Monday, August 15, 2016

To the Virgins, to make much of Time

I had a lot of reading this past weekend, mostly about my new batch of students.  All of it was important: from the Student Database Sheets to the Parent Essays, each of them was insightful and helpful to me as their new teacher.  However, the most important responses for me were the ones that were made to this poem:

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Related Poem Content Details

Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, 
Old Time is still a-flying; 
And this same flower that smiles today 
Tomorrow will be dying. 

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 
The higher he’s a-getting, 
The sooner will his race be run, 
And nearer he’s to setting. 

That age is best which is the first, 
When youth and blood are warmer; 
But being spent, the worse, and worst 
Times still succeed the former. 

Then be not coy, but use your time, 
And while ye may, go marry; 
For having lost but once your prime, 
You may forever tarry.

After having students summarize the poem's meaning, I asked them to tell me how I could go about the business of NOT wasting  our precious time together.  

Wow!  What responses!

Here's a little insight into where I got the inspiration for this beginning of the year activity:

Students also helped create their own groups after completing the STACK IT UP CHALLENGE.  Groups will be posted both in class and on this site next THURSDAY, AUGUST 18th.  

Until next time, gather rosebuds, peeps.

~Mr. D

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Classroom Leadership Positions - Job Descriptions

Last week, each student applied for a classroom job.  Today, each student will be given their job assignments and these will begin tomorrow, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19th and will last throughout the entire school year.  Each student will receive feedback on their performance through Class Dojo.  For those who may have forgotten, each job description is listed below.  
  • Photographer:  Responsible for taking photographs of classroom activity on a daily basis, writing captions for these photos, and posting them to either the class blog, class Twitter page, class Instagram account, or all of the above, and providing an appropriate hashtag. Person needs to be dependable and responsible.
  • ICYMI Manager: Responsible for note-taking and gathering materials for individuals who are absent, in ISS, and/or on homebound. Compiler will post assignments/materials on classroom calendar bulletin board in back of room.  Person should be trustworthy and diligent.
  • Trash Collector: Responsible for maintaining the physical cleanliness of the room. at the end of each class, this person would ensure that things are off the floor, trash is placed in the garbage can, and recyclables are put into their proper bins. Person should be efficient and well organized.
  • Birthday Monitor: Responsible for keeping track of classroom birthdays and taking appropriate measures to ensure that the birthday is mentioned via classroom social media and that they are honored on their special day within the classroom.  
  • Paper Patrol: Responsible for handing out worksheets or graded papers as instructed by Mr. D. Person should be quick on their feet and know the names of their classmates.
  • Host/ Hostess: Responsible for answering the door if a guest visits the room. You should be polite and greet the guests with a "Good morning!" or "Good afternoon!" Person needs to be positive and nice.
  • Tweeter: Responsible for tweeting out each day's summarized lesson, important news and notes, and quotes/words of encouragement. This person will use appropriate language and harshtags. Person should be good with word choice, summarization, and dependable.
  • Reminder: Responsible for sending out the @parenttext Remind101 updates every day. These updates will summarize the day's activity, important class news and notes, as well as information about upcoming events. Person should be good with word choice and summarization, as well as dependable.
  • Participation Monitor: Responsible for keeping track of which students are participating in either the physical class setting, the online class components, or both. This person will also give me a weekly report of their observations.
  • Behavior Monitor: Responsible for keeping track of which students are either operating at the highest level of classroom maturity or falling short of the mark. This person will also give me a weekly report of their observations.
  • Attendance Taker: Responsible for taking attendance immediately after the tardy bell rings. The class roster will be on a clipboard near the door. Simply place an "A" next to the name of any student who is absent in the appropriate date box. Person should be quick and efficient.
  • Class TECH-nician: Responsible for monitoring the use of classroom technology.  Any student who wishes to use an iPad, video equipment, or a classroom computer must first check-in and then check-out with the class technician.  Person must be trustworthy and diligent.  
  • Class Librarian: Responsible for re-shelving books as your classmates turn them into you, as well as making sure the shelves are neat and organized. You will also keep a close eye on any overdue materials and communicate such to Mr. Davidson. Person should be detail-oriented and have communication skills to serve as a liaison between Mr. D and fellow classmates.
~Mr. D

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Opening Day

If you can imagine how PUMPED I was for today's Opening Day of school, then you can imagine just how POOPED I am after day one.  Maybe it's a combination of adrenaline, anxiety, and the fact that I didn't do much from the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. CDT on most summer days, but I am ZONKED.

Regardless, it was a fantastic day that I tried to make all about getting to know my students.  I am heading out to Lake Cumberland this afternoon, so I am going to make this post fairly brief:

#1) Most parents/guardians already know this by middle school, but the beginning of school means a guarantee on several things: 1) whining/complaining by teenagers; 2) high-fiving and chest-bumps among parents (unless your student is a Kindergartner like my oldest; if so, have a Kleenex); and 3) PAPERWORK for the PARENTS!

My son, Connor, heading to Salem for his first day of Kindergarten.  Time: SLOW DOWN!
This year is no different. Your student is bringing home a plethora of papers this afternoon, most of which are courtesy of the RCMS office staff.  Two of them, however, are for me.  

The first is a PARENT LETTER that explains a bit about myself and the course.  There is a place for a parent's name, signature, and email address on the back.

The second is a PARENT ESSAY.  Yes, it may be a bit lengthy, but to me, this one is the most important.  This isn't expected to be back tomorrow, so take your time and tell me everything I need to know about your student. 

#2) The students filled out a little STUDENT DATABASE SHEET that included some key information regarding their access to technology.  Please note: if a student doesn't have access to the Internet/smartphones, that will not put them behind in the least bit.  I have several iPad minis to use in my room; I just want to ensure that I have enough to go around.

#3) Who doesn't love Play-Doh?  I had each student an individual container sitting on their desk when they came in, pumped a couple of jams, and asked each student to sculpt an object they felt best represented who they were.  At the end, each student presented and they did a fabulous job.  In the process, I got to know a little more about each student.  

4.) At the end of class, I had each student construct a list of interview questions that they wanted to know about me and the class.  Tomorrow, I will begin class by answering these questions.  This is both a statement of fact and a prayer request.  

Overall, today was great and I look forward to the best school year in all of recorded history!

~Mr. D

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Needed: Students

This is it.

The day before school starts.  Or, as I like to call it, the night that I am almost guaranteed to toss and turn relentlessly and NEVER get enough rest.

Even though I am 36 years old, been through years of elementary, middle, and high school, college, and graduate school, as well as taught for 11 and 1/2 years, I still have a certain level of anxiety about the first day of school.  Absurd questions invade my mind, like: will my hair look like Cory Matthews' in this early Boy Meets World episode?...

...will my classroom technology seem as out of date as Zack Morris' cell phone?...

...will this be the response to my class by my new students?

Usually, everything turns out just fine, but you never know.

What I do know is this: I AM READY FOR THE STUDENTS TO GET HERE!  Listen, if there is ever a need to devise a plan that will dissuade folks from becoming teachers, tell prospective educators to come hang out at school the days just BEFORE school starts and AFTER school is over.  Sheesh.  It's bad.  

Thankfully, school is all about the students.  

One more time for it to sink in...


I think I am ready.  All I need are the kids!  Let's do this.  

Here's to the best year ever.

~Mr. D

Monday, August 8, 2016

Springboard Web Link

Here is a quick post to give you all the link to our ELA text online.  As soon as you get to the site, you will notice two prompts: one for a student login and another for educators.  This week, the district will be working on inputting every student from Infinite Campus into the Springboard system.  As soon as that is complete, I will have user names and passwords for everyone.

If you have the capacity to make a Bookmark on your browser, add this one.  It may be used quite a bit:

Springboard Text Online


~Mr. D

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Class Rules

In the past, I have really labored over a set of classroom rules to present to the students during the first couple days of school. I would follow typical strategies for best practice, such as keeping the number of rules of low and stating them in a positive manner. I would try to make them sound professional but witty, yet the goal I had in establishing the rules were always the same: creating a safe, positive learning environment.

In all my previous ten years of teaching, I don't know if any of my students could tell any outsider what my rules were, despite my rule-writing efforts.  

For that reason, there are only two rules this year.  Everything that should go down in class can be covered by these two things:

1.) Respect everyone.
2.) Take pride in your work.


-Mr. D

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Create Your Gmail Account OR Blog

Hey everyone,

If you do not have a GMail account, you will need one.

STEP ONE: Visit this link.
STEP TWO: Fill out the necessary information. 
STEP THREE: You are in.

If you do not have a blog setup, you will need one.

STEP TWO: Set that bad boy up.

~Mr. D