Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

January 19, 2012

Check your spelling… and then check your corrections!

by stryson

I can always tell when my students have used spell-check, but have not gone back to reread their work (preferably with a text-to-speech program), when I end up with assignments that say something like the following:


Tracy expanded that this is Dad’s first Christmas without Mom.

Julie is still disported about going to her Dad’s.

This story makes me wonder how Julie and Tracy’s Mom and Dad got defocused.


In case you’re not proficient in spellcheckese, the words should have been explained, disappointed, and divorced.

January 18, 2012

Earning Points

by stryson

We have a great behavior management system at my school, in which the students need to earn points for each class. Most hour-long classes are worth 10 points, though some non-core classes (such as computers or gym) might be worth 6 or 8. One earns one’s points by completing & handing in homework, participating appropriately in class, and exhibiting good behavior.

As you can imagine, though, particularly in a setting where the students have language challenges, the kids can sometimes lose their grip on why they are or are not earning their points.

Just before the holiday break, I had a sixth grader that was really struggling in my class. She was not consistently completing her homework, and she was often having meltdowns in my class. To boot, she was taking 20-25 minute long bathroom breaks almost daily. Thus, she was not earning her points in my class on most days. One day, she completely lost it on me. She stood up, stomped her foot, looked me squarely in the eye, and bellowed, “I really want to succeed in your class, but I can’t if you keep taking my points!”

I have to laugh, because the other option is to descend into a rumination on entitlement.

In that same class, I had a day in which a young man did not earn his points because he did not hand in his homework. He looked at me with complete astonishment when I signed his points at the end of that period.

“Why do I lose points??? My birthday was two weeks ago!”

At this, I simply stared. Of course, it didn’t help when, from across the room, his classmate chimes in, instructing me:

“Go on, just laugh about it. You know you want to!”

It’s a precarious line, trying to maintain respect and order while taking into consideration the fragility of some of my students. It’s a good thing I can keep a sense of humor about it.

September 22, 2011

Happy Hobbit Day!

by stryson

Happy Hobbit Day!

What better way to start this day than with a ridiculous, nerdy sing-along with Leonard Nimoy?

For those of you not in the know, Hobbit Day is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In addition to doing age-appropriate readings about hobbits, thanks to, I’ll be using The Hobbit Name Generator for some fun with my kids.

If you’re not in a position to spend the day reading or walking about barefoot, perhaps you can create a hobbit name for yourself and make the effort to eat six meals today. You can’t beat hobbits for lifestyle choices.

September 21, 2011

Morning updates

by stryson

Today is international peace day… or maybe tomorrow is. Both are marked as such on my calendar of holidays. Oh, well! I think an extra day of peace can’t be a bad thing. In any case, today is also World Alzheimer’ Day and World Gratitude day. So – don’t forget to be thankful!

I know, that was a terrible joke. I couldn’t resist.

I should be able to finally start teaching my sixth graders today, though my fourth and fifth graders are not yet done testing, so we cannot begin yet. I feel like the testing is never ending, but I know it seems that way every year.

Things will get more interesting around this blog as my classes get going. I’ve also been looking into some new educational games to share, but I like to play them through before I link them. Look for those to come.

I’m also open to recommendations for books on a fifth or sixth grade reading level. What did you really enjoy reading at that age?

September 19, 2011

Talk Like a Pirate Day

by stryson

Avast, mateys! Don’t ye forget it be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

It also be time for diagnostic standardized testing (we use the Stanfords) for the young mateys. I suspect they’ll have me walkin’ the plank by the end of the day.

OK, I stink at this pirate-talk thing. Here’s hoping it sounds more convincing to fourth graders. Enjoy your day!

Tags: ,
September 13, 2011

Small Celebrations

by stryson

Happy birthday, Roald Dahl!

It’s also International Chocolate Day.

Anyone else suddenly have an urge to throw a party? Or is it just me? Roald Dahl was such an influence on my love of reading, and chocolate just speaks for itself.

I have much still to accomplish this morning, but the day progresses so much easier when you start it on a celebratory note.  Happy Wear a Dress Tuesday, everyone!

July 24, 2011

Internal Affairs

by stryson

This post is just a quick check-in to alert whatever regular readers I have of some changes that will be taking place on this site in the next week or so.

The first is the biggest: I’ve signed up for the Amazon Associates Program. This means that any future book reviews I write will include links to Amazon for you to be able to buy the book. If you purchase the book by using one of my links, I get what is essentially a referral commission, since I’m hooking them up with a sale. It seems like a nice program; we’ll see how implementing it goes. Once I finish getting acquainted with the program, you’ll see a new tab at the top, containing the required disclaimers about this situation.

The second is this: I’m planning an overhaul of the way I’ve set up my links pages. I’m not sure how I’m going to organize them, but I’m dissatisfied with their look. When I’ve finished, I’ll make a note in a post, in case it’s of interest to you.

I may also revise the “about” page, but that’ll depend on how industrious I feel this week. I do have a deadline looming on a project for school.

That’s all! Keep your eyes peeled for the positive changes.

Tags: , ,
July 8, 2011

Typing Monster

by stryson

As part of our computer program at school, we require the students to learn typing. We mostly use Type to Learn 3 and Typer Shark, but I like finding games to supplement those.  This one seems quite fun: Typing Monster.

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?

Tags: ,
April 4, 2011

Checking in

by stryson

Just making a quick post to note that I haven’t disappeared….. this week is SPRING BREAK. I hope to get a little bit of blogging done (and perhaps some entries stashed to post later), but if my attention wanders, at least you’ll know why.

Also: thank goodness it’s finally feeling like spring!