Conversations #96 - Spring in the Classroom (March 27, 2011)

Post-Show description: 

Spring Renewal. Do our classrooms have seasons too? We discussed if there were spring/seasonal differences that affect our teaching and our students. Does your classroom change? The building staff? You?

Chat Log is below.

 11:20:50 woodenmask : Good morning. Nice to see everyone.
 11:21:11 Sheila : Hi John!
 11:22:59 woodenmask : Where are you off to this week, Sheila? Djibouti? Cancoun? Tierra del Fuego?
 11:23:44 Sheila (again) : Ha! I'm grounded now!
 11:24:21 woodenmask : In an electrical sense, or in trouble with your parents?
 11:24:22 Sheila (again) : No $$$ but my colleague is going to Abu Dabhai for april vacation.
 11:24:28 Lisa Parisi : Hello John
 11:24:41 woodenmask : I was at the airport in Abu Dabhai once.
 11:24:50 woodenmask : Hi Lisa - how's life and stuff?
 11:24:54 Sheila (again) : Going where?
 11:25:26 woodenmask : Coming back from Kenya - two or three layovers in the Gulf States. Nice airports.
 11:27:48 Lisa Parisi :
 11:27:52 Lisa Parisi : Just want to share
 11:28:33 Sheila (again) : Welcome Kelly!
 11:28:42 Sheila (again) : We will be webcasting soon.
 11:28:54 Kelly Jurkowski : Good morning!
 11:29:24 Sheila (again) : on ustream and shoutcast
 11:29:35 Lisa Parisi : Hello Kelly
 11:29:39 Lisa Parisi : Welcome back
 11:29:50 Kelly Jurkowski : Thanks- glad to be here!
 11:29:58 Lisa Parisi : Hello Maureen
 11:30:07 Maureen : Hi Lisa
 11:30:11 Sheila (again) : Hi Maureen!
 11:30:19 Maureen : Hi Shelia
 11:30:21 Lisa Parisi : ustream only today
 11:30:38 Maureen : It's up now
 11:32:21 Maureen : It's the new math
 11:32:33 PeggyG : Hi everyone!
 11:32:42 Maureen : Hi Peggy
 11:32:43 Sheila (again) : Hello all!
 11:33:14 PeggyG : woo hoo! show #96! A milestone coming up! We just had our 100th show on Classroom 2.0 LIVE yesterday :-)
 11:33:34 Sheila (again) : Congrats Classroom 2.0!
 11:34:00 PeggyG : in schools, spring=tests--those changes affect things very differently than the other seasons
 11:34:42 Maureen : Kids have more energy, but teachers start feeling stressed about getting it all done
 11:34:57 connect2jamie : morning all!
 11:35:00 PeggyG : I'm not sure those kinds of changes affect kids the same way in AZ since we really don't have winter--so the weather doesn't give them more energy in the spring--heating up for summer :-)
 11:35:15 PeggyG : Hi connect2jamie
 11:35:23 connect2jamie : Hi Peggy!
 11:35:25 MariaK : @Peggy - I'd love to know form admin point of view what is different about this time of year.
 11:35:56 MariaK : form=from
 11:35:59 PeggyG : testing drives everything in Feb/March/April in our schools
 11:36:06 Maureen : My 9th graders( it's their last year) start checking out. 8th graders who  are not coming back- transferring for HS- also check out.
 11:36:21 PeggyG : kids definitely think school is over once the tests are over
 11:36:54 connect2jamie : yes, testing is KING at this time of yr around here--despite the kids' wiggles and all the hormones surging forth in the big kids :)
 11:37:05 Maureen : We had 6 snow days- and for the first time ever- have to make it up- losing tomorrow's PD day.
 11:37:38 PeggyG : teachers start to get overwhelmed during the spring leading to end of school because they have so many things to do to get ready for next year--like creating class lists, grading projects, etc. while still trying to keep kids engaged who have already tuned out
 11:37:47 connect2jamie : We're losing a PD day in April too
 11:38:34 Sheila (again) : Wow 6 days! We had 5 and I thought that was a lot!
 11:38:50 Maureen : We are just coming off break and have no vacations til the end. I basically lost my vacation- spent it in lovely NH (ICU with dad).
 11:39:15 Sheila (again) : Oh Maureen! Is he better?
 11:39:21 connect2jamie : Oh, I'm sorry maureen!
 11:39:49 PeggyG : if you had a lot of snow days does your calendar get extended at the end of the year? We don't have snow days so our schools get out the 3rd or 4th week in May
 11:40:07 PeggyG : so sorry to hear that Maureen! Hope your dad is ok!
 11:40:15 Sheila (again) : Yes, Peggy. We will go until June 22 now.
 11:40:16 Maureen : @Sheila- relatively. Broke hip, got pneumonia, on vent- now off. He's at an acute rehab in Concord now. Prognosis- 2-3 weeks, then home w/24/7 care.
 11:40:27 connect2jamie : We lost a PD day and have one day extra in June to make up for snow
 11:40:32 PeggyG : WOW Maureen! I'm so sorry!
 11:41:14 connect2jamie : That's a big worry, I know, Maureen. Very sorry.
 11:41:15 Sheila (again) : Hi CathyE!
 11:41:25 PeggyG : it's interesting to hear the different perspectives for the different age groups :-)
 11:42:01 Maureen : It hasn't been fun. But now on to other things....
 11:42:04 PeggyG : I think the transition grades where the kids change schools may have very different issues than those where they just go on to the next grade
 11:43:15 connect2jamie : yes @peggy you are right. I'm in an elem now, and our 5th graders are beginning to get rowdy. I used to teach in MS, and the 8th graders were like this by this time of yr!
 11:43:27 Maureen : When I taught K March was the time I would recommend another year- to get the parents thinking- but knowing that things can change
 11:43:29 Lisa Parisi : I do find that too, Jamie
 11:43:57 Lisa Parisi : Hello @naka brito
 11:44:33 PeggyG : there is a lot of anxiety in kids at the end of the year, especially when they are changing schools but even for kids who have unsettled home situations that they are worried about because school is where they get their stability
 11:44:39 naka brito : Hola
 11:44:51 PeggyG : welcome everyone!
 11:45:08 Sheila (again) : I think there is a lot of anxiety for parents too! In middle school, at least.
 11:46:10 Lisa Parisi : This makes me sad.
 11:46:15 PeggyG : I always had to smile on the last day of school when I hugged 6th grade kids goodbye as they were moving on to Middle School and the ones who gave us all the most problems during the year were crying and hugging and not wanting to go.
 11:46:34 Lisa Parisi : Why can't the students have what they really need...more hands on or more play time or ready to go
 11:46:39 Sheila (again) : And they are the ones who come back and visit!
 11:46:55 PeggyG : parents are very anxious about Middle School if it's a change from one teacher to many teachers for their child
 11:46:59 connect2jamie : @sheila I've noticed that too!
 11:47:29 PeggyG : so true Sheila! our Open House BBQ every fall always brings back those same kids!!!
 11:47:29 Lisa Parisi : I find this time of year, kids who have been doing well start to fall back.  It's like they hope we will say, "You are not ready for middle school and need to stay for one more year."
 11:47:30 Sheila (again) : Sometimes more teachers is a blessing for students!
 11:47:47 PeggyG : they want to stay connected with special teachers and memories
 11:48:09 PeggyG : excellent point Lisa
 11:49:27 Sheila (again) : Our teacher team were just discussing how in sync we are with the kids now, only to begin it all again next year. But, I enjoy the process most of the time.
 11:50:49 PeggyG : not sending them on to middle school isn't really the answer
 11:51:22 Scott Shelhart (@kd9sr) : Social promotion is bad for society.  There needs to me a better transistion program.
 11:51:30 Maureen : We discuss it- but it is a family decision at our school. Some parents need to see their child actually fail before they will allow students to get the time/help they need.
 11:51:47 Cathy E : Family has last here, too.
 11:52:02 Cathy E : *last say
 11:52:06 Lisa Parisi : Yes, Scott, I agree.
 11:52:53 PeggyG : new schools definitely bring fresh starts :-)
 11:53:40 Lisa Parisi : Ok your spanish thing again. LOL
 11:55:32 Maureen : That's why looping with kids is sometimes such a wonderful experience
 11:55:57 Lisa Parisi : I would love to loop with my class this year.  But I can't.  They are moving on to a new school.
 11:56:02 Sheila (again) : Yes Maureen. I did that twice.
 11:57:16 Maureen : I will get the same kids for 6 years running. Sometimes I see dramatic changes- others not so much. This year's 8th grade I had in K, 1-3 science and then 6-8 computer. Feel like I've known them forever
 11:57:25 Sheila (again) : Thanks Scott!
 11:57:30 Cathy E : Lisa, do your 5th graders have their own email accounts?
 11:57:37 PeggyG : I'll bet you get really attached to them Maureen!!
 11:57:51 Scott Shelhart (@kd9sr) : I'll try to have that loaded and redy to paste next time
 11:57:57 Lisa Parisi : They all do, Cathy.  We email homework, questions, book chats, etc.
 11:58:07 Maureen : It's fun seeing them grow...
 11:58:28 Lisa Parisi : It is, Maureen.
 12:01:15 Maureen : I was playing with my 5 yr old niece on my new ipad this past week. I was a nervous wreck. Then we went to starfall on my netbook- she just looked at me and said- I can use a laptop you know....
 12:01:38 Sheila (again) : :)
 12:01:43 PeggyG : we did a really fun thing one year in the last week of school-had a theme day where all classes did activities on same topic (Tigers? can't remember) but all kids went to classes for the next grade so they got to meet the teachers and the 6th grade went back to KDG where the KDG teachers loved seeing how much they had grown up!
 12:02:51 connect2jamie : @peggy that is a wonderful idea! I love it! I'm going to suggest that to my admin! LOVE it!
 12:02:52 PeggyG : weather has very interesting affects on schools!
 12:02:52 Lisa Parisi : I love that idea, Peggy.  But did the kids go with their own teachers that they got the next year?
 12:02:53 Maureen : @peggy we have a "move-up" day at our school. It's fun for the kids. The oldest ones don't get to go back to prek- they get the pitch from development people about staying in touch
 12:02:58 Sheila (again) : Nice idea with the 6th graders!
 12:03:33 Kelly Jurkowski : @Peggy- love that idea!  I agree with connect2jamie that I am going to suggest it to my admin.
 12:03:40 PeggyG : they went to all of the teachers in the next grade so it wasn't about going to the teacher they would be assigned to the next year--not known at that time
 12:04:13 Maureen : This winter has been too long. I still have 2 feet of snow on the ground and the 10 foot piles.
 12:04:31 connect2jamie : most of our grade teams work so closely together though, that I don't think it would matter that much that they're not with their exact homeroom tchr for next year. Great idea!]
 12:04:41 Maureen : You can have some of mine Lisa- I have way too many
 12:04:56 Lisa Parisi : Thanks, Maureen...just send them along. LOL
 12:05:09 PeggyG : that day was very interesting for teachers too (my ulterior motive) was that they could see you could teach the same "topic" in every grade level K-6 and not have it be a duplicate! Teachers would say "don't teach penquins because we teach that in ___ grade"
 12:05:46 connect2jamie : @maureen It's 78* outside here right now! And humid! Of course, by June it will be UNBEARABLE in houston, and I'll stay inside as much as possible!
 12:05:51 woodenmask : I've been having a very discouraging year this year. Looking at what I can accomplish over the next three months. Thinking about having a mini-party with each class where we actually accomplish something.
 12:06:24 Lisa Parisi : You're an admin, right John?  Hard to be an admin now
 12:06:38 PeggyG : good for you woodenmask!! once testing is over teachers are also free to be more creative with projects/activities with kids :-)
 12:07:00 woodenmask : I'd rather remove my own appendix than be an administrator.
 12:07:08 woodenmask : I teach 7th and 8th grade Social Studies.
 12:07:09 PeggyG : it's not so bad!!
 12:07:15 Kelly Jurkowski : I agree with woodenmask!  :)
 12:07:16 Lisa Parisi : Ahhh.
 12:07:21 Maureen : I had lots of ideas of what I was going to do... now I know more about how much the kids can actually get done in time constraints. It always changes. I wish I could be one of those teachers who just does the same thing every year.  Not really- but it would be so much easier
 12:07:22 MariaK : John - we call those mini parties - culminating events for each unit.
 12:07:25 Scott Shelhart (@kd9sr) : @Peggy - maybe we should test uch sooner in the year ;)
 12:07:29 PeggyG : yes like a mini-unit :-)
 12:07:30 Lisa Parisi : Please hold on to your appendixes
 12:07:38 PeggyG : funny Scott!
 12:07:44 PeggyG : or not test at all????
 12:07:57 PeggyG : Kites would be a fabulous school-wide topic!
 12:08:12 Lisa Parisi : Me, too Maureen... Each year I think this should be much easier because I did it last year...but then it changes.
 12:08:57 PeggyG : right! Earth Day can be any day  and every day :-)
 12:09:13 PeggyG : love that idea Sheila!
 12:10:23 Maureen : I used to love teaching science in the spring- we could go out on the trails- explore, play around in the pond... I used to do stuff with water- had the kids do the water system of the school- lay it out in pvc pipes and then get the water to go to all the "buildings", etc... Being in the computer lab... never get to go out and play
  12:10:26 PeggyG : extemporaneous speeches/podcasts :-) fun idea!
 12:10:30 connect2jamie : @peggy or wouldn't it be nice if testing was not that big a deal? We teach to the standards, the students learn appropriately, and the test is no big deal. End this high stakes craziness.
 12:10:34 Scott Shelhart (@kd9sr) : Hmm.  Kites.... Maybe borrow the super-huge fan from the football team that they use on the sidelines.  Could test designs on non-windy or rainy days
 12:10:42 PeggyG : I agree connect2jamie!
  12:10:53 PeggyG : great idea Scott!!
 12:11:05 Sheila (again) : Oh, Scott - nice idea!
 12:11:31 Maureen : The ladybugs on my windows think spring is coming.
 12:12:06 Sheila (again) : :) I'm finding spiders right now.
 12:12:19 PeggyG : it's interesting to me that we all basically have the same number of school days every year but in AZ kids get out in May so they don't have that much time after testing ends before school gets out. In the East you have 2-3 months more of school after testing.
 12:12:53 PeggyG : our testing is mid-April and many schools are out by May 20
  12:13:16 PeggyG : definitely all out before Memorial Day
 12:13:29 Maureen : @Maria- do you build watersheds? I had the kids build them in roasting pans with instant mashed potatoes, food coloring, etc. Used coffee grounds as pollution,etc. It was fun to sprinkle the watershed and watch how things moved down thru them.
 12:13:44 PeggyG : another great point Lisa!! this is always a highly stressful time for teachers because of budgeting decisions
 12:14:08 connect2jamie : Every tchr in tx is worried about their jobs this year. Many, many librarians esp are to be cut
 12:14:22 PeggyG : true in AZ too @connect2jamie
 12:14:49 Cathy E : Lots of tension in my buuilding
 12:15:05 MariaK : @maureen - that sounds wonderful - we usually use our outside sand box and our hose for water shed exploration. In second grade i used to do a River coutter exploration - and we used a special material for the landforms
 12:15:17 connect2jamie : Sad and stressful time in ed these days. Dark days. And pivotal.
 12:16:01 Lisa Parisi : Jamie, don't get me started.
 12:16:13 PeggyG : attitude is everything :-) during these times all we can really control is our attitudes!
 12:16:42 Maureen : @ maria I had an idea that I never used with 2nd grade- wanted to track how much water their household used in a day... then have them haul it in buckets from one end of the pond to the other... a little hands on work on water conservation
 12:16:52 PeggyG : what a great process Maria!
 12:17:03 Sheila (again) : Great idea Maureen!
 12:17:17 connect2jamie : That is true @peggy. Trying to keep that in mind and keep the KIDS uppermost in my brain.
 12:17:18 Scott Shelhart (@kd9sr) : @Peggy - I agree. It would be hard to keep working on my certificatio if I let all of the negitive get me down.
 12:17:19 PeggyG : love that Maureen! very graphic, visual learning experience :-)
 12:17:31 PeggyG : exactly Scott!
 12:17:53 Maureen : I'm thinking of asking to drop 9th grade next year to free my time up to actually go work with teachers in their classrooms. Still debating- would be hard to get them back later if I change my mind.
 12:17:59 PeggyG : and people with positive attitudes towards life are healthier and live longer :-) heard it on Oprah :-)
 12:18:58 PeggyG : that's so hard with those kinds of decisions, Maureen. Can't always go back if it's not what you anticipated
 12:20:07 PeggyG : being alone in an inclusion classroom? doesn't make sense!
 12:20:39 PeggyG : oh I see
 12:20:43 Maureen : @Peggy that's what I'm afraid of. It's only 2 periods a week- and I know that the kids schedules will be filled with something else really quickly. But I need more time out of the lab to help teachers integrate. But we also have limited resources- one cart.
 12:21:10 PeggyG : I agree with that--all classes are really inclusion classes but some have more severe special needs kids than others
 12:21:26 Maureen : If I could team teach again- I would love it. I had the best co-teacher in the world for 6 years.
 12:21:34 Sheila (again) : @maureen - Looking at the bigger picture - wouldn't helping teachers make more of an impact?
 12:21:51 PeggyG : @Maureen-I think the kids will really miss it in 9th grade! tough decision because you can't do everything!
 12:22:17 Maureen : @sheila- yes, but with the limited resources we have, not sure how effective it would be... decisions
 12:22:57 PeggyG : @Maureen-do teachers come with their students to the lab so you could model and support them in that setting?
 12:23:40 Maureen : @Peggy- no, I can't do everything. The younger kids I have in computer class ask me why I'm not teaching science anymore- and that's what I tell them. I miss doing science, but the prep was killing me, along with teaching all the computer stuff
 12:23:47 connect2jamie : I've lost my assistant for next yr too--she'll be half time, and will do lots of duty during her half day. So I'll essentially be alone in the library in a school of 700 students/100 staff members. Decisions, decisions.
 12:24:10 PeggyG : that's a lot of responsibility @connect2jamie!
 12:24:27 Maureen : I could have them come into the lab, I got the ipad so I could test it out to see if I can justify asking the school to buy some. Unsure at the moment.
 12:24:28 connect2jamie : Yes, it will take some .... fancy footwork, I think.
 12:24:29 Lisa Parisi : We are losing all our library aides next year, Jamie. 
 12:24:47 Lisa Parisi : The aides check in and out books, shelve books, and help with budget
 12:24:54 MariaK : forming, norming, storming, performing phases
 12:24:55 PeggyG : forming, norming, storming, performing :-)
 12:24:58 PeggyG : nice!
 12:25:05 Lisa Parisi : Now the librarians will be doing that, taking time away from classes.
 12:25:05 PeggyG : you beat me!
 12:25:07 Maureen : great minds
 12:25:47 connect2jamie : I guess we're lucky though, bc the districts on either side of us have cut librarians and left the assistants to basically just do checkout. No info lit teaching or anything that is the real "meat" of a lib program
 12:26:38 Kelly Jurkowski : Jamie that is what we have- just an aide and the teachers have to teach the library lesson and the aide checks the books in and out.  She doesn't have time to work with the kids at all.
 12:26:48 Sheila (again) : In a local city, they have combined the librarian and tech teacher positions. They have to do both jobs now for one person in each school!
 12:26:49 Maureen : We used to get out by Memorial Day- now it's mid-June.
 12:27:13 PeggyG : it's the extra Feb break
 12:27:25 connect2jamie : We do not have a tech person in the elem schools, so I do a lot of tech stuff too.
 12:27:33 woodenmask : (I am having a heck of a time commenting and listening at the same time.)
 12:27:35 PeggyG : because we all basically have the same number of school days in our year
 12:27:54 Maureen : The ski areas would have a fit if there wasn't a Feb break- big $ maker for them
 12:27:59 connect2jamie : ahhh ISTE! I'd love to go this year in Philly!
 12:28:10 PeggyG : can't wait for ISTE!! :-)
 12:28:23 Maureen : Anyone going to edcamp Boston in May?
 12:28:25 Kelly Jurkowski : can't wait to go to ISTE too
 12:28:43 connect2jamie : That was a fast hour!
 12:28:47 PeggyG : no Maureen but have been reading about it! Sounds great!
 12:29:01 PeggyG : our topic strayed but it was a great conversation :-)
 12:29:14 Scott Shelhart (@kd9sr) : Iste... maybe next year :(
 12:29:18 connect2jamie : I so value all my PLN here! Sunday mornings help me to reset my brain for the week!
 12:29:24 Maureen : If I am not inundated on that weekend I will drive to Worcester and take the train in
 12:29:27 PeggyG : that's so funny Sheila! we always distributed new pencils for the last part of the year too!
 12:29:53 PeggyG : looking forward to hearing about Belize!!
 12:30:15 PeggyG : lots of stories from 21 years!
 12:30:18 Maureen : Gee you started when you were 10??
 12:30:34 PeggyG : that could be a documentary Sheila!
 12:30:56 Cathy E : Great job!
 12:31:01 connect2jamie : Thanks all!
 12:31:06 Cathy E : As always.
 12:31:08 connect2jamie : Have a great week!
 12:31:08 PeggyG : thanks for the fun, inspiring conversation! always love these Sunday morning chats!
 12:31:16 Sheila (again) :
 12:31:23 PeggyG : wahwahwahwah...
 12:31:25 Lisa Parisi :
 12:31:43 Maureen : I'll have to catch up on the last couple of weeks I've missed... as soon as I get my ducks in a row for the present.
 12:31:57 PeggyG : bye everyone :-)
 12:32:00 connect2jamie : Bye all!
 12:32:01 Lisa Parisi : Thank you all for coming