Some call me "Flem"

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I'm a passionate, purpose-driven, public school teacher! Period! I hold both a Bachelors and Masters in Education and am a certified Elementary K-6 and English 7-12 teacher as well as a certified Reading Specialist! I love teaching! I love learning! I love what I do and will defend it at all costs!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Table 3

Today we watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, this after having already read the book. The goal, compare and contrast the book with the film--analyzing the plot and other narrative elements. But that's not what I want to write about.

It's the eating of the meatballs that's more interesting and particularly the students who sit at table 3. So, after distributing plates, forks, cups, and bread, the kids really felt as if they were in a restaurant and said as much. But table 3, (play on words intended), took the cake.

First, I admired how they all decided to hold hands and say grace before eating. No I didn't stop them! Why?

Second, I admired how one girl, after they all were served Hawaiin Punch, led them all in a toast....with their styrofoam cups! Love it!

Then, to hear a kid say, "No, this is how you're supposed to drink it" and holds the cup with one hand and sticks pinky finger out....that all made my day!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

40 New Charter apps??? Really!!??!!

So, it's my lunch break and I happened upon my twitter account. One of the first stories I see is the fact that the School Reform Commission (SRC) will be reviewing 40 new charter school applications! Under the newly passed cigarette tax, which I was apprehensive about to begin with and even more so when provisions were added, allows this criminal act!

Philadelphia faces financial shortfalls every year! If 40 new charter schools open in Philadelphia, we have all but seen the end of true public education in Philadelphia as we know it. If the SRC rejects the applicants, the charter operators can appeal directly to the state.

#Corrupt and #Bankrupt


Monday, November 17, 2014

3rd Grade Perspective on Race

During our Social Studies period, the kids and I were having a discussion on the the colonies and the founding of Jamestown. Because the history that is taught tends to be lopsided, I infused in that same conversation how the Europeans of the day treated the Native Americans and how many African men, women, and children were forced over to the colonies.

I also mentioned that those of us who are African American in the class (all), were descendants of slaves and that slaves were considered property.

Somewhere during the conversation a kid said,

"That's why we can't come to school and act up because that's just what the white people want us to do. We come here to learn."

This is from an 8 year old black boy. His opinion is real to him and necessitates a conversation and he felt comfortable enough to express that thought to his black male teacher and classmates.

What I didn't do was shoot down his opinion. At 8, he already has some thoughts about how he sees the world. I did address the fact that the racist ones probably would expect that behavior from him and that not all white people are racist.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Are we ever going to get art?"

Yesterday during our bathroom break one of my 3rd graders, "Mr. Flemming, are we ever going to get art?"

Me, "I doubt it. That's why I try to do as much art in the classroom with you as possible."

Note: At John B. Kelly Elementary School (a real public school), we have an art teacher once a week, Tuesdays. That's up from none during some years and one day more than what many other schools currently have.


(Pssst! Pssst! Hey! Shhhh, I thought you should know that today there was a rally for more charters in Philly, I'm guessing now we'll go back to 0 days a week for the art teacher)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Colorado Pen Pals!!!

Another African American male 3rd grade teacher, out of Colorado, reached out to me in order to forge an old fashion 3rd grade pen pal program between our two classes. He expressed just how much he anticipated the partnership between the two classes and even between us as colleagues, both being black men in a field dominated by women first and ostensibly white.

On Friday we received our first set of handwritten letters. After a weekend and two additional days off, we finally read the letters today. Yesterday I hyped the class up and read the names of those who received letters (everyone). Yesterday, we also identified Pennsylvania on a map and traveled westward with our fingers to Colorado.

Today, we identified Pennsylvania using Google Earth and let the Earth spin as we traveled westward to Colorado! After reading the letter sent to me by their teacher, they got the opportunity to read the letters of their new friends.

"Excited" does not accurately capture the energy in the air as they read their letters and were naturally drawn to each other and to their teacher with what they learned about their pen pal and with "Mr. Flemming, how do you pronounce this (name)?"

Tonight, they, with their parents, are drafting return letters!

THIS is real writing! It serves a real purpose! Every now and then there is nothing wrong with old school methods of teaching. Since being forced to move from a classroom with 21st century teaching technology, I've been forced to go old school with the teaching of some lessons. Having pen pals took me right back to some of those other old school teaching methods and mindsets, especially in a world of texting, emailing, "DM"ing, and "messaging".

To get Biblical, Jeremiah 6:16 does say in part, "...Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein,..." For purposes of this post, I won't finish the post, but it has something to do with the recipients of such a command refusing to do so!

Speaking of Community - More "Bottom Dollar" info

This is a post script to a blog post I just published
Wait, Bottom Dollar is Closing?

Speaking of "community", since typing those last few sentences, I've learned that both Bottom Dollar Foods and Aldi are both the "children" of owners OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES. Bottom Dollar Foods one of the subsidiaries of a group out of Belgium. Aldi, out of Germany. Why didn't I see that one? {palm to head}

As a post script, Save-A-Lot is THE one, out of the three low cost food purchasing options, that is based in the United States. Just did some digging. Follow the links:

Wait, Bottom Dollar is Closing?

Not a typical blog post for me, but a store closing that is new to the Philadelphia market and helps low income wage earners, my brain goes into over drive!

Any one of the nine Bottom Dollar Food grocery stores (in Philadelphia proper) has been a third low cost, food market option for residents here in the city in addition to Save-A-Lot (the most senior of the crew) and Aldi.

I just learned that all of their stores in Pennsylvania were sold to Aldi (yes the ones whose workers sit down to ring up your groceries and whose registers are compact, both differences from traditional markets that seem to add to the time it takes to check out said groceries).

The latest Bottom Dollar Food store to open in Philadelphia was just a year ago, in Germantown.

Random thoughts:
The lack of details has me concerned. Will Aldi reopen each store as an Aldi? Will Aldi rehire those who will be laid off and at the same or comparable rate?

Many of my customer service experiences with Aldi were unfavorable; long times, unfriendly cashiers, managers who say things like, "well what do you want me to do?", etc.

The closing of a low cost food purchasing option, which tends to be the preference of low and moderate income earners reeks of profit margins and preferences over true service to the community. But, then too, they are a business and they aren't obliged to remain dedicated to a cause of providing a low cost food option to anyone. They are in it to make money. Silly me!

In related news, read up on where these companies are from!
Speaking of Community, More "Bottom Dollar" info