Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"My Name is Idiot."

My heart broke when I read the story of this  4 year old abused girl. When the officers asked her what her name was, she responded, "Idiot." The other child living in the house said that she was called that in place of her name.

Soon after reading this story, I came across a tweet of this video, "Every Opportunity". It was produced by the Atlanta Speech School and it shows the negative effect our language has on students through the eyes of a student. If you have not seen it, please watch it.I don't consider myself a "bad" teacher, but it spurred an immediate evaluation of the language I use in my classroom.

We are aware that there are teachers out there who call their students out their name. The words idiots, fools, stupid, animals, and other unmentionables flow freely every day, all day.

And although some might not actually say these words to their students, (even though I am sure there are those who do),their very actions belie how they feel about the children under their care.

Imagine walking into a classroom where the teacher believes you are no better than the dirt beneath his or her shoes. A classroom where the teacher dishes out a daily dose of humiliation and belittlement. And while he or she might not call the student stupid, idiot, or animal their actions translate into words the students feel.

We have to make sure our words do not strip our children of their humanity. We have to make sure that our words uplift our students, not put them down. We have to understand the impact our words, actions, and thoughts can have on the choices our students  make.

We have to make sure that our students know that their name is not "idiot."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Beginning of the School Year Activities!

It's that time.
I'm sad summer is over, but, I am excited at the start of a new year!:)

Besides some of the typical activities I use every year, (e.g"Getting to Know You" Bingo), here are some new activities I will be using.

Two of the ideas I got from Matt Bergman's blog, "Learn, Lead, Grow." He created a Google Slides of class expectations and had the class work in groups to complete them. Can you say "student ownership?" I added some of my own expectations that I want them to work on. When they are done, I will print the slides, put them on posterboard and hang up our rules. (I have to have rules posted in my classroom.)

The other idea is the Flipquiz.me game.(This site no longer exists) I created a game similar to this in a Jeopardy format, it's mentioned in another blog post. All you need is a device and somewhere to project the quiz. The quiz was very easy to make and I know the kids are going to have a great time!

I am beginning the year with a project. Boo!!! No, wait, this will be fun. It is the Selfie Project. Students are given items that they have to take selfies with or of. It's a way for them to have fun and for me to get to know them a little better. I purchased a selfie stick for my class, and I didn't include too many "at home" items, not knowing the phone and home situations. Many of my students are looping, so I was able to let them choose how they want to present.

If you want to combine Math and a "Getting to Know You" activity, "Figure Me Out" is a great, fun, way to do this. This one was shared by my teacher friend. Not only is it fun and educational, you can also hang it in the hallway or complete a bulletin board with the finished product.

Of course, I always have my "Getting to Know" you surveys. I updated it by using questions that I found on a paper survey and inputting them into Google Forms. I like these questions better than the simple "Favorites" questions because I think it will help me understand my students better.(As soon as I recall where I found the questions, I will give them credit.)

Goosechase is a Scavenger Hunt, brand new for me. I created a "mission" for the students to complete as a team. Getting my team building in. I made it very simple and they get points for each part they complete. The students will need a device. They also have an education version but I can't afford the $119 a year. :(

And last , but not least, BreakoutEdu! I think of it as an "Escape the Room" in a box. The students have to follow clues, digital or physical, that will help them unlock the box. You do need a box and locks. You can purchase it from the company or put together your own box/locks.. (Amazon). They have breakouts created, or you can create your own. Since this is my first time using it, I will stick with a ready-made version.

If you would like any of the forms, go to Files, click "Make a Copy", and it's yours. I will not use these activities in a day, they will be spread out over the next 2 weeks, mixed in with the curriculum. Hopefully, you can use at least one of these ideas in your classroom. Have a great year!