Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday, January 29

Rose #3 (from yesterday!): Oops, forgot about this one. I usually am not very good at writing exams, as far as making the exam long enough to take the students the full 99 minutes. Mostly, my exams take my students less than half that time, which might be because they don't care, or it might be because they know the "stuff." I don't get to see that until I grade their exams. My exam for my English 9 class, however, took the students the ENTIRE class period to finish. They were actually working hard & hustling to get it all done in time.

Rose #1: I have a blusher! While most of my male students find it completely hilarious when they make a fart noise or actually fart during class, one boy turns TOTALLY red. I absolutely love it, because it lets me know that he does have some idea of what is socially appropriate, and he knows farting in the middle of a quiet room really isn't!

Rose #2: I got some planning done today for my first classes when I get back on Tuesday. I am usually not excited about teaching poetry, but I've decided to take a different, more fun approach this year. My students are going to start off with narrative poetry, so we're going to read poems like "Casey at the Bat" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade." I love bringing children's books into my classroom, so I think this will give me another opportunity to do so. I want my students to see the fun, light-hearted side of poetry, as well as the deeper, more serious side.

Well, I'm off to Cleveland for the weekend, which is practically my rose for the entire month of January and maybe even for 2010! I haven't seen Carly, one of my very best friends, in almost a year, so this weekend will provide us with some much needed catching up time.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday, January 28

Rose #1: Today, I was able to relieve the stress of one of my students by being flexible. I have one student with autism who sometimes doesn't handle pressure so well. I knew that I had made my English 9 exam rather difficult as far as finishing it in the time allowed. Basically, I just wanted them to be kept busy during the entire exam period, so I figured if the majority didn't finish both of the two essays I assigned, I would just only count one. Well, they all seemed to be working away just fine, but the one student was clearly upset. I offered him the opportunity to type his essay on the computer, which seemed to calm him down, but he was still just staring at the screen. Finally, I went over and told him he could write one of the essays and I would double his score. He ended up writing only one essay but it was as long as the other two essays were supposed to be put together! It was one of those situations where it worked out well for both of us, and I was able to possibly make a connection with him.

Rose #2: I had a very productive afternoon. Usually, I hate being at school when my students aren't there, so I am not usually a big fan of exam days, when students only have to be there for half a day and we teachers have to toil away alone for the rest of the afternoon. Today, I turned on Yahoo Radio on my computer and spent the afternoon singing and cleaning and throwing away!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday, January 27

Rose #1: It's another one rose day. Still being held back by whatever is going on with my sinuses! Today, my fellow staff members threw me a surprise birthday party. I had been feeling pretty down because my birthday is over winter break and we didn't celebrate it this year. We usually make a big deal about birthdays because we have such a small staff. My principal emailed us all today to tell us he needed to meet with us after school for just a minute, so I walked over to the meeting. I sat down and a minute later, the guidance counselor walked in with a cake and my friend Jamie walked in with balloons! Everyone was singing happy birthday and for a minute I was SO confused because I knew I hadn't signed a birthday card for anyone. Then I realized we were celebrating my birthday! I'm smiling about it now as I type this little story. It was really just what I needed during this crazy week of exams & sickness! Many thanks to my colleagues :)

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday, January 26

Rose #1: This is the only rose for today, as it was not a great day. However, this IS a great rose! Today, for the first time EVER, I gave a test that only ONE student didn't pass. And, that student was only 3% away from passing. I generally have to give 10 points or more as a curve to get all of my students passing. I was happy not to have to curve at all, and all of my juniors will pass this semester! :)

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday, January 25

Rose #1: I taught my students a tool to remember the three purposes of writing non-fiction (to persuade, to inform, to entertain) = PIE. Today, we were reviewing for their semester exam. When we made it to the non-fiction part of the review, I covered PIE and then moved on to the four different types of non-fiction writing we covered (persuasive, narrative, descriptive, and expository). After that, one of my students said, "Ms. Oxley, what about PIE?" And, while I was moderately irritated that he wasn't paying attention when I covered that not five minutes before that moment, I was more excited that he REMEMBERED THE TOOL and that he's likely to do well on that part of the exam!

Rose #2: This rose didn't take place at school, but has more to do with how the sunshine & warm weather provided me with the opportunity to go for a quick run after school to blow off steam. For me, one of my roses every day is that I'm healthy enough to run and walk and exercise.

Rose #3: My third rose didn't take place at school either, but it's related to one of the great roses among my fellow staff members at school. My favorite other teacher & one of my very best friends recently had to say goodbye to her husband as he left to serve in Haiti. They don't know when he'll be able to return, and they are not in contact very frequently. Tonight, she and I went to see "It's Complicated." I always feel like quite a rebel when I go see a movie on a "school night." This rose is for the fact that I was able to take some of the pressure off of her after a long day at school and give her mind a break from missing her hubby!

Rose #4: This rose is for my first comment on my blog! Thanks to Megan for reaffirming my purpose in writing this blog.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday, January 22

Rose #1: Two students handed in work today that raised their grades to the point of passing. They are both seniors, so I was stressing out about them failing English, since that would mean they couldn't graduate. While I'm still irritated with them for taking so long to do these assignments, I am so incredibly happy that they both managed to get it together in time.

Rose #2: Because I'm the only English teacher at my school, I am considered the chair of the department. As such, I get invited to some important English teacher meetings. One of these is going on tomorrow. The instructional specialist for English emailed us to let us know the meeting was going on and to ask if we had any comments for her to take with her to the meeting, or if any of us wanted to go. I emailed back just to see if she really thought it would be helpful for me to go, and she was SO excited! She even emailed back a day or two later to make sure I was still planning on going. This all leads up to today when a teacher friend at another school in my district sent me an email with some district updates. In the email, it noted that I would be attending the meeting with the instructional specialist! I thought that was so cool.

Still sick. Make sure you're all drinking plenty of water & oj & tea, as well as getting plenty of rest, and using those anti-bacterial wipes and sprays. Stay strong. :)

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday, January 21

Rose #1: Several students finished papers due next week today and turned them in! It is sometimes difficult to get my students to turn things in on time, let alone early. The papers are well-written, as well, and represent several drafts and lots of revisions and hard work. Yay kiddos!

Rose #2: Thankfully, my school is very flexible, so I was able to leave early today, since I'm not feeling well. While being sick is definitely not a rose, the fact that my principal let me leave early was.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"From the thorn bush comes forth the rose." - Old Jewish Proverb

Rose #1: 11th grade students did well on a practice multiple-choice SOL test. Only one would have failed, and I'm already working with that student after school to get her caught up.

Rose #2: Our Key Club is doing a fundraiser for the earthquake victims in Haiti. Today, two of my students, one who isn't even involved in Key Club, took the initative to make signs and designate a bulletin board in my room as the place where we'll hang the stars we're selling. Once they had done that, all of the other students got really excited about the fundraiser and were talking about how much money they're going to bring in. Those two students did a great job getting everything organized and getting kids fired up!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday, January 19

"It will never rain roses; when we want to have more roses we must plant more trees." - George Eliot

Rose #1: Today, I had one of those moments that teachers sometimes dread: my principal dropped by my class. Sometimes, I get nervous when I'm teaching and my principal drops by when it's not something really exciting and engaging. Today, we were reading from the play, and it had come to a part with only two characters. So, the rest of my students who weren't reading probably didn't look totally engaged because, honestly, I thought they probably weren't. However, when I would stop students to ask questions, which I do regardless of whether my principal is in the room or not, they knew the answers. They knew MORE than the answers. They provided totally thought-provoking discussion; I was impressed and so was my principal. It was really exciting to see that my students are actually "getting it."

Rose #2: I had the opportunity to chat with one of my students today when she was done with her work in another class. We went over her grades and how she's doing on her research paper she's working on it. Working with students one-on-one is my favorite part of teaching; unfortunately, I don't get that opportunity very often. I was really thankful for a few minutes to make a connection with her. She's one student that I watch really becoming a better student and person every day, and she reminds me why I'm here.

Rose #3: I finally set up some hanging folders in my filing cabinet so I could file my students' writing folders. They've been stacked up in just about every place around my classroom, my car, and my room at home. Finally, they have a home, and HOPEFULLY, now that they do, I'll use them like I'm supposed to!

Rose #4: When setting up the hanging folders, I found a GREAT resource for helping my students prepare for the writing SOL (state test - Standards of Learning) in March. It's a little old, but it will do, and it didn't cost the school any more money because it was just collecting dust in the back of a drawer. I was getting nervous about how to get the students that needed a little extra help prepared; I've been keeping them after school but I wasn't totally sure how to structure the time. This book will help, and there are more than enough copies for all of my students. I'm thankful I stumbled upon them today, and that someone had the good sense to keep them around!

As a side note, sometimes I don't even realize all of these roses until I start to write about them. I like that this gives me a reason to look back on my day and remember the good instead of focusing on the negative. Thanks for reading! :)

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday, January 15

"As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round." - Ben Hogan

Rose 1: My students have been creating grammar mini-lessons for the past weeks in preparation for their state tests. Two students presented this morning, one on using apostrophes, specifically in cases of possession and specifically NOT in cases of plural words. The other student's presentation was on colons. Both students needed a lot of help to prepare their lessons. I was so impressed by not only their presentations but also by the worksheets they developed for students to demonstrate that the lesson taught them something. In general, the mini-lesson assignment was great and the students loved it.

Rose 2: My freshmen students are working on an I-Search paper, which I wrote about earlier. Today, three students turned in their rough drafts. All three students chose great topics (fly fishing, the war in Iraq (specifically when soldiers will be coming back), and languages). I was excited because the final paper is required to be 3-4 pages long, and the students were telling me there was "no way" they could write a paper that long. Each rough draft was two pages long, and I was able to comment and make suggestions on each paper, so I'm now sure the length requirement for the final will be no problem!

Rose 3: Thanks to the great Martin Luther King, Jr., this is a three day weekend, which is a cause for celebration for teachers everywhere!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday, January 14

"Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow." - The Secret Garden

Rose #1: The sun is shining! Because my school consists of three double-wide trailers, I have to walk to get to lunch. That meant I got about five minutes of time in the sunshine today, which is more than I probably would have if I taught in a regular high school where I could walk to lunch inside.

Rose #2: I get to spend my afternoon with some really neat students I work with through Key Club. We have a meeting after school followed by the Winter Rally for our district. It's wonderful that I get to spend time outside of school with students because it gives us an opportunity to get to know each other a little better, and it tends to improve their effort on classwork and their behavior in class.

Rose #3: My principal is nice enough to extend us the professional courtesy of letting us leave campus during our planning period. This afternoon, at the beginning of my planning period, I drove to Starbucks and used a gift card a student gave me for the holidays to get myself a delicious treat!

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday, January 13

Rose 1: A recent assignment my senior students had was to write a 3-6 minute expository essay. They were able to choose any school appropriate topic. A few students finished this project on time with no trouble and gave their speeches in class. The speeches weren't fantastic, for the most part, but my students really put the effort in, so I didn't mind. One student who was struggling with a death in his family finally gave his speech today, about four weeks late. He gave the best speech out of all of my students which was definitely not what I was expecting. He followed the directions, which my students often do not do, and he developed a very charismatic beginning to his speech that exceeded my expectations for all of my students. The best part of this was that his speech was on MMA, or mixed martial arts, which I have absolutely no interest in, but he made it interesting to me. I was so impressed!

Rose 2: In my last class of the day on B days, I have freshmen. They're currently working on an I-search paper which is sort of a watered down version of a research paper. It has been a struggle in one section but today, my students started to "get it." We started with a topic letter that gave them the chance to propose their topic. Students then moved on to an outline I had created based on the blueprint I wanted them to use for the paper. Today, I noticed a student splitting his screen so he had his outline on one side and his draft on the other side. It caught on with other students and they started to realize that the outline is made to help them write their drafts. I was happy to see real, practical learning taking place.

I hope you stopped to smell the roses today.

Roses (& thorns)

My idea in starting this blog came from the game "Roses & Thorns." If you're not familiar with the game, it can be played in a few different ways, but, basically, at the end of the day, you can sit down and think, "What's the best thing that happened today?," and that's your rose. The worst thing that happened would be your thorn.

Sometimes, being a teacher, it's hard to look on the brightside of things. Lately, it seems like we are given less compensation to do more work. Because teaching is what I want to do, I've realized I need to look for and appreciate those bright moments in my days at school.

So, my promise is this: Every weekday, I will post at least one school-related rose from my day. Hopefully, if there are any other teachers reading this out there, my roses will help you notice those bright spots in your days.