Friday, December 21, 2012

The Break is Coming! (Is this a good thing?)

I love teaching and the students, thus I am only half excited about the holiday break. I know I will enjoy my time with my family, especially so since my husband will be on vacation also, but I know I will be thinking about the students I work with and how their holiday is going. I know not every student is sleeping in a warm house or has an abundant amount of food on the table. I also know that even though I worry about this, I also worry about how to get my students to complete their work on time and how to help them become better readers and writers. Yes, I am a worrier and will be this way till my death. I worry about how to reach every student who enters my classroom. I worry how I can differentiate the lessons or spend time with the students to help them grow as a learner. I worry about how to best evaluate the students. I worry...I worry...and I worry! Does this feeling every go away? My first thought is no, if you want to be a good teacher. It relates to being a parent, the worrying. I enjoy getting to know my students for the year they are with me and then they are gone, just like our own children, eventually. My hope is that my worrying is for something. That all that I am trying to do for the students helps at least a few students who sit at a rickety desk in my classroom. I guess only time will tell.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NCTE Conference

I am at the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Conference and having a great time. I cannot believe the author's I have been able to meet along with the amount of free books I have received. Now the big problem is how I will be getting these valuable treasures home. Shipping media mail I think is what is going to happen. Oh, what problems! I have met Jon Scieszka who writes Guy's Read and Scott Westerfeld who has written among other titels the Uglies series. I was able to talk to these authors and I found out from Scott Westerfeld how he formed the idea for Uglies. He stated that a friend that was living in New York had to move to Los Angeles. Scott, among other friends, was teasing him about being in this appearance driven town. But this is not yet where the idea came from for that series. His friend went to the dentist and after his cleaning the dentist called him into his office to have a discussion about what his plan was for his teeth. "Where would you like to see your teeth in five years?" the dentist asked. His friend replied "What?!" The dentist wanted to make a plan for his teeth so that the teeth were in movie star order (e.g., perfectly straight, white, and no bad breath). Thus, the idea formed in Scott Westfield's mind, a thought that he could not believe a doctor would want to make one change who they are just to fit a mold. Great story, right?! More later about the author's I meet tomorrow!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Anxiety? Frustration? All rolled into one!

Okay, I know that a paid trip to Las Vegas and the ability to meet/connect with fellow educators who teach English and Reading should make me giddy, but it does not. Not only is Las Vegas not my idea of a good time (sorry I do not gamble or do the lovely things Vegas is known for), but leaving my students right now is giving me severe anxiety. No matter what I do to prepare my students for my departure, every time I leave for a training my students fall apart. Why? I pre-teach the lesson that the substitute will have the students working on, I do not introduce new material, and I leave all support materials on my website. What am I doing wrong? Any ideas out there? I also feel that I have soooo much to do, as we as educators ultimately always feel. I feel that no matter what I put for a time frame in my mind, even estimating a longer amount of time, for lessons it always takes two-times longer. Yes frustration and anxiety are my new go to words. Now add on a trip that will take me away from my students for four school days and six days away from my family and I am trying not to rip my hair out or give myself another ulcer (I think I already have one as my stomach is a molton lava pit with a churning of acid). I sit and take a deep breath, just hoping that this time everything will be great. That this time the students will not have a zillion questions for me via the web/mail. That this time I will see the beautifully completed work of my smiling, angelic students. That this time my dream is a reality. Please! Please! I beg that all goes well and I come back refreshed, energized, and renewed to the students who missed me and are eager to learn. No I am not dreaming!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

1st Week of NECAP Done!

We finished the first week of NECAP testing with students and I have to say- thank goodness only one week left to go! The students are taking this seriously, which is great, but some are becoming completely stressed out. I had a student about to cry because of the stress she was feeling with the test. What are we doing to our students that this occurs? Are we pushing the test too much? Are we putting too much pressure on our students when we discuss the tests and how much we want them to try for their best? Or is this really an issue with the standardized testing overall, thus being a state/government issue? I am not sure, except that I hate seeing my students upset, frustrated, and not wanting to come to school due to these tests. One more week and we can go back to a regular schedule and actually having teaching time with our students!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

ACTEM Training

I am attending ACTEM training in Augusta to learn about how I can integrate technology into my classroom even more. It is great to see everything out there, but how can we financially get there and how do we train everyone? I am interested in trying to find grant money or donors that are willing to support the classroom for such products as EnoFlex or a Vaddio Camera. If you do not know what these are then check them out online- it is amazing! I am missing my students and my own boys with the training. I have checked in with both of them, and all seems to be going well (I hope it continues!).

Okay on a side note- I hate it when there are know-it-all's in class. How annoying! Another teacher continually would answer the questions directed at me or even interrupt me when I was talking. She was older and very presumptuous!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Treat Me Like an Adult?

I told my students at the beginning of the year that my class is hard and I am a hard teacher. My expectations are high, but I believe that the expectations are reachable for each and every student. Yet, every year my students complain that I expect a lot out of them. The students usually whine about the work and expectations daily. On the other hand, the students, every year state that they cannot wait to go to high school because there they are treated like adults. My response is how can I treat you like an adult if you still want me to not push you intellectually?  My question is, how do you handle this with students? Do you just keep going with it and pushing the students? Or, do you back off a bit and let it be easier for them? Is this not doing a disservice to the students in the long run?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Student Choices

I went to a conference yesterday and my students decided to loose control over their usual norm behavior. I was so disappointed, frustrated, and upset about this. I even had a couple of students email me in the afternoon telling me how frustrated s/he was due to the noise in the room and not being able to work. Additionally, a student was videotaped fooling around in class by throwing gummies in his mouth. This is something that I will never understand- why do people insist on videotaping themselves doing things s/he should not be to show the world and not think s/he will be caught? Anyways, it was an eventful day today with my students and my discussions of disappointments in their behavior and lack of work. How am I going to be able to go to a conference in November for 4-days?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Trying to fit it all in!

I am feeling a bit rushed and daunted by the amount of curriculum and skills that I am needing and wanting to teach my students. I know it is only the first few weeks of school, but I feel that there is so much to do and such little time. We are reviewing for our standardized tests, that are upcoming, which students need to remember such test taking strategies. I am teaching students reading and note taking techniques, along with learning more with research on terms in our nonfiction text. Additionally, in writing class we are researching about the brain and students are needing to learn how to research correctly- GOOGLE IS NOT A SOURCE IT IS A SEARCH ENGINE! Deep breaths are helping!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The First Week of School- Check!

We finished the first full week of school yesterday and I think it went well. I am starting to feel like I am getting back into the groove of teaching and the schedule. I am also getting to know my students and the students are getting to know me. Things, so far, are going well. Some students are feeling overwhelmed with the technology we are having them do, such as use Google Drive for their work and placing it in a folder that is shared with me, instead of typing it in Word and printing. I keep telling them that the more that they use the technology the easier it will be in the long run. Some of my past students have emailed me and stopped by to visit. It is great to see them and hear how well they are doing. I hope all continues to go well! I am wishing everyone a great start of school!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The First Week of School

Well, the first week of school is now officially done and I have to say that we are off to a good start. I am enjoying my students, but I am not so sure that they are enjoying my class. Reading and writing are not the usual subjects students love. When I mention what we are going to be writing about I hear the groans and sighs in class. I try to make it exciting but fear that they will always drag their feet when having to come to my class. Science and the labs, along with the funny videos shown by a funny teacher in history class are out beating me for interest with the students. Any ideas on how I can get the students excited about class along with writing expository essays are welcomed!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Last Day of 360* Training

This morning the two teachers from Estonia presented their history and its relation to WWII- very informative and something that I did not really know about till their discussions. I think this bit of history was left out of what we know of WWII. The Estonians were sent to Syberia for death camps from the Soviets as the Soviets wanted to take over with the Germans (eventually the Germans and Soviets turn against each other). Look at this site if you want more information
 We then had wrap up conversations and a lecture by Robert, the executive director of the Holocaust Human Rights Center of Maine, on antisemitism. I am going to eat at a organic bakery this afternoon on my way home. I am excited to go home, as my summer has been busy. Monday begins the school year for all of us teachers in SAD #27- excited about this year!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Day Ended Well!

Okay not a great day at training. We focused a lot on bullying and harassment, which we are now to call the bully the perpetrator and the victim the target. I learned some new information/techniques in the first session of the day but after that my day was a bit monotone. I have a hard time sitting and just listening- not typing or interacting with conversation, which is what we did for the rest of the day. Charles Rotmill, a Holocaust survivor who presented by Skype to the 8th grade class last year, presented to us at the end of the day. I loved hearing some stories that he did not share with the students, such as who his father's girlfriend was after they lost his mother and hearing him play the harmonica- beautiful! At dinner I had a great conversation about life, history, and beliefs with Charles and a student taking this training, Nicole from the University of Farmington. When I came home (really the motel) I logged onto my email to find that my project on Donors Choose was fully funded! I will be receiving four iPod's for the classroom with splitters (for multiple headphone use)! I am excited!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

3rd day of 360* training

Today was an eventful day. It was the last day with Stephanie the trainer from Yad Vasehm. She was an amazing resource to have and had a great way to teach us with stories, film, and information. We discussed the rescue efforts of other countries and why it took as long as it did to occur. It was interesting to hear that the overall German intent to kill all the Jews was the driving force for everything and Germans did not feel that anything would stop them. Additionally,  July 1939 in US 32% believe Jews have excessive power in business; 41% believe they need to be deported; 1941 44% thought the Jews were a threat and had too much power. WOW! Great information today and I am sure more for the next two days.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 2 of 360* Training

Today went well and I felt a little less overwhelmed. We were able to discuss more today and debate some topics, which I enjoy doing. One topic was the role of educators in presenting the Holocaust to our students and what we will do when the Holocaust survivors are no longer here to say their story. It was interesting to hear what people said, which ranged from being the voice to those lost, to those who say that all we can do is say what has been said with videos or diaries not try to be the person voice. I had a great lunch with two teachers from Estonia (where I visited this summer) along with two other teachers from schools in Maine. The conversation centered on Estonian history and we found a lot of similarities between Estonian's history with the Soviet Union and the Holocaust. I am enjoying the training and cannot wait to share all that I am learning with my students.

Monday, August 6, 2012

1st Day of 360* Training

Today was the first day of my 360* training at the Maine Human Rights Center. It was intense, but very informative. I learned about how Hitler came to power, which was told by a Holocaust historian. We then had some training on the Echos and Reflection manual and website. The website will take some playing with to see all of the resources, but I am able to sign up my classes to have them watch certain videos or do certain activities. We also have a presenter from Yad Vashem organization, which is based in Israel. She truly is a wealth of knowledge. We ended the day beginning to discuss the Final Solution, not exactly a uplifting topic but necessary to understand the Holocaust. Four more days of this training, which I see myself getting a lot out of but it is exhausting to think about this topic all day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Middle Level Academy

Today and tomorrow I am attending Middle Level Academy. This is where we work on different technologies to use in the classroom, discuss scheduling, and collaboration. It is a great time to work out any kinks we have and discuss any issues that have come up. I was able to play with tasks and LanSchool (I am excited about being able to share screens and information so easily along with seeing what the students are doing). I enjoyed the first day and hope the second day goes as well.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gearing Up for the Start of School

I went into my classroom again this morning to get ready for the arrival of the students. I bought a bunch of books over the summer and some were given to me by my generous parents, which I now have to find room for on the already full bookshelf. I will figure out something, hopefully! I am excited to begin school and meet all the new students. I know we are going to have a great time learning and reading this year!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Last Day of STEM Training

Today was the last day of STEM training and I had a blast. I was able to work out the kinks of my website and some on my video cropping that I am trying to work on in the morning. It was productive in my two morning classes as I was able to work on making worksheets, updating my website, and collaborating with other professionals. I had a great lunch conversation with a few other professionals about teaching in general. My afternoon class of Murder, Mystery, Arson and Disease was great fun as we made a murder scene, which a person was chosen at random to take home-not me :( . I then headed home to my boys who actually did a good job keeping the house clean (surprisingly!). Of course they ate everything in the house so I had to go food shopping and prepare for my parents to arrive tomorrow for their visit. I am looking forward to seeing them!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 4 of STEM Training

I have once again gotten a lot of work done. I went for my run this morning and my legs now have many scratches from the high grass- ouch! I ended up running in the long, muddy, and slippery puddles as the grass was just hurting too much. My classes have been going well as I have been finishing and adding information to my class website. I am excited about all that is going on and having my questions answered so well by the people who are training us this week. This afternoon I am going zip lining at the Great Falls- I will update on how this goes. On my last class of the day we did a Murder Mystery Dinner. It was fun to see all of us animated (as we had to pretend to be other people and I was Dr. Sigmund Fraud). We had to guess at the end who we thought was the murder and none of us got it right.

Okay I went zip lining at the Great Falls in New Brunswick with ZipZag. It was great! I had a few butterflies as I was standing on the log. This was because you are high up already and strapped on the line looking down or across to where you are going to be crossing. Once we (as there are two people at a time- one on one side and one on the other- there are two different lines) took off I was fine. I was looking around and enjoying the view of the falls. Natashia was on the line next to mine and she was a hoot! She yelled and fist pumped the air and on our second run she told me I had to do this, so we did it together. Great times!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 3 of STEM training

I had a great morning so far. I did not get lost running, but I did see fresh bear tracks and moose poop! In my morning classes I have learned how to edit videos online at (it is amazing!) and worked on my website along with other Google products. It has been a productive morning! My afternoon class on Murder, Mystery and Arson is okay. We did some reading on an arson so it was a bit boring. In the afternoon I hiked Aroostook State Park. It was not a bad hike up on the North side and great views at the top. Coming down we decided to go down the South side (opposite of what is recommended) and we found out quickly why. There is a large cliff that you have to scale down, and with my water climbing shoes it was a bit slippery. I took my time and made it safely. We arrived a bit late for dinner but it was still available. I then shoveled my dinner down to make it to my free 15-minute massage. Two people did not show up so I received a 45-minute free massage! I then went and did some work before I went to bed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 2 of STEM

Today I left for my hour long run and got lost. It was pouring rain out but I love running in the rain, thus I thought it would be a great day. I finally realized that I had taken a wrong turn and could not figure out where I was. I then flagged down a truck and the gentleman was nice enough to state that I was way off- I had to turn around and go back the way I came and head back to Limestone since I was in Fort Fairfield (and not just a little bit over the border). Needless to say my hour long run turned into a two hour run. I guess I got my exercise today!

My first class today was a bit boring. He zipped through the maps on Google which I do not use with my students. I guess I should pay attention as who knows when I could use this for myself or for an assignment. I worked on finding resources to make a custom Google search (which is something he showed us today). I am now in my website and blog class, where I am now blogging.

My day ended well as my two boys came to visit with me. We drove to Presque Isle and did some shopping or really poking around in stores. I did find a few books for my classroom library. I also picked up supplies for the classroom and supplies for my sons. The great thing is I found a natural food store! We ate at a Chinese food place in town, which the boys enjoyed. It was nice to see them and have them tell me how much they miss me!

Monday, July 23, 2012

STEM Training

Today, is my first full day at the STEM training. I have attended one full seminar for iPads and one about websites, blogging, and wikis. I am finding that the second seminar is more informative for what I need. I am excited about my last training for the day which is Murder, Arson, and Death by Chocolate. I am then going to go rock climbing this afternoon. I let you know how this goes!

I went rock climbing and had a blast. I climbed three different walls and made it to the tippy top two times- once I lost my footing and slipped. It was a nice car ride to and from discussing teaching and learning with fellow educators. I am going zip lining over the Great Falls in Canada on Thursday, which will be fun.