Friday, August 24, 2007

Peter and the Starcatchers Book Discussion

(repost from and )
UPDATE #2: Initially I thought a Blogger blog would work as a book discussion but realized I need a threaded discussion with capabilities for teacher and student to comment on eveyone's posts. After searching around for an Web 2.0 stand alone application that would work, I decided to go back to my student's blog site. The children are familiar with the format and the accounts are already set up. You can see the forum for Peter and the Starcatchers here.
UPDATE #1: I realized I'd chosen the wrong tool for the job. I'm not going to be able to use Blogger for the book discussion for several reasons---"Comments" window doesn't have a WYSIWYG editor--my kids need spell check. I also need to be able to comment on the posts (which is the whole point)--what I need is a threaded discussion forum, so I'm moving the book discussion. The invitation is still open and I'll post the new location ASAP.

Wanna join? I've put together a book discussion for my gifted 4th graders. Would you like to join us in discussing
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Ridley Scott?

Amazon Reviews say the book is appropriate for grades 5-9 but I would limit it to 4-6th, I think the questions are going to be hard for my 4th graders and they are smarter than I am.

I'm also creating another discussion for older gifted kids, 5-6th, maybe 7th. We will be reading Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.

Each child would need an email to log in and follow the "rules" of the discussion. The objectives are twofold-- analyzing the novel and writing in a "formal" way. Teacher would need to commit to being part of the discussion and comment often.

I think this would be a great opportunity to differentiate curriculum for a gifted reader(s)/writer(s). Let me know if you are interested, we read the book together (everybody has a book) and the students answer the questions in our classroom, their regular classroom and at home. We encourage parents to read the books and join in, we'll be starting @ Sept 15.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Meme'd for the First Time

Ms. Mercer invited me to my first meme, does this mean I've made it to the big time? Nah, but I'll give it my best shot.

The post by Will about the conference he is at on the future of schools got me thinking. There is a lot of talk about, new thinking and old thinking, and arguing about where the problem is. I’m proposing a new meme about this to try to suss out where we’re at. The questions are:

  1. Is School 2.0 about technology or pedagogy (teaching methods)? In a perfect world it would be about learning not teaching, both student and teacher--the technology would just make it more fun.

  2. What were 1-3 things you had to”unlearn” to become an effective teacher? I became a "gifted" teacher teaching gifted kids. I had to give up control, I had to learn that there was more than one answer, I had to learn your first answer sometimes isn't your best answer, I had to learn that some kids need longer to process than others, I learned that "know-it-alls" sometimes "know-it-all", I learned you could read Moby Dick under your desk if you were very careful, I learned that analysis and synthesis is hard, I learned that studying your passion raises the quality of your finished product...shall I go on?

  3. Did you learn these poor practices in your teacher preparation program, or somewhere else? If so, where? I began to change about 6 weeks after I started teaching gifted kids. My poor practices were probably genetic--I took a different path than most. I taught for two years out of college then didn't teach again for almost 20 years, I was raising 3 kids. So when I went back to teaching, I didn't have a clue what I was doing and didn't remember one thing I'd learned at university.

  4. Describe the philosophy of your teacher preparation program in 25 words or less.
    What age/grade level do you teach? When did you attend school at that level?
    Don't have a clue and don't remember a thing about teacher training. I teach gifted elementary students K-6. I was in grade school in the middle 50s. (Was it that long ago?)

  5. When were you in your teacher preparation program? 1967-1971.

Thanks for the invite!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Favorite Student Posts

I'm posting this here because it didn't "fit" at Classroom 2.0.I teach in a program for elementary gifted kiddos (4-6) but their writing abilities vary as much as the students in your classroom. We've been blogging since November and if you'll bear with me I'll share some favorites. One bit of advice---ask high level reflective questions to get started, you may be surprised at the level of the responses. Remember, you get back what you accept. We also use RSS feed and creative writing prompts to generate posts. Let me know if you need any other tips.

None of these posts were prompted by me.

From Mattea 4th:

I think books are wonderful. They take you to places you've never been to and probable will never go. I usually read ever night before I go to bed. Sometimes I don't have a book to read and I have nothing to do. Books can entertain me for hours, especially when I'm alone.
One girl in my class hates to read. I hate it when we have a sub and they read to you so slowly. It's hard to pay attention, especially when they talk in a monotone voice. Our regular teacher actually talks in a faster, more expressive way. Not as fast as Mrs. Bosch (that's me), but fast. I want to know if this happens to any of you. Do you have a teacher who talks to slow or even to fast? If this is fine, what annoys you when you're reading and why?

From Russell 6th:

Einstein and Time and Space Travel and stuff
Here's another one of those boring "wonderful theories" by Russell. I know that I've already posted one of these on my blog, but this is my favorite thing to write about.
One of Einstein's theories was that space and time alter to not allow anything to travel at the speed of light. So, that means that time itself can alter to prevent something from traveling that fast. It is possible to travel extremely fast, possibly faster than the speed of light. One thing is, mass (not church, weight) also alters itself to prevent lightspeed travel. So it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light on Earth. But, in space, that doesn't matter. I don't know if this is correct, but I believe that if you got going fast enough, time would stop, allowing you to, basically, teleport. And you wouldn't need to use up fuel during the whole trip. There's no friction in space, so once you got going, you would never stop until you used your brakes. If we could clear out all of the junk in space, and find a way to shield the ship, we could travel like this safely. So, we'd waste a bunch of fuel getting going, and a bunch getting stopped, and that would be all. There's still a bunch of imperfections, and I don't think that anything like this will happen in my lifetime. But I still think that this could eventually work.

From Ashlee 5th:

Flags of Our Fathers
I'm reading a really great book about the battle at Iwo Jima. You probably heard the name of the book or the movie, "Flags of Our Fathers". I find it so interesting but also so brutal. I can't believe how many people died on that 8 sq. mile island. I've been doing a lot of research on the subject lately. I was thinking I could write something about it and maybe put it on my blog sometime. The book was written by the son of the man in the famous photo of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi whose profile is the only one showing. I thought that it was cool how the author was one of the kin of the 6 men (three of them died on the island) who were in the most printed photograph in the history of the United States. I would highly recommend it.

From Molly 4th:

Portal For The Mortal
As I was sitting in my bed one night I thought of the future and I came up with a way to be "portaled" somewhere else. I thought of an arch and a sideboard next to the arch. You would type in a portal number on the sideboard and step through the arch. I thought that you would pop out of the numbered portal. The way to do this wouldn't be simple. The portal would send a jolt through your body, and then push you out of the portal. No one would see you come out the other side because it would push you so hard you would go so fast that nobody could see you. Then there is the matter of how could it push you that hard without damaging something, like a bone. How would it even push you? The are other problems such as if someone was accidentally pushed into the trees. I mean you couldn't be pushed of a tall building to avoid anything because you would fall. Then comes safety. What if someone gets a code or number and pops into your house? Maybe one day it'll be figured out and we won't need to use to much nonrenewable energy, like minerals, or fuels. This could help global warming. So this is what I think teleporting might be like.

And from the laugh out loud category...

From: Michelle, who never bought into my formal writing requirements

50....or maybe not quite 50 Things I'll Never Do....(in my right mind) 17, things i'll never do:
become a history teacher; swim in antarctica; purposely vacuum the floor; burn a bar of chocolate; be the new octopus for the Wiggles; sing the national anthem stadium full of people; throw icecream at Simon Cowell (although he deserves it :P); run a marathon in flip-flops; order a broccoli souffle; eat dinner with donald trump; be a contestant on The Bachelor; i'll never kill a butterfly on purpose;NEVER listen to country music longer than one hour straight; I WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER... throw away my furry blue slippers; roll around on a movie theatre floor; work at Pricechopper (the smell drives me crazy, i can hardly breathe); NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER E..V..E..R die my hair bleach blonde.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Vandals Like Tetris, Too.

Sometimes I see something that just strikes my fancy (whatever that means). I like this image from The DailySnap

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ten Things I Love About Being a Teacher (In the Summer)

Here is a list of things I love about being a teacher in the summer. I love the school year, too--but we are so blessed to have time in the summer to recharge. Can you add to the list?

1. Never being tired. Even if you are tired, it doesn't matter.

2. Staying up late.

3. Spending too many hours online and not caring.
4. Summer foods-tomatoes, cantaloupe, peaches, cherries.

5. Going to the ice cream store after dinner.

6. Reading a whole book in a day.

7. BBQing.

8. Going swimming.

9. Taking a nap, even if you don't need it.

10. Having lunch with friends and eating for more than 25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Me: In One Slide

Dan Meyers has a very high stakes contest going on over at his place. I know that bloggers around the world are stewing over the perfect "four slides". I've decided to copy Chris Duke. I bet I can name that tune in one note!!! Oops, wrong contest--here is my slide.

Click HERE to see a bigger image.

A Boy in Africa

Three years ago I saw this picture in Newsweek magazine. I was so enthralled by the picture I emailed the Dutch photographer, Reinout van den Bergh, and ask him for permission to use the photo in a workshop I was presenting. His Dutch agent, Arjen Duijts, gave his permission then and has given his permission again to use the image in our blog.

From our student blog A Really Different Place: Look at this boy in Cameroon, Africa and think about what you see. Think about how this boy must live. Once you have considered the life this boy must lead, look at the item in his hand that he has made out of mud. What do you think it is? What does this picture say about our society. Write your blog entry after thinking for a few minutes.