Forty Three and A White Christmas Tree

Sometimes, this blog veers from the education theme. This shows that I have a life and that I am not fully velcroed to my job. It has been a year since I began this endeavor. This year has been challenging, to say the least. I am dealing with many changes, some of which I have met with success, others became horrible failures. I will say that throughout this turbulent year, I am reminded of my blessings.

I have two beautiful daughters. They keep me on top of things because they are smart, and they question the world. We want our children to be independent, and detached from the storm clouds. I am honored to know them.

I have friends whom I consider family. They listen, console, make me laugh, travel with me, make me holiday meals, and trust me.

I love my job. Working with children humbles me. I say this often. But, I truly mean it. There is no room for pride or ego in front of children. Teaching is about relationships. It is also about the curriculum (and testing) and that will never go away. I spoke to many parents of former students today as I shuffled in and out of holiday parties. I had a few tell me that their children were doing well, but they miss me. Of course, I immediately discarded that notion. But, I thought that the reason they miss me, or the school, or 5th grade in general is because of the safety and trust they felt. It isn’t about the single teacher; it is about the way they felt when they made a mistake, or when they did something really cool. My epiphany today brought me to the big idea of education. Kids don’t leave elementary school with algorithms and impressive lists of literary devices. They leave with either a love of learning or a fear of it.  But that idea can be transferred to any other life experience and at any age.

Last Friday, I was teaching my first grade gifted class about complete circuits. The activity was supposed to be about light and spectrums, but like most Friday science explorations-it went to a very different place.  I was happy to see a tiny motor in the kit I purchased from Hobby Lobby. I attached the battery, the conductors, and a cardboard circle colored with the spectrum of the rainbow. I connected everything, and the motor spun the circle so that the colors blurred to white. There were fifteen children hovering over this tiny motor (and yes, they were in my bubble) squealing WHOAS and AHHS, because the motor worked. So, they requested that we make toy cars. I don’t know how to do this, but I said, “Yes, of course we can make toy cars!” I’ll figure it out. But, they inspired me to learn something new. I couldn’t get that in a cubicle.

The theater has given me a place to find refuge from this year’s remnants. I’m writing again. I performed for the first time in YEARS. Of course, I doubted every ability I ever had the days of the plays. I’ve never felt so sick or nervous. But in a twisted way, I enjoyed every minute.  Drama club is up and running, and we are performing: James and the Giant Peach, Sleeping Beauty (musical), and Macbeth Junior. We are in over our drama-club heads again. How will I create a giant peach? I will save that experience for its own blog post.

I’ll be forty-three in a day. I still round down to forty, so I’m good-for now. But, I see this as the page-turning year. We’ll see.

Last year, I talked about the white Christmas tree with which I was obsessed. It is up and glowing again. For some reason, it looks different.

Maybe, if our lives change, so should the artifacts in our lives? I usually dislike the word ‘artifact’ because it is overused in education discourse. We have to post artifacts to the incredibly horrible on-line portfolio system that rhymes with JIVE TEXT. Shouldn’t an artifact be old?  Or should it be an object that reflects a time and a purpose? Yoda will be here any moment to explain my artifacts to me. They are piled up everywhere. Do they disappear with the dropping of the Peach? We should be so lucky.

Happy Holidays.

K

The Endangered Curriculum

I was inspired to write this blog because of a moose mural in my classroom, the Italian Renaissance, and a literacy training I attended. It may all come together at the end. Or it may not.

I have this book called, Endangered Words. It is full of antiquated words that, at one point, were valuable in some vernacular, somewhere. I thought of this book the other day while I was sitting in an eight-hour literacy training.  We began discussing how to teach reading to very little people. The idea that we have the knowledge and ability to teach such a powerful tool, can be overwhelming. Words are broken down into sounds, and then sound-letter correlation is developed. Soon words are recognized and sorted into various structures called sentences. Then, like magic, or some amazing miracle, reading happens. If you have ever had the opportunity to watch a child read his/her first sentence or story (after you have taught the skills) you will experience a lucid moment where you know that you have chosen the right profession. If it does happen to you, keep the memory, because you will need to tap into it for the rest of your teaching career. You may even want to take a picture of the child to post it somewhere in your classroom. So when your project dealing with glitter and liquid glue goes awry, look at the picture and get some perspective.

When I came home from literacy training, I looked through my endangered word book. Some of my favorites are ataraxia “freedom from disturbance of mind or passion; stoical indifference”; bleezed: affected in the eyes as by alcoholic excitement; and logodaedalist: “inventor of words”. I thought of my linguistics classes where I learned about the origin of language and the varied sophistication in vocabulary from language to language. English-speaking people know about 20,000 words, but only use about 2,000. But, who wants to talk to someone who uses words like despiance and kumatage at a dinner party? These are the people from whom you scurry, then run to the corner and secretly Google the words on your Android. Or maybe that’s just me.

So, if words can appear and disappear from our dictionaries and daily usage, so can various components of the curriculum. I knew the world was in a bad place when fishes became an accepted plural form of fish. Just like the word moose-some people actually say meese or mooses. Luckily, I haven’t met a person who has used these irksome, fabricated plurals. But I’ll get back to the moose mural, because it is haunting me. If enough people continuously use a word incorrectly, it becomes part of the lexicon.  Ain’t that something?

During our training, we had a “guess the right answer with a partner” activity. We had moved on to teaching comprehension skills.

The question was:

During a readers’ theater, it is advised to encourage students to bring in props and costumes to enhance their engagement and participation.

Emphatically, YES!  That is a dead give away!  The acceptable response was no. It is not encouraged. Huh? What about our Midsummer Night’s Dream readers’ theater? What about the Macbeth unit we did I just got up, went to the snack table, and got an Almond Joy. The upside of this is that my name was picked twice for the $50 resource books that I REALLY wanted. I didn’t give a shout out to the arts in education, because apparently, it has little to do with reading instruction. And the arts have had no place in the curriculum through time. So why start now? I kept my snarky thoughts to myself, as I am learning they rarely received well in those of situations.  Again, where did the classics go? Did they get buried under the mountain of basal readers? If all it takes is plastic crowns and cardboard castles to encourage kids to show up and read classic works, then why would this be discouraged?

I have discussed how baffled I am that foreign language was taken out of the elementary and schools in our district. There is enough research that supports the efficacy of learning foreign languages for academic purposes. Also, this is crazy, and maybe pushing the envelope a bit, but there are people in the world who speak other languages. Global awareness anyone? I recently read an article, What we Can Learn From Foreign Language Teaching in Other Countries.   Basically, there is an emphasis on language education in other countries. There is also support from the school systems and governments to foster a respect and for language education. The governments also mandate a foreign language curriculum that begins in elementary school; not high school. Of course, this can work its way into how we aren’t globally competitive, since we are a mono-linguistic society. That rant can wait.

The important subjects are those that yield a higher income. Let me paint a fictitious world where the arts are prominent in our curriculum. Let’s just pretend that if someone earns a degree in sculpting or painting, that he or she would earn what is equivalent to um, maybe that of an athlete?  Parents would be signing their kids up for sculpting and painting classes. Instead of, “My child cannot do homework because there is a game”, we would hear, “My child cannot do homework because he/she is completing his sculpture and oil painting to be commissioned for the church down the street.” I’m not saying that sports are not important. I was an active athlete in high school, and I value the talents and determination of gifted athletes. But this is fictitious, like the idea that standardized testing will go away.

How is it that there were so may talented artists back in the time of the Renaissance? I know, only the wealthy families sent their kids to school, and girls got the short end of the education stick  But, artists were vying to be the commissioned artist for whomever, on a whim, needed a sculpture knocked out. My point is that the emphasis was put on ethics, poetry, literature, and art. Therefore, the focus was on refining those skills that were deemed essential and proper. To be a true erudite, one had to be well-versed in all aspects of the arts. I can just imagine the discussions of the mothers of Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti (who competed for the creation Baptistery doors).

“Where do you get your bronze?”

“At the market, it was on sale. You need my coupon?”

“No, we only buy the good stuff.. Maybe that is why Lorenzo, won.”

“Hmph!”

Soccer moms, sculpture moms-tomato, tomato…

This actually brings me to the moose mural. I changed classrooms, and I really like my new room. It has a courtyard (where I plan on planting a garden with my Kindergarten and 1st grade students). There is a large bathroom/closet where I can store drama club paraphernalia. And there is a nook where I can have kids read, work in small groups, and  I can develop my library. I spent a week unpacking boxes and setting up my room. Check-something accomplished.

The nook has a mural. The mural is of a large moose. I decided that I would paint over it. I bought the paint. The day after I bought the paint, my principal called me:

P: “Don’t paint anything yet. We may need to move you to another room.”

Me: “What? I just unpacked. What? I just bought paint.? What? Are you sure? ”

Panic consumed me. Then I realized that I was having an audible break down, over the phone, with my principal. He says I hung up on him. I don’t remember. Maybe I did. He won’t let it go. I went down to the school and he came to my room. He walked into the nook:

P: “That is a cool moose. You really want to paint over it? I can’t believe you want to paint over it. Kids love that moose.”

I realized that I was having a BGI (Blinding Glimpse of Insight). You see, we are reading the book, Sticks & Stones exposed: The Power of our Words, for our leadership book talk at school. The BGI is a stark realization through various modalities that you are, well…wrong about stuff. The book politely says it is a small bit of understanding about ourselves that we don’t like to face. Yah, it’s a moose mural. But it is really the fact that I was the only one who didn’t like the blasted thing. The eyes..  I didn’t think about the fact that it is appealing to some, and to small children, it will be downright adorable. I keep having to remind myself that I am now in the world of kindergarteners and 1st graders. The connection here is that just because something isn’t valuable or doesn’t serve a purpose to some, it is often thrown out, done away with, or replaced. The moose won.

I have these small tent cards that my students use to let me know how they are progressing in the learning process:

After my breakdown, I put the tent card on my desk-on RED. This says it all. Doesn’t it?

The end result is that my principal decided to let me stay in my room, as long as I kept the moose mural.

My tent card changed:

What exactly has been deleted from our curriculum? Why are we doing it? Have we digressed from honoring and encouraging refined artists to teaching brilliant students who fumble over glue sticks? Moderation is a sound concept. Since society doesn’t honor the arts in education, there is little focus on them. Whenever I show artwork to my students, they are fascinated. Two years ago, a colleague and I created an art exhibit project. Students did research reports on famous artists. Then they used any medium of their choice to re-create the art work. Students used leggos, water colors, sculptures, and multi-media representations. We created a museum of the artwork, with student interpretations of the works. Yes, we are weak in science and math, and I am in no way discounting this fact. But, why can’t kids have it all? What about a thematic unit on art and science? Poetry in math? Dramatic reenactments in social studies? Just some thoughts.

By the way, I filled in the blanks to my analogy from the last post:

Politics is to Education as Aliens are to Cowboys. 

I’ll see the movie, alone, since no one will go with me. I’m sure I’ll find some more unintended education references imbedded within the movie.

In the mean time, I’m hoping to change my tent card one more time:

Wigwams, Portals, and The Bermuda Triangle

Have you ever been hit suddenly with the absurdity of your situation?  This happened today, as I was carrying a wigwam prop down the hall (in wedges), stuffing it in between the useless doorways in the school hallway. I broke out in a sweat by the third doorway. Everyone is gone, and I am carrying a wigwam.  It just seemed a bit surreal.  I did panic when I saw the custodian-so I begged him not to lock me in the school, again.

Now there is a wigwam in my classroom.

One of the parents of my students stayed after school, for hours, building the wigwam.  She was so happy to do it, and I was so thankful for the help.  My cynical funk began to dissipate-a tad.

Before the wigwam transport, I had just cleaned up after our Independent Study Open House.   You see, I felt the need to instill in the kids that learning should be motivated by intrinsic rewards-you know just because you want to know more about stuff.  I explained that there would be NO GRADES given, just feedback, from me on a regular basis.  They would have to pick a topic of interest, do a full on research paper (including citations), and a visual display. Eleven kids signed up to do the I.S. project! This was above and beyond their  regular assignments and assessments.  That alone restored my faith in the world.

So, for the last four months, these eleven students studied the following topics: Extreme Architecture, Black Holes, The Eagle Nebula, Falling Water, Greek Sports and Entertainment, Greek Mythology, Dinosaur Extinction, Broadway, Famous Landmarks in Dubai (no joke), Michael Jordan, Lighthouses , and The Bermuda Triangle.  Each child came to class with questionnaires regarding their project, a visual display, and a research paper.  They dressed up, presented these amazing projects, and made me know the world is in good hands.  I asked the kids what inspired them for their subjects.  They answered with responses such as:

“I want to be an oceanographer.”

“I want to be an architect.”

“The Greeks inspired so many new ideas that we use today.”

“I read The Lightening Thief, and decided that mythology was cool.”

“Lighthouses have saved sailors for years and years.”

“One day, I will be on Broadway.”

The great-grandmother of one of my students was there.  This was the first time I had met her. The school air-conditioning was turned off, and I was beginning to melt. She came up to me and said:

“Do you know why I like you?”

I couldn’t be snarky and say, “People usually don’t like me when they first meet me.”

But instead, I just looked into her eyes.

“I like you because every time one of the kids got stuck, you jumped in and got them back on track.”

I replied, “Really? I did that? Well, it is very difficult to present to a large crowd, they are just kids.”

She had her hand on my arm, and I didn’t even mind that she was in my “bubble”.

Right now, I’m suppose to be completing the play my home room is writing. The basic idea is that literary characters fall into portals that bring them to Wonderland.  I have enjoyed this project immensely.  We are discussing the plausibility of events and situations given the understood demeanor of the characters.  My mind is racing, and the day is re-playing, over and over.  I am refraining from making all of the characters end up in the Bermuda Triangle.

It was a good day.  I guess my pie-in-the-sky idealism has settled to an appreciation of a wigwam builder, kind words from a stranger, and creative kids who question EVERYTHING.

K

What Now?

The email blasted all the teacher laptops: TESTING IS OVER!!!!  The tubs have been turned in and amazingly enough, I had all the materials that I started with-counted, over and over-and in front of people.  They will all be shipped off to some grading warehouse. I imagine it looks like the one in Reservoir Dogs, but with scantron machines set up in rows, while retired teachers, wearing rubber shoes, scan-in unison. My imagination runs away with me if I don’t have visuals.

I look at my calendar to see that I have five weeks of school left. Seriously?  I see my class, staring back at me as if to say, “What now?”

So if you don’t know, these last weeks of school are “review” weeks. Translated, this could mean movie-watching-a-palooza.  In the ten years I have taught, I have had little to no success in watching a movie in the classroom.  I keep thinking, “I could do this at home, in my pink sweat pants.”  The kids start talking, and soon-no one is watching the movie-except for the ONE kid sprawled out in front of the screen, annoyed with the rest of us.

So, like all other O.C. teachers, I ATTEMPT to plan things that will affect change in the lives of the students.  Because, this is how all this teaching career stuff got started.  But this year seems different.  Did testing suck the life out of me?  Do I still have a pulse? Did the Greg Mortenson news contribute to my creative flatline?  Did I lose my powers like Samantha often did? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

In our last planning period, we were discussing what academic activities we had planned for the end of the year.  It was my turn. Oh, yah-that.  Things are…forth coming.  Forth coming-a polite phrase to say, “I got nothing, and don’t know when I will have something.”  I mumbled about a time-machine project that I have been tossing around in my brain for years.

I think I want to do more than create an engaging project. I want to do something that is far-reaching-that has a global perspective. At the end of the curriculum, there has to be something more-Oz, Wonderland, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?????  What can I do to make the kids continue to love school?  Because, I’m beginning to believe that this is a critical time to sell them on the idea that learning is fun.

So, we are writing a play.  Not world-changing, but not a coma-inducing activity either.  As always, the imagination pouring from my class makes me want to keep going back to work.

We could have done a readers’ theater, or pull a play from somewhere  But, we have been there and done that.  It is tIme to spark those synapses a bit after hours of testing has dulled our  senses.  The end of the year also means that  the phrase “simple activities” is not part of my end-of-the-year-engage-the-kids vernacular.  I’m still working on the Global Project, because it needs to be done. Performing arts, global awareness, and small children…oh the possibilities.

I also know that the 5th grade field trip is looming.  Just think, hundreds of 5th graders, in a narrow cave-a mile under the earth, followed by a river boat ride.  This is what dreams are made of.  You never know who has claustrophobia, until it is too late.

For the next five weeks, I will be embroiled in Odysseus’s and Robin Hood’s journey to Wonderland.  Maybe, I’ll find my mojo somewhere between the tea party and the battle with the Cyclops.

K

Crying Ranting Crawling Twitching

If you teach in Georgia, do you see the cryptic message in the title to this blog?

I see bubble scantrons in my sleep.  I hear the sharpening of the no. 2 pencils while I drive to and from school.  I dream that I lose the testing bucket (that we take with us everywhere we go-even the bathroom).  Our morning conversation starters are, “What was your testing dream last night?”  My most frightening testing dream involved “test detectors” at the entrance of the school. Each teacher had to walk through(without the alarm going off)  on the way in and out. Of course, it was my paranoid, neurotic dream, so the alarm blared when I went through.

I never mean for this blog to be a complaint forum.  So, I’ll save those thoughts for the teachers’ lounge.  This is after we have all been carried out on stretchers, revived, and placed back in our classrooms.  Eventually, the incessant American Idol talk will resume, and our angsty testing woes will be history.

It is best practice to utilize test data  for instructional purposes. I get that. However, I wonder how much emphasis should be put on one test?    If you saw, Waiting for Superman, you know that American students  are deficient in both math and literacy skills.  So, how do students (who PASS nationally normed and criterion-referenced tests) move through school without maintaining age-appropriate literacy and math skills?  Conversely, what about those students who have a rough testing day and don’t do well on the tests? Does anyone ask the teacher for anecdotal records, or observations from the year to refute the test results?

All year, I try to offer a multitude of learning opportunities to my students. We do projects, we work on critical thinking skills, and we study  real literature. But, by April I feel like I’ve sold out, because I’ve mutated into a testing troll. I see myself handing out test packets, and I hear myself discuss test taking strategies.  I don’t recognize me.

I began wondering how it all got started.

The earliest record of standardized testing comes from China, where hopefuls for government jobs had to fill out examinations testing their knowledge of Confucian philosophy and poetry. In the Western world, examiners usually favored giving essays, a tradition stemming from the ancient Greeks’ affinity for the Socratic method. But as the Industrial Revolution (and the progressive movement of the early 1800s that followed) took school-age kids out of the farms and factories and put them behind desks, standardized examinations emerged as an easy way to test large numbers of students quickly.
Read more:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1947019,00.html#ixzz1JiTB65W0         

Think for a moment.  How would the world of standardized testing change if there were assessments on the arts?

We could integrate art history, literature, music, performing arts, and drama into the mix.  We have state standards on all of these subjects, and standardized testing is not going away-so why not sprinkle these elements into the testing recipe? Learning to read and answer questions about a passage or story is essential.  Let’s take this one step further.  What if the tests assessed the understanding of a specific piece of grade-appropriate literature?

Let’s encourage students to think about how the social and political events of the world have impacted the arts.  Think of the Harlem Renaissance, The Great Depression, The Industrial Revolution, the 1920’s,the 1960’s, etc…  People use art, music, and literature to reflect how the world changes.  Elementary students can make these connections, if they are given the opportunity.

We spend the year teaching with a global view in a holistic manner.  I’m wondering why we cannot test students similarly?

The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition and to guide the child over to important fields for society. Such a school demands from the teacher that he be a kind of artist in his province. Albert Einstein

I know that I would like my students to think beyond the bubble.  Just sayin…

Our end of the year project is to write a one-act play.  This was my students’ idea-not mine.  How could I possibly say no?  It will be a challenge for all of us.  But I’m hoping my testing troll fades into oblivion.

K

Practice What You Teach…

I am amazed by the brain.  I have researched brain-based learning and Multiple Intelligence Theory. I wrote a  thesis averring that when children know how they learn, their motivation levels for academics increase.

I told my class that when we learn new skills or concepts, our brains create more synapses.  I explained that learning something new can be uncomfortable.  I compared learning to exercising and using new muscles that are first sore, but later become stronger.  I may have possibly imparted great wisdom that day.

The easiest way to conceptualize this is that there are more synapses in the human brain than there are stars in the known universe. Mem­ory and learn ing occur when the neurons and synapses reorganize and strengthen them selves through repeated usage.
http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/06/05/your-brain-on-trading-101/

I  have said time after time that the MINUTE we feel that we have a hold of this job, the rotation of the earth changes.  All my brain talk seemed silly, since I was the biggest brain hypocrite around. Where were my synapses? Where was my discomfort in the new material that I should be learning? My synapses failed me.  Therefore, I probably shouldn’t talk about  them.

Another fun fact about me is that I have a difficult time with change.  As a child, when my mother would rearrange the furniture-I would become frenzied.  A hair cut may have just put me in therapy.

After school, two weeks ago, names were being called on the intercom.  The buzz was that if your name was called, your grade assignment has changed.  My name was called……

What? Me? Change? Huh?

I walked into the office to see the three administrators smirking just enough to make me more paranoid than usual.

Remember in my last post I wrote, “Last time I checked, I didn’t teach Kindergarten?”  I eat my words.

I will be teaching Kindergarten and first grade gifted.  I will be doing other wonderful things with literacy and 5th grade math as well.

I have wanted to teach gifted for years, so I am thrilled to have this opportunity.  But it all happened so suddenly.

I returned to my room to catch my breath.  I looked at the boo-coos of 5th grade resources staring me down.  The stress of the classroom move smacked me in the head.  The hideout under my desk was looking good.

Last night, I  dreamed that I was being observed while teaching the five and six-year olds. My evaluation said that I the vocabulary I was using was too difficult for them to understand. What do you mean? I can’t discuss the thematic relevance of The Odyssey with first graders?

Something strange happened-the synapses in my brain became audible.   I would have to learn new curriculum, create extension activities for very little people, and for the first time in eight years-not have a home room.  Snap, spark, pow…

In my stupor, I filled out the application for the specialist program in teacher leadership.  It was like the automatic writing that people do when they have been taken over by other entities.  It was too easy.  They can even use my MAT scores for admission! Yes, I skirted the GRE by taking the Millers Analogy Test.

What? Classes begin the third week of  May? Spark, crackle, boom…

Later in the week, I went to drama rehearsal.  Again, Daniel came to help.  Since I am completely directionally challenged, the blocking is a conundrum for me. The synapses fired as I tried to envision stage directions. KABOOM!

I’m grateful for my brain sparks.  I continually research and read educational material, but the sparks had dwindled.  I didn’t follow my own research-based words. I am happy to say that I am incredibly uncomfortable and thrilled to be in a small panic.

See, this is what I get for being a know-it-all about the brain.

K

Superman and Cookies…

 

Watching, Waiting for Superman, in a Comtrex-laden flu haze was a bad idea.  It is a movie that every teacher and parent needs to see.  It is raw, uncomfortable, and rife with debilitating statistics about what children (in the United States) know-or better yet, what they don’t know.  It seems that some people feel that there are children out there, who cannot learn.   One thing that I know for sure (thanks Oprah) is that all children can learn.  Ok, so this is pie-in-the-sky idealism.  What is so wrong having a Mary Poppins educational  philosophy?  Without the hope of teaching all children, we are at risk of becoming like the evil principal in Matilda.

Ms. Truchbull-


I am a realist and I have been faced with extreme challenges in the classroom. The way I saw it, I had two choices, similar to that of Robert Frost and his road dilemma.  I could ignore the problem and say I did all I could.  Or, I could work with the challenge, ask for help, research, plan, teach, re-teach, go back to square one.  When this doesn’t work, I keep going; because something has to work.

Now, I’m not Mary Poppins, and I don’t smile all day while imparting boulders of wisdom.  Many days, I get frustrated and feel like a failure. Some days, the paper work, meetings, and assessments can saturate even the sunniest teacher disposition.  The thing is, teaching is another member of the family.  It follows me around as if it were my shadow.  The educational day does not end at the last bell.  The faces of my class pop into my mind, one-by one, like the old projector slide shows.

The movie discussed how the lower socio-economic districts continually have lower math and reading scores than the more affluent districts.  Some failing high schools are nicknameddrop out factories.

Consider the following statistics cited in the film: the annual cost of prison for an inmate is more than double what is spent on an individual public school student. Eight years after Congress passed the No Child Left Behind act, with the goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading, most states hovered between 20 and 30 percent proficiency, and 70 percent of eighth graders could not read at grade level. By 2020, only an estimated 50 million Americans will be qualified to fill 123 million highly skilled, highly paid jobs. Among 30 developed countries, the United States ranks 25th in math and 21st in science.

The end of the movie left me encouraged more than discouraged.  The animated “good teachers” depicted in the movie made me hopeful.  If every teacher in the U.S., took one step beyond what he/she is currently doing to affect change-what would happen?  Again, Mary Poppins seeps in, but without her the cynic would take over, and the kids deserve more than that. Don’t they?

This week at school, I’m teaching plate tectonics and how mountains are formed.  The activity calls for boo-coos of cookies, icing, and graham crackers.

As the mound of sweets slowly rolled by the girl at the check out, she asked me:

“What is all of this for?”

I heard myself explaining how when two plates move together it can result in the formation of a mountain.  I told her that I was doing an activity with the cookies to model the various faults in the earth.

The girl bagging the groceries asked, “What grade do you teach.”

“Fifth grade”, I replied.

“I don’t even remember fifth grade”, she mumbled as she stuffed the grocery bags.

The girl ringing my groceries said, “I wish I could have been in your class.”

I believed her.

So, here it to a new school week, and to all the teacher superheros.

K