Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Fifth Graders Take Over, Part II

April 27, 2017

Click here for the next installment of “How We Took Over the World.”

Watch, enjoy, and leave a comment for these great kids.

Took Over World II.png

Going with Plan B

April 18, 2017

I wasn’t going to have them watch it.

As part of my daily blogroll, I came across the wordless animated short “How to Wait for a Very Long Time,” and the first thing I thought as I looked at the title was, “This will be a quick way to teach my kids patience and persistence.”

And then I watched the video. It’s about 3 minutes long. Go ahead and click here to watch. (I promise I’ll wait for you.) You may as well, because I’m spoiling it below.

Needless to say, this video is NOT about patience and persistence.

I worried that students would be let down by the ending. That they would be disappointed with how abruptly the guy dies at the end. That they wouldn’t see the point. That on this day, which marks two years since my brother’s passing, I would not be able to manage teaching anything close to this subject matter. That it was better to go forward with my plan book as written.

And yet. When a great opportunity to have rich discussion or work on literary argument arises, I’ve can’t help but grab it. So…onward.

As a group, we watched the video three times.

First time? I stopped at the title and had the kids predict what they thought the lesson of the story was. That’s just before I confessed to them that MY prediction was dead wrong. Then they just notated plot.

The ending surprised them just as much as it did me. There was a lot of, “Whoa.” and “Oh!” and “Wait…what!?” We spent time sharing our surprises and questions. And yes, ALL of us fell for the easy predictions from the title. Silly us.

Second time? Pick up on everything we missed the first time. Talk to people around you. What’s the ONE THING you NOW believe is the point of this story?

Third time? Note the evidence to support your claim…then get writin’.



Once again, my kids surprised me.
Once again, they inspired me.
Once again, they allowed me to see things in new ways.

Proving, once again, that some of our best teaching moments aren’t the ones we put in the plan book.




January 23, 2013

So after being at work early with students, spending all six hours after school grading papers, making dinner, grading papers, taking care of my boys, and grading more papers, I’ve earned it.

Bedtime before 10.

I know you’re jealous. Try not to hold it against me.

What’s to Love?

January 19, 2013

So why is it, exactly, that I have taught for almost 18 years now without fear of burnout?

I consider this week, a week so crazy I think it took me until Thursday before I had a real planning time longer than 15 minutes. A week so nuts that I was up every night late grading, planning, and catching up on house work I couldn’t ignore.

What was there to love about a week like that?

That the third graders in my math group use the word “theory” when discussing how to do a tricky homework problem.

That a teacher told me I made her think of gifted kids from a new perspective.

That my former students, now big bad eighth-graders, gave me a cheerful greeting in the junior high hallway.

That the kids in my storytelling group recognize each others’ talents and eagerly cheer each other on. That they brag about each other to the substitute teacher.

That I have third through fifth grade kids in my writing group who choose topics for writing like abandonment. Children with siblings who have special needs. The rapid population of Heaven after the Mayan apocalypse. A poor kid and a rich one who find themselves drawn together. A shy hippo who has some really great friends.

That my fifth grade math students thank me after math every single day. Ok, so one of them confided in me that it was part of a bet (that he, of course, wasn’t part of), but I’ll take what I can get.

That I have a vocabulary group using the introduction of Beowulf in their study of the history of the English language.

That the kindergarten kid I worked with in math counts forward and backward through the ten thousands.

That every day, I get to look into the eyes of dozens of students and see sincerity, kindness, and an irrepressible love for learning.

They don’t just help me avoid burnout, they inspire me to come each day, each year, with renewed passion and energy.

Where the Time Goes, Part 2

September 17, 2009

So the next day the kids are coming in, having found the areas for all rectangles with a perimeter of 56 units. They had all drawn and counted out the squares. We went through answers together, and then one student pipes up and says,
“Hey. I think I found a shortcut for finding how much space they take up. You can multiply the two numbers together.”
“Hmm,” I say. “Are you saying that you can multiply the two dimensions, and it will give you the space it takes up – its area?”
I’m doing jumping jacks inside with this “discovery,” but I play it cool.
“Kids, take out calculators and see if his theory is correct.”
Sure enough, wouldn’t you believe it!?
Well, then, we can take a look at how we write dimensions in the first place: 3×5, 6×8.
“HEY! That’s the multiplication sign!!”

Why yes, it is, she thinks with a sly grin.