Some call me "Flem"

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B.S.Ed, M.Ed I'm a passionate, purpose-driven, public school teacher! Here I write about teaching, learning, public education, public schools, the African American experience, and whatever else might come to mind.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

No Syrians? But...

It's intriguing  (sickening actually) to hear all of the arguments against Syrian refugees coming into the U.S and stronger border control especially in the Southwest, when the history of this country was rife with terrorism, imperialism, and racism at its origins.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Kids Know...

The students know if you respect and care for them. Even the ones who technically aren't "yours".

When students I've never had say "Good Morning Mr. Flemming" as they pass me in the corridors and not just the regular or typical "Hi Mr. Flemming" with a wave, they see something in you. Not that "hi" is 'wrong'. It's just that a "Good Morning" or "Good Afternoon" speaks to you on a different level.

When a 1st grader said that to me this morning, I really did feel special. I greeted him back with a "Good Morning". He then said, "Have a good day Mr. Flemming". I REALLY felt special then.

It happens often, kindergarten through 5th grade, in the neighborhood, in the hallway, etc.

Love and care is shown more than it's said.

That Convo in Class tho!!

Monday and Tuesday we watched and analyzed Madagascar 3. No, we really did. It wasn't just movie watching. We examined the characters, the settings, and the conflicts. Today we debriefed and these kids DID THE THING!!!

We had the types of conversations that I'm used to having with my older students and with my last year's 207.

The questions and answers, the questions that other questions generated, the depth of knowledge (not that official DOK jargon, but the real kind), their understanding of "deep" stuff had me grinning from ear to ear and church shouting with excitement!!!

Yesterday I took a risk and asked a symbolism-related question and two of them NAILED IT!!!!

I love this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They won't rise to low expectations, you have to stoop pretty low for that!!

Hit Send: An "LOL" Moment

If you want a sign that this generation is Generation Tech, here's one:

I often compose emails with my students, projecting the email itself on the screen and getting their input for content. This is writing, grammar, 21st century soft skills, and whatever content area we're learning all woven into the same lesson.

There are times when I have them draft emails on a template that I xerox, which I found online.

We've emailed entomologists and authors.

Today, as we were concluding the email, I asked, "So how should be end our email?"

The kid I called on, "hit send" lol
(Not sincerely or thank you or yours truly, but "hit send")

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Where science and art meet!

Some of my best ideas come spur of the moment. This following is one example.

I often think of ways to remove, not think outside of, the metaphorical "box". What can I do differently today to engage my students? How can I present the material in another interesting way? How can I make learning an EXPERIENCE today and not take them down the same rote, ritualistic, redundant road?

I had art supplies on hand for about three years that just sat there. DING! As a way to synthesize all that we learned to date in science, using these supplies, boys and girls, make an insect in 20 minutes. Oh and you have to make ONE insect, as a group! Ahhh!

Just before releasing them to work, I gave instructions and tips for working together and resolving inevitable conflicts peacefully.

Here the raw supplies each group received and small video bites from each group.

Some #phled polls

Check these polls I put on my TL today:
(Polling is anonymous for those concerned. I've participated in a few myself)

I'm just curious, that's all.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Great(?) Expectations?

I've found that students won't....ahem...CAN'T rise to low standards. There's no reaching for low. I've also found that children respond to whatever accordingly. If they sense that you genuinely love and care for them, initially they may work and hustle so as not to disappoint you. But as time goes on and as your care for them becomes more and more evident, the wise teacher lets them know the real reason for the work and hustle!!

They also respond to disdain. If you have no great expectations for behavior, for academics, for manners, for respect, the lack thereof is what you'll get every time. In some cases, I've found this to feed some "racist on the low" type mentalities. You believe many students of color act a certain way or academically perform a certain way, therefore that's what you will always see and always expect. Shame on you! Get out of teaching, especially my kids!

Furthermore, if my children come to a building that is unsanitary (I know one)
a building that is disgusting (I know one)
a building where folks allow vomit to remain and dried up even a week later (I know one)
a building where bathrooms are deplorable, for staff and students alike (I know one)
a building where calls to have juice mopped up or blood cleaned up go unanswered (I know one)
a building where there are water fountains, but 3/4 of them don't function properly (I know one)

all of that says to a child and to the faculty, "I don't care nothing about you! Go kick rocks!"

But so long as teachers have SWBAT and IOT and have an edged in stone "Gradual Release Block", then all is well with the world. Not only that, but you'll have you-know-what to pay if you DON'T have it!! There are teachers who have been on the receiving end of distorted observations because of this (I know one).

These don't sound like great expectations to me!
My kids deserve better! I deserve better! The staff deserves better! We're not caged animals.