Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25

Rose #1: This rose might last me for a while. I write pretty frequently about one of my students with autism. This is another rose from him! During our discussion of limericks yesterday, his eyes lit up. He told me he knew a limerick & he wanted to recite it out loud for the class. He remembered it word for word; he heard it on an episode of Spongebob Square Pants, but it still counts. Then, we talked about epitaphs, and he told us about when he and his family went to Disneyworld and how one of the attractions had fake gravestones outside of it. He remembered some of the funny epitaphs and shared them with the class. Then, I told the student we were going to watch an episode of The Twilight Zone and he lit up and clapped! It was such a great class for him and for me.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday, February 24

Rose #1: I showed Frankenstein in my first class today. I've never seen it, and the students haven't read it, but they did read another short story by Mary Shelley, "The Mortal Immortal." We were watching the movie because I want students to do some fiction writing in this style. For maybe the first time all year, 10 out of my 11 senior students stayed awake for the ENTIRE class. It was incredible.

Rose #2: I got to play vocabulary BINGO with two of my classes today. I always like to play games with them, and I think it helped them review. My freshmen students REALLY got into it.

Rose #3: My sophomore students and I discussed symbolism in Lord of the Flies. They are becoming such thoughtful readers. I was expecting it to be a pretty boring, not very fruitful, discussion, but they really understood symbolism!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today!

Tuesday, February 23

Rose #1: Again, in some of my classes, students seem to really be growing. They are able to quietly work on a task without being constantly reminded that this is, in fact, a quiet, individual, task. My sophomores this morning really just buckled down and got to work without much prodding!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22

Rose #1: Upon leaving school after my first block because I felt so terrible, several juniors voiced concern about me leaving. One girl even patted my arm. I am loved. :)

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today!

Friday, February 19

Rose #1: I'm getting excited that my Key Club officers and I might get to go to the district conference in March! My kids have been excited about it for months and I wasn't sure we'd be able to go because it's expensive, but I think that our local Kiwanis club is going to put up all of the money for us to attend. I'm excited to see how my kids act in that type of setting and help them grow in their leadership.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today!

(P.S. Sorry this is so late! I have sinus issues going on again. Left school early Friday, felt better Saturday morning, way worse Saturday afternoon, Sunday, and Monday morning)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18

Rose #1: My senior student I was talking about last week who I've struggled with but seem to be making strides with lately came in to my room early yesterday morning. Students generally have to stand outside after they get to school and before school starts in the morning. Sometimes they don't like standing in the cold, so if they have permission from a teacher, they can sit in a classroom. He didn't have permission from me, but he came in, sat down, and put his head down, for about 20 minutes before class started. It showed me that he feels more and more comfortable with me which makes me really happy.

Rose #2: My students wrote funny poems yesterday. Most students chose to write haikus. Here are some examples:

I was ice skating
I pushed a kid on his face
He stood, fell again

When I stuffed my face
It felt like I had a lump
Then I took a dump

Great grey globs of gnarling gruel,
Is what they serve in jail.
They serve it in a bucket,
In a bowl or in a pail.
It's full of chunks, it's full of globs,
It causes all those angry mobs.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17

Rose #1: I have to preface this rose a bit. I have always wanted to be a teacher. As I was approaching the end of college, I started to think maybe it wasn't right for me. At the same time, I became involved with the Bay City Central Writing Center project which gave me the opportunity to work one-on-one with high school students to revise and improve their writing. These experiences showed me that I really did want to be an English teacher. Even though I teach at a school with small class sizes, I still don't get to work with students one-on-one often enough. If I stop to work with one student, the others go crazy and I lose control. I've been working with a few students after school to prepare for their upcoming state writing test. One student in particular brought in a practice essay for me yesterday. We worked together to improve the essay so that he could see how to outline and prepare for writing his test essay and then how he could work to revise the essay before submitting his final for the test. It was really exciting to see the paper improve! It also restored my faith that teaching is for me and that I do love it.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday, February 16

Rose #1: More great poetry today! My students wrote concrete poems today, which are poems that take or make the shape of an object. One of my students made an amazing one in the shape of a hot air balloon and then was able to recreate it on the computer. It's amazing!

Rose #2: Some of my students really rocked out on their chapter 2 quiz for Lord of the Flies, including one student who got a 100% who usually scores around a C or a D.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday, February 15

Despite the fact that every other teacher I know had today for President's Day and I didn't, it was still one of the rosiest days I've had teaching so far!

Rose #1: My first class of the day did something amazing. We did our weekly journal activity and then they took a quiz. After, we graded the quiz, and then I gave them the work they needed to finish before our next class (reading another chapter in Lord of the Flies and doing the vocabulary for the next chapter). Amazingly enough, my students go to to work and they were SILENT. I was absolutely amazed at the way they just sort of took the initiative to figure out what order they wanted to do the assignments in and if they wanted to do vocabulary on the computer or use a dictionary. They worked right up until the end of class and I was just so impressed and happy!

Rose #2: Remember the great poems my kids wrote last week? Today I asked them to read the poems to the rest of the class. I didn't even give them the warning about how difficult it is for some people to read their writing in front of others, and how inappropriate it would be for them to laugh or make fun of someone's poem or reading. They managed to handle the whole thing very, very maturely. On top of that, my student with autism didn't want to read his poem. Another student in class encouraged him, telling him she saw his poem and it was really good. Then another student offered to read it for him. This surprised me for two reasons: the student who volunteered to read the poem isn't the nicest boy, and I was shocked that the boy with autism was willing to let him read the poem for him. I was so, so nervous that the reader was going to make fun of the boy, but I just took a deep breath and crossed my fingers and sent up a little prayer. He did an absolutely fantastic job. At the end, my students were all so kind and polite. I was really, really proud of them.

Rose #3: Today we talked about poetry & structure in my 9th grade class. The students were so excited about concrete poetry. Poetry is really not my favorite subject at all, but their enthusiasm today re-energized me to keep teaching the unit and to keep trying new things.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday, February 12

Rose #1: I have one student that I have struggled with over the past two years. He has a generally bad attitude. Last year, he did not do well at all in my English 11 class. This year, I have him in English 10 and English 12. He's a senior, but he failed English 10 when he was a sophomore. This student has had a rough time in school. He isn't easy to get along with, and I think many teachers have dealt with him unfairly, myself included. He carried a B all the way through the first semester in both English classes and I was really impressed by the strides he seemed to be making academically. My relationship with him as been improving VERY gradually as well. I joke that I can even have a discussion with him now without him giving me a look of disgust. Today, I gave him my "most improved student" award in class since he wasn't at our meeting last night to receive it. He was happy to receive the award. He didn't make a big deal about it, but I could tell, and his behavior was excellent all day. I was so excited because it showed me that he just needs some positive attention and that I can "change my spots" too.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Thursday February 11

Rose #1: More GREAT poems!

Rose #2: My Key Club students are doing such a great job. Yesterday, they gave up their lunch to have a meeting since our after-school activities were cancelled on Wednesday when we had planned to meet. They made posters for our upcoming meeting and prepared paper bags for our canned food drive. They are really becoming great student leaders.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday, February 10

Rose #1: My students wrote FANTASTIC poems today! Almost every student decorated his or her poem, too, which I was really excited about. I can't wait to have the poems to show at our parent meeting tomorrow night.

That's my only rose for the day because it was really one of my greatest moments as a teacher!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday, February 9

Rose #1: Today, my students were doing a pre-reading activity for Lord of the Flies. One of the questions asked students to name someone they know who is "good." One of my students chose me. :)

Rose #2: My freshmen students are studying poetry. Today, they were assigned to do some brainstorming and pre-writing for a "color poem." Some students asked if they could write about a season, a month, a sport, or a hobby instead, and I said of course! One student chose to write about skateboarding. He was SO excited about what he came up with and it wasn't even his final poem yet! I love seeing my kids take pride in their writing.

Rose #3: My students are preparing for their state writing test in early March. I've been keeping a few kids after school several days a week to do some remediation. One student is improving so much. When we do practice tests in class, he is consistently scoring higher and higher and I really expect him to score very well on the test. It's exciting, as a teacher, to see your work pay off.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday, February 8

Rose #1: I had two good conversations with senior students about the movie Avatar. My students frequently complain that they never get to just talk. So today, our weekly journal article focused on smoking in the movie Avatar, which gave me the chance to let students know I saw the movie this weekend. We then talked and debated a little, and I think it really started their day off right.

Rose #2: Again, my timing is getting so, so good. I'm using up every second of instructional time, and I can feel discipline problems lessening as a result.

Rose #3: This year, I started "Ms. Oxley's Boulevard of Stars" and each quarter, a choose a star from each grade. They fill out a form telling me what it means to them to be a star student, and I post their answers. The best thing about it is that my students really change their behavior when they're named a star. My 10th grade star for this past quarter has become my most respectful and mannerly student. He even tries to encourage other students to behave better. I'm so proud of him, and I'm excited to see what it does for his grades, too!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday, February 5

Rose #1: This one is less student-related, but it's something I'm very proud of. The timing of my lessons is getting so good! I've always struggled with having enough work to keep students busy. I always think activities are going to take us so much longer than they actually do. We were only school two days this week, but I wasn't reaching for things to do to fill up the time in ANY of my classes.

Rose #2: One of my students who failed my class last year took it in summer school so he wouldn't have to double up in English this year. This kid has changed COMPLETELY since last year. He and I struggled so much last year just to get along, let alone for him to actually do his work or study. This year, he consistently has an A in my class. He hands in his work on time, and his in-class behavior is fantastic. (Here's where I throw in my advice for parents to hold their sons back a year before starting school. This student was clearly not mature enough for 9th grade last year. Had he started school a year later, he probably wouldn't have so many classes to make up at this point.) Anyways, this student comes to my classroom all the time! He stopped by today to complain about having to go to history every day, since he has to make up that class as he failed it last year, and he told me that he'd rather have English every day than history! While I think the history teacher is fantastic, I will NEVER get tired of hearing students tell me they like my class better than other classes.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Thursday, February 4

Sorry I'm a day late! This was a crazy week with three days off for the kids!

Rose #1: My seniors had a great discussion in the morning about 18th century England and the Whigs and Tories. They were comparing them to more contemporary political factions. I couldn't get them to stop talking, but the best part about it was that the discussion was on topic.

Rose #2: I found so many neat resources to use as pre-reading activities for The Lord of the Flies. This year will be my first time teaching it all the way through since I came in part way through last year. I found an article from Paul Fussel's book, Thank God for the Atom Bomb, called "Postscript on Japanese Skulls." I also found an online survival skills test at So far, my students have responded more positively to these assignments than they usually do, and I think doing these activities will significantly enrich our reading of the novel.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.