Monday, October 31, 2011

These Kids Went All Out...

I was doing a little research on bullying and I ran into this video. It's a little long at just over 5 minutes but it's seriously impressive. These kids obviously worked really hard to get out a positive (and catchy) message! Go Long Branch Middle School!

Tougher Evaluations Could Force More Schools to Close

"After years of futility inside the classroom, Chicago Public Schools soon will adopt a more rigorous internal evaluation system that judges schools on how well they prepare students for college, a move that could lead to more school closings in the years ahead."
This article is an eye-opener (apparently) about how well CPS teachers and schools are performing, parents' reactions, and the potential consequences for education in Chicago


My Own Middle School Milestones

Here it is, the church/school where I spent my middle school years.  Holy Trinity in Bloomington Illinois.  

As I try to get in touch with my inner middle school student I took some time to reflect back on my own experience.  Here are some of the memories that stood out:

-One of the most unforgettable events was being "dumped" by all of my friends at the beginning of 7th grade.  In 5th and 6th grade I was a part of the popular crowd.  This crowd was as stereotypical as they come.  All of the girls were pretty, their families were wealthy, and their attitudes were snooty-to-the-max.  I spent the first two years of middle school begging my parents for things that they couldn't afford including things as outlandish as a country club membership and a spring break vacation to Destin, Florida.  While I tortured my parents at home, I was just as bad to my fellow classmates at school.  I would create exclusive clubs flaunt their existence as being the ultimate in cool and then refuse to let the other girls participate.  As we returned to school for 7th grade I got a taste of my own medicine.  Mysteriously my cool friends started giving me the stink eye and refusing to talk to me.  The only explanation I got from them is "We're not friends anymore."

-Then there is the more positive side to this sad middle school tale.  While sitting in Mr. Vogel's homeroom Amy Bartolo and Diane Swanson asked me, "Hey Sarah, what's up with Taylor and Bridget?  You haven't been hanging out with them lately."  I'm not sure why but this small inquiry  blossomed into a friendship that still holds strong to this day.  These girls noticed I was suddenly alone and reached out to me.  They didn't judge me or my mean girl actions of the past two years, they simply invited me into their world.  It turns out I felt much more comfortable with my new crowd.  I didn't have to pretend to be rich, I didn't have to wear make up, and best of all I didn't have to mean to my classmates in order to keep my street cred.  

-My number one most awkward memory: Most girls developed breasts, all girls bought a bra, I take off my shirt to change for P.E. and flash a bare flat chest.  When did this happen!?!  When I was the last bare chested 7th grader at HTGS I begged my mother to buy me a bra and all she said was "Why do you want to start wearing a bra?  You don't even need one."  Oh gee, thanks mom.  After a few weeks of wearing one of my t-shirts under my gym shirt to avoid flashing my classmates, my mom gave in and bought me some bras.

-One of the biggest changes to take place in middle school was my relationship with boys.  Where as before it was non existent, now I saw them and I desperately wanted them to see me.  Sixth grade was the year of the 3 week 'relationship.'  I'm not sure how it would happen, but somehow I would couple up with a boy.  We would pass notes in school and talk on the phone at night.  No dates, no intimacy and then after approximately 3 weeks the relationship would peacefully disband and we would both move on.

This self reflection has been helpful for me and I hope it has sparked some long forgotten memories for you as well.  If I ever enter another middle school classroom, this time as the teacher, I will make sure to channel these memories once again in order to empathize with the harsh reality that middle school can sometimes be.

-Middle School memories provided by: Sarah   

Sunday, October 30, 2011

in the know

Adolescents love when you incorporate humor or pop culture into the lessons you teach.  It’s amazing how some students will gravitate to you when you show them you’re in the know about life.  Using humor or pop culture in lessons is all about making your lessons relevant to the students and their lives outside the classroom.  As I grow as a teacher I try to make my lessons relevant and show my students how what we are doing in the classroom is applicable to the world outside the classroom.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Middle School Humor

So, I found these videos and I thought they were a good idea.  Maybe for a SEL lesson you could create different scenarios with your students yourself instead of just showing them this video.
- posted by: Courtney M.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Pop culture idea

This reminds me of what we have been doing in Adolescent psychology.  It's fun to see kids reactions to popular culture!
-posted by Courtney M.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

struggling readers

After reading chapter four and reflecting back on observations of struggling readers I believe that struggling readers need to be taught and practice intentional reading skills.  Previewing text, Access your prior knowledge, visualize what you’re reading about, and interact with the text are just some of the essential reading skills that don’t come naturally to struggling readers.  Students who are not struggling readers have these skills already.  Struggling readers don’t and need these skills explained to them and modeled for them.

Struggling readers do not have the innate skills other students with good reading skills have and need extra time to practice.  Reading is an essential skill for survival in this world, comprehension is as well.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shakespeare's View on Development...

What would Erikson think?

William Shakespeare - All the world's a stage (from As You Like It 2/7)

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Posted by: BB

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Daily 5

The Daily 5 is a wonderfully effective, easy-to-implement strategy for introducing meaningful literacy into your curriculum. The Daily 5 has (predictably) five main elements:

Each of these routines gives children the chance to explore literacy on their own terms, take ownership of their reading and writing, and come to enjoy engaging with words and language for their own merits. Over the course of the first six weeks or so of school, each of the Daily 5 activities is introduced individually, with its own routines and procedures designed to maximize student success. Once students are familier with all the routines, they are allowed to chose what order they want to do them in. During the time students are engaged with independent literacy, the teacher is free to meet with small guided reading groups or individual students. 

Primarily, the Daily Five is geared towards kindergarten and first grade classrooms where students are just learning to read. However, they can easily be adapted for older students as well, even up through the middle school level. No matter how old students are or what proficiency level they have, they all need the opportunity to read independently, to explore reading with other students, to listen to performances of text, to write, and to play with words and language.

The Daily Five can be found on


Bad Teacher=A Good Question

So I watched this last night, and while Cameron Diaz embodies everything we hope not to become as teachers, it does beg the question:  What do we think of merit based pay for teachers?

Wikipedia describes it as "bonuses for workers who perform their jobs effectively, according to measurable criteria."  NY Times Article describes some Minnesota teachers' opinions.

What does Cohort 19 think?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

American Teacher

The Internet is a Vast Place

Every body needs a little inspiration sometimes.

Alfie Kohn

Choices for Children is one of my favorite articles of Kohn's.  I think it forces us to examines some assumptions adults make about children.

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

An inspiration for some.

Fish don't climb trees

Albert Einstein
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Albert Einstein

Nature's Classroom

Nature's Classroom 

Nature's Classroom is a week-long, residential field trip.  Each year in the fall, the 4th-6th Graders of Rogers Park Montessori get on a big yellow school bus and make the 90 mile drive to Mukwonago. I thought you might enjoy some photos.
 Big Cloudy Moon
 Tiny Snake
 Rice Lake Reflections
 Teachers enjoying a hike
 The Farm
Sixth Grade Campfire

Monday, October 17, 2011

Introducing our Class Blog!

Hey everyone!  I just wanted to let you all know that our class blog site is up and running!  We are each required to contribute to the blog site at least twice over the next 4 weeks.  I have emailed all of you the log in information and blogger is super easy to navigate and upload to.  My 7th and 8th graders are almost all experts on it already!  Let me know if you need any help!
See you in class!
Courtney Melzer