Posted in Teaching Diary/Blog

Teaching in the 21st Century

I am amazed by the sheer power students hold in their hands today with the devices and connections available to them. I am even more amazed at how little they do with that power.

I entered into the teaching profession as a “digital immigrant,” not born into the world of technology that my students take for granted. Let’s put it this way: We got a dial up connection my freshman year of high school and I didn’t have a cell phone until I graduated from college. I’m comfortable online, but I don’t live my life here. I went to meet the so-called iGen, a generation “born with an iphone already in their hands.” It followed, I thought, that they would be hyper-advanced at using their tech devices.

Not so. After 3 years in the classroom, I can report that most students do little more than 1) make phone calls, 2) check instagram, and 3) play video games. Wait — that’s what I do! In fact, I do more: I blog, I can design websites, I videoconference… and, and, and. What gives?

I think the answer is, they’re still kids, and they don’t know any better than we do what they are supposed to do with all of this new “stuff.” But it’s such a shame to waste it!

Last semester, I gave my advisory students a fun homework assignment: Over the weekend, learn how to do one new thing on your phone. They looked at me like I was not a “serious” teacher and on Monday, no one wanted to report back. Apparently, they did not believe this was a “real” education. Phones are bad; books are good. But as a culture, we need to fully accept that phones are books — they are libraries, in fact.

If the COVID-19 crisis has made anything in my life palpable, it has been the need to transition to a high-tech lifestyle. The time is now. We have all the tools, and we have the ability. Even children have the tools and the ability. As a society we are ready.

A 21st Century education MUST include instruction on:

1) How to write an email without typing the entire message in the subject line.
2) How to create a personal website (with a blog.)
3) Digital citizenship and what it means to participate with integrity, even though you may feel invisible/invincible when online
4) How to manage your digital footprint: Students need to understand that anything they post can and will follow them, forever.
5) Coding.

These are just the basics, and I believe they are things every student has a right to know. Schools that don’t incorporate these skills will leave their students without essential knowledge they need for college, career, and life. I don’t think we can afford to be late to getting on board with this.

Posted in Teaching Diary/Blog

Updated Class Library and #ProjectLit

I still owe my wonderful family and friends a big public thanks for helping me raise funds for an updated class library last fall!

Room 202 got a new bookshelf from Amazon, and that’s not the best part! We were able to buy the entire collection of #ProjectLit 2019-20 Middle Grades Book Selections!!

I knew my students would be excited, but actually, they were thrilled. Everyone wanted to take a book home and I had to beg them to bring the books back so others could enjoy them.

I will definitely stick with #ProjectLit in the future as these titles offer high-interest, culturally relevant reading for secondary students. I was excited to read many of the books myself!

Posted in Teaching Diary/Blog

Closing with a Smile: Class Superlatives

This school year is ending in such a strange way, with very little closure for any of us. I want to make sure my students know they are missed and and thought about, so I decided to create this customizable postcard using a found image and mail it to every single one of them at the beginning of June!

I made a list of superlaties for every period in Google Sheets. It took about two days to receive the postcards from the manufacturer, and two days after that I am halfway through “naming” them. Basically, I have the rest of the month to write 65 addresses by hand!

I had a special message printed on the back that will be the same for every student. I tried to be encouraging and show my support. I also wanted them to know that the work they put in from August through March was not for nothing! Since my classes got discontinued during distance learning, it was very anticlimactic for everyone.

I hope these bring a smile to each of their faces so they can close the year with warm memories.

Posted in Portfolio

Class Reset for November – Seventh Grade

  1. Do not let students in right away! Tell them to line up outside the door. 
  2. Have differentiated questions ready for them in order to walk in! (Group by level)
  3. Choose a “secret agent” every day.
  4. Think Now:  State directions clearly every day. Sit down and take out your materials. Hang your backpack. You should have pen to paper before the bell rings. 
  5. End of period: Everyone must be in their seats for the class to be dismissed. Dismiss by table or by student.* Reward positive behavior by being first to be dismissed. 

#35: Reward quiet students
Praise quiet students throughout the lesson. Make a list of these students and let them go slightly earlier than other students. Don’t make a fuss, just let them go early while those who were talking are kept back for a minute or two. A sanction doesn’t have to be particularly harsh in order for it to be effective. In this case, two minutes stood behind a desk while their peers trot out to the bus will be excruciating for some students. You will only have to do it a few times for the message to get through – good behaviour is rewarded.

#39: Secret Agent
Tell the class at the start of the lesson that you are going to secretly pick one student at random to be the Secret Agent (you can put names in a hat or, to save time, just by picking a number from the class list/register). Important: none of the students must know the identity of the Secret Agent. Tell the class that as long as this student has a good lesson (you can formalise this by giving them a behaviour or work target of some sort), the ENTIRE class will receive a reward.

Posted in Teaching Diary/Blog

Ali Standish: Middle School Virtual Author Visit!

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I downloaded four YA books at the beginning of the year. I read two of the four YA books I downloaded. They were amazing. One of them, “The Ethan I was Before,” I actually checked out of the LA Library App as an audiobook and played for my reading intervention classes as a cool down on crazy days or as a reward. Now that we are distance learning, I had the thought that perhaps the  book’s author, Ali Standish, would pay a visit to our virtual classroom. So, I found her website, emailed her, and she was happy to comply! This week Ms. Standish send me a 30 minute “Video Visit” just for my reading intervention classes, in which she lead an imagination exercise, gave us some writing tips, spent 20 minutes answering every single student question (I had the students fill out a google form in preparation for this) and she even read to us from her newest book, called “How to Disappear Completely.” We are so, so lucky! Thank you Ali Standish!!

Posted in Teaching Diary/Blog

Lucky to Do What I Do

Boy, do I feel lucky to have a job these days! I ALWAYS feel lucky to be a teacher. But to be one of the few people working in a time of 20 percent unemployment, with people all around me having to stay home in uncertainty, I feel doubly grateful. Maybe even more than that, because I feel less alone with all my staff meetings and wonderful co-workers who I connect with weekly, and the amazing students who are so glad to say “hi miss!” and “hope you are doing well” and “I miss you!” every now and again. My reading intervention classes are not in session during distance learning, because the method of instruction is too difficult to perform on an online platform. My school also wanted to cut the students schedule down to four classes to make the transition to online learning easier. Hopefully they will find their work more manageable this way. My role now is support for ELA. I hold office hours four times per week to answer questions and guide students in doing their English Language Arts assignments. I also participate, along  with the other two seventh grade English teachers, in a weekly discussion group for all seventh graders. Mainly I am so happy to see everybody and I find that no matter how slow I am moving at home, the moment those faces pop onto my screen I switch right into teacher mode and get to work! Having meaningful work to do during the quarantine is absolutely saving me from many, many pitfalls that so many people are experiencing. It is enabling me to be a strong support for my family and friends. It is a lifeline, as I know I am a lifeline for those students. We sink or swim together. 

Posted in Teaching Diary/Blog

Looking Back on Year 20-21

The year flew by and I’m back here to catch up anyone who is interested in the so many fabulous things that have happened! One of the first things I couldn’t wait to do was set up a GoFundMe page for my classroom. I raised about $600 in two weeks in the fall and spruced up the room with a brand new library, including a stylish bookshelf and the complete set of YA and Middle Grades recommendations from Project Lit’s 2019 collection! My students were so excited about the books, they took them all home and within two weeks the library was back to the same dusty old books that were there before. I realized I should have not trusted them to bring the books back, and had a check-out system in place for accountability. Still, part of me feels good to have given these kids the gift of books they will love, treasure, and use to start a collection perhaps. 

I also spent an inordinate amount of time decorating my classroom. It ended up being a very colorful, cheerful room that made people happy. It was full of systems and routines for everything, like finding a half-sheet of paper for the Do Now and Exit Tickets to sharpening a pencil, etc. I turned out to be a very organized teacher!

I also set up a multi-modal positive reward system: 1) We had a marble jar which worked across periods. It was a round, plastic fishbowl which I added marbles to as a reward for various positive behaviors in all of my classes. I promised the students that when the bowl was full, all classes would get a mega-reward. Of all the reward systems, the students were MOST excited about the marble jar. They were dreaming about their reward all year — then coronavirus hit, school ended, and they never got their reward! But not to fear: I send out a Google form this week asking for suggestions on how we should celebrate the filled marble jar virtually! So far I have one response: “I really don’t know.” 🙂

2) I passed out yellow raffle tickets quietly to students who were on-task, working hard, or came up with an especially great question or answer to a question. Students could collect tickets for as long as they wanted. Every Friday, they could trade their tickets for prizes. It got a little crazy on Fridays and I was working to manage the controlled chaos the prized created, but it was worth it to see how excited the students got about what they had earned, or how motivating it was for students who had not earned tickets that week. Again, there were students who had saved up something like 20 tickets and never got a prize! I am still thinking about how to address this.

3) The students got really excited about the “Secret Agent.” I meant to do the secret agent every day, but on many days I would forget. Still, it worked well. At the beginning of the period, I would whisper to a student that they were the secret agent privately. They were responsible for noticing the classes behavior for the whole period. Right before the bell rung at the end, I would ask the secret agent to reveal themselves. Everyone was excited to see who it was. Then I would ask them three questions: 1) Were you able to hear the whole lesson? 2) Where you able to speak without interruption? 3) Were you socially distracted or bullied? If they gave positive responses to all three questions, the whole class got candy or a ticket. It was fun to see how PROUD the class was of themselves when they passed the secret agent test!

The most wonderful thing was I felt I got to know every single student in all my classes, and that was truly a gift. I only wish I got to have more time with them, my first classes!

Posted in Creative Writing

SUPERBLOOM

There once was a boy named Rain who grew up in an apartment with no backyard, in a city where the parks were paved in asphalt. At 20, Rain worked in a tattoo shop, his arms and neck covered in ink. After ages of studying to be the shop’s resident body piercer, he estimated he had pierced 29 nipples, 34 septum, 8 earlobes, 14 lips, and some other body parts, he tried not to picture when he closed his eyes. When Rain was four years old, his father disappeared mysteriously, leaving behind a packet of flower seeds. 

The packet of seeds was a great novelty in the little apartment, where boiled rice was eaten on an unvacuumed carpet in front of an ancient TV with a wire hanger sticking out. Missing his father, Rain slept with the seeds under his pillow at night, pulling it out to examine the grainy picture of bright orange flowers now and again. The packet with its picture served as a message from afar; yes, this was an image of the place Rain’s father had gone. He fell asleep and dreamt of great fields of bright orange poppies, and his father, wading through them, far away. 

At midnight, one month before his 21st birthday, Rain boarded a plane to Barcelona. He left behind his job, his friends, his apartment. He took enough clothes to last for two weeks and he took the packet of seeds, which he was no longer keeping under his pillow for fear the paper would disintegrate. Arriving in Barcelona was like cutting into a wedge of stinky European cheese, or opening a fresh can of mediterranean tuna, or biting into a Spanish olive for the first time: the feelings were intense, robust, undeniable. And for the first time, the thought entered his mind that he would like to open his little packet of poppy seeds, and plant them. 

The years passed, and Rain was quite satisfied with his new life and his surroundings. There was the familiar concrete jungle in all directions; however, in this new land it was peppered with beautiful stained-glass windows and art nouveau ironworks. There was an underground railway system which could transport him to the Parc Guell — as close to nature as he had ever been in his lifetime. In this magical park, there were no straight angles; only curves, “as nature,” and the architect who designed the park, intended. The centerpiece of it all was a sprawling “placa,” where the tourists gathered. They came from all corners of the earth to take in the whimsical mosaic swirls of benches and scenic overlooks. Everything was plastered in shards of bright color that seemed to have fallen directly from the artist’s imagination. 

The primary color in Rain’s imagination had always been a searingly bright orange. It was the color of a thousand poppies in the sun when he saw his father again. He thought about the poppies as he counted his years in Barcelona on his fingers: one, two, three, four… five. Soon, he feared, he would be 27 — the age of his father when he left — and the curse of time would overtake him. And he had yet to meet his father!

He set out to form a plan. He knew he had to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance and reunite with him before midnight on his 27th birthday. This was the most urgent plan, since it had the potential to save him from repeating his father’s mistakes… or falling prey to the same unfortunate-seeming destiny. When he accomplished this, he would part with the poppy seeds, and plant them in the field where they would live forever. 

The sky growled, opened up, and began to heave terrible sobs. Normally Rain would have noticed the gravity of this storm, but on this day, his head was full of its own clouds. All he saw was a shower and some puddles, and he pulled his peacoat over his black hair and hurried down the little hill that marked Parc Guell’s entrance toward the Metro station. His thoughts were careful and warm; he thought of so many scenarios in which he would find his father, what he would say, do. 

He never wondered how it would feel: he knew. Like a field full of poppies. And then Rain died. He was hit by a railcar while walking across the tracks. His eyes could not see what was right in front of him, because they were filled with the images of the orange poppies. When he fell over, the packet of seeds spilled from his hand, its wilted paper torn by the blow of the fall. Seeds scattered onto the concrete and into the railroad tracks. Passersby could make out a faint orange image clutched in the palm of Rain’s hand.  

Posted in Professional Blog Posts

Why Do Plastic Surgeons Take Before and After Photos?

Some say photos capture the spirit. The truth can be much harsher. Skin sags, eyes droop, foreheads wrinkle; time takes its toll. Plastic surgery is a great way to turn back the clock. And everyone loves seeing the new, improved photos of themselves after surgery. 

You are not the only one interested in your before and after photos. They are vital information to your surgeon, insurance company, and other patients.

Clinical Photography

Before and after photos show the specific changes your body undergoes during surgery. Posing sometimes makes people nervous. Photos can be revealing or embarrassing. Plastic surgeons learn how to take quality clinical photographs in medical school. The main purpose of the photos is for the surgeons to assess their own work. In medical school, surgeons also receive training on how to counsel nervous patients. Feel free to discuss any concerns you have with your surgeon. He can help put your mind at ease.

Patient Education

Secondary use of before and after photos is for the education of other patients. It is important for you to examine pictures of a surgeon’s previous patients. How have their procedures turned out, in your opinion? Reviews and reputation are important. There is nothing like strong visual proof to convince you of a surgeon’s ability. Some surgeons create more natural-looking results than others. Make sure your surgeon will give you the look you want.

Your surgeon cannot share your before or after photos without your written consent. The photos are as anonymous as possible. Your face will remain covered, partially so for facial procedures.

Understanding Your Anatomy

Everyone’s body is different. Models and other patients can only give an approximation of what your results will look like. Taking before photos helps your doctor teach you about the nuances of your anatomy. You will understand how surgery will affect your individual look.

At xxx Plastic Surgery, the goal is to help you achieve the results YOU are looking for, not results someone else may want to create for you. The time Dr. xxx spends with you helps define your specific goals, without “up-selling” you on unnecessary treatments. He provides an inviting environment for questions both before and after surgery. 

After surgery, you can compare your before and after photos to understand your changes better. 

Keeping Track of Progress

One of the main reasons doctors take before and after photos is so they can assess their own work. This includes times when a patient has a sequence of procedures, like with a Mommy Makeover. Assessing the progression of changes helps your doctor update the surgical timeline. It allows him to keep an eye on how well you heal from each surgery to make sure you are ready for the next. 

Evidence for Insurance Claims

Most insurance companies only cover plastic surgery when deemed “medically necessary.” They may base this determination on their own assessment of your condition. Before and after photos are evidence proving your surgery solved a medical problem. Many times, insurance companies need visual evidence to process your claim. 

At xxx Plastic Surgery, patients are educated on different treatment options that exist for a given issue, so they can make truly informed decisions.

Schedule your consultation today!

Posted in Teaching Diary/Blog

Day One…Coming up!

I got my official start date, and it is September 9th! I also was officially introduced to one of my 7th grade classes (who couldn’t have been sweeter.) I am planning away, catching up on last year’s curriculum, and spending every free moment on Pinterest (who knew Pinterest was soo good for teachers?!) I’m having a ton of fun but am also trying to ignore my persistent nerves about the first week. Will everything go as planned? What will my flubs be about? Will I trip and fall on my face (as I did while subbing for 3rd graders once)? Nobody can say! I’m walking in with a good, hearty sense of humor about myself and lots of enthusiasm. Lord knows I have received enough motivation between my teacher’s classes and the kind support shown by admin and staff.

First impressions: I’m working at a small charter school with pretty well-behaved students! They wear uniforms and follow procedures to get things done. The school is in a lower – income community in LA. It feels like a very special place. For one, it’s clear everyone feels totally at ease when they are there. It is their home away from home. And isn’t that exactly what a school should be?

Since everyone feels so comfortable, it’s not hard for me to jump on the bandwagon and feel great about things! Ready… set… school year!!!

🙂