Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Maintenance

If you look close you can see that this building is getting ready to be painted. You can see where some of the old paint is chipping off. Kind of like the Golden Gate Bridge, which is so big that it is continually in the process of being painted, a school is continually in the process of being repaired. Last year the portables were painted and the roofs were checked. At some point in the fall we had large room numbers stenciled onto the buildings with a Sammy the Saint logo next to them. Also, this year there was a cleaning of the gum residue from some of the sidewalks over by the business classes. We got new paint around the Administration building and now the painters are moving out toward the rest of the campus. Continual maintenance also includes the up keep on the practice fields; some of them grass, (like the soccer field), some of them dirt, (like the infield of the softball diamond), the daily cleaning of the bathrooms, and the disposal of trash in every room.
During the summer all the rooms are cleaned: the desks are washed, the carpet shampooed.
So, I would just like to say thank you to the maintenance people that take care of where we spend our days. This school is old, and from previous pictures you can tell it has its issues, but they try and make it as neat and clean as they can, and the staff appreciates it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another Congrats!

This is one of my Seniors, Saul Lopez, and the notice that he's been invited to Senior Award Night!
It's the end of the year and so much is happening on campus. Seniors are especially busy with graduation announcements, ditch day, yearbooks coming out, Grad Night at Disneyland, prom, etc...
The rest of the campus is also busy: ASB and club elections for next year, juniors planning for summer school, students getting their tablets, everybody finishing up final projects, studying for finals. Teachers walking around in deep thought trying to figure out just how long we can hold our students' attention and get as much stuff in their heads as possible. I saw teachers getting boxes delivered today. Some of them are moving rooms and some are transferring to a different school in the district. It just seems like overnight the campus is ready to shut down for the summer.
13 1/2 days left!
 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tablets

Some of my 5* class with their new tablets!
The students got their tablets today. Brand new, Dell tablets. I have already had to threaten to take one away. Now that I am confiscating their phones, one of my kids had his headphones plugged into his tablet on his desk! I didn't realize that they came fully charged. ACK!!! I told them all that I didn't want the tablets on their desks and to keep them in their backpack. It should be ok for the rest of the year, but I am going to have to make a class policy for the tablets now, too, for next year. Oh, my. One more distraction. One more thing to monitor :{

Monday, May 18, 2015

Congrats!

Ms. Klein hugging a student :)
Many teachers go on to get their Masters Degree and some of them even go the step further and get their PHD. We have a teacher on campus that has done just that! What an accomplishment! I know Ms. Klein has been working on this wonderful achievement for a couple of years now. The ASB students decided to congratulate her, so they grabbed a bunch of friends and posters (you know the ASB...they always have posters!) and balloons and went to her room to surprise her yesterday.

 

 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Need Help!

     One of the bad things about teaching in an old school, (remember, parts of this school were built in the 1800's although I'm sure many places have been updated and added. It's kind of hard to tell where the older places end and the new begin) is every once in awhile you run into things falling apart. We got, maybe, 1/10 of a rain total the other day. Obviously it was just enough to puddle on this section of walkway and break out the rotten wood underneath. These wooded awnings, that are in the center of the school, were repainted several years ago. But paint will not keep rotted wood together. This area finally broke through to clear sky.  And here are a couple of other places around campus that need serious help. There are dozens of others I haven't taken a picture of. The State of California consistently ignores the repairs of our infrastructure, including the buildings that house our schools. The last time it rain a 6" piece of my metal rain gutter, (that was corroded and full of holes to begin with) that hangs over my ramp, broke and came swinging down. Luckily it was after the bell rang and there were no students out there to get hurt. We need some help! It's not just that teachers are underpaid but our work places are neglected. How are we supposed to convince children, year after year, that they are the most important part of our society, and to have school pride, when we allow them to come to schools looking like this?




Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Experiment

Are you all getting tired of hearing about the cell phones? Well, if my experiment of collecting the cell phones from my students, at the beginning of every class, wasn't working so well, I probably would just let the topic drop. But I have had wonderful success! I am going to continue to do this every year! And I am going to encourage all my other colleagues to try it also. The kids are more social with me and each other. They are less distracted. Even though not all kids use their phones in class, it still seems like everybody is less distracted. And it has been wonderful, as a teacher, not to have to patrol and monitor and interrupt class. Just lovely. Heavy sigh of relief!
  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Power to the People!

     Every year I teach my students how to do PowerPoint Presentations. There are rules, just like in essay writing, they need to know. I always loved creating PP's. And I do this unit at the end of the year because it is their last big chance to get a good grade; many of them do. For my Freshmen I have them pick a topic from Shakespeare's time; the 1600's, because the last unit we do is Romeo and Juliet. They choose castles, Queens and Kings, explorers, weaponry, etc... My Sophomores do countries of the world because the class is World Literature. That's self-explanatory. My Juniors do American icons and topics from the 40's, 50's and 60's. People like Lucille Ball, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, . Topics like cartoons, the space race, television, toys and games, fashion, cars, etc... Happenings like the Harlem Renaissance, the bombing of Hiroshima or the invention of the Polio vaccine. They get to pick their topics and most of them have fun with it.
     Today I showed them former students' PowerPoints. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." I want them to visualize perfect presentations and have the opportunity to pick out "what's wrong with this picture?" on the ugly ones. By the end of the period they are having a grand time pointing out all the mistakes in the ones that I'm showing them. But along the way they are learning the rules, by pointing them out and learning about Copyrights. This Thursday we begin three days worth of computer lab time for them to work on their own presentations.
     The year is winding down but I can't slack up on the pace. I have to keep them busy and engaged for at least another 2 weeks. Then we can start the "ending" of it all.    

Monday, May 11, 2015

Don't Rush Me

     Every Monday I check the previous week's reading logs. Funny thing. Today I saw reading logs from people who haven't done a consistent job of doing their reading logs since the beginning of the school year. They all know that the reading logs compose 25% of their overall grade and still wonder why they have such low grades when they don't do them. Hmmm... Oh, yeah. Must be the end of the year. They are feeling the pressure to pass, for any number of reasons, and are just now getting serious about their grades. We have 21 1/2 days left.
     I'm sad to say that the best effort in doing reading logs, now, is not going to save a lot of them who didn't do a couple of the other major projects along the way. It will help but if they are sitting at a very low F, the reading logs, these last two weeks, won't cut it. But I'm not telling them that. I want them to strive to pass. And if I tell them that now, they will just give up, and I don't want that to happen. I would love to have these kids pass my class.
     They get a stricken look on their face when I mention that if they don't pass they will have to do this whole class over again and...they might get me again. I am not usually a sadistic person, but that face makes me happy!

    


Friday, May 8, 2015

Appreciated

These two items I found in my box this morning, along with several thank you notes from students. It's always fun to find a little something in your box. And I can even eat the apple! The candy and donut: I'm sure I can get someone interested in those. We also got coupons from McDonald's, which I'm sure I'll be able to share with someone. Overall, it has been a nice week. No cell phones in the class. Goodies in my box. It's Friday! Life is good!  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cell Phones Revisited

     On April 29th I posted a blog about cell phones. It was about how rude the kids are and how tragically connected they have become to this little piece of technology.
     As it so often happens, just when you are thinking about doing something about all this, an incident occurs and pushes you over the edge.
     Two days ago, on Monday, I had yet another student misusing his phone and I had to take it away from him and hold it until the end of the day. When he came to pick it up he apologized, but only with his girlfriend's urging. He seemed to think it was all fun and games. As he walked away, something in my brain clicked. Enough. I'm done with this nonsense.
     Yesterday, in the morning I locked my door and wouldn't let any of my kids enter the class until they had surrendered their cell phones. I collected them in a plastic bag, (in plain sight) put them in my filing cabinet by the door and locked it, (also in plain sight of all. As a matter of fact I made them watch me do it) putting the keys in my pocket. I did that with every class, all day long. I think only one got past me...he and I will be talking today.
     The kids were shocked, incredulous that I would actually take their phones away from them for the duration of the class. I told them, "It's only for 50 minutes, and you're not supposed to be using them anyway, so get over it." When they asked why I was taking the phones I said, "You know in kindergarten, when a child is not using a toy responsibly? We have to take that toy away from them. Same thing here. I have asked, cajoled,  threatened...you name it. I am sick to death of the disrespect and intrusion that these phones have created in my class room. And I don't feel you have the right to waste my time by making me deal with collecting, tagging and running the phones to the office because you can't be responsible enough to put them away."
     Silence.
     We will have a phone collection every day until the end of the year. And I will continue the procedure next year. I guess if they will not monitor themselves and their inappropriate behavior, I'll have to. I urge all the other teachers on my campus to take a stand. We must make a clear statement or nothing will change.
     Oh, by the way...on the up side: My students were actually talking and laughing with each other before and after class. Actually TALKING to each other! Maybe it was my wishful thinking, but as the kids didn't have the temptation of distraction, they were more focused on the book we were reading. And I got to have an entire day not having to be on the alert all the time. It was nice!
    

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I Teach

It is Teacher Appreciation Week. I received this in my mail box this morning along with a card thanking me for being such a good teacher. It was signed but I couldn't read the signature, so I imagine random kids filled out the cards and put them in our boxes. But I like the little card. Some days I do feel like I have a super power; that day where the lesson clicks and the kids enjoy themselves and actually learn something. It's a great feeling!
The ASB put up signs all around campus. This one below is my favorite:
I did an experiment today...Stay tuned tomorrow for the results!
 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars Day

     Today is International Star Wars Day. My students said that there is a teacher on the other side of campus that dressed up as Darth Vader. I'll get a pic if I can... And it is an Early-Out day, basically a minimum day, where the teachers get the afternoon to meet and collaborate. By this time in the year, most of us are pretty burned out so we will get together and discuss...I really don't know at this point. But we also celebrate birthdays and accomplishments of individual teachers since last month; our last meeting.
It is also the first day of Teacher Appreciation Week. The Administration is cooking a light breakfast, for any one who wants to eat it, in the staff lounge tomorrow. I probably won't partake because of my strict eating schedule, (I eat breakfast between 5:30 and 6:00 every morning) but it is a nice gesture. And in the past the ASB has done something cute to put in our mail boxes. So, if you are a teacher, be strong in the fact that there are only 26 1/2 more days of this school year. May the Force be with us all!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bingo

We needed some fun today, as it is the last day of junior testing. We have been doing vocabulary packets off and on these last two weeks, and I showed a movie a couple of days, just to get us through the two weeks when attendance was scattered. I didn't want to do anything of major importance because I never knew who was testing when, so today we played Bingo.
I have been playing bingo with my classes since I started teaching. I still have the same bag of pinto beans, (that I warn the kids not to put anywhere near their mouths!) that I bought my first year teaching. I put 30 or so vocabulary words up on the projector and they fold a scratch piece of paper into 16 squares. then, with a "FREE" square they pick 15 of the 30 words to make their "card." Bingos are rewarded with a prize from my huge Ikea shopping bag full of smaller paper bags with prizes inside. The kids never know what they're going to get. Gaby (on the right) got 2 pairs of party glasses, which she promptly shared with her friend Cynthia. Prizes range from school supplies to old paintbrushes, small stuffed animals, Tootsie Roll Pops, to Happy Meal toys. I get them in big grab bags at thrift stores and the dollar store. Anything can be a prize: old socks (washed), hair curlers, penny rolls, army men, pencils, door stops, plastic fruit, stickers, baby toys, barrettes, shower curtain rings...you get the picture. The kids trade with each other and I even had a pair of toy horses auctioned off once, (the baby went for $5 to the owner of the mother horse!) 
Anyway...it's Friday. 27 1/2 days left. Happy weekend!