter developed a dental abcess.  Not cool.  This entailed an unplanned half day absence on my part to rush her to the dentist and then a follow up half day absence to have the tooth pulled.  Also it is Maren's, my youngest daughter, birthday tomorrow, so as I type this I am also baking cupcakes for her class.  To add to this stress of unplanned absence and rushing to and from dentists offices, I have a class that does not tolerate change well.  Substitute teachers do not normally fare well in my class.  In one way this lets me know that my students like me and miss me, but on the other hand it is a problem.  Life is messy and unplanned a lot (especially when you have a large family like Eric and I do).  One of my goals for myself for the remainder of this year is to develop a plan that works for when disaster strikes and I need to be home with one of my children and my other "kids" need to be with a substitute.  I am hoping with some help from my fellow staff and administrators as well as some "Twittersearch" (my own new word for research via Twitter) I can come up with some strategies that leave all the plates still spinning on ther sticks at the end of the day rather than feeling like they have crashed down around me. 


So Who's Ready for Spring?!

We got a glorious taste of Spring today!  Weather was beautiful, birds were chirping, and the sun was shining.  Perfect timing for a lesson on making predictions!  We researched Puxsutawney Phil and the history behind Groundhog's Day on the official Groundhog's Day website,  Which led us to making our own Phil like predictions about the outcome of tomorrow's big event.  Three quarters of my class is ready for Spring with the remaining quarter holding out hope for our first official snow day of the year.  Honestly after today's weather treat, going back to frigid temps would be nothing less then cruel and unusual.  Take a peak at our Puxsutawney Phil predictions and essays.  Special thanks to my returning best bud Becky for finding and printing out or essay hugging groundhogs to help us keep the whimsy in hopefully one of the last weeks of winter! 


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