Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

Spell Check

by stryson

Spell Check makes for interesting answers from some children, and often makes the task of grading papers more interesting.

Question 4: Do you think the verdict of “not guilty” was justified?

Answer: I think not guilty is juciest.

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April 28, 2011

Checking in

by stryson

Where does the time go? This week has been so packed, I haven’t found the time to post. Usually, I at least find a little time during “down” moments at school, when the kids have their schoolwide snack time, or during my prep. Occasionally, I’ve taken advantage of making a queue of posts that are scheduled to post themselves over the week. Hopefully I’ll carve out a little time in the next few days to set that up again. For now, I’ll leave you with another oh-so-precious student quote. This one takes place during an introduction to a story about Babe Ruth, which was set during the Great Depression.

Me: “What was the Great Depression?”

Student: “It’s when people are really sad because their team isn’t winning.”

April 21, 2011

Today’s gem out of the mouths of babes

by stryson

My third graders have an assignment over the weekend wherein they need to draw a map showing the journey of two main characters from the story we read this week.  We had the sheet out this morning, and I explained the concept to the kids.  As I was taking questions, one little girl raised her hand.

“I’m going to draw a lollipop tree.”

You can’t make this stuff up, I swear.

April 20, 2011

My students can be really bizarre.

by stryson

Today, my fifth grade read a chapter in The Ballad of Lucy Whipple. In it, a character died. (What rough timing; it’s grey and gloomy today.) In the midst of our discussion, one student said this:

“My Grandma died on her birthday. Man! That’s like… instead of presents, you get death!”

…. how do you even respond to that?

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April 18, 2011


by stryson

By and large, I don’t like to get into politics on here, or in real life, for that matter. My primary purposes in writing this blog are to catalog useful resources  for the classroom, to muse on educational theory, and to lighten things up with amusing student quotes.  However, things aren’t always rosy in the life of a teacher, and they’ve been particularly less than ideal of late. I teach in a private school, so my personal concerns are a little different than those of public school teachers, at least in specifics, but many of the same themes carry across. For me, yes, money is an issue. Yes, benefits are an issue. However, they remain secondary to my complete dismay at the lack of respect teachers receive. I have my own laundry list of theories as to the origin of this disrespect, but my lovely husband sent me a link today to a blog entry that examines this phenomenon more systematically and eloquently than I think I can from inside the fray.  The link is here: Teacher Bashing 101.  I must add a disclaimer, of course, that I have not yet read anything else on his site, so don’t come back with metaphorical pitchforks and torches if you find things you dislike. Respectful comments (even if they are from an opposing viewpoint), are always welcomed, however.

April 18, 2011

Book Review: The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room

by stryson

This book is the first in a series, The Kids of the Polk Street School.  It’s here that we first meet Richard Best, aka “Beast,” a young man who’s been held back.  This first book chronicles September of his second try at second grade.  We learn, as the book goes on, that he struggles with reading, which is the primary reason he was held back.  Throughout the book, we follow his struggles to learn to accept his situation, tame his behavior, and strive to win The Banner (an award given to one class each week) for Room 113.

This is a second grade reading level, but I used it in a third grade classroom to teach character development.  At the end of the book, we made a yearbook for the main characters, with each child getting a full-page spread.  There are also many resources available to supplement this book at

Random House’s page for this book & series is here.

Amazon’s page for this book is here.

April 17, 2011

Resource: Wacky Web Tales

by stryson

If you enjoy Mad Libs and are looking for some quality filler, Wacky Web  Tales is an excellent resource.  These Mad Libs-style stories are recommended for grades 3 and up. I’ve used them with grades 3-6, and I’ve gotten enthusiastic responses from all of the kids.  Whether it’s a reward for good behavior, plans for a sub, or a lesson about visualizing what one reads, this site is a must-have.

April 16, 2011

Book Review: Top Ten Ways to Ruin the First Day of School

by stryson

In this book, author Ken Derby introduces us to Anthony Madison, known fondly among friends as Tony Baloney, or TB.  TB is in fifth grade and is obsessed with David Letterman.  He is bound and determined to get onto Letterman’s show, and throughout the first half of the book, TB orchestrates one crazy scheme after another, in the hopes that it’ll get him on television.  Most of these hijinks go spectacularly wrong, of course.  Midway through the book, our hero does get noticed by Letterman, finally.  This, of course, means that TB is off to New York City… where anything can and will happen to a boy who’s a magnet for trouble.

I started off the year in my fifth grade class reading this book.  It was an excellent choice for them; the reading was light and funny, and it beautifully illustrated plot development.  I’ve had other students come to me over the course of the year to borrow the book, on the recommendation of my class.  That in itself should be an adequate seal of approval.

The book has its own page on Ken Derby’s website, here.

April 14, 2011

Thursday Morning Laughs

by stryson

What a hectic week! Teaching LD kids, any disruption is a disaster waiting to happen. That said, last week was spring break, and I was away at a class on Tuesday. Whew! There will be much more to come regarding that class, but for now, I’d like to share a funny quote from this morning.

A young man in my (fourth grade) homeroom approached me before school today. He told me that he needed to congratulate another teacher, whose last name is Williams, on “her grandson getting married.” I was confused, as this teacher has one grandchild, a young girl. When I followed up with, “Her grandson?” He nodded very earnestly.

“You know, the Prince. In England.”

Poor auditory discrimination makes for giant Thursday morning laughs.

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April 6, 2011

More Funny Student Quotes

by stryson

The Friday before break was a half-day. In homeroom, while all riled up, one of my (male, fourth grade) students said the following:

“I have a date tonight guys.” Giggles ensue from the class. After another student protests that he can’t be telling the truth, he insists that he has a girlfriend.

“What’s her name?” This from another student in the class.

“I don’t know yet.”

After a confused pause from the class, he admits the following:

“Okay, so she’s my XBox.”

… by the end of homeroom, he’d decided on a name for her. Nicole, apparently.