Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finally, We Agree On Something!

President Obama has a difficult task ahead of him, at best. Though, I do question anyone who runs for office for that very reason, but then they may question why anyone would want to be a teacher, a parent, or a proctologist. Each of these "jobs" come with their challenges but I do know first hand that for two out of the three jobs listed above, that despite their difficulties, they can be extremely rewarding. So, for President Obama, I want to say that I appreciate his willingness to serve as our president.

Not having voted for President Obama, I have agreed with him on very few issues, but find myself fully on his side in this instance. He was recently quoted as saying, "In the end, no program can substitute for a parent." In the following link you will find 10 tips for parents, suggesting ways in which they can be more involved with their child's education and well-being. I would venture to guess that most of you are one of those super duper parents, with the tights and capes to boot, but just in case you need a refresher, check it out, it's good to know that you are doing a great job!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Just In Case...Notebooking

Just in case you're like me and you've never heard of notebooking, it is worth your time to take a few minutes and check this out!

Free Printables, Notebooking Pages, Charts, & More!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's a Gang Thing

Recently, at a public library where I work, we had an author visit us. Her name is Liz Scott and she wrote a book called, Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand. It’s the story of her daughter’s brave fight with cancer from the age of one and how Alex decided at the age of four to help raise money for her doctors. She decided she will do this by having a lemonade stand. Her mother said that she raised a few thousand dollars the first year, over twelve thousand the second year, and then began raising millions in the following years. Of course, this was through the support of children and adults everywhere wanting to help Alex and make a difference for others. Great story, great mom, and a great program at our library.

So, I was asked to help in coordinating this program and encouraging local students to attend. The person I was helping made calls to the local public elementary schools and I made calls to a local private school. With over 70 2nd – 5th grade kids planning on attending, I was asked to create a craft to tie into the presentation. Going with the idea that Alex had worn a yellow bandana, I decided that we would provide plain yellow bandanas, fabric pens, and ask the kids to decorate and wear them to the author’s visit.

My director was concerned that the yellow bandanas may be forbidden by the schools in respect to any anti-gang clothing policy that they may have. So, I made the call and spoke with the secretary in the office (they’re really the ones who run the place!). She told me that there was no policy against the color yellow and that yellow bandanas would be fine.

The bandanas, fabric pens, and lesson plans (for a writing and science component, of course!) had all been distributed to the participating classrooms. Alright, we’re good to go, or so I thought. The day before the program, I got a call from one of the teachers from the public school and was told that they were not going to use the bandanas because it was “a gang thing” and that since it had snowed and it was too cold, they would not be attending the program.

Hmmmm…my mommy mind was racing…a child can’t wear a yellow bandana decorated with dinosaurs, princesses, or the obligatory, “Girls Rock!” and you’re also saying that KIDS can not be allowed to walk in the cold?!? My mind reeled in recollection of a recent article I saw on the art of hiking nude, in the Alps, no less!

Well, there goes over half the attendees for our program and I couldn’t do a darn thing about it other than hope that the private school pulled through for me. They did and it was darling. The kids and author had a great time. She told the kids how much it meant to her that they had worn the yellow bandanas because she knew how much Alex loved the color yellow. And you know what else happened? Liz noticed the little girl with the “Girls Rock!” bandana and loved it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teenage Liberation Handbook

For a good resource that is open to exploring options outside of the classroom, traditional homeschool, or anything else you may have heard of, check out this book by Grace Llewellyn.

The Game of School

If you've ever sat in class daydreaming of being anywhere else, then you may be able to relate to Fried's book. If you have ever done an assignment just to get the grade, or if you, as a teacher, have ever taught a lesson only because the material needed to be covered for a test, then you have played “the Game of School”.

This book could leave you wondering just how authentic your own education really was. He contends that students from kindergarten through graduate school are often playing “the Game” of getting by and complying with the system and not really engaged in learning. The problem with this type of system is that it stifles creativity and the opportunity for impromptu discussion. However, this book does not point fingers but rather calls attention to the situation encouraging those who recognize the problems with the current system and inspires them to make changes that allow for more authentic learning and teaching.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Failure Without Failing

The news came in the mail stating that even in an on-line home schooling situation our son was a pleasure to have in class but that did not change the fact that he had failed his math class. Really? How does that work? 

As his "learning coach" I periodically check on his progress by asking the typical questions; are you getting it, how's it going, what's your grade, etc. He would answer with typical responses; fine, okay, can you help me on this section, etc. 

So, then when the mid-terms arrived and he was getting a C- his dad was all over him. There were tears, promises to do better, and then the final report card arrived in the mail. 

Ripping it open with certainty of an improved grade shining in his eyes, that light was soon dampened as he looked up at us in disbelief. We looked at the grade slip asking the same question, how, why, what? His progress report a week before his finals showed a C- and he completed his final test feeling quite certain that it would bump his grade up to a solid C if not possibly a B-...we just all stared in disbelief and looked at the comment, "student is a pleasure to have in class". 

He was very upset and couldn't explain the situation. By this point we were done with even trying to figure it out. So, it was at this point that I told my husband that we're going to go the more pure home school route of choosing the curriculum, seeing it done daily, overseen directly by his parents, and not necessarily on the computer. We have come to discover that home schooling your children is not a one size fits all proposition, does not come without challenges, and is not just about getting your school work done in under two hours. It is about learning to deal with challenges, figuring out a better way of doing things, and working together to find a solution. We'll find a way to make it work because we're a family.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."  - Winston Churchill

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Schools In the News

Two Mt. Vernon Schools Locked Down
SW Schools Looking at Deep Cuts in the Budget
Helping Kids Get Ready for a 'Competitive World' - Quote from article: “It’s just so exciting,” Schlundt said. “They’re learning how to read. They’re just becoming big people. They aren’t little kids anymore.”

If they are not little kids in Kindergarten then that is a very sad thing.

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket
Eagle patterned button blanket designed for beauty and warmth. To see more pictures of how he made this click on the picture above.

Rick Miller - Bohemian Rhapsody