Sunday, April 09, 2017

If you love Jelly Beans......

Can’t you just smell spring in the air? Daffodils beginning to bloom, Lilac trees starting to flower, and Lilies of the Valley popping up. I just love the aroma. Not only is my birthday in April but it brings us Passover, Easter, and one that you may never have heard of, can you guess? If you said Jelly Bean Day, you’d be right. It's April 22nd. I don’t know about you, but I looove jelly beans. They come in so many awesome flavors, no I don’t like the black ones, but I had an aunt who used to love them.

Jelly beans have a history that goes way back to the 1800’s, that's the year they were first made. It's believed that the first bean was inspired by the yummy candy called Turkish Delight, made of flavorful fruit and powdered sugar.  Did you know that the term Jelly Bean was used to describe electronic equipment? I didn't either. It was also used to describe a young male who would dress in the latest fad to attract a young lady, but once he caught her eye, he had nothing else to offer. 

Harry Potter made this tiny bean more popular with,”Bertie Bott’s Every
Flavor Bean,” with some of the grossest flavors like earwax, vomit, sausage, rotten egg and more. When you ate these beans, you never knew what you were getting till you put it into your mouth.

Looking for fun things to do this month? How about poetry and writing
activities that have to do with this infamous little bean! Stick around, I’ve got some great ideas for you.

There’s a new candy store in town that wants you to come up with a new flavor for jelly beans.  What are the ingredients, what is the recipe., what does your new jelly bean look like, and how does it taste? Use colorful  adjectives to describe it.
Take a bag put different flavors of jelly beans into it. Go around the room and have each child pick one and without looking at it, eat it. They will then write a poem using adjectives to describe it using their five senses.
Adjective practice, give every student a jelly bean and they are to write down 3-5 adjectives to describe it. Go around the room and have everyone say their adjectives out loud, the rest of the class must guess what type of jelly bean that person is describing.
You are at Walmart and a strange looking lady gives you 3 magic jelly beans, what do you do with them? Write a story about what happens.
You go to sleep and wake up in a land made of jelly beans.  Why are you here? Is it real, or a dream? Write a story about your experience here. Use descriptive adjectives to paint a vivid picture of this adventure.
You are a jelly bean! What do you look like? How does it feel? What happens to you?  Write a story about this.
Here’s a YouTube video with a jelly bean song. Show it to your class and  then have them write a rap or other kind of song about jelly beans.
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April is also poetry month and I want to help you inspire your students with these engaging and creative poetry activities that they’ll love. Take a look.
Poetry at Socrates Lantern
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Till next time…..Happy Jelly Bean Day   Deann

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This post is part of our April Teacher Talk monthly blogging collaborative.


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Brown and Yellow = Diversity


Throughout my life, I’ve had friends from all different races, cultures and religions. When I was a kid, my best friend, Lynn was African American, and we did everything together, we were true buds. So I learned at a young age that people are people are people.  As I got older, I became more aware of the predjuce around me and couldn't believe it. I just never understood how people could be so cruel just because of skin color. I joined many civil rights marches while in high school and college. 

In the school system where I taught, it was predominantly white, Christian middle class. So… I used to love telling the kids that I am Jewish, just to see their reactions. Some of them chuckled, others were amazed and shocked. Many said they had never met a Jew before. As our talk continued, I found out that some came from homes where parents had never met a Jewish person either.

Eventually, some students from urban communities were bused into our district which was a great way for our kids to learn a little about diversity. 

I’m going to share a lesson with you that will help students realize that people are people no matter the color of their skin or how they look. The idea is to promote students’ acknowledgement of cultural uniqueness, ethnic, racial and cultural heritage and to promote harmony among them.

Find a book or movie about a culture that is not the same as most of your charges. Begin a discussion about this culture and discuss the similarities and differences between the book’s characters and themselves.

Take them to the school library where they can find a book about a culture or race that is not the same as theirs. While reading, have them pay close attention to traits, desires and values that the characters have which are similar to themselves and their families. Have them take notes. 

They will then write a book report and put themselves in the place of one of the characters portrayed. They are to write it as if they are that person. Make sure that they include the following in their reports: How the person feels about his/her life, are they happy, what are some problems that they’ve faced, how have they overcome these problems, and how is their character similar to them? As a conclusion, they should add what they learned from this assignment.

Another idea you might use for the reports would be to have your kids write about a day in the life of one of the characters.

Once the assignment has been completed, have a class discussion about what they learned Talk  about how it felt to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Have they realized that people are both alike and different?

Book List that you will find helpful.
African American
The Watsons of Birmingham by- 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake
Monster by Walter Dean Meyers
Brown Girl Brownstones by Paule Marshall
Tituba of Salem Village by Anne Petry
Asian
Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee
Millicent Min Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
Cuban
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Dominican Republic
How Tia Lola Came to Stay by Julia Alvarez
How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Iranian
Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
Jewish/Arab Palestinian Conflict
Samir and Yonatan by Daniella  Carmi
Habibi by Naomi Shihab
Running on Eggs by Anna Levine
Mexican
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Circuit: Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jimenez
Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs
Native American
The Absolute Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Far North by Will Hobbs
A Group of One by Rachna Gilmore




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Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Disciplined Child is a Happy Child




I’ll never forget the book I read back in college called, Discipline Without Tears, by Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs. “It provides a clear, constructive outline of his proven strategies for dealing with a wide range of childhood misbehaviors. Believing that children are social beings who want to belong, Dreikurs stresses encouragement, cooperation, and firm control in a democratic alliance of parents, teachers and children." Dreiker’s book has had a long lasting effect on me and my discipline techniques were based on what he said and I would highly recommend reading it.

I can’t express enough that one of the worst things a teacher can do is to prejudge a class or a student before they even enter the room. Let’s face it, some kids get along better with some teachers than they do with others, so it’s better to listen but with a grain of salt and make your own judgment.  I once had a young man come into my class with a really bad reputation, I was told that he had a bad attitude, didn’t listen, and yada yada yada yada. Needless to say, this boy was one of my favorite students. Sure he was talkative and questioned everything, he fooled around, but I loved his personality and sense of humor. He was an excellent student, a hard worker, and really cared about learning. What more could I ask for. His parents were, however, going through a divorce, and I always took this into consideration when working with him.



Tip # 1
Let your students know that you care about them. Talk to them, find out what is going on in their lives. Are they from a broken home, did one of their parents die, are they going through a divorce, is there drug abuse in their family? There are so many reasons why children act out and these are only a few. I always try to put myself in their shoes and know that if I was going through some of the things that they’re dealing with I wouldn’t be able to concentrate or listen during class. I’d be thinking about the pain that I was going through. Many times kids will act out because they need attention, that they don’t receive at home. You might be the only one who takes the time to listen. This is why I love holding morning meetings. They can get what might be bothering them off their chests and be able to settle down for the rest of the day. It will make your life and theirs so much easier. Once the kids realize that you are there for them and you have their best interests in mind, they will do anything that you want, which includes appropriate behavior. 


Tip #2
I’ve found that the kids want discipline, they want to follow rules, this helps to make them feel safe and secure. They like knowing what is expected of them. Ask what would happen if there were no rules. Most of them will say that nothing would get done, or that there would be chaos with everyone doing what they wanted. Then spend time setting up classroom rules with them. Ask for ideas, write them on the board, then vote for the ones that you all think are important. Help them to come up with consequences for their actions. This way, the kids will be heard, they will be making their own rules and most will follow them. 



Tip #3
Be fair, set up consequences that fit the crime so to speak. Make sure that all of the children are treated the same way. One rule that I’ve found to be very effective is 3 strikes and you’re out. If you have to talk to a child 3 times during one period, there is a consequence, if he/she misses 3 home works in a semester, there is a consequence, if he or she is disrespectful, or bothers another child, there is a
consequence, and so on. Be consistent, don’t give them chance after chance, they know the rules and if they choose not to follow them, it is their decision. 

NEVER show favoritism, the rules are for everyone. Let’s face it, we’re all human, we like some kids more than others, the trick is not to let them know. We don’t want to hear, ”Mrs. Smith likes Johnny better than me. He can do anything he wants and never gets in trouble.  Be firm, don’t raise your voice, let them know that you are in control in a kind and loving way.


Tip #4
Keep in close contact with parents and or guardians.  Parents want to know when their little one has broken a rule, but they also like to hearwhen they have shown good behavior, have aced a test, have done a fantastic job on their homework, or have been kind to another student. Send a happy gram home, let everyone know how pleased you are. This helps to establish a good rapport with both parents and kids. They will know you care and will realize that you want what is best for everyone involved. It will make your life so much easier.

After grading a test, I will write a note to the student about their how they did. Even if they fail, I will always write something positive


Tip #5

Lets say that Joey is a very needy child who constantly requires your attention, he is disruptive, causes arguments with others, can be a bully, you know the type. Sometimes the best way to deal with this behavior is to ignore it, and you need to teach the rest of the class to do this by rewarding them for not paying attention to him.  Peer pressure can truly be effective since everyone wants to be accepted. If the rest of the class really gets disgusted with Joey, some of them may actually talk with him about his actions, and this is more effective than you having to say something. This technique will work if the kids know that you care for them and are fair because their ultimate goal is to learn..

I've created a behavior modification bundle that can be utilized in a way to effectively help with discipline problems. 


Character Building

Deann

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      This is part of our March link-up. Don't forget to visit the rest of our posts.


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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Are You an Empathetic Listener?



I have a new and exciting activity to help your students learn about kindness and understanding for others. First, a free questionnaire for the class to fill out which will help them to get in touch with  their empathy.

Just a little bit of prep for you:
   1.  If you have 24 students, you’ll need 2 sets of cards numbered 1-12. Cut out the cards and put them all into a bag or box. 
   2. Copy the character traits supplied here, and/or write your own on index cards.

The Lesson:
Ask students if they know what is meant by standing in someone else’s shoes. For example:
   *Tell them that one way they can understand this is by asking 
     themselves how they would feel in the same situation.
    *Ask what behaviors show that you are an empathetic listener.
     They should be able to tell you that an empathetic listener
     makes eye contact, they don’t fidget or interrupt, and they
     ask great follow-up questions, or make 
     appropriate comments.

Freebie Questionnaire
It's time to introduce the questionnaire. Go over the instructions and have them  write their responses. Then let them know that they are empathetic if they answered yes to the majority of the questions. Talk about what they discovered about themselves.
Next:
1.  Each child will pick a number
     card without looking.
     2.  Once everyone has chosen, they must find
          their partner. If you have 25 in your class, 
          one group will consist of 3 
          members. Make sure you’ve prepared for that.
Now the fun begins…
 1. Let them know that they are going to be given 
     a character card and they will become 
     that person have them think about the way
    their character is feeling.
2. Pass out the character cards. Each partner should have a 
    different one.
3. Partner A acts like the character whose role he/she has read, while Partner B listens.
4.  Switch roles
5.  When the role play is finished, partner A tells partner B how
     they did or didn’t show empathy towards them. Use “I” statements, like, ”I could really tell you were listening because you were looking at me the entire time," or "I could tell you cared by the expression on your face."
6. Partner B tells partner A how they felt.

Drum Roll Please...The Culminating Activity
 1. Everyone should return to their desk and remain standing until they've shared something they've learned. Once they've shared, they may sit down.

 2.  For a homework assignment they will write about what they learned. This can also be written as a journal entry.

Here are some role play ideas that you can use, just copy them onto index cards.
*Jose is the star forward on the soccer team. During one of the final  games of the season, he suffered a severe concussion and was told he couldn’t play for the rest of the season.
*Ever since she was a little girl, Maria wanted to be a cheerleader.. During tryouts she fell flat on her face and was so embarrassed. Kids started laughing and worst of all, she didn’t make the cut.
*Mica found out that an old friend of hers spread a nasty rumor about her.
*Shondra was so excited to be part of the school talent show, but tripped during her routine. One of her peers was using her cell to tape the show and posted Shondra’s fall on the Internet that night.
*Lee’s bff told her about a surprise party she was planning to throw for her boyfriend. Lee let the secret out by mistake and now her bff won’t talk to her.
*During a field trip, LeBron was sick to his stomach and threw up all over himself and Juan who was sitting next to him.  Everyone was grossed out.
*Nathan found out that his bff cheated by copying his paper during a math test. 
*Ali, a muslim, moved into your neighborhood and no one wants to hang out with him.

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This post is part of our monthly 3E blogging cooperative where we share ideas
for making Equity, Empathy, and Empowerment a part of your classroom routine. Don't forget to pick up your freebies.


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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lighting the World with Kindness

Did you know that there is a Random Acts of Kindness Week? It runs from February 12 through the 18th. Actually, this is the first I’ve heard of it, but what a groovy way for all of us to unite by being kind to each other.  It begins with one simple act - one hello to a stranger, a simple smile, a pat on the back, a cup of coffee for someone you don’t know. This is a chance for participating individuals to make our world a better one and inspire others to follow suit. 

FREEBIE from Socrates Lantern
Random Acts of Kindness (RAC) is an international non profit foundation that believes a little kindness is the key to helping people make the world a better place to  live. Their goal is to remind people that kindness is a choice.  In light of this, they have free tools to help make kindness a part of our everyday lives. 

Learning about kindness in the classroom is one of the most essential things for children to understand.  Scientific studies have shown that it improves our self-worth and helps us feel that we belong to a group.  It improves our health by lowering blood pressure, while decreasing depression and anxiety. This not only helps the receiver, but it REALLY helps the giver. It’s such a wonderful feeling when you know you’ve done something to make another person feel happier.

When a child is happier and more content, grades will improve, attention span will increase, students will be better able to remain calm during stressful situations, there will be less bullying, drug use, violence and school drop outs.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if your classroom and school participated in kindness week. Here’s a video with a link for you to sign up.
https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/rakweekpartners




Here are a few ideas that you can use to get your charges thinking about kindness. 
 1.  Introduce the concept that kindness begins with ONE person. If every 
      ONE person does ONE kind thing for someone else, it would make the
      world a better place.
 2.  Set up a kindness bulletin board and whenever a child does something kind for someone, add their name and what they did. You can cut out large hearts to use for your valentine bulletin board.
 3.  Have students participate in a game where they say kind things to each other. You can then discuss how they felt about receiving a compliment, and how it felt to give one. Later they can write a paper about this.
 4.  Write this phrase on the board..."Walk a mile in my shoes."  Ask what it means and discuss it. Introduce the subject of bullying and pose this question...Have you ever been bullied, or do you know anyone who was bullied. When someone answers, Have a different child view the situation and share what they might have done to defend the person being bullied. Also ask how the bully may have felt. They can then write about this experience.
 5.  Role play different situations that show random acts of kindness. The children can work in groups to write short skits about this.

You may be interested in this resource entitled Caught in the Act of Being Kind.


Caught in the Act of Being Kind @ Socrates Lantern
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This is part of our Teacher Talk Monthly Blog Link-up. Please read what the rest of the teachers have to say for the month of February...





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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Empathy and Digital Citizenship


One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to help bring empathy, empowerment and equity to every classroom out there. With that in mind, I’ve joined a group of compassionate, caring, and creative educators to bring you monthly posts highlighting ideas for developing the 3 E's in your classroom and school community. Our goal is to make it easier for you to include these values in your every day teaching by offering ideas and free materials to support your teaching endeavors. Now, more than ever, nurturing EQUITY, EMPATHY & student EMPOWERMENT is crucial for all our students.

Years ago, before the onset of digital technology, an educator’s job

basically consisted of  teaching academics. Social Skills were learned at home. It was the job of the parents to teach their child to say please and thank you, to respect adults, to treat others the way they would like to be treated,  not to talk to strangers  and so on. Now-a-days, a teacher’s job has changed in so many ways. A large amount of our charges have not learned how to relate to others in the world around them. So we’ve had to set up Character Building lessons to help them learn empathy for others,  how to deal with that bully,  to wait their turn, and so much more.

I can only speak for myself, but I bet that many of us have not even thought about speaking with our students concerning using good manners when commenting  on that blog post, or stating opinions on social media sites.  Not only do our classes need to be educated about online etiquette, or netiquette, but they have to learn to be careful about what kind of information they share online, there are many predators around. It is important for them to understand that they should never give out personal information, unless they know who they are talking to and it is someone that they can trust. It’s a scary world out there and now it is getting smaller due to the world wide web.  Say hello to Digital Citizenship.

Topics to be stressed when teaching Digital Citizenship or (Netiquette)

1. Before you post a blog, or a comment, read it out loud, see how it sounds. Remember that you are communicating with another person who cannot see your face, or read your visual clues. What you mean to say may not always come across the way you meant it. So you need to be careful of the tone that you’re using. Remember, treat others the way you want to be treated, with compassion, generosity, kindness and a spirit that shows forgiveness.. 
2.  Don’t type in all capital letters, it looks like you’re yelling and you will turn people off. 
3.  Remember that whatever you say online will be there forever. This is known as your digital footprint. You don’t want something that you’ve written online to come and haunt you years later. If you're not sure about what you've written, ask yourself how you'd feel if someone said that to you.
4.  If you’re posting facts about something, make sure that it is
     accurate.
5. Make sure that what you write is your own. If not, give credit
    to where you got it from.
6. Be safe, don’t give out personal information.
7.  Whatever you write online is subject to criticism, there are people who may not agree with you and wil say so, and sometimes not in a nice way. Try not to get offended by what they say. If you reply back, do it constructively and with kindness.
8.  Be careful when you post a selfie, you could get negative
     comments, there are many cyber-bullies out there.
9.  If you come across a cyber-bully, stand up to him/her, 
     don't let the things they say frighten you. Do report this 
     activity to an adult
10. Bullies are not happy people and they want to scare you
     and or make you feel bad. Help them by showing compassion, 
     they may  not get it from anyone else.Think about how good 
     you'll feel by not sinking to their level.
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There is a wealth of information on the net to help improve digital citizenship. I'd like to share a simple acronym that I found online which your students should learn to ask themselves befoe postng on the web.  The acronym is THINK....which many people do not do.

                                              T...Is it true?
                                              H...Is it hurtful?
                                              I....Is it illegal?
                                              N...Is it Necessary?
                                              K...Is it kind?

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An instructional technology coordinator, Jay Sonnenberg, in Katy,TX, came up with a wonderful way to teach empathy to his students through the use of cell phone text messaging. He created a "Text it Forward," initiative in which students were to text positive affirmations, and encouraging messages to their friends. This was done through a text messaging service called "Remind." As you can well imagine this worked like a charm bringing everyone closer and created a more caring environment. This is what Sonnenberg said about the program, "It really helps our students see that our entire district is in this together and we have a common goal of being productive members of our online community.” His students created this video that I'd like to share with you.



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Here's a poster that you can use in your classroom to remind your students that they should always strive to be a positive and empathetic digital citizen.
Think

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Until Next Time
Deann
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Please visit other members of this 3 E Blogging Collaborative



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Friday, January 06, 2017

Is Vacation Over Already?

I don’t know about you, but at one time, it was a real downer for me to return to school after vacation. Stress was my middle name, I'd spend time worrying what I was going to teach, wondering about the lessons I'd have to reteach and thinking about that parent meeting scheduled after vacation. I'd get really bummed out the day before until I learned a few tricks I'd like to share. 

*Organize, Organize, Organize! Before you go off to vacation land, finish writing those lesson plans so you can ease on in the first day back and you don't have to concern yourself with what you're going to do once you return.

*Most importantly, come up with a fun lesson that both you and the kids will enjoy. One year I brought in some soap suds and bubble blowers. The kids blew bubbles and wrote a story about them. Some wrote about floating away, while others talked about blowing the largest bubble in the world. Brainstorm for other ideas to use. 


*Plan on watching a film and have the kids take notes so that they can write a paper about it. In my case it was either for English or Ancient History.There are  many great historical fiction flicks or documentaries that enhance the subjects that are taught. One that I used was "Cry Freedom," an excellent film that brings to light the plight of African Americans during Apartheid in South Africa. My class was very moved by this film and had many things to say about it.  This is a tough film to watch so I wouldn't recommend it for elementary grades.

*Don’t try to get too much done, just take things at an easy pace till you get back into   the groove.

*Oh and don’t forget to have your morning meeting, this helps everyone get ready for the rest of the day. I read somewhere that when you talk about vacations, a great way to go about it is to ask them who they spent their vacation with rather than what they did. That way you'll learn more about their feelings and attitudes.

*Play a SCOOT game, it may get a little loud, but the kids will be able to get up and move around a bit and have fun while learning.

*Give yourself a break, papers will get corrected when they corrected.
Honestly, they don't have to be returned right away. I learned this 
from my teaching partner, you just need to let them know that they'll get 
them back soon enough. Some of their work can even be corrected by the
kids themselves.You can appoint a child to read the answers aloud. 
Kids love being the teacher.

*Another thing that I promised myself, was to take a day off once in a while,
 just to re-group and take a breath. If you know that on such and such a day,
 you’re going to take a break, it really helps. 

Unfortunately, there’s no magical answer for beating the end of vacation
blues, we’ve all been there and it’s normal to feel this way. Remember that 
you really do love your job and your students, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in the classroom. Anyway, the next season is spring, and it isn’t thaaaaaat far away.

I hope these ideas will help you  have a wonderful rest of the year with your students.
Deann
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Here's a resource that will help you get through the winter. There are all sorts of writing activities for January and February. New Year Resolutions, Martin Luther King, Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day and miscellaneous winter writing task cards. You can purchase the bundle which will save you money or by these items separately.
Snow Wonderful Literacy & History Writing Prompts

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I'd like to thank Gramma Elliott for this amazing font that she created and shared with me.
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This is part of our January Blog Link-up. Be sure to see what these Teachers are doing this month







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