deltamiss: (Teacher Miss)
2009-09-11 06:06 pm
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Of the fifty-eight students I teach, only FOUR made an A on the first writing assignment. I decided to take the bull by the horns early on this year and attempt to correct some rampant problems.

So today we worked on identifying parts of know - nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, verbs and interjections - and their relationships. I shouldn't have to do this unit in eighth grade, but I do. We began with prepositions and conjunctions because every single child who comes to my class is under the impression that it is impossible to begin a sentence with 'because' - because some fourth grade teacher was too lazy to explain the difference between dependent and independent clauses. No offense to any fourth grade teachers, but I'm sick of it.

While listing the subordinate conjunctions, the word 'where' came up. A student raised his hand and asked, "Which one?"

Which one???

I had an inkling what he meant because I see it all the time, but I wanted to hear him ask the question. I looked at him quizzically.

"You know. W-H-E-R-E or W-E-R-E?"

W-H-E-R-E did this notion that the two words are interchangeable originate? It's beyond me, but it is a common error - more common than anyone would believe. We W-I-L-L learn the difference T-H-I-S year.
deltamiss: (School House Rock)
2009-08-20 04:14 pm
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A LOT got done in my classroom today. In fact, with the exception of the lettering on two bulletin boards, I'm finished with it. That gives me two days to work on lesson plans. Good job!

Only two short meetings today, thank goodness. Tomorrow and Monday are totally free, at least for right now. I should be able to get copies of the autobiographical project done and a couple of weeks worth of lesson plans.

A co-worker brought his fourteen-year-old son to work today. James brought his Pineapple Conure with him. Talk about FUN! There wasn't much opportunity for interaction, but the bird did agree to sit on my finger for a few moments. It rode around on James's shoulder all cute. Finally, there were a couple of minutes when James nor I were working like Turks so I took advantage and snapped a few pictures of the bird. I hate the lighting was bad, and I really hate I didn't get a picture of James, but oh, well. ;) Besides, three of the four pictures I took were blurry. :(

Meet Tango...

deltamiss: (Bloomin' Parsley)
2009-05-01 04:37 pm
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Poetry in a Pot...

What a week!

For the Poetry in a Pot project the students have to write a haiku. It is a difficult form of poetry, at best, but for some reason the kids enjoy them. I use the traditional model of three lines, five-seven-five syllables, about nature and with a contrast. By the time I've read two or three dozen, they all begin to sound alike. Next year, the poem comes first...then the pot. It is exhausting trying to guide seventy/eighty kids in writing poetry of any kind, but perhaps if they complete the difficult part first, they'll be more likely to create some fair images.

I have discovered that haiku is an exercise in:

1. Futility if a teacher fully expects to get a top-quality poem. :/

2. Discipline for the student when I am the teacher and he has to edit time and time again.

3. Patience for the teacher when she is working diligently to guide the student to a decent first line.

3. Revelation for the teacher when she discovers a kid who just won't give up no matter how many edits are required.

Only a few of the students have finished their poems, but all have finished the pots. I think they turned out better than last year's group. I really like the use of different textures and colors together. Even the all-leaf pots turned out great. :D

Poetry Pots... )
deltamiss: (School Project)
2009-04-27 05:25 pm
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So last Friday morning I was tooling along trying to figure out how to extend the spring unit a little because I'd run out of material earlier than expected and wasn't ready to begin working on the Poetry in a Pot project. The forty-five minute commute to school is productive time for me as it is a boring lonely drive with just me and NPR. Anyway, I had a brainstorm.

Although I had two short stories I could have used, we've been put on a short leash with regard to paper use and the stories were just too long to copy. I remembered a poem called "Thumbprint" by Eve Merriam in the lit book and was considering just what I could do to tie it into the unit when it hit me.

I spent about thirty minutes preparing the foundation (I'm definitely NOT an artist) for the activity. I had the students read the poem, and we discussed it. Then I 'thumbprinted' each of them. From a distance the prints look pretty much the same, but up close the differences shine.

The students chose color and position. I love the results!!

Thumbprint Garden - Three Views )
deltamiss: (Rainy Day)
2009-04-20 06:55 pm
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So far, so good...

We have missed the worst of the weather I think. There was a 70% chance of rain last night, a 70% today and tonight, but the sun is shining and has been off and on all day. We could use the rain, but I don't want the severe thunderstorms that produce hail. I just planted a garden, for goodness sakes! However, my joints are screaming. That usually means rain. :/

Today was actually a nice first day back after a long break. The kids were surprisingly good, but then I didn't give them much room to do anything but work. ;)

Not much doing in Down East North Carolina tonight so I'll leave you with some macros I took this evening. I'm sort of pleased with these.

Bold! )
deltamiss: (Teacher Miss)
2009-04-09 04:10 pm
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Great Day!

Today was a fabulous day at school for several reasons. While in my class, the kids were extra good. Don't ask me why. It could have beeen because they didn't have time to breathe, let alone cause trouble, or it could have been because I was in a good mood and didn't allow them to upset me. ;)

At the beginning of planning, my neighbor (who is grade level chair) came into my room to tell me the principal wanted to meet with the eighth grade teachers for five minutes. I sighed, put away the papers I was grading and followed her to another teacher's room. When I walked through the door they all yelled, "Happy birthday!" Hahahahahahahaha!

My team partners had organized the party - Andy's wife (who is an excellent baker) made a strawberry cake with cream cheese icing, Laura filled an Easter basket with all of my favorite snacks. There was cheese dip and fruit and lots of cards and laughter. I teach with some fine folks! My only regret is that I didn't have a camera with me.

deltamiss: (School House Rock)
2009-03-30 05:30 pm
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Field Trip...

We went on the ONE obligatory field trip today. If anyone in the world hates field trips more than I do, I'd like to meet them, but this one turned out quite well.

We went here, the first permanent capitol of the colony of North Carolina. It is only thirty miles from where I live, but I'd never been. William Tryon moved to New York in 1771 and served as colonial governor there.

I want to go back when I don't have twenty kids to keep corralled. In fact, it would be a great field trip for me and the grands. As a history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed the period furnishings and the kitchen garden.

I didn't take my camera because of the battery issues (I forgot to buy them Saturday), but if the kids and I go in two weeks, I definitely will. The formal flower gardens are really pretty.

We stopped at a chain buffet restaurant on the way home for lunch, but only had thirty minutes to get 62 people fed. I didn't much enjoy my lunch.

Actually, this field trip was the best I've ever done.
deltamiss: (Spinning Snowflake)
2009-02-04 05:29 am
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It's snowing, but one has to look veeeeerrrrrry closely to see it. The district has delayed school two hours. I guess it's heavier 35 miles northwest of here.

So here I sit...all dressed up and nowhere to go for two hours. :/
deltamiss: (School Rules)
2009-02-02 04:32 pm
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I can't take it anymore!

It has been a long time since I complained about poor grammar, but a couple of commercials on television have just gotten under my skin lately.

After [ profile] mummm posted the link to the article about Birmingham, England eliminating the apostrophe from street signs, it's been difficult to rein in my frustration. According to the man who made the final decision, apostrophes are 'confusing'! Huh??? How confusing can the TWO main rules be? It's not like the COMMA that has a gazillion uses. Sheesh!

But, this post isn't about the apostrophe - although I could write a whole essay on that mistake. No, this post is about when to use less and when to use fewer. How difficult can it be? Not very.

Use less as the adjective if the noun canNOT be numbered. Less talk, more action...less milk, more cereal....less reading, lower test scores. Use fewer as the adjective if the noun can be numbered. FEWER commercials...FEWER mistakes...FEWER idiots! There is a cable movie network that advertises it shows MORE movies and LESS commercials. Helllllllooooooo?! I can't remember what the other ad is for right now (maybe an insurance company), but the ad writers make the same mistake. Both drive me straight up the wall.

You do NOT want me to get started on farther/further. ;)

While I'm ranting let me just say that for the last few years I've noticed a decided downward trend in students' general knowledge, creativity, analysis skills and the ability to think. My first year at the school where I teach now was a culture shock. I'd just come from years in inner-city schools, and my expectations weren't very high. The ability of the students that first year seemed to outstretch any student I'd taught in the twenty previous years. I thought they were brilliant. Then I taught gifted students for two years and after having raised my expectations, I was sorely disappointed that the AIG kids were only a notch or two ahead of the regular ed kids (I will say that there were a handful of brilliant students in the first AIG class I taught). Since then it's been downhill all the way.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the No Child Left Behind act (passed in 2001) has further ruined public education. Padding grades, dumbing down classes, passing students to the next grade even when they haven't earned any grade above an F, not holding students accountable...products of NCLB.

I realize that the ad writers for the cable network were not the beneficiaries of NCLB - they are just ignorant - but when all is said and done, NCLB has made matters worse, not better.

I teach with the mother of one of my former AIG students. T is just about the brightest kid I ever taught, but he is failing senior Advanced Placement English for a variety of reasons. He told his mother that he wished he could take my eighth grade English class again as a refresher course because he hasn't learned anything since then. Yes, that made me feel good, but it also made me sad. What are we doing to our kids???

deltamiss: (Cup of Joy)
2009-01-12 06:03 pm
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How high the moon...

The moon was so bright this morning I almost could have driven to work without headlights. Absolutely beautiful.

We've been reading some poetry about winter in class. The moon reminded me of one of the poems.


Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

Walter de la Mare
deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-12-19 03:17 pm
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Project 366...

When my girls were in elementary school, we chose what we considered useful and thoughtful gifts for their teachers...teacher ornaments, thank you notes, holiday cheese spreaders. Anything we thought the specific teacher would like. The girls always appreciated the thank you notes, too.

I stopped the teacher gifting in junior high. It was difficult enough to buy for two or three teachers, but six each was a bit much. So I've never expected gifts from my students. The years I spent in inner-city schools, there were none. Well, there was that one year that a seventh grade girl gave me a broken, clear plastic angel ornament wrapped in a kitchen match box. She was so proud. I still have that ornament somewhere. Anyway, I am always very thankful for any gifts I receive and make a point of writing a thank you note to the child.

2008 is the year of The Sugar Plum, I guess. There must be a pound of sugar in the guise of gifts...hard candy, homemade candy, chocolate bars, cocoa mix, sugar cookie mix. And if it isn't enough to EAT it, I can always SMELL it in the candles (totally love them) or BATHE in it or BUY more with the McDonald's gift card (but I'm saving that for my morning coffee which is never sweetened). My house is practically made of sugar today.

To be fair, I did receive some mugs (filled with candy and/or cocoa), a very cute Christmas dish towel, a couple of cookie cutters and some fruit. Maybe that balances out the sugar. ;)

Photo of the Day...'Sugar, Candles and Mugs...Did I Mention Sugar?'

deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-12-16 05:17 pm
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Project 366...

The wife of one of my team members is a baker. Lucky me! She sent a container crammed with all sorts of scrumptious stuff...baklava, pecan tassies, cookies, Martha Washington balls, peanut butter balls, fudge (TWO kinds). I had to bring it home because I would be too tempted to snack on something all day long.

I feel a sugar high coming on. ;)

Photo of the day...'Christmas Goodies'...

deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-12-11 04:20 pm
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Project 366...

A couple of years ago the principal began a mentoring program designed for students who rarely receive recognition of any kind. They are not athletes, cheerleaders, in the band, perfect attendees, straight A get the picture. The members are good, average kids who have few friends and little support at home, and many are from very low socioeconomic backgrounds. The 'team' meets once a month and participates in esteem/team-building exercises and snacks. Today was a meeting day, and because some of my students were participating, I joined them in the media center for a while.

The team-building exercise was hysterical. Each group had to blow up balloons, tie them off and stuff them into pantyhose to create antlers. One member had to don the antlers and yell, "RUDOLPH" when the team completed the task. Each team won an award for being first or creating the best antlers or working well together or whatever. I haven't laughed so much in a long while. This will be a tough act to follow...the eighth grade teachers are in charge of January's meeting.

I took lots of pictures but couldn't get one of just my kids so I chose the display model for today's photo.

Photo of the Day...'Reindeer Antlers'...

deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-11-05 05:09 pm
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Project 366...

A story...

My name is Tatiana, and I live on the north slope of a very large, rough mountain. It's green - very green - right now, but soon a blanket of white will cover the ground. Then I will not be able to go out. I will be housebound again and this time alone. I have stacked firewood and stored mushrooms and nuts for the coming winter. I will be safe.

The explosion is still a vivid memory. Every hut except mine was blown off the mountain. Great plants splintered and fell willy-nilly around the countryside missing my house by mere inches. Slabs of wood and even parts of my neighbors' roofs still dot the pasture downhill. I will leave them as a reminder.

My beloved Andrei died in that pasture, but I choose to remember his fine smile and tender ways, not his gruesome death. His teachings about living off the land will come in handy this winter. I will survive in honor of him. But first I must purchase some sheepskin. It's cold in here.

Tatiana's hut is my photo of the day...'Precipice'...
deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-10-10 04:36 pm
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Project 366...

There is a 'sward' (I like that word and rarely get to use it) across the access road into the school campus that is just beautiful right now. The custodians mowed the grass yesterday, and now the area looks like a park.

From this angle you can see how the ground rolls around slightly, and you can see the kudzu-covered scrub trees in the background. The soccer goal is barely visible behind the trees. I wish I could have gotten a clear picture of the yellow and red leaves on the ground. I tried several angles, but none really captured the scope I was looking for as well as this. Plus, it was very overcast today, which means the sky in the picture is muddled. :( Even so, I like the picture.

Photo of the Day...'Sward'...

deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-10-08 04:31 pm

Project 366...

Let me say up front that it is not the quality of the workmanship that made me choose today's photo of the day (although I think it's pretty good considering the limited resources the kids have available to them), but rather it is the spirit embodied in the very recognizable symbol of autumn. It is confusing that fall is a time to use a symbol of plenty. Produce seems more abundant during summer, but who am I to argue? ;)

At any rate, the season fast approaches during which we try to find time to appreciate what we have. Gratitude is a lot better than whining about what we don't have. I don't know about you, but I don't lack for much of anything. Life's accoutrements around here may not be top of the line, but so far (except for another headlight and the AC in my car) everything still meets my needs. No one in the family is burdened with major financial woes (been there; done that; have the t-shirt) or terminal illnesses (also been there). We manage to get where we need (and most of the time want) to go; fulfill responsibilities; stay warm or cool and dry; fill our stomachs; sleep in a bed. Honestly, what more could a body ask for?

Photo of the day...'Cornucopia'...

deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-10-03 04:37 pm
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Project 366...

The weather is changing and so are my taste buds. Something spicy like chili, maybe? Or another cassoulet? I know...pumpkin pasta! But not from the pumpkins in the picture. They're too cute to cut. ;)

Photo of the day...'Pile-O-Pumpkins'...another student work sample...

deltamiss: (Photo Miss)
2008-08-29 04:25 pm

Project 366...

It's Friday...and pay day...and more rain is falling...and I've just begun a three-day weekend.

'Color Me Happy' of the day...