Friday, November 4, 2011

Little and almost nothing

I haven’t posted here in a while simply because I figure it’s not worth it. I blog on my other site almost daily but I have readers there that comment each day and are very supportive. Here – not so much.

My students have finished their Louisiana Native American booklet project and next week I get observed. 22 years of teaching effectively and I’m still being observed to see if I’m doing it right. I don’t care, it ain’t gonna be a “dog and pony show” no matter what they want. I plan to do what I do no matter...

Today the 7th and 8th grade will be at Millennium Park working on the rebuild. You can check it out HERE. Not sure what we will be doing all day but it is a project by the school. They did their part ten years ago in the original park build. It was burned down last year by a “THUG” and now it has to be rebuilt. I hope the “THUG” – they did catch him – gets life for destroying a favorite place of little kids.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

well DUH!?!?!

One project down – actually it’s THREE down and a new one starts now. My students have just finished their Louisiana Festival projects and I have posted the edited videos online. Yesterday we began a little bookwork on Louisiana Native Americans which will be followed up with a bit more today. From there it will be another project.

Over the years I have modified the project to a model building, photo taking, and a bullet point power-point since I had 13 computers in my classroom. However, here at my new school I had to go back to my “old school” way of doing the project. Funny thing is, they loved the old idea. It’s all about writing, drawing, researching by reading, and creating a table of contents and a bibliography. Funny how all old things are new again.

It may be a new school – for me – but a very different setting in which to work. They are even still using a text book that the system changed six years ago. Luckily I still had all the old questions from the old green book PLUS all the questions from the new blue book. Good thing I keep everything on multiple jumpdrives.

Nine weeks of school and I still have 19 of 24 eighth graders with A’s. My worst grades are a couple of C’s. Last year my best grades at this time were a couple of A’s and a whole lot of U’s. And I have not changed a thing about what I am teaching, how I am teaching, or what I am requiring. It’s all about WHO I am teaching. Even the worst kid in my class is making a strong C grade.

Over the years I have been told to stop teaching this way, modify this lesson, rewrite this work sheet. I was always told HOW to do my job. It wasn’t me that needed to change. This I bring the same lessons, projects, goals, to my new school with a better class of students and thye eat it up, do a better job and make better grades. What happen? Oh, I know, better students!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Allways something new

The “Festival project” is complete. All I need to do is film them presenting their festival items, posters, power points, tri-folds, bumper-stickers, and all the other parts of the work they did. I will do that on Monday then we can start their next project Tuesday.

My student will delve into out Louisiana Native American tribes and research them and create a booklet about them. They will have to create a project that will include a table of contents, a long list of things about their chosen tribe, a bibliography, color pictures – and all work done by hand. I don’t want any ‘copy/paste’ so it has to be handwritten.

I know. I’m a meany but it has to be done this way for now. Over the last 10 years I made this a digital project but I had 13 computers in my classroom. I may be at a fancy church school but I don’t have many of the resources I had earned over the years at the public school. Therefore I have to revert to “old school” ways of doing things. Sure we have a really good tech lab but we also are dealing with a PK through 8 school and the elementary takes up much of the lab time.

Coming up in a few days will be my first dress up of the year. I get to do my French trapper stories and dress. Should be fun. I hope to do this in our own 7th/8th grades plus a 4th grade and a PK2 class.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I lost my mom yesterday as Jesus finally decided that He wanted to take her home.

I lost my mother years a go to the effects of Alzheimer's so it did not not hit me or my brother as hard as it did my sister.

Mom, I love you and thanks for all the years you did everything for me and all your children, may God take care of you now and may you enjoy seeing your brothers and your mom and dad. I'll see you again in the future when you are no longer in pain and have your full memory back.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not as easy as it looks

One project down and another well on it’s way. “It’s just how this class rolls” as one student put it. Students have completed their first real major test in my class by completing their large Louisiana poster map. I graded them then put them outside on the wall for all to see. I have gotten lots of comments from other students and teacher alike about how nice they look.
From there we moved right into their next project – creating a new festival. The idea came to me years ago as we wanted a project that asked the students to use all their talents in creating an all new festival. The project is called “I can’t believe there’s not one yet!” festival project.

They create festival location, t-shirts, bumper-stickers, posters, tri-folds, weather research, power-points, etc; all about their newest festival. In Louisiana that is a very hard thing to do since you can’t do a festival that already been done – and we have lots of them. Just check this out to see how many festivals are in the state this year. CLICK HERE.

This year I am getting a sandwich festival, a breast cancer festival, a pelican festival, cowboy festival, and assorted other “new festivals”. They have to create the foods, music, queen’s contests, costs, look at other festivals in that city on their weekend, etc. It has been a pain to come up with something new.
Next week will begin a look at Louisiana's Native Americans through a new project - a booklet based on all they can find out about maggiage, culture, war, housing, worship, what remains, etc. Like I've said, the students work, I monitor.

Okay, I see that over 600 folks have viewed or stopped by here but no one seems to leave comments. I gonna ask that you stop just a minute and comment and then I will come by your blog and do the same. An eye for an eye sort of thing. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Photo shoot Saturday

Saturday was a fun day but knowing me it is always about school and how I can better teach the subject. My wife and I spent the day traveling to Lafayette, she so she could work the honor band tryouts 2nd round, me so I could travel and photograph additional points of interest.
She did her thing all day and I did mine. I visited the Alexandre Mouton house. Mouton was the 12 governor of Louisiana so it became a great stop on my list of things to do. 12th is not a big number to celebrate to why waste the time if you are in the city right? From there I shot photos at the university, the local park honoring southwest Louisiana individuals.
I drove around the city just laughing at the fact that the streets of Lafayette must have been laid out by a drunken Cajun because there is no straight lines, no rhyme or reason to any of the streets. Lafayette’s streets are the strangest mish-mash of streets anywhere in the nation. No where can you start driving south, end up going east then end up in north Lafayette and never getting of the same street – plus going through four street names. My GPS was a waste of time here.
It took me over an hour just to get back to where I started and I still didn’t know where I had been. When I got to Lafayette that morning, I knew right where the school was, drove right to it and dropped my wife off from there the day was a gas eating mess but I did “accidently” find what I was looking for by just forgetting my GPS and driving directionally. Around noon it was tuff due to the sun being overhead but I stopped long enough to eat lunch at that time.

More photos later.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Big deal, in and out in an hour

Yesterday I got to meet and have my photo taken with the First Lady of Louisiana, Supriya Jindal, when she made a presentation at our school. I waited through the whole workshop with our first graders, her speeches, her welcoming by the school and her teaching of a elementary class but I did get it.

It meant a lot to me to have the photo to add to my collection of photos with former governors, senators, and actors from Louisiana. I manage only 30 second speaking with her but it was enough. She will never remember me but at least I have it now. And the state police didn’t say a thing. They scooped her out right afterward to take her to her next gig I suppose.

Five state troopers, a total lockdown of the school, disrupted lunch for 1st graders, but it's all in the life as a politician I guess.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Yesterday and last night I spent time emailing over 60 teachers around the state looking for lesson ideas, plans, projects to be added to my website, Over the years many state Louisiana history teachers have stopped by and “borrowed” items for use in their class. I know because I have talked to many of them.

However, many of them have yet to reverse the action by sending me items that I can post for other ‘newbies’ that need help with that one or two items for their own class. As teachers we need to share and share more freely. There is just not a lot of resources out there for our own state history. I have offered hundreds of items and have gotten many others but it is still far short from our state’s hundreds of other teachers.

I know that many of those emails will come up empty but if I get a few things I will be happy. Today I will put together another set of emails. I am hoping that over the next few days I can blanket the state with emails asking for ‘handouts’.

It is easy for teachers to make the offer. All they have to do is attach and item or two and I will do the rest. I will create the pages, give them credit, an host the webpage. It all comes from my pocket. I just need some new ideas.

As long as I have been teaching the subject even I am looking for new directions to go.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday's a wonderful way to start the week!

I pulled early morning duty, not because I have to but because I want to.
Life is very interesting as you start the Monday with the blessing of the pets. Our church service was held outside as we welcomed over 100 pets – dogs, cats, hedgehogs, snakes, kittens, stuffed animals, and photos of animals. The kids seemed to love the special day to honor St. Francis of Assisi. Father Jack blessed all the animals that children and parent alike brought. It turned out to be a wonderful way to begin the day.
My eighth graders were gone for the morning after services as they took their annual group photo at Grosse Savanne, a hunting retreat south of town. I had my sevent graders finishing up their Art in Literature assignment and then covered for the sixth graders has they worked on their Art in Literature class project.
 After that my day was done and I came home to spend time with my grand-daughter. After she went home and my wife headed off to her classes at the university and the local community band, I spent time working on lessons and projects for my upcoming classes.
All-in-all the day went well, the temperatures were pleasant and nothing on TV was worth watching.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Getting better as the time rolls on

The weekend has been very productive. I have posted a few more lesson ideas, fixed a few that I already had online, and began some new one based on ideas I got from several long time TpTers. Taking information from many elementary teachers as to how to increase my sales I began to work on new and better details, more freebies, and a more diverse selection.

I redid my blog and just molded it into one that even I can be proud of. I am not the young, spry 20 or 30 year old. I’m the old man doing this ‘giving away knowledge’ but it does not mean that I can’t learn from the best. It just may take me longer.

I have been looking over many younger teachers’ products, downloading their previews, looking at how they have theirs set up and remodeling my own. Sure I know that there are not many of us middle schoolers here but many of my items can be used by other grades and I need to market them as such.

I have begun to figure this blog thing out better and creating a list of my own way to market my items. I have posted the best of the best along the left side of this column with lots more to come. They all will be better and more colorful in the future.

I have blogged for years at another site – since 2000 to be exact – and I have loved it. Over there I have lots and lots of followers but here things are a little slower but I understand. Life starts slow and swells. This old man may not have THAT much more time but I will give it all with the time I have left.

See y’all on this side of the graveyard – for a while at least!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just this old man

As I have bouncing around different teachers blogs I have seen some really neat blogs. Lots of artwork, lots of color, and lots of pictures. Mine just seems boring. I have loved all the catchy titles and I just kept thinking I need something that was just my own. Since I’m most likely the oldest one around here maybe I should play off that.

I’m just the old man, nothing fancy, nothing colorful, nothing but a bland old guy still hanging around doing his thing with students who are almost 50 years younger, Therefore, I decided my blog should just be that, “The old man’s blog”. It fits ME. I am nothing fancy. I have almost no hair, over 100 pounds lighter than I used to be, out of the public school system, into a private school setting, getting retirement and loving every minute of my day.

I am so glad to be able to continue working, I get to drive to work with "young" people every day. I find it funny to be sharing a room with my fellow co-teacher knowing that he was born three years AFTER I graduated from high school.

The background in simple - cold blue -, nothing fancy there either. I actually like the title, color, and the simplicity of the whole dang thing. Maybe the thing is just me. Very few people come by here anyway. I almost feel like I am in a nursing home just waiting on someone to wander in to say “hi”.

I have a weekend off so I can work a bit on TpT and maybe upload some new items. I currently have five jump/thumb drives full of activities, worksheets, lessons that maybe someone could use. Sales at TpT are dead, dead, dead, DEAD but who cares. AT least I’m not.
"Any day above ground is a good day"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Come and gone

The accreditation team is now done. Only their paperwork must e completed and they are own thei way. They have visited all (most) of the classrooms and teachers, made their recommendations, and filled out their charts, graphs, and inspections.

As they have visited each classroom, only my 8th grade Louisiana history has been snubbed. Not one of them – all seven of them – failed to come by my class. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Sure they saw me interacting with the sixth and seventh grade history classes so many they just knew I was the type of guy who gets involved in all students work.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a 21 very veteran teacher with “Teacher of the Year” accolades, maybe it it is just the fact that I’m 60 and still loving what I do. Who knows but I feel jilted.

The team was very nice and I got to talk too many of them. I am not worried about my skills – I guess I was just wanted their comments. Maybe I was just wanted too much. By noon they will all be gone. Back on their planes to parts unknown – Beaumont, Austin, Tucson, Denver, and other Episcopal parishes and schools.

Back at school I have been running into problems with my temporary classroom and its “permanent teacher. She is really not permanent – she only works three days a week but she has angry issues. Lately she has been taking it out on me and my students who use the art room two classes, two days a week. She claims we “touch” her stuff – no we don’t. Use her pencil sharpener – yes we do sometimes. Move her stuff around – no we don’t. Put things on her bulletin board – yes we do, temporarily. She says the room is always a mess – no, it is not; first I go back and clean it up every afternoon, make sure nothing has been touched and generally make sure it is just as we found it.

Being that she is ONLY a part-time teacher, I get to use the room on days she is not there and teaching. It’s a small school with limited classroom space. She needs to just get over it. As an art teacher myself I know how possessive a fellow teacher can be but she is “off the chain” as my former students used to say. I hate to even go in there tomorrow.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

History Math

Ok, so I found out why I had no comments. I had to go over to “Moderate” them. Stupid me. I am so sorry. I have been in my Xangaworld way to long I guess. Anyway, having found that out I may be here more often then. I have been looking over other middle school blogs (not that I’m leaving elementary ones out) and finding some really interesting items. As I get more and more intune with the workings of TpT maybe I can and will update all my postings and make a little more money.

I tend to be more elementary minded as I weave into my history class lots of math and ELA type of items. I want my students to know that all our subjects are interwoven and that they can’t just thing about one subject at a time. This week I will hit them with a simple set of math problems as they search our state after they finish mapping it.

The math problems ask them to figure out how any parishes (counties) border what item such as how many parishes border Texas, or how many parishes are completely on the east side of the Mississippi River. Working as a team of two, they have to then figure out the fraction then convert it to a simple fraction.
First team to finish WITH THE RIGHT ANSWERS wins. Nothing fancy, but it works, and again gets them to looking at our state before we really begin our in-depth study of history.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Constitution Day 2011

I knew I had to do something that would be interesting for my students so we filmed the U.S. Preamble, word by word, with each student saying one or two words each. I then edited the entire preamble using Pinnacle 12 software. The only problem was as I edited it I found that a few students did not say their whole part, leaving out words. That means that on Monday I will have to go back, add those few words and then edit them into the production.

However, the “idea” was a success and they loved being part of a ‘forever’ production. Below is the rough draft of the video without a few words. We will fix it and upload the completed video Monday evening.
Rough draft of our Preamble Video

We used a Flip camera and Pinnacle Software to do the production.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Noticed at last

After four months it seems like I finely hit pay dirt. I was noticed at another bog site. It makes me want to work hard, post better stuff and see if I can make a difference at TpT.
Thanks to all the folks at the best of TpT for at least looking my way.
They get more traffic than I do so any help goes a long way. Once the weekend comes around I will start to redo my blog products and add a few new ones to my list of freebies. See y'all then.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just other freebie stuff

I am still playing around with activities that my students can do as short small fill-ins as they work through a chapter. Right now our sixth graders are working on Egypt. The are doing hieroglyphics and converting them to a new standard computer keyboard. I created a simple work sheet that they can use to make sure they have all the symbols. It’s nothing fancy but it did work. I will now do the full TpT stuff and give it away.
I also have a pyramid cutout that they will do later this week and bring back to us. It gives them another small hands-on activity. It is printed on card stock which will hold up much better than regular paper. Again I will do all the TpT stuff then give it away also.

I just decided that I will start doing things like this for my own students then if they work, I will give them away at TpT. Money is no longer an option here anymore. It’s all about exchanging ideas that someone can use.

Our American history students do a few really neat activities over the last couple of weeks which I will write up. My own eighth grade students have been busy but it is all “state related” so there is not much I can post there. Anyone who would lake that activies can email me and I will tell them where to get them.

Now I get to write up directions on how to use thems items and make sure they fit into someone's lessons.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Inservice, Tropical Storm Lee, and my stuff

Yea! It’s a holiday and the sun is shinning and the air is cool. Yet I am setting inside working on lesson plans for the month of September. Actually, I’m not writing lesson plans but revising them since I have used the same lesson ideas for the past several years during the month of September. They are all built around geography and the state we live in.

Only this year I have to reorganize them so that they fit the classroom schedule I have at my new school. I only have three days with which I have access to a promethean board, the other two days I am using someone else’s classroom with nothing but my own voice. That means what I used to do is limited to the three days I have the board and the other two limited to other things I do that do not use a board.

It’s not a problem for me to do this modification but it does mean that I have to restructure my lesson plans so that the administration understands what is going on and when. We are also being evaluated this month for accreditation so I really have to have everything in place and documented. No problem but it just means I need to “Have my act together” this month.

I did not mean I have to remake power-points, or create new worksheets, it just means I can pick the best of the best for each day this month the slide them in where needed. The only thing I have to create new is a lesson for Constitution Day. Not a problem, just take one of my best of the Best and model it into a one day event. Easy.

I would rather be out doing something else by the ground is to soft from all the rain we got from Tropical Storm Lee over the last several days. And it looks like we may be in store for another storm this weekend according to the Weather channel.

Tomorrow is an in-service day but I have been given an assignment to decorate the room/office the evaluators are using. All of them are from out of state so my principal asked if I could “Louisiana the room”, place a lot of my museum pieces on the shelves, put up posters, pictures, anything to make the room they will be using feel “homey”. Not a problem. I spend a couple of hours sorting through my tubs in the garage and pulling some great pieces. I will take pictures – before and after tomorrow.

Hey it gets me out of a boring in-service tomorrow morning for about four hours. Also I get to be with lots of my “stuff”. How cool can that be?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nothing about nothing

Wow, just when I was thinking about deleting all my “store items on TpT” I suddenly start to make a few sells. But then, TpT takes their HUGE cut and I’m left with almost nothing. In the last couple days I have made three sells and I took home less than 50% of each sell. I wonder just how these teachers who are reporting sales of over $75,000.00 dollars are doing that. I know they are elementary teachers but losing such a large cut of everything is ruff.

I know my stuff may not be the best, and I know there just aren’t that many middle school teachers on the site, and I REALLY KNOW that there are even less middle school HISTORY teachers out there. So my chances of doing well are next to now. I was figuring that I just might give everything away then delete it all. I’ll keep the blog no one reads and keep getting their emails, just so I can “keep up with the Jones so to speak”.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baseball card-style project

I have always been a fan of the old baseball cards. Recently I was at a teacher training session and we did electronic baseball cards. However, I got to thinking about my poor kids that don’t have a computer, done have internet access, of just don’t have the time to do the cards the electronic way.

I came up with a better way to do the same thing. It’s not as fancy or as colorful but it does get the information that I want. I bought a few stacks of 3x5 index cards at Wal*Mart, punch a single hole in the top left-hand corner and pasted them out to my students in sets of six. So I sent a few bucks, but the results were magic.

I then handed of the directions which included a sheet of pictures of each of the names on the paper. (This is a word doc so you can change the names to fit your time period). I explain that picture goes on the blank side and the information required goes on the lined side. I only wanted five bullet points of information. I did not want an essay of long write ups. I just want FACTS. I also wanted the name of the person and the dates of their life. Simple enough.

I have the students over a dozen names to pick from and told them I only wanted five. They chose which five they wanted to do. Freedom of choice works wonders. I tend to get my five back from almost every students because they picked. The hold in the top was for them to ties short string to hold their cards together.

These Baseball cards work like a charm. The item is a simple word doc costing only a buck. Need more info, I will glad to email you about this project and others. As I have always said, I’m just an email away.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keep reading, it WILL get better...

Ok, by looking at the stats, someone is looking. 53 pages views since that last post went up but no one is speaking. I really would love to know just who is coming by my middle school classroom. At least comment a “Hi” before you leave. I really would like to ‘meet’ you and come by to read what you have written. Don’t just leave me hanging.

I can see where they are coming from. The forum is getting some hits, Rundes Room is getting a few but Sqworl is sending the most folks over. The numbers are not that impressive but at least that tells me I am not doing this in vain. I just need to keep posting this blog address on everything at the forum. Maybe it will kick start the readers.

I have only been posting since late July and I didn’t expect many folks in the first place. Now that school has started I can start blogging about my experiences, post a few of my own freebies, and commenting on other people’s blogs.

My blogs here will be random at best since I have another blog over at Xanga that I write for on a daily basis. This one has to take a back seat while I handle that one.

Visitors have ranged from 34 to two depending on the day. Sure there are bloggers here on TPT that have MUCH higher numbers but they have also been here forever. All I want is a few minimal sales. One or two would be nice. At that point I would start putting up more stuff if I even THOUGHT there was other social studies teacher out here.

I have gotten a few really good comments about my materials, some folks love them and said I am charging too little, others tell me what I am missing so that I can fix them. One person even told me he would have paid $5 for one of my freebies. Sure, my question is "Would he have even looked at it if it was $5?" Am I charging too little?

Class has been wonderful. It’s not that I ‘hated’ my last year’s class; it’s just that this year’s group is really a good one. I am just spending too much time worrying about being part time. I want to be full time at the school. I want to deal with the kids not worried about paying bills.

I have been asked yesterday about coaching girls basketball. It has been years since I did girl’s BB but I have coached both Rec ball and middle school ball. Maybe that’s my ticket to getting full time. I don’t know. I need to think about this.

Today’s freebie is: Archeology-thru-Clay-Pots

Friday, August 19, 2011


My enjoyment of TPT has disappeared. The sales have been DEAD! I mean D-E-A-D. my freebie downloads have been fantastic but the sales don’t exist. Not at all. I have gotten a few comments that have been “constructive” which was nice. I even got one that said my freebie was so good that he would have paid $5 for it. But other than that, TPT has been a bust.

Okay, I know it is early yet and I do know I am a middle school history teacher and at TPT there just isn’t much call for middle school stuff. May I should “dumb” my stuff down so that it fits more into an elementary type classroom activity.

Elementary people‘s stuff seems to sell really well. But I’m not elementary and I’m not much good at high school either. My stuff tends to fit 6-10th for the most part. I’m now looking to move my stuff over to another site where I might get a little more action.

It’s funny, but this blog doesn’t get any action either. I do well on my Xanga blog. I’m always getting comments and I have a few very good friends over there. But here, I am just talking to myself just to hear myself talk.

Now as for my new school, things have gone well as for as my classes are concerned. I love them. However, it seems like I am spending too much of my day “homeless”. I share a room with the other history teacher which is great but for the most part if I don’t camp out in his room all day, no one else wants to see me in their room. I have been “tossed” out of several classrooms this week.

I have wandered down to the library several times. Today I even went home early because I was done for the day. I have been a regular district teacher for the last 21 years and I just don’t know what to do with all my ‘free’ time. I should be busy all day and I’m not.

MY classes have been so fulfilling. The kids love what I do and the other history teacher thinks I am the guru of my subject. I love the fact that he thinks that but I think I could do really good stuff with some ov his classes to make him even better. And he is all fine with that. Like I said, I think he and I work well together.

Next week we will see. I will most likely just show up, teacher my assigned times and go home. My brain can seem to accept that but I will just have to make myself do that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This is it, time to start!

It was been so time consuming, getting ready for day one of school. It’s not that I need to be prepared because I am. With 21 years behind me I have my lessons together, they are all mapped out, worksheets typed, power-points done, and what I’m going to say has been rehearsed and told for years. It is the idea that I will be in front of new students, be in a new classroom, be moved around from room to room over the course of the week.

I have to rearrange what I do because I will be in different room on different days. Monday I will teach in the art room with no Promethean board, Tuesday I will be in the history room with everything at my finger tips, the same thing on Wednesday and Thursday; Friday I will be out in the temp building with no Promethean board, no nothing. Each one requires you to do something other than what I have done for years.

I have activities that do not require a board and visuals to work on so moving to different locals isn’t a problem for the students; it’s just a logistical problem for me. I have to rearrange what I do. The kids will never know that I had to change things.

I hope to walk in and just do what I always do and WOW them beyond belief. However, because I stick to my guns’ on things like ‘being on time, having homework, using a black ink pen, and such; I have been told by a couple of teachers that I may not make it here. I ask them if they wanted to start a betting pool to guess at how soon I quit. They back away. These students may not have been held to those standards but that will change – for them.
A few other faculty members said that I will be a breath of fresh air in these kids lives, that will will step up and do what is asked, that I will love them and they will love me. I have so many hands on type projects, very few work sheets, very little “homework”, plenty of tech type assignments, things they are not getting under their normal past teachers.

Several teachers are complaining about the lesson plans they have to write and I’m saying “I have written them in the past” and I have them all done. All I will have to to is rearrange them to meet the needs of my next classroom order. It looks like I will have very little homework to do to be ready for this class other than to rearrange my assignments.

The problem I will have in my “Art in Literature” classes will not be what to do or how t grade. The ELA teacher will tell me what she wants done; I just have to see to it that it gets done. I will only see these kids twice a week and work on what they need to do. She will grade them. We will be creating totem poles for one class, set one will be how the students see themselves currently and the next – finished totem will be how they see themselves in the future. The sixth grade will be working on a Greek mythology project. I don’t have to create the idea because she already has in her mind what she wants to students to do, I just need to instruct them as to how to do them. I can just be an Art teacher and work a lot of one-on-one.

Monday will be a meet and greet time with the kids going to each of their classes for about 20 minutes after an elongated homeroom where all the paperwork will be done. I really just need to hang out because as a part-timer I don’t even have a homeroom. That could change in time to come.

The art teacher has talked to me about coming across the hall anytime I don’t have a class and working with her and her students. She only sees them once or twice a week – strange I know, but that’s another topic. She could use the help so that she – and I – can spend more one-on-one with her students. She has to teach kids from 1st grade to 8th grade and with the lower kids they want her attention all the time and she can’t ever get all things done. I told her I would love being in there. Art is my second/first love. I have an art degree and it was the first one I went after still I got sidetracked in later college years to history.

We will see what life tosses at me after I meet the students tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A habit of the new school

This in-service was like no other that I have had in the last 21 years. We had a guest speaker covering the Seven Habits and the book “the Leader In Me”. It was strange to see the principal actively involved in the in-service just like the rest of us. As she likes to say, she is a “teacher’s principal”.

The Sephen Covy book is the focus of this year’s school. The seven habits will be what we will live by and teach the students about. It seems very straightforward and something I am not used to because my old school system never wanted the students to “win-win” of “understand first”. They were all about the test scores at all cost. Here we are about the whole child and everything is about moving them along the path of leadership.

As I have heard over and over, “It’s a God thing”. I do believe it is – or it has been. I believe I am here for a reason and I have to hand all my problems and issues over to God. He will take care of it if I just let me do His thing. I have always thought that but now I truly BELIEVE it.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People deals with first being BE PROACTIVE vs. REACTIVE. We experience private victories but we need to get to public victories. We need to shift our thinking from the SEE to DO to GET, or Behavior to Results. Everything we do is a Choice and we all choose to respond in a way. It is all choice. Every day we deal with the circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence. One, we have a choice and the other we have no choice. We learned “What can I do?”

The Second habit we will work with is “Begin with the end in mind”. Know where you are going, not where you want to start. In a sense, start with you own obit. How do you want people to remember you? Do what you need to do to get to that remembrance. “Mental creation precedes physical creation.” How many times do we begin teaching something and the kids never know where we are going or what you want them to know. Tell them up front what they need then show them how to get there.

Some great quotes from yesterday second Habit were “I want to be the kind of person my already thinks I am.”, My Mission Statement is “Nothing Less”. MY own became “Live, teach, coach in Love”. That’s me, I love what I do – my family, my job, and my pastime.

Today we will learn Habit Three, to “Put first things first” followed by “Win-Win” and “Seek to understand then to be understood”. It should be another great day in a private school as opposed to the public school system.

By the way, we began with a pray and had one before we had lunch too. They provided lunch instead of making us leave to pay for our own lunch. How nice was that?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Today it starts

You can tell it is school time. I was awake and up at 3 AM. Not that I wanted to be but because my body just would not turn off. I’m sure that in a few hours it will shut down and I will need to take a nap. However, sooner or later I will get back into my normal sleep routine. But for now, it is just too dang early.

So far I have eaten come cereal, read the online newspaper, checked the local TV station’s website, read my Facebook comments, and checked my two email boxes. I checked in on my school website, and personal school page, then checked my stuff on TPT before jumping on this blog.

It is very dark outside but I know that the alarm would have gone off  - or WILL go off – in just about half an hour then it really will be time to get up and get going; two hours after I already got up.

We had a great day yesterday learning about Edline and and what we can and cannot do on our own site. I just need to find out if I can check in on other’s pages to see how and what they have done. I know that I jumped on mine quick last night and uploaded photos and posted calendar events, web links, and other opening items for my students.

Now it is just time to start our regular in-services and do the Stephen Covey “The Leader In Me” training before school starts. I have done a good bit of the reading that is required. I just got the book two days ago so I am behind most of the regular teachers. Plus I have read and finished two of the books the 6/7 grade classes will be doing this year so that I can start my “Art in Lit” classes.

Went I got home yesterday I found a large package waiting for me. It is my new Civil War uniform. All the shirts, pants, coat, belts, buckle, cap and accessories. And it is all wool – regulation material. Wool in August. I tried it on but boy is it HOT. Good thing I won’t be wearing this till December or January. It is all very heavy. How did those guys in the 1860’s wear this stuff – and fight in this material?

It’s 5 AM and now I am getting sleepy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Last day of summer!

Here it comes. Tomorrow is the first day of my new life – except for the fact that my new life has been starting in spits and puttering for over two weeks now. Tomorrow we will be going over techie stuff that I have been dying to learn. I will take what they “teach” us and run with it full force. I know what is coming; I just can’t get into it until they give me my password and my new email account.

I have surfed the EdLine website, loved at all that I can do, and tried to get familiar with the program before I get access. I have told the teacher that within a couple a days she could use my site as an example of what can and should be done on the site.

Once I get my email account for the new school I can get in touch with a few of my former friends at the old school and ask them to stay in touch. I have some very long-time, and very good friends that I don’t want to lose. I hope that we stay in contact right along with my new teacher friends.

It’s going to be hard to sleep tonight knowing that my summer vacation is over and life starts anew tomorrow. I have met several of my new students and prepared for my first week’s classes. However, this week will be my dress rehearsal of all my lessons, getting my printouts done, and preparing what I will say and do those first couple of days.

You can tell I’m a class nerd. It may be my 22nd year but my stomach is all aflutter.  I am ready to jump in with both feet. I have my students signed up for my online quizzes and ready for their online Collaborize Classroom essays. I want 70-80% of their work done online and parents to help them and me.

I need to quit typing and call it a night but I can’t. Guess I’ll go read TPT, upload a few new assignments, worksheets, and other goodies. I’ll look into their forums, check Facebook, check on my Twitter account and just keep busy until I can’t hold my eyes open.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two Days to go

I have talked to the systems bus transportation people so that we can use their bus for my history club. I talked to my favorite bus driver and she is so glad to drive for me and the new school. She told me, “You are gonna love these kids. It’s not what you have been used to all these years. They will love you and what you are going to bring to them.” That’s another good sign that the HEART made the right decision.

As I signed all my pay paperwork for the new school I did not add anything to the check. I NEED the full check since it will be so much less than I used to make. But God called me to do this and from all comments, I have made the right choice. The principal always says “It’s a God thing!” I hope so.

The room is ready, my day one plans are set, my in-service reading is done, and I have keeps to most everything in the school. I have an in-service Monday evening on Ed-Line, the website that applies the teachers to let parents and students know what is going on every day. From what I hear it is a lot like BlackBoard so I can do all my wizardly stuff to make it my own.

So as you can see this is my last weekend of peace and quiet. I never stop working of doing things. I have uploaded tons of things to TeachersPayTeachers to maybe get something going. As a secondary school teacher sales have been dead with a capital “D”. I did have one person who sent me a compliment when he said the freebie I was offering was “Awesome! I would be willing to pay $5 for this. Thanks for making it free!”

I comment back that I’m glad he could use it. My own students loved it and that why I designed it. I would be willing to give all my stuff away if only TPT would let me. I figure that if it works for me maybe if could work for someone else. No, I do not think all my stuff is that good but it helps my own students and that is the only thing I am trying to do.

Sorry but is not about the money, it’s about helping students. I guess that’s why I love doing this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The NEWBIE Strikes!

So the new year began today – sort of. I had a “new teacher orientation” from 8-noon. I attended as a 21 year “NEWBIE” teacher but it is all about new to this school. Maybe I need get a map of the school, a tour of the teachers’ lounge that I never go into, and were the faculty restrooms are or things of that sort.

There are little things everyday that need me to look into but nothing that I HAVE to do. Now come Friday evening I have a “Math Night” meeting (their version of Drop Everything And Read) to go to with all the middle school teachers, then Saturday there is a “Safeguarding God’s Children” class that I have to attend.

Real school starts next Tuesday for our first in-service. That will continue Wednesday and Thursday also. School for the students begins on Monday the 15. By then I better be ready. Everything else begins as the school has given me a full calendar for everyday of the year. Boy this school has something planned from pre-school to 8th grade dances and assemblies.

At my old school I had to beg for stuff to put on the calendar each month.

Today I got my brand new laptop and an offer to help with the school’s webpage. I KNEW IT WAS COMING but if it means I can get closer to 100% I’ll take it. I was also asked about a school wide TV production which I would love to do very much.

Life is picking up as the school year gets closer and closer.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Meet and Greet coming up!

Over the years I have always had my own personal “museum” but this year I will just have to do without. I am sharing a room and doing it for 60% of 80% of 100% if that makes sense. Last year I made 100% salary but chose to resign just to be able to get out of the ‘you know what’ that I was in. I found a job at a local Episcopal school in town that pays 80% of what I used to make. The job turned out to be part time so I am only making 60% of that 80%.

That’s how bad I wanted to teach and how bad I wanted out of my last job. I am not sure I will be able to make it this year with all this and my wife retiring from the same system we were in last year. Her retirement will be 75% of that original 100%. It’s going to be a strain but I want to teach so bad that we are willing to make the sacrifice. I may be the “old guy” but I love what I am doing and what I want to do. The students always come first in what I have planned.

I will do my beloved history club with 7 weekend trips this year. I had to go get the bus forms for the districts bus, contact my favorite driver, and make all the arrangements but it is worth it. I have done these trips over a dozen time now but it is so much fun to watch the students faces and hear their comments about the places we are going, the foods they will eat, the art they will do, the photos, they will shoot.

All this BEFORE I even start at the new school. The principal keeps telling me that she wants to get me up to full-time ASAP. She says I can step into classes and help teachers in any way I can. There are not many of us who have taught in the district so most have never been exposed to the things I have. She is hoping that they can leave from my experiences.

My goal is to hit the ground running on day one. I may only be 60% of 80% of 100% but I will be there at 7:15 waiting on the first student even though my first class is not until much later in the day. I want to meet and greet the students as they come in. I NEED to be there.

I always have some of my favorite items on TPT. Even though they are geared towards history and in general, Louisiana history, they can always be modified to what you need. My students always love having things they can cut out and "make". Tryone of my FREEBIEs about Slave Cabins in the south pre Civil War.

Friday, July 29, 2011

From one to the other

Closed the chapter on one school and opened the next chapter. It happened so quickly. Yesterday I turned in my key from OPMS and headed to my new school only to find my name already on the door and my name on the school’s webpage.

I didn’t shed a tear as I was leaving the old employer. I had been thinking about it for so long. As I drove off I barely even turned to look at the school one last time. I will miss a few of my coworkers because I really got close to them over the last 15 years. I can stay in touch through Facebook and emails. I know things will it me on August 15th when school starts and I’m not there but I’ll be busy with my new school.

It’s nice knowing that I don’t have to do the webpage, yearbook, totally decorate my classroom, or any of that other new teacher stuff. I am sharing a classroom with a friend which isn’t as bad as it sounds. I never really used a desk other than to store junk anyway. I can sit in classroom and watch others do their thing and not have to write lessons. I am being used for the knowledge I have gained over the last 20+ years.

For my Art-in-Lit class I don't even have to grade it because that is the job of the Lit teacher. I just to supervise and head them in the right direction. I can live with that!

Everyone at the new school is so excited to see me and talk to me. I guess they are comfortable because I am not pushy and not overbearing. I just love my job and want to TEACH. What more could I ask. The biggest downfall is the pay cut. I have been talking to most of my creditors and have told them that I lost my job and I am starting a new job in the fall. They seem to understand, I have never walked away from a debt in my life and I won’t start now. It just may take a little longer to pay them off.

Next week I have to do something that I have not done since I began teaching – attend a “New Teacher Orientation”. How strange is that? It’s not because I’m new; I’m just new to this school and this system. I’ll be sitting in there with several first year teachers so that will be strange. I also found out that there are only three men here at my new school – the guy I teach with, and the tech support guy. It’s a female dominated staff of teachers from P-K to 8th grade. But it has ALWAYS been that way.
I love life in middle school.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What? You LOVE middle school?

I hear this almost every day. From student teachers to other teachers. No one seems to understand that there are those of us to really do love the middle school child. We know that it is strange. The 6th grades come in wired with no idea of what is about to happen to them. Seventh graders are the middle of the middle. When the year starts they are still sixth graders but when the year is over you can see they have matured. Eighth graders start the year as the “Kings” of middle school but end with that freshman mentality”.

I have taught eighth graders for 21 years now but have been pulled to teach a class here and there of 6th or 7th history. I love 8th graders but can handle each of the others. I love the subject that as Rodney Dangerfield said “Gets no respect!” In middle school it is all about ELA and Math. Whoa is the Social Studies teacher. I may do all the things the school needs but I really “don’t get any respect”. That’s fine by me.

I like being the “other teacher”, the office tends to leave me alone allowing me to do other things needed such as yearbook, the school’s webpage, my history club, Junior Beta, and so forth. There are lots of needs at a school that ELA and Math can’t seem to ever get to. They are so covered with in-services, this form and that test. It tends to be all about how they score on the state mandated tests at the end of the year.

This new-year is getting my brain to really work as I am starting a new school – a private school. I will be teaching in another teacher’s classroom while he is teaching PE. I will be moved around all week and not really having a place to put all my treasures but I can handle it. They don’t realize that I am a very flexible teacher who can do just about everything anywhere with almost nothing.

The only real downside of this move is that I will be taking a pay cut and not having a room that I can call my own. Sure I will enjoy my teacher partner. We have been friends for a good while and I can tag teach in some of hs classes while there.