Super Stuff

First tests of the year have been graded and will be handed back tomorrow.  They took a while, but got them done this AM before the Halloween activities began.  I have to say: the kids did an awesome job for the first test.  Really “super” what these kids are capable of… a tremendous first project, excellent first test… sounds like a good time to roll out a couple things I’ve never done before.  Should be a cool week : )

And, a treat: Daddy, Mason, and Mommy tonight on Halloween (the first our 2 1/2 year old son was excited about).  He not only wanted to be Robin, but made the whole family – even the dog – dress up as his favorite super heroes. This was an AWESOME day!

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The Power of Children

children water hose

We discuss this every year: what role should children play in our society?  Should they just have fun, enjoy themselves, and “be a kid?”  Or should they be active and involved, using their idealism and yet-to-be-stomped-on-by-adulthood enthusiasm to do good.  Should they have a purpose?  A cause?

The idealist in me screams – “Yes!!! Do SOMETHING!!”  But the guardian also wants kids to enjoy themselves and not take life too seriously.  Can we do both?

Regardless, we today we used an example from the spring of 1963.  During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King visited the famed 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  He asked for people to stand up to segregation and the racism that was permitted (and unprosecuted) by marching.  This would result in going to jail, and Dr. King believed that filling and overwhelming the jails in peaceful protest could send a powerful message.

Adults had grown tired of fighting.  Their efforts had brought little change, and it typically resulted in more violence and maltreatment.  The only people to stand up were children.  Kids from as young as 8 up to their mid-teens.  Our students ages.  The result is a moving story of how kids organized, motivated one another, took a stand, and persevered though some  awful treatment.children march

You can find info about the video here, which is available to educators for free.  If you are one, or know one, it’s a MUST HAVE.

In addition, here’s a video clip available on youtube to give you an example of this great, great video:

Accountability Sheets

About once a week, I get an e-mail from a parent, confused about what the “Accountability Sheets” are.  Seems reasonable, since they don’t really go home and are never homework.  This is what they look like:

These sheets are designed to hold students accountable for what takes place in the classroom each day.  I write a goal on the board, compose a lesson around that goal, and then students need to reflect upon what they’ve learned.  Obviously, if it’s nothing, then something is wrong!  Either I didn’t do anything on that given day (doubtful!), or students are daydreaming of the days when the Bears were actually good at football.

Students get 2 points each day – 1 for the goal, 1 for their reflection.  This isn’t a major grade, but it adds up.  Students who socialize or don’t take the time to think about what we did in class are losing points.  By the end of the trimester, this will add up to 60 points!  These are really free points for the taking – it just takes a minute to think, then write down a thought.  I don’t even require a complete sentence, just a thought.