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Showing posts from 2018

Christmas Gift Wrapping Videos

I like to give you something to watch when you are wrapping gifts. I've done this post every year, and the videos keep getting funnier and funnier. Found some great Hannukah ones. Enjoy!


Same tune, lower production value but more Christmasy


I love this.








This next one just makes me happy. It's not comedy per se



Letterkenny This year, a former student introduced me to Letterkenny. This Canadian comedy has had me in stitches since I first viewed it.
You can see full episodes on the Daily Motion site.







This is not an exhaustive list of the great bits. Watch full episodes. You'll be glad you did.

Black Jesus
Moose Poop Art



Teaching Survivors of Trauma

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris wrote a wonderful, accessible book, The Deepest Well. This post is a review of the book and a reflection of its contents.

I teach children who have been through a variety of traumas. From physical, psychological, sexual, and emotional abuse to poverty, war, transience, and neglect. I teach foster kids, kids who live in battered women's shelters or homeless shelters, kids who need backpacks of food sent home every week. 18 of my 350+ students have no risk factors for lower academic achievement.

Our principal is dedicated to a school culture that gives these children a safe, peaceful place at school. If you ever interview to teach in a high-needs school, make sure you interview them right back. Make sure they have a dynamite principal. If they don't, don't take the job. You can't save the world alone. You definitely can't help the kids if you are slowly losing your own mind. I have an awesome principal. I am safe to find out what I don't kno…

Social and Emotional Learning--SEL

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the latest craze in education, and it's about time! Our students are more than data machines. They are complex individual human beings, trying to figure out how they fit in the world. As education deals with behavior from the standpoint of helping rather than punishing, thousands of teachers are finding their classrooms transforming into better places to be.

That having been said, I don't want to give you the impression that bad behavior is unaddressed in a Responsive, PBIS, or Second Step, SEL classroom. What I am saying is that those incidents are greatly reduced or eliminated all-together because of the front-loading of social and emotional skills.

Were these skills once learned at home?
Yup.
Why aren't they being learned now?
Wrong question. Teacher's can't change that. We have to teach the students society brings us. I strive to raise my child to have these skills. It is a priority in our family. I'll do me. You do yo…

Liquid Ass

So we've had another school shooting. By the time I post this, we will have had a few more. The NRA and President Bone Spurs would like us to arm teachers. Shooting another human being is not natural. Killing is not natural. Self-defense only feels natural when hand to hand combat is involved. Guns, even in the heat of  battle, are abstract. Perhaps the primary reason the United States has a volunteer army instead of a drafted one is that drafted soldiers are far less likely to actually fire at the enemy when the time comes. The kill instinct has to be trained into a soldier. It isn't natural, and it takes its toll on the soul. Plus, you'll probably miss and shoot an innocent student and die anyway.

So I offer a humble alternative. Well, maybe two, but one of them is actually entertaining.

1. ALICE training. Click on this. It's helpful.
2. Liquid Ass


Developed as a joke product, Liquid Ass makes an excellent deterrent to the progress of a shooter. Shooters expect thei…

Fergie vs "The Star Spangled Banner"

In case you haven't heard, the pop star, Fergie, sung the American national anthem at an NBA game recently. Her rendition was controversial. Some say it was downright bad. What do I think?

I think this is a good time to do a 2(or 3)lesson unit on patriotic songs for older students!
What better time to teach "The Star Spangled Banner" than when students are talking about it and interested in Fergie's interpretation? What better time to discuss artistic style then at a time like this?
I believe that this song, and the level of conversation needed to discuss the artistic merits of it, require a level of sophistication that students below grade 5 are not ready for. Since I teach younger students, I'm writing this for ya'll. Let me know how it goes.

Prep Essential Questions: What makes good music? What are the components of patriotic music? What makes good singing? How does music affect the audience? The singer?
Philosophical Questions Should every American school c…

Responsive Classroom: Modeling

What is Responsive Classroom?Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness. --Responsive Classroom Website

Hundreds of districts have adopted this approach. It teaches skills, is positive rather than punitive, and builds community and a safe learning environment. I mentioned it in the Dialing it Back post and was first introduced to it when I worked in the Worcester Public Schools. The mindset of Responsive Classroom is completely compatible with Collaborative Problem Solving and the idea that: "Kids to well if they can."





Applying Responsive Classroom to Music The Book We Are UsingIn addition to full days before school begins and before major vacation breaks, our district has one half-day per month devoted to professional development (PD). Rather than have specialist teachers sit through literacy training or a new math competency training, my principal a…

B Conversations, dealing with the toughest kids

Teacher Mindset Have you ever said or thought these statements?
"This behavior is because they don't have a father." "Well, she does have ADHD. What do you expect?" "Well of course they can't concentrate, they're homeless." "The kid's got a psychiatric diagnosis. This behavior is never going to get better." "He just doesn't want to do it."
I have to confess, I've both said and thought these things. I'm working to get rid of this mindset. It's an unhelpful and cruel way to look at students. It's also morally wrong. These ideas are rooted in one notion, that some students are just not reachable and therefore not worth any effort. 
I am a person of faith who got there via a long and winding road. I believe that God led me to teaching to help me get over my shortcomings and get closer to him. In teaching, I am constantly confronted with my own shortcomings and faced with the choice to either change them…