June 23, 2017

Student-Led Learning: Just the Place to Start

Welcome to The Best Days Blog! If it is your first time visiting, I'm glad you're here!  If you read my blog regularly, I love that you have come back to read it again!  I am SUPER excited to share with you my continual search for the Student-Led Classroom in the form of best practices and ideas that work for me and everyone!  I'm calling this Just the Place to Start because it is going to be a place where you can read and discover from past, present, and future blog posts based on my experiences in the Student-Led Classroom!  It will be, literally, a list that grows and changes so that you will have most of my posts in one place on this subject.  I'm just going to claim right now that "most" will be right.  You know how busy we get, so, be sure to follow me here on my blog so you get all the latest posts!  So, here we go! 

Fearless Learners Book Study!  Grab a copy and join in the fun!  
Fearless Learners: Student-Led Learning with a Little Fear Added In!    
Student-Led Learning:  It's All Gonna' be Just Fine (Publishing on June 27th)
Student-Led Learning:  Go For It! (Publishing on June 30th)
Student-Led Learning:  Connect with EVERYONE!  (Publishing on July 3rd)
Student-Led Learning:  Failure IS an Option!  (Publishing on July 6th)

Other Student-Led Musings:
Chew on This:  Student Inquiry with Dr. Larry Chew
Project Based Learning:  Shedding a Light on Area and Perimeter
Change Your Homework Collection Forever
Author's Point of View:  A Video Presentation 
Author's Point of View:  How we REALLY Learned the Style of Multiple Choice Questions
Author's Point of View:  Independently!  

That's a lot!  And there will be plenty more as I move into this model in my classrooms more and more!  I can't wait to share even more with you, so check back often!  Also, feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts, ideas, and experiences!  Let's learn together, so comment below! 

June 19, 2017

Chew on This: Student Inquiry with Dr. Larry Chew

Bonus round has begun!!  As I have shared, I'm on a quest to discover more and more about student-led Learning!  Today was an excellent discovery and it was FREE!  Awhile back my district had sign-ups for a free summer institute in science!  I jumped right in and I was accepted for the class!  Little did I know it would align perfectly with my goals for the year and that I would get to hear a great speaker too-Dr. Larry Chew!  

Dr. Chew's background was an aerospace professor who now presents nation wide!  How does an aerospace professor go from teaching college students complex engineering principles to reaching the hearts of teachers-it started with fear!  Fear that he was unable to prepare his own children for real life.  He was a great professor who's tests scores just didn't line up to prove that.  Instead of staying at "Oh well!" he went on the path to discover why!  Through this, he discovered that background knowledge and exploration were missing in his classroom!  So, he worked to develop an answer, and discovered inquiry based discussions that put the student in the role of discussion guider and questioner!  

This method is brilliant!  Purely brilliant!  It builds both background knowledge through exploration and student based discussions, allowing students to figure it out!  Let's face it, he's right when he shares that 2/3 of the student in our classrooms can't tell us the why.  But the reality is, no one is out there teaching us how to get them to be able to do it!  Chew points to the fact that it is up to us, the teachers, to get out of the way and allow the kids to do it, with a carefully planned classroom environment and the training needed to ask the questions themselves.  And, it's super easy!

I say "super easy" right now.  He explains that it will take lots of time and practice, and MANIPULATION!  That's right, he says that we must become master manipulators-to teach students how to go in the right direction with questioning and how to get them to "discover" the answer for themselves.  So, let's dive in!

First, it starts with the benchmarks.  If you don't know the benchmarks, you are dead in the water!  Plus, you do have to know the science or concept you are going to present.  He can, literally, in minutes provide a basic lesson idea.  He did it, multiple times, with multiple subjects!  From the benchmark, you develop a content statement-the thing kids are to take away, to remember, to LEARN from the whole lesson!  Next, find a quick activity that will take all of 5-7 minutes of time!  And, you are ready!  

Next, you present your students with the benchmark or whatever else you are required to do in less than 5 minutes.  DO NOT share the content statement!  Complete the activity and, then, have them write on a whiteboard (one per table in teams of 3) whatever your learning goal might bring.  The experiment we did is we wrote words to describe what we saw in the experiment.  Then he asked us to divide them into two columns.  Easy right.  What we DIDN'T see is Dr. Chew checking white boards for a key word-physical!  This is where the manipulation on the teacher's part is taking place. He is targeting 2 or 3 table groups (never students-tables!) to call on who have the right words and ideas as the start of the conversation!  And, what a conversation!  

Here's how it works! The process is called Add, Ask, and Challenge/Comment!  Dr. Chew modeled this over and over.  He asks the first question and chooses one of those 2-3 students who had the right concept, your concept statement goal, on their white board!  Simple right.  Here's where it gets good!  Dr. Chew then only calls on student names.  The student called on MUST ask a question of the TABLE (once someone talks, it goes to the next table member).  Once that is answered, the next student called on MUST CHALLENGE or  COMMENT  on what was said.  And it keeps going like this.  If a table doesn't know, it is up to the tables around them to help out and keep the conversation going.  You do this for about 10 minutes, without teacher input.  You can plant questions and you can thank someone who is misdirecting a comment, but you don't fix anything, even misconceptions.  But you listen carefully and take note of what you do need to fix when time is up!  Yep, and it is all kid based. Sounds too easy right!  Even Dr. Chew says we are working to hard at that perfect classroom.  If it messes up, refocus and try again.  If a table isn't involved, maybe tomorrow they will be!  It just takes time and practice!  

So, what happens when it is over?  Then it is teaching time. You present what you need to present, fix misconceptions, and focus them completely on the content statement!  You have manipulated them into believing they figured it out on their own!  BRILLIANT!  

There is also the closing activities-practice the content statement 3 times silently and then tell your team member-each taking a turn!  And that's IT!  Simple, easy, and BRILLIANT!  Check out more over at TommyC.org, Dr. Chew's homepage!  Be sure to check out the handouts and more!  

Personally, I can't wait to try out this method in my classroom.  It allows students more control, it allows me to teach with the students in mind, it provides more hands on in Science (but it can be used in any subject), and fit perfectly with my philosophy and where I'm headed!  

Let me know what you think in the comments section!  Can't wait to hear what you have to say!  

June 7, 2017

Project Based Learning: Shedding the Light on Area and Perimeter

This year's testing anxiety, both in students and teachers, is OVER!  Thankfully!!  However, so is my math book!  Yes, I know! Years ago, a math book was viewed as a holy grail in teaching.  It was, literally believed, that if you finished your math book there was something wrong with you!  You went too fast or taught too little!  Your students didn't master the  material!  Because, honestly, that's what math was all about-mastery!  In our high stakes testing systems, it is now about production line work!  Get it done-faster, incomplete, and without mastery-or your test scores will suffer!  Many times, we do our quick little "project" based questions at the end of the chapter and call it a day!   They "really" shed a light on what kids know, right!  (I can hear you laughing now!)

So, with the dilemma of no more 3rd grade math to teach and a number of weeks still at hand, I set forth on a quest to really "see" what my kids really knew about area and perimeter with this gem-Build a Park Project!

Let's start with what I really thought shall we!

Misconception #1:  
This will only take a week!

I figured the kids would whip out the required elements and the poster, and poof-done!  Now, the reality is, I was a little bit crazy when I thought this!  I've done tons of project based learning.  I know better!  But for some reason I was totally wrong about this one.  I had safely given them 5 days to plan and 5 days to "build".  I quickly realized that the planning was the deeper problem in this activity.  This leads to misconception #2.

Misconception #2:  
My students know how to use the formulas for area and perimeter!

HA!! Now I can laugh at that!  From my brightest to my struggler, they were just counting.  Over and over again, just counting!  We had completed lessons, we had used the formula.  It didn't matter-JUST COUNTING!!  This was quickly evident when none of them KNEW the formulas, even though we had just finished the chapter about a week before!  JUST COUNTING!  This was eye opening!  When we assume from a chapter that they get it, we are doing just that, assuming!  Our biggest struggle came with perimeter.  They could quickly adapt to the area formula-length x width- but the perimeter was a whole different thing!  They relied so much on counting that they didn't even know what numbers to add!  Yep, major misconception on both of our parts!

You can see the planning stage here.  This is where counting took place, from their rough ideas. This led to many problems in calculating using the formulas.  

Misconception #3:  
Required elements are required, right!

I have completed projects with my students that had required elements.  They were successful at that!  In math-it was like a whole new idea!  I had kids creating things with ZERO required elements.  Once I started checking here and there, it was like a lightbulb went off!  I had one student who had to scrap her whole project because they didn't understand that the list I went over and specifically said they needed was, well, required! So, this was another eye opening thing for me!
I worked with this student to adjust some "required" elements because they clearly knew the math on paper but just "missed" the idea of what "required" meant. 

Misconception #4:  
"Doing" the math will be easy.

When you are looking at basic adding and multiplying, you would assume that these are easier skills that students can complete.  However, this is a crossing over of skills, making it more complex.  This means that divergent thinking had to mix with convergent thinking (a concept I am currently reading about in a book called Make Just One Change.)  This cross over meant many easy mistakes being made.  Could they pull the numbers they need and then make them equal to what they "THINK" the area or perimeter was.  They wanted to draw squares instead of use lengths and widths in their drawing.  That meant skipped squares or unequal rows and columns.  That equaled FRUSTRATION!  Nothing that couldn't be solved, but they just couldn't "see" how the error in their drawing made the error on the math page.  Very enlightening I must say!
This shows that this student did not connect the area formula of 6 x 5 = 30 to how it should be correctly modeled.  

Misconception #5
 Presenting an idea will be easy with the R.A.F.T. method, after all, that's what it is for! 

If you have never heard of the R.A.F.T. method,  you are missing out.  This easy to use writing strategy is a fun way to motivate students to write.  The have a R. role, A. audience description, F. format  for a topic to be written as, and T. the topic to be written about.  I motivated them with this idea:

Yet, I got everything from a minute of sharing which sounded blah to a full fledge sales pitch.  The R.A.F.T. did motivate them, but I did not give enough information for all kids to really get it!  So, I got wise. While kids were sharing projects, I jotted a few great ideas I heard and, with that in mind, created a guiding document to help the students next time!  Here are some of the great ideas I heard from their presentations:
        *Share the name of your park (obvious, yet missed by many)
            *Include the theme of your park and why it is that theme
            *Share important locations and how they can be enjoyed by "guests"
            *Include a reason to invest in your park-what are the best qualities?
            *What is the price range to invest in your park?  (This is a great practice in place value and
              the value of land, etc.

This was one of the projects that had a full sales pitch as well!  

That about wraps these misconceptions up!  It was truly an enlightening thing to do.  The BEST moment of this entire experience was when my true math struggler made a HUGE connection between the formula and the shape, something this student had missed all along, even when counting. This student had that sudden light bulb moment where they literally went "OHHH!" when writing out the perimeter formula!  This child also scored the best they have ever scored on anything in math because other qualities emerged.  Their ability to give a good presentation, the detail they put into the project that others did not, the pure success this child felt all became a key component in the end result.  It truly reminded me of the reason why we must be do projects in math-and it will spur me on to find more!  

So, here it is!  

As you can see, this project is fun and informative for both the student and the teacher.  And, you get everything you need to complete this project and assess their work.  It really is an amazing project that I am so glad that I completed with my students and hope that you will complete with yours!  Let me know what you think by adding a comment too!  

June 6, 2017

Change Your Homework Collection FOREVER!

Yep, the more I look at this, the more that I know I have changed my collection of homework FOREVER!  Here's how!  

A few years ago, our district adopted Danielson as it's teacher observation tool.  We were NOT shown or inserviced on how dramatically different Danielson was from Marzano.  Marzano was very teacher friendly, a nice transition into a system that was designed to highlight teacher success in both traditional methods and more modern methods of learning.  Let's put it this way, this system was used for good, not evil!  Danielson on the other hand-pure EVIL!  Really, this system CAN and WILL be used to hurt teachers, depending on how your administration views the tool.  Well, needless to say, it was used as just that!  Instead of training and assisting teachers, this system was dropped into our laps and then administrators picked and chose who and how they would use this system of evil against-and I GOT IT!  Yep, I passed out post-its in the middle of a lesson-needs improvement!  That simple! The kids weren't doing the work, I was!  So, I set out to learn how to beat the system.  Not that I didn't want my students leading the classroom-I was known for how much differentiation I did with my students, the creativity I brought to lessons, project based learning, TECHNOLOGY! I mean, this was my thing-yet, BAM!  Needs improvement.  

So, I set out to change.

It started with being more organized in handling materials I use with the students and the creation of Table Leaders/Team Leaders in my classroom.  How this looked was simple.  On each desk I taped a pretty circle with a number in it-1 through 4.  The Team Leader was always person #1 at the table team.  They were "it" basically.  If there were any materials to gather and collect, it was their job to do so.  Everything I needed, they were my go-to students.  (I did still have a leader in class for leading the line, etc. I also still have classroom jobs!)  So, the next logical step was to use them to collect HOMEWORK-the job I literally hated the most in my classroom.  "Why not!" I thought!  This could be a totally great way for me to loose that job I hated!  I created a basic collection paper and it worked!  Then I started to think, "How can I get this to work on a long term paper to track it more easily for record keeping" and the Editable Student/Table Leader Checklist was born!  

This product is super easy to use.  You need to be sure you have the two fonts to view it in the best possible way-but, as you can see, my school computer doesn't have those fonts, so it can be used without them (just not as super cute!)  

Once the students bring me the clipboard, it just takes me moments to gather the work into the correct piles and check it in on the clipboard.  You can see my system has also developed some easy to use letters-M for missing and then smaller letters for the subject.  I also use AB for absent.  The greatest thing about this system is I keep these pages in my teacher binder  to go back to at report card time.  There are spaces for 4 students at each group and each day of the week.  The kids manage it all!  

One of the best things about this is that it also sets the students up for more responsibility and more ownership in the processes of the classroom.  The best thing for you is that it is FREE!  It is one of the easiest ways to set up Student Led Learning in your classroom! 

Over the next few months I will be talking more about how I am growing in the use of Student Led Learning and some of the Professional Development I am engaging myself in!  So, come back often and learn more about the Student Led Classroom!  

May 29, 2017

An Apple for The Teacher Giveaway!

Are you interested in winning!  Check out this great giveaway!  

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 6/5/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

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May 9, 2017

Site Wide Sale Fun!

YES!  It is that time of year when TpT appreciates us!  The site wide sale is here!  In honor of this awesome sale, I'm posting a chance for you to win a $100 TpT gift certificate!  Just follow the links below to enter! The more you enter, the more chances you have to WIN!  

Then, head on over to The Best Days and check out all of my great products for you to use in your classroom!  Some of my new goodies are:

And many more!  Thanks for dropping by and be sure to enter! (Type in The Best Days for the first answer!) 

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May 5, 2017

Five For Friday: May the 4th Be With You and a Contest!

This week is a week of appreciation for teachers everywhere! Gifts, flowers, cool drinks,  and special lunches abound!  But it is also the week that I look forward to all year-because of International Star Wars Day on May 4th!  Here's the quick lowdown on how to have a GREAT May the 4th Be With You!    

Wear an awesome Star Wars shirt!  This is a must because it signals to all the Star Wars fans in the building that you know exactly what day it is!  Before I hit the front door I was told, twice, May the 4th Be With You!  While walking around the halls in the morning I was greeted with this same phrase over and over!  Whenever and wherever I went, we were one with The Force because of my shirt (we are a uniform school).  

Get some really great music going!  I found this gem on YouTube! One hour of musical greatness!  And, honestly, the kids really enjoyed listening to it-for real!  

Get some great curriculum activities.  There is no reason you can't jazz your curriculum up with real activities tied to a Star Wars theme.  I made the paper on the left as their math warm-up.  They still worked on their math projects for area and perimeter.  The picture on the right is a Webquest I found on TpT by Mrs. Tech.  It was simple and easy, but best of all, I could use it as a close read.  This activity actually gave me a good idea of how to start using my Kindles in a variety of ways!  

Play a great game!  This is one I thought up last year and just adjusted for this year.  It is a Jeopardy style game.  However, the idea is based on subtracting points instead of gaining points so that the Wookie can win!  They LOVED it!  (Due to copyright, I cannot post this online. )

Make some great Star Wars themed treats!  The first one is a tie fighter.  Super simple-Chocolate Graham Crackers, a marshmallow, and some frosting.  Simply put frosting on the end of the marshmallow and put the Graham Crackers on!  Super simple!  For the light sabers you buy rod pretzels and food coloring.  There is enough frosting left to then color it. Frost the pretzel rods and enjoy!  YUM!  

So, as you can see, this is an easy and fun way to celebrate International Star Wars Day!  Now, onto how we will appreciate you!  Teacher's Appreciation was or will be celebrated over the course of these two weeks!  I've joined with 9 other Teacher-Authors to celebrate YOU!  

Teachers truly do light the way!  So, click on the Rafflecopter and follow all 10 Teacher-Authors on their TpT store to have a chance to win a $50 TpT Gift Card!  It's that easy!  The contest is open from May 5th - May 7th, with the winner announced on Monday, May 8th!  Thanks for all you do!  

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March 22, 2017

1000 Follower Thanks: Make Your Own Holiday Giveaway!

I am SUPER excited to be teaming up with The Pinning Librarian's Beth to be celebrating our 1,000 follower giveaway called Make Your Own Holiday Giveaway!  March 26th is Make Your Own Holiday Day!  We want to celebrate YOU on that day!  

First, I'm giving away a FREEBIE at my TpT store!  It is called Make Your Own Holiday Writing Project!  This super fun writing prompt can be used to explore ideas students have about their very own holiday!  It is FREE for a limited time, so grab it quickly! 

So, what about the GIVEAWAY!  Our giveaway will be going on from March 23rd-March 25th!  Your day to celebrate will be on March 26th!  We will be announcing our FOUR winners on that day!  You could win one of the following prizes:  

$300 Amazon Gift Card
$100 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
$60 Barnes and Nobel Gift Card
$50 LuLaRoe Emily Goodyear VIP Gift Card 

How AWESOME is that!  All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below!  

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I'd like to send out special thanks to all the Teacher Author's that helped to make this contest possible:

Luv My Kinders, Teaching Second Grade, Debbie Wood, Alina V. Design, Real Life in First Grade,  The Brighter Rewriter,  KinderMyWay,  Nastaran,  The Memorable Teacher,  The Teaching Files,  Bethany McClure,  Oink4PIGTALES,  Classroom Cuties,  Monica Parsons, Teaching With A Touch of Honey, Cassidy's Creation, Kinder Teamwork,  Rakovic Speech and Language Chat,  Dreams Teach,  Enriching Young Minds,  Sunshines and Lollipops, and Tanya Villacis.  Take a few minutes and check out their awesome stores!

March 17, 2017

The 5 Stages of the Teacher Observation Cycle: Or I Did Survived!

Woot!  I'm done!  The torture of this year's Teacher Observation Cycle is FINISHED for me!  Well, um, at least the formal one!  I've got one more walk-through to go, but the tough stuff is finished!  So, let's take a moment to reflect on the stages one goes through while enjoying the fine process of exposing our every moment of teaching to what feels like the WHOLE WORLD!  So, I'm joining up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for 5 For Friday!! Here are the 5 Stages of the Teacher Observation System


You know the feeling.  They put out the email, you rush to reply and sign-up!  This stage is kinda like child birth!  You can't remember what it is like the second time around. You have forgotten labor and delivery.  Well, you know you forget the pain of this thing too!  You think about how it won't be that bad!  You think about how it will be better this time: less time on paperwork, less time to stress, it will totally be fine!  AND, this is a whole different "baby".  You will get to experience something that will be "totally different"!  Who are we kidding!  We are totally tricking ourselves into the whole "labor and delivery will be fine the second time around" trick!  Yep-the Get-er-Done stage!  

Mind Changer

This begins to happen as you complete the paper work.  Will my lesson work-you know, the one I spent the last 50 million hours thinking about!  Should I even do that subject???  Maybe I should reschedule???  It happens EVERY SINGLE TIME!  You could be 24 hours out of the administration walking in your door and you will still be thinking about ditching everything you just wrote and do something totally different!  Mind Changer!

The Mad Dash

This is what happens in the last 24 hours before your observation.  In most cases, this includes your pre-observation.  The first of many tortures to come!  You sit in the room with your administrators feeling like a piece of meat at the supermarket!  Did I wrap what I just said with the right plastic wrap!  Does this have too much fat?  Is this lesson a prime cut or a cheap piece of beef?!  Am I rotting away without anyone purchasing me!  Yep!   You feel like that rotten piece of meat when you leave.  But, it doesn't stop there!  

You head back to your classroom and start gathering EVERY. LITTLE. THING. you need for this crazy display of your talents.  Chart paper is flying!  Every colored marker is placed in just the right spot.  The copy machine is spitting out endless pages for students to use just in case they finish the activity in five seconds and you don't have a single thing to do because the administration will be in there for what feels like an eternity.  About 3 hours AFTER you should go home, you finally do.  Only to then write out EVERY.  LITTLE.  DETAIL.  of that lesson so that you remember what to do, how to do it, and how to say it!  Only to discover you also did this while sleeping-so you've had none!  And now to only discover they are here...and it's time....and, well....it happens!

Desperately Waiting 

Now you have to wait... and wait...and wait!  For what seems like an eternity, you start to go back to Stage 2.  You start to question every part of the lesson.  Should I have done something different? Should I go in and beg for forgiveness and ask them to ditch the whole thing and do it again!  Can we PLEASE JUST MEET THIS SECOND AND CAN YOU JUST GET IT OVER WITH  NOW!  You see the administrator in the hall and just hope, for once, they will give you just a hint of how you did! All the while, that pit in your stomach is screaming, "RUN NOW!  As fast as you can-RUN!"  To finally arrive at the day of...


Of course, relief doesn't arrive till you have to sit through hearing Domain 1, Domain 3, Domain 2 and Domain 4's information.  You are just wait waiTING, WAITING for the ball to drop, the ship to sink moment.  "It's coming next, I know it is" is the constant thought in your head as they go over each area like they have all the time in the world!  All the while you are just thinking, "Tell me I'm great first!! Then tell me my scores and all the gory details!"  When you finally walk out that door, relief overwhelms you and you are numb.  I've started to call this Observation-Hangover!  But, gradually, it all lifts and you discover that all is right with the world, you can smile again, and you really are a great teacher!  

And that's the whole point isn't it.  We need to remember we are GREAT teachers.  One moment, 45 minutes or so,  of time is not who you are.  As we see these changes in our system, we must fight for who we are and that our quality is still quality, our passion is still passion, and our students still come first!  We can do this thing and still deliver quality instruction every day!  

Let me know how you manage your thoughts and feelings for the Observation System!  We can all use some great tips!  

February 25, 2017

Happy Birthday Teaching Autism! And a Contest too!

I'd like to wish a HUGE Happy Birthday to Nikki over at Teaching Autism!  And to do it I've joined her in celebrating with a chance to win a $100 gift card!  Jump on over to the Raffle Copters (there are 4) and follow along to win!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway Have fun everyone!

February 11, 2017

For the Love of Teachers Giveaway!

Talk about teacher envy!  I've joined a number of Teacher Authors to give you an exciting prize-a pair of Tieks!  I would TOTALLY want to win this contest!  I am dying to try out Tieks, especially now that I've seen them in person on two teacher friends at my school. Both teachers confirmed that they are the absolute BEST shoe they have ever worn and that, yes, they could wear them to Disney World and have happy feet all day long! (That's the true Florida test for shoes!) Anyway, you have a chance to win a $200 GIFT CARD to Tieks to purchase the shoes of your dream!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below and cross your fingers and toes that you win!  The contest will run from February 11th to February 16th-so don't delay-enter NOW!  The winner finds out on February 17th!

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Co-Hosts: A special thank you to Primary-On-The-Prowl, TeachMagically,  XClass to the Rescue, Exceptional Thinkers, Big Ideas for Little Hands, Zippadeezazz, Real Life in First Grade, Socrates Lantern, Spivey Sparks, Sweet for Kindergarten, Mickey's Place, A Spot of Curriculum, Draz's Class, The Watermelon Teacher, Teaching in the Heart of Florida, Mrs. Byrd's Learning Tree, Linda's Learning Loot, 2 Scoops of Kindergarten, Smith's Safari Adventures, Hookster's Ideas, The Best Days, Creative Nerd, M&M Bilingual, A Library and Garden, and Conversations from the Classroom for participating in this fabulous teacher giveaway! Be sure to check out their TPT stores!

February 10, 2017

Yo, Yo DeVos, There Are FIVE Things You Better Know!

Yep, she was voted in!  What a shame!  Teachers everywhere are mourning that fact too!  Not because she's Republican.  There are plenty of Republican teachers out there-me being one!  Why do we mourn-because she DOESN'T GET IT!  Nope, not a clue.  I'm joining Five for Friday to share the Five Things You Better Know!  And, trust me, I've got some good background on this one.  I come from Florid-DUH where Jeb Bush and Bill Gates have already tried it all.  So, Let's go!

Yo, Yo DeVos, BIG money won't fix it!  Yep, that's right.  Take a good look at Hillsborough County, Florida.  They got BIG money.  They got the Gates Foundation grant!  They threw curriculum, higher pay, teacher coaches, new "innovative" ideas and everything else at them.  IT DIDN'T WORK!!  Teachers still left.  School grades still didn't change.  IT DOESN'T WORK!  There are deeper things going on, but I'll get to that!  Big money in a school system won't fix problems because you are approaching it WRONG!  You can see that all across America!  Yo DeVos-are you hearing that with your $200,000,000 that got you this position.  We aren't scared by your big money, because we know it doesn't work.  It won't work for you either DeVos!

Yo, Yo DeVos, "NEW" curriculum won't fix it!  Yep, that's right!  Common Core is just another in a long string of terrible ideas developed by BIG BUSINESS-oh, that means you!  Now, at it's foundation Common Core is a good idea.   However, it is how you packaged it.  It is how it was brought to us.  In some states straight out.  In others, "hidden" as "OUR" state standards.  Flori-DUH tried this.  What, do you think we are stupid people.  That is one of the problems with this whole "educational reform".  You think we are stupid people.  Most of us are highly educated people, with multiple degrees, that read the news and seek truth past even their news stories.  We will investigate and learn-and we READ PROFESSIONAL GROWTH BOOKS-OHHHH!!  Shocking isn't it.  We actually continue to LEARN!!  So, we saw what was coming in this new curriculum.  We couldn't be tricked.  Come on government people.  You better wake up to the fact that we may appear to be meek and mild, but we are much, much more.  We see "curriculum change" coming from a mile away and we know what that means. BIG BUCKS FOR YOU!  Little support for us!  "Do it or else" from many levels of administration, starting at the Governor.  And more testing!  Big Business ruined Common Core-period! 

Yo, Yo DeVos-TESTING kids to death doesn't work either! Which now gets to the whole point of this post!  You are dealing with apples and oranges when it comes to educating students.  The haves and the have nots!  Yes, that's what all of you people up in your ivory towers have not figured out yet.  You think if you can fill kids with new curriculum and new tests, you've got the answer!  Higher standards, more new things-we can change the world!  NO, YOU CANNOT!  Until you start to recognize that this is a social class issue, you won't get anywhere.  Until you realize that providing opportunities for those in need is key, you won't get anywhere.  Until you recognize that students with a disadvantage financially, that live in poverty, have different issues and learning needs not met by your crazy curriculum and death by testing, you won't get anywhere!  You know what those students need-THEIR TEACHER WHO GETS THEM AND LOVES THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE!  That's right-that teacher, right there, in the trenches, who loves that kid, that will supply their needs for feeling safe and loved, who knows their reading level and helps them grow at their pace-THAT'S WHAT THEY NEED!  You know what else, they need alternative to "regular" classrooms-trade schools and job training.  Because I don't know where you "people" got the idea that every kid goes to college.  We, the teachers in the trenches, know they don't!  Heck, there are plumbers and mechanics making more than a lot of teachers right now!  And they didn't go to college.  Let's start doing all the things that research says we should do instead of testing our kids to death!  It won't work!  Never has, never will!

And, while we are on testing, let's talk about the "business" of education!  Do you not think that we haven't figured this out!  Come on!  We know exactly what you people are doing when you change curriculum.  We know about your ties to the testing industry and how they benefit your pocket.  And then you claim that teaching is a business. Take a  look at any five year old to see that they are not a business!  How can you dictate that any child is a business!  Pediatricians may make money by charging a fee, but they know those children sitting in their office are flesh and blood.  They know that their lives are in their hands.  If they went around thinking, "Well, this is another $1,000 in my pocket." no one would go to them.  It would be obvious!  That's what you are doing in for profit charter schools!  Parents are getting this!  Teachers are getting this!  Why do you think there is so much turn over at charter schools.  No one wants to work for less than the public school system.  Not to mention the ridiculous expectations.  I know of one teacher that had duty hours till 3:30 but her principal made her stay every day till 5:00-TO WORK FOR FREE!  It's bad enough we don't get paid, but to get disrespected like that-come on!  We know what you are "trying" to do,  but to hire the cheapest teachers at the cheapest rate and, then, in many cases, not even supply the curriculum or the higher expectations is ridiculous.  And, to say this is my opinion is one thing, but look at this data about graduation rates:

Not to mention that it has been reported in numerous places that your very own charter is failing-FAILING!  You better know, DeVos, that this is unacceptable!

Yo, Yo DeVos- Charter and Private Schools are not what is going to cure this problem!  In fact, Charters create a whole different problem!  Public school teachers can tell you that Charters are in no way the answer.  There is only ONE Charter in my entire district that does one thing different than a "regular" school.  And, by the way, they were a magnet that went Chart, not the other way around.  They were first built on a public school platform-the rest of Charts-totally a pick and choose system. Sure they do 'lotteries" but we know what that looks like. Who do these Charters think they are kidding!  Public teachers have learned two things about Charters-they get to pick and choose who they want and kick out the rest and they don't get the job done!  There it is. THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS but that is far and few between.  Why, you ask?  They are too worried about making money!  They don't purchase curriculum.  They hire newer teachers at less wages-so their turn over rate is constant.  Constant!  So many teachers bail and end up back in public schools because they can't afford to live!  Meanwhile, the "company" of the Charter is posting financial growth!   There's something wrong with that right there!!!  But, we already covered that!  Plus, I think there is this illusion that if the Charters don't get it done, then PRIVATE will come!  No they don't!  Look, DeVos, there is not this magical group of people out there that are sitting around going, "Today is a good day to open a Private school!"  There aren't even magical groups of people sitting around saying, "Let's open a Charter school!"  Teachers don't dream about this stuff and admin try it but usually fail because teachers won't back it-and you have to have the teachers!  It just isn't happening!  And this is Flori-duh!  Come on-if it was going to be the land of the fairy tale Charter and Private schools land, it would have happened here! And it didn't!  They have come, and they have gone-failed!  Parents didn't drink the Kool-Aide!  Who is left in the dust?  Students!  Time and time again students arrive from Charter schools that are "great" and are so far behind that they have to enter remediation to close their gaps-smart kid!  Kids that should have known what to do and how to do it.  Yet were supposed to be getting a "better" education!  Why do you think all those Senators kept asking you about accountability!  Charters need to be just as accountable or they are discredited!  You should be embracing accountability!  You should be opening your arms to it and totally saying YES if Charters are so much better!  Put YOUR money where the mouth is and make Charters accountable!  PROVE THEY ARE BETTER!  We are waiting!  

Yo, Yo DeVos-IDEA Money "better never" be touched!!  We are actually waiting for this.  Not because we want it to happen, but because of "them".  Yep, you only have to experience  "them" once to know, you don't mess with "them".  But, come on DeVos-do it!  We DARE you too!  Not because of kids, but because maybe then, just then, in your "private school" life, you will understand that money doesn't buy everything, but IDEA money keeps families going on hope, on a "normal", on a path of education for their child.  IDEA money is not a tool for you to be flexible with!  It is a lifeline for so many families in so many ways.  So, go ahead, we dare you!  Awake "them",  those Momma Bears!  Awaken "them" and there will be a storm so big that The Women's March looked like some bees swarming around some rotten honey swatted by those Momma Bears!  And they won't go away! Any teacher will tell you!  So, you better get ready!  There's nothing like those Momma Bears!  (And, just for the record, I will be joining them.  I get my Momma Bear on when necessary!)  

So, there's my 5 Yo Yo DeVos points.  Here's the deal.  You better also understand who teachers are.  We are silent many times, but not on this.  There is another storm brewing.  An election storm.  And, we know the numbers now.  We know who is taking your bribe money because that's how we see it.  That storm, the election storm equals teachers voting.  We have to!  We have to wear the sticker to school as an example. But, more importantly, because we believe in it!  We teach it to the next generation the way we do because we believe!  And, we are like elephants.  We NEVER forget.  So, even if we support that party, we remember.  At this point, we don't need these particular people in office.  We vote. We remember!  And we are a LARGE group-in many places the largest group of employees in a town.  We band together when you attack. We form a unit!  Just remember, we are coming...

P.S.  These are my opinions and in no way reflect my school or my administration or district in any way.  Feel free to comment, but know I will not directly respond to you.  I can't get my reply to work on my blog! Plus, it is my opinion based on my personal experiences in my state.  I am fully aware that there are always exceptions.  I am in no way attacking Charter teachers.  I know you are needed right where you are at!