Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Teacher as Researcher Gathering

The Teacher as Researcher group will meet the 4th Friday of the month - that's Friday, October 28th. Everyone is invited to bring their current classroom questions and a few bucks for a drink to Starry Night Cafe at 3:45. It's a great chance to catch up and talk about our work. We'll be out of there by 5-ish, or move on to other nearby venues for more writing, talking, and relaxing. See you there!

Friday, October 14, 2005

New Student Blog

Hi everyone!

I started a blog with my poetry club at school. Check out The Wednesday Afternoon Poetry Club. The club consists of twelve girls in grades 9 and 10, and we meet twice a month as part of the school day. I thought the blog would be a way for us to get a lot more out of the group, and create an online writing community. In the three days we've been at it, they've already posted 15 poems, and commented on all of them, so I think it's working! I used the NWP e-anthology's bless-press-address format for soliciting comments, and that's working well, too.

It sure would be awesome if some other teacher started an online writing group at a different school...then students could visit each other's blog and share feedback...

Any takers?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Thank you, Billy Collins

Here's the poem inspired by Billy Collins's visit last week...

We'd Like to Thank The Ready-Mix Concrete Company

In the crowded auditorium
(with the professors
and the farmers
and the students
with tooled leather journals on their laps)
noticing the art nouveau flowers
on the recently renovated walls
I listen with appreciation
to the list of sponsors and donors
who made the event possible
and I look up in surprise at the last name mentioned

the company that created a foundation
on which to support the poet’s visit

who paved the way to bring him
to this former sugar beet town

who smoothed out the bumps
that rose along the way

and cemented the date in the minds
of all who were lucky enough
early enough
organized enough to get a ticket.

There is great hope for a civilization
where in a world of economic depressions
and wars
natural disasters
and famine
concrete companies bring
poets laureate
to stand on wooden platforms
in vintage theaters
to share their poetry
with the gathered people.

Thank you, Ready-Mix Concrete.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

September 29th Coloradoan Article

Extra Helpings of Education (I forgot what the title was edited into)
By Greg Pierson

The other day I observed a woman ladling food onto her husband’s plate at the all-you-can-eat buffet. I was curious – obviously this man was perfectly capable of helping himself. I mean, why would you help a person with something they could do for themselves? And then the teacher in me kicked in. How can parents and teachers get students to quit playing victim and help themselves?
I do not want this to turn into an episode of Jerry McGwire where parents end up pleading, “Help me help you!” Humans are the only creatures that expect better results while continuing in the same cycles. We all play the victim at times. Sometimes we need a bit of help but don’t know where to turn. My goal is to help students and parents get extra help on schoolwork by knowing when, where and how to access information.
To begin with, extra help is not coming in one minute before class. Extra help is not time to suck up. It is not time for grade grubbing, whining, or any extreme measures (including violence, blackmail or forgery). Most of all, extra help is not punishment. After all, if a coach asked your child to stay after sports practice for a little one-on-one instruction would you balk?
Extra help is a time commitment, which shows effort from a student. Sometimes it is before school, sometimes at lunch, sometimes after school. Many times students can help themselves and they are not even aware. Even in this age of instant gratification getting extra help still takes a wee bit of time.
Attending classes is the main course in education; however, most teacher contracts’ allow them time before and after the school day. This is a brilliant time for students to get some individualized attention.
If personalized instruction isn’t what you have in mind, computer labs on campus are commonplace. Computers are in school for a reason (not Ebay) -- for students to complete schoolwork. Help yourselves. Knowing when a media center or computer lab opens is individual to schools. If your student needs to complete their work on a computer, perhaps a call to the main office is in your near future.
Lately, in discussions with my colleagues, I’ve learned how differently each teacher makes time and information available. For example, math teacher Eric Harding has set up his own website complete with daily notes scanned in from his overhead. Students can be self-sufficient and parents can keep things (due dates and study help) in check with a simple visit to the school homepage and a click on “staff websites.” On the other hand, Sheila Long, language arts teacher, has her students create their own plan for makeup work. This plan includes: work the student needs, when they need it, when and where the student will work on the assignment, and finally when the teacher can expect it. The more specific the plan is – the more successful the turn in rate.
Occasionally “when” and “where” are troublesome specifics of a meeting. My wife used a three-ring notebook for students to sign up for extra help. The binder was always available to students on a counter in her room. That way her students could make the call on “when” (day and time) to meet. The “where”(as with most teachers) was in her classroom and, with a quick signature, students knew they’d get her full attention for their own needs, questions, make up work or advisement.

Maya Angelou said, “Education helps one cease being intimidated by strange situations.” It never fails that in teaching kids to become responsible citizens we create intimidating situations. Information is the key to unlock that door whether it be a visit to the computer lab, a quick look at a teacher website, or an individualized conference. I am all for students being proactive in their education- many times all it takes is a nudge from mom and dad instead of a heaping spoonful on their plates. Encourage your kids to get the information they need on their own but be aware of staff websites. Students, the easiest way to find out what teachers expect is to ask. Just think of extra help as a second helping of mental nourishment that you can spoonfeed yourself.

Anybody see Billy?

Just curious- did anyone venture to Loveland to see our EX-poet laureate, Billy Collins? If so, I want a full report on my desk in the morning!