Friday, December 31, 2010

So long 2010

The new year is upon us! I know this sounds cliche, but 2010 was a whirl, there and then gone. In keeping with tradition I will set some goals for what is to come
seek wisdom
eat more greens
read books
take in more H2O
masters degree
snap more pictures
Ruth "wanted" to start the new year squeaky clean

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sarasota goodness

Today the fam ventured into Sarasota. We ate lunch at an authentic pizzeria...delicious! Then my dad wanted to take us to a wonderful find he discovered. He took us to an industrial salvage yard; where these two guys rescue architectural "scraps" and then sells them. I was in scrap yard heaven! My favorite find of the day are letters that come from store die for!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stories that I Love Part I

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

LUKE 2:1-20

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Index cards of gratitude

Before break students wrote thank you notes to our donors that funded our project on Donors Choose. I challenged the students to use their knowledge on poetry to compose their thank you notes.

Here are some of their thank you notes:

There once was a donation
That surprised the nation
Who helped kids gain knowledge
To go to college
So we threw a big celebration

Helping us learn
Never give up

You are wonderful
Uniting to help us learn

Students work so hard
Donors help us at school today
Thank you for your help

White ball

When I was in 1st grade I made a very thoughtful Styrofoam ornienment. To this day I make sure this tackiest of all decorations is in front of the tree for all to see.

A week ago I stumbled upon a new way to update the ugly white ball.
take any size Styrofoam ball
colored sequins
stack sequins however you want
start pinning a way

I would advice you not to stick to a pattern...takes way too long
Put in a good movie and you new shiny ornaments will be done in no time

so now both the old and the new white ball are dead and center on the tree

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We need a revolution not an evolution

“We need to start from the cold-blooded premise that almost everyone is a genius…not that almost everyone is worthless.”

John Taylor Gatto

Hidden disabilities

I do not know about you, but I am guilty of raising my eyebrow when an individual exits a car that is parked in the handicapped spot minus any visible disability.

However, have you considered that this individual might have a hidden disability? Granted not everyone that has a hidden disability has access to a handicap spot...I know I do not.

A hidden disability, physical or mental impairments, is a catch-all phrase for disabilities that are not visible. A majority of people assume that all disabilities are able to be seen, but what happens when a disability is not visible?

The law states...
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of persons with handicaps in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Section 504 protects the rights not only of individuals with visible disabilities but also those with disabilities that may not be apparent.

Section 504 provides that: "No otherwise qualified individual with handicaps in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...."

Individuals that have a hidden disability may be accused of being lazy, disruptive and disorganized. Unfortunately, people, including myself, do not own a disability club card that proves that we have a legitimate disability therefore questions may arise that we are "faking a disability."

Hidden disabilities include:
Attention deficit hyperactive disorder
Heart disease
Chronic illness
Attention deficit disorder
Learning disabilities
Hearing impaired
Visually impaired
Multiple sclerosis

And the list goes on......

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Negativity and complainers

I realize that I am grumbling about people who are negative and complain with no end in sight, but this needs to be said...whatever situation you are facing it could be worse! Why are you wasting your breathe complaining and being negative? Choose to see the good in every circumstance! There I am done

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

U.S. News and World Reports 50 Best Careers in 2011: Special Education Teacher

Well lookey-lookey whose job is in demand! If only there were more of us!!

The rundown:

Whether teaching a class of special-education students or working with individual students in a general-education classroom, as a special-education teacher, it's your job to ensure that these students learn despite their disabilities. You may spend your day using sign language to teach deaf students, or working with students who were born with mental retardation. Or maybe you'll work with students who have learning disabilities, ensuring that they receive the necessary test-taking accommodations, such as removal of time limits. Your responsibilities may also include helping general-education teachers adapt their lesson plans for students with learning disabilities, working with parents on ways they can help their children at home, or learning about assistive technologies that could improve the classroom experience for your students.

The outlook:
There's more need for special-education teachers than most other types of teachers, says Segun Eubanks, director of teacher quality at the National Education Association. That means a slew of opportunities for those who work in the field. Employment of special-education teachers is expected to jump by 17 percent, an increase of nearly 82,000 jobs, between 2008 and 2018, according to the Labor Department. Special-ed teachers at the elementary and pre-school level have the best outlook, with projected growth of 20 percent. Middle school special-ed teachers aren't far behind, at 18 percent. The outlook for secondary-school special-ed teachers is not quite as impressive, 13 percent growth, yet still above the average for all occupations. Many openings will likely derive from turnover and retirements, as well as growth of the school-age population.

Activity level:
High. These are dynamic classrooms, and you'll be on your feet much of the day. For some people, the work can be physically draining. For others, this level of activity, coupled with the rewarding nature of the work, can be energizing.

Stress level:
High. Stress alone can push some teachers out of this occupation, but the level of pressure can vary according to city and school district.

Education and preparation:
All states require special-ed teachers to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary among states: Some ask for a bachelor's degree as well as training in a prep program that includes supervised teaching, but many states require a master's degree in special ed. Many states offer training options for those who did not get a bachelor's degree in special ed. These generally call for supervised instruction and an exam for a provisional license, then one to two years of local college courses while teaching under licensed teachers for a regular license.
Look for opportunities to work specifically with special-education students, Eubanks says. Too many teachers assume that they'll enjoy teaching special-ed students simply because they like teaching, but special ed is a different world. "It's not the kind of thing you can have a theoretical understanding of," he says. "You have to experience [it] first-hand, both to see and understand the challenges and the joys." This occupation requires patience, firmness—for disciplining students—and organization skills. "Very often, you're talking about working remarkably hard to get what might seem on the surface to be relatively small learning gains," he says. Also be prepared to put your diagnostic skills to use to figure out what's causing behavioral and learning problems.

I am what I think I am

Today and yesterday we had the district wide writing prompt//another pre-Christmas gift\\  A large amount of my students lack confidence in their own ability. About 85% of my students have the skills to write a 5 paragraph essay if they put in the effort!

Students who have a positive attitude are the ones that produce the best papers and the others that are determined that they do not have to complete the test or think its stupid have already decided that they will not recieve a high grade because they cannot write well. They are their own worst enemies at times!

This is what happens prior to the writing prompt

I give a moving review on what they need to include in their essay via PowerPoint and examples...
  • pre-write by using a graphic organizer
  • A hook to grab their reader
  • Transition words
  • Introduction and conclusion
  • read the paper to themselves after they are done
Ask if there are any questions and then its time to start the fun!

During the test...

One of my little sixth graders decided that he did not have to write therefore I decided to sit right beside him and he managed to compose three paragraphs which is better than nothing.

A student who usually has difficulty writing in class writes two paragraphs

Another sixth grader was mad for some odd reason and decided to not write anything

One of my eighth grade classes works the whole 45 minutes with unbelievable dedication and focus...I was so thrilled that I stopped grading my papers and just watched them beautiful!!

I am still a little amazed that certain students flat out refuse to write anything even though they will eventually will write something. I would of never imagined refusing to complete an assignment when I was in middle school!

I often wonder where students obtain an attitude that they do not have to do something if they do not feel like it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thanks for my B+

Interims went home today for all of the students //a pre-Christmas gift\\. A good majority of my students are passing; only a small handful have Ds or Fs. Well at the end of my day one of the few adorable 6th graders popped his head in my room and thanked me for "giving" him a B+. This one student has made immense improvements regarding his school work! So despite him thinking that I "gave" him that grade he "earned" every bit of that B+

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Donors Choose

At the beginning of July I posted two projects for my classroom. Both projects are focused around improving students vocabulary and writing skills. Prior to both of my projects being completed I showed all of my students what was happening on Donors Choose in regards to the projects being funded. I wanted them to know that people who do not even know them want to help them learn.

Project "Lets Give Them Something To Write About" ($182) was completed on November 1st and the supplies began to trickle in a week later. Donors Choose request that students bring in permission slips in order for pictures and thank you notes to be posted on their website.

The Friday before Thanksgiving break I gathered the students that returned their slip and they opened the box and began using the materials right away!

Project "Lets Go On A Vocabulary Adventure" ($578) was completed on November 30th. As of right now the boxes are stacked in my classroom. I plan on having the students open the boxes on Thursday!

 My students are still amazed that complete strangers keep on sending them learning tools. One of my students said "these people must really like us"

If you are a teacher I encourage you to create your own project on Donors Choose. For more information go to

If you want to follow my classroom on Donors Choose follow this link: Over Christmas break I will be posting another project entirely on index cards!

Poetry from Room 3116

For the last two weeks my students have focused on writting different types of poetry. I plan on putting all their poems in a book for future classes to read!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

People First Language

Nothing irritates me more when I see incorrect wording regarding individuals with disabilities! I am usually not politically correct until I read something like this:

"Under various schemes across the country, families—mostly low-income or with learning-disabled children—use vouchers to help pay for their kids to attend charter, private and nontraditional schools."
"Florida's two current voucher programs serve low-income and disabled students"

What...disabled children/students? Wrongo!! The term you are looking for is children/students WITH disabilities. That's right folks people first language (pfl) focuses on putting the person before the disability.

The whole idea behind people first language is to eliminate stereotypes that are associated with disabilities. In order to get rid of stereotypes we must first change the way we refer to people with disabilities. If we can change the way we talk then we can change the way we think.

The best way a professor explained PFL to me is...lets say someone has cancer, you would not say that this person is cancerous, but that they have cancer. Now in regards to a disability: Instead of referring to someone as "autistic" you can say "Tim has autism."

Changing our words may seem simple, but it makes such a huge difference!
A disability does not define who a person is!!

To find more information on People First Language:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flying Flash Cards

The transition from elementary to middle school is rough. This fact is becoming more and more evident around the holidays. This time last year my 6th graders enjoyed making paper turkeys by tracing their hand, creating paper chains, coloring Santa clause and watching a snowman sing.

Oh what a difference a year makes! Instead of asking "who is going to bring in what snack" I am asking "did you finish writing your Haiku?" There is so little down time to allow any sort of celebration //which to be completely honest I rather not deal with a Christmas party//

So due to the lack of Christmas celebration one of my students decided to create his own mini party//a party of one that did not end well for him// They just completed a vocabulary definition test and was given their new words where they had to create flash cards//my version of paper chains// This one student decided to line his flash cards on his arm and then fling his arm up scattering the flash cards everywhere! Lets just say he ended up with an early Christmas card from me in the form of a referral! Now if that does not sound christmassy I do not know what will.

On a side note my 7th and 8th graders and doing fine! Thank goodness

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The fear of failure

Today I had an I.E.P (individual education plan) for one of my students. After much discussion with specialists and teachers the team decided that this student should be given a chance in a general education classroom.  We were discussing how this students is developing habits of an under achiever and was not performing to his true potential.

 As soon as we had completed most of the IEP we wanted to share the good news with the student. Once he was in the meeting room we began to explain how smart he is and how we believe he can handle being placed outside of ESE (exceptional student education). We kept on singing the praises of this student and building him up to what was to come when he switched out in January.

Well as we were talking someones eyes were getting a little watery with nerves. He kept on putting his head down and wiping his eyes with his sleeve. I am not sure if it was hearing the overwhelming support, talking openly about his disability or the fear of the unknown when he switches into gen. ed., but something hit a nerve.

I am absolutely positive that this student will flourish in general education. He is so very bright and has every skill he needs to be successful; he just needs to spread his wings and jump into the unknown!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

They make me smile when....

They go above and beyond
Say kind words
Ask questions
Take their time
Lend a helping hand
Follow directions
Are grateful
Give advice
Turn in homework
Ask for help
Stay on task

Sometimes hopelessness seeps into my thoughts regarding my students, but at the end of the day they fill my heart with gladness!