Monday, August 24, 2015

Brain Workout

     It didn't take too long for him to surface. The student that has intelligence and tries to push my buttons. I love these students. They give my brain a workout!
     If you read my blog on a regular basis you know that every year I have my students format a Common Notebook. It takes them three days and is something they will use the entire year for reading logs, vocabulary, class notes and journals. This year we got a late start and so I was very pleased that the kids were working diligently and actually getting it done correctly! As they finished they were supposed to bring it to me to check before they put it away. At the end of 5th period last Monday a student by the name of Mario came up to my desk with his Common Notebook in his hand.
     Me: "Hi. Are you done?"
     Mario: "Um. Mrs. Nelson. You couldn't find fault Leonardo Da Vinci, could you?"
     Me thinking: This should be good.
     Me: "Well, no. Why do you ask?"
     Mario: "He had a very distinctive style."
     Me: "If you are talking about him writing everything backwards; yes. Did you have an issue with your notebook?"
     Mario: "Well, I have the page numbers reversed."
     Me: "Let me see." I reached for his notebook and sure enough he had the pages numbered incorrectly. Not just the numbers reversed but the odd numbered pages were on the even pages and visa-versa. And then before he fixed it, he decided to go with the flow and titled all the pages incorrectly. So, all the reading logs and everything else started on the wrong pages.
     Me: "This is wrong. You're going to have to fix it."
     Mario: "But all you'd have to do is flip the book over and there would be the assignment."
     Me: "This won't work. You're going to have to redo the book. What color of new notebook would you like?"
     Mario: "Sure it will work. Let me show you."
     Me: "I can see how it would work but this is foremost an exercise in following directions. I want it done correctly. What color notebook would you like?"
     Mario: "This is boring and an exercise in redundancy!"
     Me: "Do you know what that word means?" I don't think I've ever heard that word out of a students' mouth.
     Mario: "Yeah. It means stupid repetition."
     Me: "Well, if you had followed directions the first time you wouldn't have to redo it. Pick your new colored notebook."
     Mario: "I can see you're not going to back down from this..."
     Me: "Nope."
     Mario: "But this is going to take a long time!"
     Me: "Again...if you had followed directions...What color?
     Mario with a heavy sigh and look of abject rejection: "Green."
     Me: "Thanks! You have until Friday to finish."
Score one for me, but I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with next! Stay tuned!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Names, Names and Names

One of the hardest things I have to do, at the beginning of every school year, is learn the names of all my students. Some of the kids stick our right away, (like Ivan who has already, in the first two weeks, served 3 lunch detentions.) I tell the kids this; that I am not good at remembering names and that eventually I will get to know them. Thank goodness for seating charts!
It used to be easier when I only had 21 kids in a class and we were on the block schedule, (seems like a fading dream now.) That meant I only had to learn 63 names a semester. Even that took me several months. Now I have 165+/- names to try and put with faces.
I think one of the hardest thing to conquer is the unusual names. Here's some from my current roles:
Leodegario (all one word) ~ boy, Daniarely ~ girl, Yamile (goes by Yami) ~ girl, Apolizar ~ boy
Emigdia ~ girl, Niceforo ~ boy, Leobardo ~ boy, Cleopatra ~ girl
Carmelo ~ boy
I'm sure I've missed some...but it is heartening to me that some of the older names are coming back into vogue like: Charlie, Virginia, Norma, Patricia, Edith and Ofelia, (even though it is spelled differently.) And every year I am getting more and more of the old standards: Davids and Michaels. I have yet to have a Jody, or any variation of my name, in a class.
I will probably know almost all of their names by Christmas; we'll get along great until June. But then when I see them next year, I will only be able to wave and say, "Hi! How are you doing?" and not be able to call up their names. I'll have 165+/- more names and faces to put together :( 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Break Out the Painter's Tape!

     This roll of tape is going to be my best friend today. Last year I bought a roll to make marks on the carpet of my class room so the kids would know where their desks should be. All in an effort to stop the "desk creep" that was pushing me against the front wall of my class room. It worked really well. I haven't had to do that in this room, yet.
     But today I will be using my roll of tape in little snippets to cover the cameras on my students' tablets. Yesterday I had one of my students turn on his tablet, currently prohibited in my class room, and show me what the camera looked liked when turned on: both focused toward the viewer and the viewee (which would be anyone in front of the student, like me.) I discovered that you cannot tell when the camera is recording. The person holding the tablet has a tiny (I'm talking t-i-n-y here, folks) purple dot that tells them the camera is on. But nothing from the outside.
     So, I am taking the road less traveled and masking out the camera lens.
     No. I don't have anything to hide. It is just kind of nerve-racking being filmed, especially without my permission.
     Yes. I will get grumbles and complaints.
     Yes. I will get the inevitable questions of "Why?"
     No. Their arguments will not sway me.
     Yes. I expect them to remove the tape. I don't plan on using the tablets that much in class and if they remove it between uses, I have more tape.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Digs

My new room as I walk in the door

     Well, I'm back! It was a fast and crazy summer: a trip to AZ, a quilt show, packing my old room, a trip to San Francisco, remodeling my utility room (new floor, paint, ceiling tiles etc...) and finally a trip to Oregon. And then in the last two weeks I created (with help from my husband and daughter) a web site for my students. Whew! I'm tired! Thank goodness school started again, (although you may not hear me say that in a couple of weeks!)
     I had a lot of people concerned that I was not going to post again this year. Last year was pretty successful and for those of you who followed me, thanks so much! You learned a lot about the day-to-day life of a high school teacher and our campus life. So, by popular demand, I am back. I don't know if I will get to post every day but you'll see the highlights. Much of it will depend on my students. I have 5 classes of Sophomores this year. Our class size has jumped from 27 last year to 36 this year. I'm hoping for some good personalities, but in my past experience 10th graders are not as relaxed in a class as 11th graders. I guess you and I will just have to wait and see.
     My new class room is situated in the middle of the school. I'm not quite sure if that is an improvement but I do know that it is closer to EVERYTHING, that is, except the parking lot. It takes me 8 minutes to walk to my car. Not a bad morning walk but seems like miles by the end of the day. Not complaining. My new room used to be a computer lab so it is much bigger than my old portable. Nice to have room to move around, especially with the added student count. 
     Today is the second day of school (too early!) I hope you will enjoy my writing this year. If you are new to my blog please feel free to look over the past year. It gives a lot of history of the school and great insights into teenagers; the best people on earth!