Tuesday, April 01, 2014

It Sounds Weird When She Says It

Today was the last day of notes for our Body System unit.

We finished up with the Reproductive System.

No imagine how much fun this can be, teaching the reproductive system to a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds.  Better yet?  How about a class with 22 boys in it.

What a hoot!

"Mrs. Bluebird, are you really going to say the words?" one of them asked as he looked down at the graphic organizer on the unit that has such fun middle school words as testes, penis, ovary, etc.

"You bet I am," I told them, and then proceeded to go through the lesson.

Best comment?  "It sounds really weird when she says, you know, THAT word."


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Will Winter Never End?

Spring Break (part two as we're calling it since we lost a week of school due to ice about three weeks ago) started on Monday.

On Tuesday it snowed and sleeted most of the day.


Guts and Gore, or Why I Love Teaching Body Systems

Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora and I are on our last unit before we start reviewing for The Very Big Deal Government Mandated tests that happen the end of April.  And as luck would have it, one of our very favorite units to teach is the very last one - The Body Systems Unit.  This unit is so much fun to teach because it can be so disgusting and gory.

And if you want to engage a seventh grader, especially a seventh grade boy, disgusting and gory is the way to go.

We have a real human skeleton at The School (it was bought for The School when it opened as a Junior High in 1965) which we can roll out and show the kids.  Of course, most of the kids wanted to take a selfie with it and I informed them that since it happened to have been a real person at one time, to have a little respect and to put their phones away.

After that we have the pig lungs which we put on a contraption with a bellows so we can inflate and deflate them.  I like to put them on the document reader first and zoom in so the kids and see how soft and squishy they are.  The sight of squishy, pink, tissue sends some of them over the edge.  The smell doesn't help either.  At this point, you start to see kids put their heads down on their desk.

Then there's the sheep's brain and the cow eye.  (The cow eye is fun to put on the document reader and then tell the kids "I can see you!")

But we decided to spend some of our own money this year (budget is done with) and bought a few tongues, some kidneys, and some fetal pigs to actually dissect for them.  (They don't get to actual dissection until high school.)

I can't wait for that.  It might be gross, but they'll remember it.  Trust me.  I have one student who's going to college to be a nurse based on seeing those pig lungs a few years ago.

Now that's engagement.

Monday, March 03, 2014

And the Root of the Word is...

Entertaining is trying to explain the meaning of the word "homozygous" to a class of 22 boys.

Use your imagination.

Can't wait for the body systems unit.

Where is Spring?

Our district only gives us three snow days.  Every other district around has something like ten, but no, we have three.  They always trot out a long-winded explanation about how we use these stockpiled days for in-service and early release (for more in-service) and blah, blah, blah, blah....and how teachers voted on this YEARS ago.  However, no one I know even remembers voting for this, and it seems our winters our getting worse, so we're all a bit miffed.

So here we our, on a snow day (should be called an ice day) and we'll probably have one tomorrow since it's not warming up any, there's no sun, and there's 3 inches of ice pellets frozen everywhere.  Which means, lucky us, they start adding 30 minutes to the school day to make it up.


Not happy.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

If You Don't Do Your Assignment You Will Die!

My sixth period is a really small class.  So small, in fact, that it almost seems as if we are just hanging out, doing science, and relaxing.  They all pretty much get along, which is unusual, and seem to enjoy each other.  The conversations between them can be quite entertaining.  

Yesterday the kids were working on posters about the carbon cycle.  Big Huge Boy, who is about 6'4" tall and who does NOTHING and freely admits he's just lazy and doesn't care, made a comment that he didn't want to do the assignment.  He often chooses to not do assignments, which is why he has grades in the 20's.  Calling home is pointless because the parents, who have a history of drug addiction, can't get it together enough to parent.  Staying clean is their focus.

I made the comment that I didn't want to do my taxes either, but I did them.  There are just some things in life you do, regardless if you want to do them or not.  

"Yeah, but I still don't want to so it," he whined.

That is when Super Boy (funny, cool, popular gifted kid obsessed with super heroes) stepped in.

 "If you don't do your assignment, you will get a zero.  If you get a zero, you fail.  If you fail seventh grade, you go to summer school.  If you go to summer school, you will get depressed because you don't get a summer.  When you get depressed about not having a summer you drop out of school.  When you drop out of school, your parents kick you out.  When your parents kick you out you have to live in a ditch.  When you live in a ditch you get even more depressed.  When you get even more depressed, you cut your wrists.  When you cut your wrists you will die!  So if you don't do your assignment you are going to DIE!"

At this point there is complete and absolute silence in the room and every kid is looking at Super Boy in awe.  Big Huge Boy is looking shocked with his mouth hanging open.  

"Wow," said Auburn Boy.  "That was impressive."

And then we all started laughing.  What I would have given for a video of that moment!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Out if the Mouths of Babes

My 6th period is so small, at 15 kids, that the kids are almost too comfortable .  There are times they act like they're  sitting around in someone's living room and just happen to be doing school at the same time.  (Don't ask about the class sizes.  We have block scheduling for English/Language Arts which means I have two classes of 30 and one of 15.)

I'm showing a PowerPoint and the kids are taking notes on cell processes.  The room is quiet and all of a sudden Diva Girl raises her hand so I call on her.

"Mrs. Bluebird, what do teachers do in their free time?" she asks.  (Of course, this has nothing to do with what we're talking about.)

I respond with the first thing that comes to mind, "We grade papers," I tell them, "lots and lots of papers."  Then I decided to amend it a bit.  "We aren't different than anyone else.  We take care of our families, have hobbies, the same things everyone else does." 

At this point, one of the other kids, Auburn Boy, who happens to be sitting right in front of where I'm standing says, "if I were a teacher I'd be drinking every night."

That was the second thing that crossed my mind.

At that point I just cracked up, along with the rest of the class.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside

Here in my Beloved South we just aren't prepared for temperatures in the single digits.  

That being said, it's been an interesting January.  We were late getting back to school after our Christmas break due to the temperatures.  Well, actually we were supposed to have four inches of snow on the Sunday evening before we went back, so they cancelled the teacher work day for Monday.  The snow wasn't as bad as they thought but then the temperature dropped like a rock.

Teachers reported that Tuesday and it was a whopping 1 degree that morning.  I teach in a 49 year old building that had its own weather system so I was expecting the worst.  After all, even on a normal day when the temperature is in the 50's we have rooms that are freezing, others that are sweltering, and others like mine that change throughout the day.  So I had on hand knit socks, layers, and even brought a wool shawl I could use as a blanket if needed.  As luck would have it, we had no problems.  Amazing.

However, other buildings, especially those with portables and those that were actually newer, had issues with frozen and bursting pipes and heating systems that wouldn't work.  It was fairly wide spread so they cancelled school for the following day so they could get the buildings back up to par.  Not to mention all the buses that wouldn't start.

Most of us thought that was a good idea, mainly because it meant our kids weren't waiting for a bus when the wind chill was -5. 

Now, my students Up North would have no problem waiting for a bus in weather like that, but they have the clothes for it.  My kids don't.  Heavens, were seeing temps that haven't been this low since 1994!  Some of my boys are still wearing basketball shorts in this weather with just a hoodie for a coat.  Gloves?  Unheard of.  

And here we go again.  Temperature tomorrow is supposed to be -10 to -5.  Some school systems are starting to close...wonder what we will end up doing?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The View from My Couch

Okey dokey, so I haven't blogged for a while.

Truth be told I haven't done much for a while.

You know how you look forward to break so you can relax, and get some things done, and enjoy your family and all that?  And you have all these great plans?  Well, I did too, although, compared to most people, they were quite tame.  Hanging out with Hubby, cleaning out my office, getting organized for 2014, reading, knitting, seeing some movies, some quick day trips, and all sorts of fun things. I was looking forward to this time off for weeks.

And then, lucky me, I got strep throat. And, even luckier, it took nearly a week before I could get in to see a doctor (or in my case, a nurse practitioner) who said I had a throat that "looks like a piece of really rare blood beefsteak."  Oh yay.  All I knew is I wanted to curl up into a fetal position on the floor of her office.  I got the magic ten-day antibiotic shot (works wonders although my hip hurt for a week), a steroid shot, and some "magic mouth rinse", and off I went.  

So, for the week prior to the shot - I pretty much napped the whole time, laid on the couch, read, ate chicken soup, hot tea and lemon (not all together) and felt miserable.  Gosh I hate strep.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.