Monday, November 26, 2012

What? No Comments?

A year and a half and almost no one comments on my blog. Only, I know that I am a middle school history teacher from a little known state that doesn’t match anyone from our parishes (counties) to our food to our language, to our voting preferences. But heck, I am a teacher and I do have a little bit of good stuff. I am getting some sells – not nearly as much as Mrs. Jump - but it is some. I have a lot of other great ideas but I want to know that I am making a difference before I just jump in to upload a bunch of new stuff.

I figure someday people will begin to notice me. There is not a lot of us middle school folks here but that number is increasing almost daily. I have gotten some really good emails asking for this or that and help with this project or came you help fixing this or that. I love emails.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ideas? Where do they come from?

Where do you go to get ideas to help you class over the next few weeks? I know where I start. It has always been TpT and The Mailbox magazine I get every month. I also have bought the past yearbooks of the Mailbox just to get ideas. I have created a large number of projects. Plus I get items sent to me from various teachers around the state. Some are really good, some need to be reworked and some became just ideas for the future. I have even had students come up with ideas for next year’s classes.

I love TpT’s freebies, many of which have turned into some really good projects. I have taken ideas from my fellow history teacher and have one planned for right after the Thanksgiving holiday.  I have looked through books at our local Teacher’s Aid shop and I have turned several ideas I “stole” into really good projects.

I have written plays about the era that we are studying, created card games from ideas I have gotten from UNO, taken games from that period and created a simpler version to be able to teach it to my students. I have made my students watch videos then had them write a sequel (that takes place two years later).

Ideas come from everywhere. I love to hear stories, I take workshops, I interview teachers, all just to get ideas. I have posted many here but there are hundreds that will never see the light of day here on TpT. So many of them have been tried by my students and so have flopped, some have been very successful, but I have come up with a better and newer way to present the information.

Today we did a Barter and Trade in-class project which has always been very successful but I had to modify it from what I saw somewhere about the Egyptians. I changed it to fit the B&T of the early French here in Louisiana. It has worked really well but it took some time to convert it over to the 1700s. I have created Slave Cabin fold-ups, French Pop-up, and many more from seeing things in books.

You just can’t sit and hope things will come to you. You have to make them happen.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What works and what doesn't

Last week I made the students mad because of grades plus I got parents all worked up because of grades but in the long run it all worked out. At least for all but one. I gave the students their Native American group-booklet back and a bit more time to work on it – one their own time – and then I re-graded it. It worked! Their grade came up big time.

They also learned that I am not the big bad wolf, just the teacher that expects more from them. It was amazing what a couple of extra days did. They also have not been late on any other project since. Maybe it did pay off.

The mid-quarter grades are posted tomorrow and grades look much better. I think they will like some of the next projects that or coming up. Even today’s won’t be bad. I am not one to do the same thing over and over again. Every day is a new day with something else in store for them to work on. Tomorrow they owe me their 5-paragrahs on John James Audubon and on Wednesday they own me their Explorers cards modeled off the old baseball cards. Last Thursday we read a play that I wrote years ago.

It is always a new item that has worked in the past. A few items I have posted in my store and a few things I am still tweaking before I post them for others to try.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I DID vote, but I didn't win!

It is so sad but I guess I knew that last night’s election was going to go that way no matter how much I hoped and prayed. I know that my state again became a red state but it was not enough. I made my voice heard but now I will just have to wait four more years before things can get back to normal. I am so sorry for my kids and grand kids and great grandkids who will be paying off this debt for their entire lifetime.

I know my house price will come down and down and down. I know that my mom and dad’s old house will never sell and that I will have to work till I 80+ but at least I love my job. My wife has been offered an after school program from a new principal that she likes and he likes her and what she can do with a strings program.

I know my health is good at this point so I paid to hang in there and continue to do what has to be done. In our part of the country things generally aren’t affected by what those blue states decide but I fear for the next four years.

The one thing I really hate is our two congressmen are in a runoff and will duke it over the airways for another month. I am so tired of their bickering. I voted, my choice won, but with five guys in the race it had to come down to a runoff. I hated that.

I hope we can survive another four years without what I am hearing coming to pass. I love my country. My dad, and brother in law and fought for this land and I know that my father is turning over in his grave.

Oh well, at least I voted and made my voice heard.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why oh why

Finally the honeymoon is over. I am not happy about it but I can feel the difference. Suddenly parents are email me wanting a conference. They want to know why their child is not doing well in class. I tell them that they play around, talk too much, do complete an assignment, make bad choices, and other reasons.

But I do tell parents that if they want me to continue to give “FLUFF” grades I will be happy to. It want be any better when they head off to high school but it will make my job easier. I will just give their child a 100 and move on. I saw it happen last year and now I hear back that the girls that I tried to help with lower grades last year are struggling this year in HS.

It is early in the quarter and grades can be fixed if the child changes his or her ways. They can have the grade that they want if they settle down and do what is asked. Or I can just give them fluff and parents can deal with it next year.

I was hired as a transition between all the fluff that students have gotten for the last 7-10 years and a look at what High School will be like in the future. After 23 years of public school working with AP class from the HS’s in the area you would think I know what the students are about to face.

Last year I refused to change several grades but the administration went over my head and changed them anyway – just to make their parents happy. I knew what was going to happen and sure enough these girls are having problems in HS this year. They are struggling and filing several class, I wanted to help them get ready but was told “NO” and here they sit in HS without the safety net that our school laid out for years and years.

I get to meet with several parents today about the playing around their child has done over the past two weeks. I KNOW these kids can do the work and CAN make good grades but they need to settle down and show me what they are made of. They also need to stop “pulling the wool over their parent’s eyes” and show them what they are really made of.

Monday, November 5, 2012

It has been strange looking through the middle school blogs recently. There have become so many, and so many have really great ideas. Used to be my own blog was on the first click for middle school, now it may be on the fifth click or later. I have to wade through so many to see my own. I guess I better start blogging more if I want to see it come up sooner.

I have not posted any new items in a while – not that I don’t or haven’t created any – just I haven’t posted them yet. I have created several new ones that seem to have done will with my own students so I guess I will post them soon.

Lately I have been emailing lots of teachers around the state and talking to others about what they do in their classrooms. Some of them have really great ideas but don’t work well in my setting. I have tweaked them and will try them again in the future. My brain is always working on “something new” that I can try first then release to others.

I just finished my Native American booklet which I have to say went okay even through it is going back to ‘old school’ because I don’t have access to as many computers as I used to in my old school. I will tweak it even more before next year to see if I can make it better.

I have taken material from my fellow history teacher and tweaked it to fit my own Louisiana history subject but I have to use it with my own students first before I post it. I think it will work but  I will not guess about it before I tray it myself.

See y’all again in a bit after a few things get tried first.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Been away for a while

I have been looking around at other blogs and it seems that there are so many new ones in the middle school section of TpT. I have also gone around and downloaded a few freebies and a few products that just might work for my own history classroom.

During this time I have also looked thru lots of old “Mailbox” magazines and converted ideas to fit my own classroom. Being that I teach Louisiana history I know that there is almost nothing out there for my subject so I have to be on my game just to create things for my own little world.

 I have come up with several items that have worked well for me and have shared them with teacher friends around the state. I have been begging and begging for them to share what they do but little has every come back my way.

Is it just me that has some great ideas or are they afraid to share? I would love to help all the new teachers out there in our state but I have to have items that they think may work for someone else if this is going to be successful.

I love what I do and I am smart enough to know that so many ideas out there have to be reworked just so that they can be used in our own state. Our history is very rich in people, culture, music, and food. We just need to share them with each other. Our state is celebrating our own 200th birthday this year and it would be nice if we all began to “SHARE”.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Emails beginning to come in...

Over the last few months my sells were very flat to almost nothing. But in the current quarter they have been shooting up. I am glad to see “product sold” emails almost every day and especially the ones that come several times a day. I know I am not up to what other have been doing but at least now I can say “I am selling items on TpT” and that is so cool.

I makes me want to work hard to come up with new things to add to my ‘store’. I have 50 now and lots of others that I just never uploaded. But now I see where I just might need to get more up here. I also have seen what is and what isn’t selling so I have an idea what types of things need to be added.

Expect to see more as the weeks roll on.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Things are beginning to happen around my site as more and more people seem to be stopping by. They are emailing me and looking over my items. I have told several of them that I would be glad to have them try my items and then let me know what they think. I would be glad to re-do the item for them if I need to.

It seems they want just a little bit of information and they then run off and try the material. Hopefully they like what they bought. Several of them have said my items are too cheap so now what do I do? Increase the price a bit? Do I post even more items? I have a jump-drivr full of items that I have used all year but only a few here.

We are about to start SAT testing this week so I really will not have time to upload much as I have to take care of my students during this week. I am doing “read aloud” for a few special needs students this year. Next week I can upload more items. Special request items that I have been asked about that I have.

I will also re-price a few items, do a new pricing schedule for my new items, and take down a few items that have not sold at all.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Money not in the bank!

“It would be so nice to get a BIG check but hey I am taking anything I can get at this point. I am just a little and I mean “little” middle school history teacher who gets checks like $1.50 and 65 cents. But, I know that some day it make pick up and then I might be able to answer what I will do with a really nice check. In 9+ months I have earned $16.50 total.”

I keep reading about teachers who are enjoying their checks and what they are doing with the money they have made. My check over the last 9+ months has equaled just over 16 dollars. Not much. But I am beginning to get a few email notes that my products sold today. One here and one there.

 I have been getting a few visitors hanging around my store from time to time. I went from listing everything for free to changing a buck to now I am changing a whopping $1.50 for many of them.

I have not done lots of pretty little fluff artwork on them. I have not given them lots of extra things that you have to print out. They are just my normal stuff that you might be able to really us in class for middle schoolers.

I know that the elementary school wants fluff for their kids but middle school just wants stuff not fluff. They want what works for someone else. If it didn’t work, I would not post it here.

On the left side of this blog you can see lots of things that I have in my store. Most of them have worked this year and some I have created for next year’s class. Just look them over and see what you might use. Be sure to email me a genglish at and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Just be sure to put an @ sign in place of the “at” and I will get to it ASAP!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Everyday your brain comes up with a new item to try in class with your students. Mine is the same way. It never seems to shut down. I am always looking at everything as a chance to teach my students something new yet cover some they need to know.
It the first case, it's about their own cellphones and what if they weren't so new. What would George Washington or some other famous person have done with his or hers. What Apps word they have had, what contacts wold they have had or text messages would they have had?
The other item was my wanting to make the students do a Venn Diagram like they are studying in ELA. So my first thought was how to get them to do one without the "fight" they have over them. So I made one with ME on one side since I do or have done so many of the current things they do. Now they just have to do the right-hand side themselves and see what WE have in common.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Strange as it sounds, I am having an “Anti-Sale” sale – kind-of, sort-of. Anyway I figured that Paul and TpT could use the money because I will never get any of it. I marked everything up to $1 from FREE. I am also posting several new items that I have created to use with my own students in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks to all of you who have sent me messages about my “cemetery lesson”. I have that almost finished too. I will be posting it for a buck just as soon as I am finished.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hunter Games

I have enjoyed reading the last couple of weeks. I got hooked on the Hunger Games by way of a gift vard a student gave me at Christmas. I ventured over to our local Books-A-Million store and right there inside the front door was a display of the HG books. I have seen students reading the book but was sure I would like it. But I did realize I had a $30 card so I bought the paperback copy of book one. I figured that if I didn’t like it there was going to be a big loss. I purchase several other books and went on my way.

Two weeks later I wanted something to read so I picked it up with the intent that When I got some new magazines in the main I would move on to them and put the HG back on a shelf somewhere. There’s where I was wrong. Ms. Collins hooked me after the first couple of chapters – and HOOKED I was. The book began slowly but like a freight train it began to move faster and faster and faster. Suddenly I could not put the book down. Katniss and Peeta had me by the eyeballs. I have never read so fast and so devoutly. Within two days I was finished and left hanging. I wanted to know what happened to them.

I rush out to B-A-M to buy book two. I had read all the reviews and everyone said book two was okay but book three was better. I waited te movie trailers, read the online comments, and searched the web for blogs and reviews. I wanted to read more about Haymitch and the Capital and Prim and Gale.

Book two again began slow but kept my attention and it chugged along. It was okay but now as afst paced at book on. But since I wanted to know what happened to Katniss I read and read. It took four days but I finished it. I had to read in and around my teaching but the kids were amazed to see an “old teacher reading” as one girl put it. She said she never saw a teacher really reading one of their books. I had to tell her I was just wanting to get to book three. Catching Fire was a good book and I found out another teacher had just finished book one the day before. There fore, I gave here my copy of book two and sent her on her way while I got book three.

Mockingjay, book three of the trilogy, was okay but not that good of a read. It took me and four days to read but like the first on, it began so slow. So ver-r-r-r-y slow. But it did begin t pick up steam and moved along nicely without any hint of what was coming. Within the last few pages I had a ton of bricks dropped on me and the book took a complete turn. I was not expecting it. Nowhere in book one or two - or even the beginning of book three did I see it coming. Sure I had hope something like that would happen because I didn’t like Katnis being played as a pawn but never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming. But then again, I was reading so fast because I was so hooked.

The epilog was also a tearjerker. It may have only been a few pages but it came down to what I wanted to happen. Even more so. I almost hate to see the books come to an end. Now several people are telling me what books to read next. I figure I need to get away for a bit, watch a little TV then find that new set to read.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What? ELA in Social Studies??????

It is scary that my students think that I should not be making them do any math in social studies. Yesterday they griped because I made them do ELA. I gave them a writing prompt and five minutes to answer. Today the prompt will be even worse. It is so sad that they think every class should work independently. They think that math should only be done in math class and writing would only be done in English class. They don’t understand that EDUCATION is all about increasing their “life value”.
After 22 years of my students taking the state mandated end of the year LEAP test or an SAT test, I think I know something about what they will face this spring as they try to move on to the next level of their life. I have had so many students come back to thank me for getting them prepared for life in high school and college.
My current students don’t seem to understand. They have all been pampered, told what to do – when to do it – and how to do it - by their parents and other teachers. The school is promoted as a 'school of excellence' but as an outsider coming it; I can tell you it ISN'T! These kids can’t think on their own. What happens when they get out into the real world? My job is to make better people out of them but they don’t see that yet. I understand. I have students that if they were in a public school they would be in 'Special Ed" and they should have never been accepted here if the was a school of "EXCELLENCE".
Yesterday I had a parent conference and most of the other teachers were scared for me. They all seemed to be shaking in their boots. This parent was going to chew me up and spit me out they said. It didn’t happen. The parent was so grateful for what I have been doing. She smiled the whole time, we had a great conversation, and I really like visiting with her. Maybe it is the fact that I am not afraid of parents. I WANT to help their child do better in life and I am not going to “dumb it down for their kid”. Middle school is too short. And what's worse is that I teach Louisiana history. 8th grade is the last time any of them will have anything about out state in their educational life. The only time they will ever see more is if they go into education or became a history major. THat isn't likely. They have all been brain washed to think they will become doctors, lawyers, civil engineers, CEOs of some company, and set on several boards. Sorry, I don't see it that way.
I like her daughter for who her daughter is not for who her parents are. Sure the parent is on the school’s board, she is a very educated, very rich, very outspoken person; but with me she is just “Mary”. Everybody seems to walk on ‘eggshells’ around her but maybe it is because this is my first year here but I don’t see or hear that from her. She is just a parent who wants the best from her child.
After grading my student’s writing yesterday I can tell they will not do well on their test if their writing doesn’t improve quickly. Some write so poorly and one didn’t do anything but rewrite the question in her five minutes. Some of them did really well for a first time with their extended prompt writing. Today will be more of the same. Tomorrow will be a math project so I know they will gripe then too but they will get over it.
"But MrE, this is social studies!"

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Interdisciplinary teaching is fun, even if my students don't think so

How has the week gone? Very well, thank you. Did the kids do what you expected? Most of the time. Yesterday was a little rough but it was “math taught during social studies”, and they think SS should be only SS and nothing else.

I love my eighth graders but they just can’t get the concept that everything is fair game in their education. The “math” we did was a simple look at Mardi Gras, Epiphany, and Easter and how all of it fits together. Why carnival season is sometimes long and sometimes short and it changes every year.

We studied the reason for it falling after the spring equinox and after a full moon and the 40 days of Lent, 12th night and all the other things that go into our Mardi Gras/Easter season. Then they had to do some simple calculations as to when and how dates are selected. They were given one date and had to figure out the remaining dates

The math was simple. Such as: (12 night) ___________, (days in Carnival season) _____________, (Lundi Gras Gras) ____________. (Mardi Gras)___March 3____. (Number of days in LENT) _____________, (Date of the spring Equinox) __________, (Easter) __________. Based on the one date you are given you can figure all the rest knowing the information you just learned. Not hard but you really have to do a little math and remember of few plain old facts.

You would have thought I was making them do calculus or something. It was nothing but simple addition and subtraction. My students have been doing this for years and never had a problem. These are supposed to be better kids than the ones I have taught the last 15 years. Not so.

12th night is always the same DATE. The spring equinox is always the same DATE. Knowing the date of Mardi Gras leads to the date of Lundi Gras – Fat Monday, or the DAY BEFORE Mardi Gras. Ash Wednesday is the reason for Mardi Gras so it is always the DAY AFTER. Lent is always 40 DAYS plus Sundays. Carnival season is the number of days between Epiphany or 12th night and Mardi Gras. Easter is always the Sunday at the end of Lent. All you have to do is do a little counting of 47 days between Ash Wednesday and Eater to know the DATE and the counting of days between Epiphany and Mardi Gras to know the number of days of carnival.

How hard was that? But some of my students could not follow any of that. If they could not COPY from someone else’s paper they weren't getting it.

Just what till Monday. They have more math because they will be graphing populations of Spanish Era parishes of 1785. Graphing!?! That’s math! Dang. Give us two weeks at we will do doing “fractions” of Louisiana parishes (counties) such as “what fraction of Louisiana parishes touch the Gulf coast?” Not only will they have to figure out the fraction they will have to convert it to its simplest form. More math, DOUBLE DANG!

I love making my students do some math in class but I also have them doing some ELA when they have to write a sequel to a movie that we will watch. I give them a list of all the characters then ask for them to write a sequel to the story based on a few years later. The movie happens in 1859 and the sequel takes place in 1862 – DURING the Civil War. All elements must be correct for the time period. They MUST cover all the characters, answer any and all unanswered questions from the movie and do it in at least 5,000 words but not over 7,500 words. I am killing them again. TRIPLE DANG!

We also do science when we study the wetlands, hurricanes, rivers, population. QUAD DANG, I thought this was Social Studies!?!!

It is so much fun being a teacher.

Now, back to my opening question. How has my week gone? GREAT. I love making them have to work for their grade. It’s not really work. One of my students asked the other day about some vocabulary words, “”I don’t know these words! How am I supposed to use them if I have never seen them before?” Well, DUH! Look them up. I am not here to teach you stuff you already know. Interdisciplinary work is fun.

Oh, and by the way. Stop by my store were almost evertything is free for the taking.