So I Gave Up Punishment and My Students Still Behaved

Yes! Exactly!

image from icanread

When I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress last summer I mistakenly assumed that all posts would seamlessly transfer.  I have since found the error in my thinking and have decided to re-post some of my more discussed posts.  This post first appeared in June of 2011  but still rings true to me.

Three years ago I gave up my inane punishment plans.  Out went the sticks, the cups, the posters, the pointed fingers and definitely the lost recesses.  No more check-marks, or charts to explain what that check-mark meant, no more raised voice telling a child they better behave or else.  Some thought I was crazy, I thought I was crazy, and yet, here I am now a complete convert.  So what happened?

Well, a lot of conversations.  If just one child was off that day, disruptive, disrespectful and so on, it was usually handled through a quiet conversation off to…

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On John Green, and Why I Love Him

Libba Bray

Last night, ugliness again crept into the Twittersphere, it seems. This time, some terrible, spurious claims were made against John Green. I’m not going to link to the comments here. No doubt, you can Google them. But they were hateful enough and awful enough and WRONG enough that I felt compelled to say something this morning.

This has become, sadly, a familiar scenario where social media is concerned. There’s so much that’s terrific about the Internet: It can provide context and community. It can give visibility to those who have been marginalized. It can be an agent of social change. It can be a place for innovation and discovery. It can help kids sorting out their identities feel validated. All of this is amazing stuff.

But the Internet can also be a very ugly place, the equivalent of the worst middle school cafeteria ever—everybody camped at their tables waiting for…

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Why Teachers Deserve Their Summers Off

Exactly.

Boils Down to It

I was trapped in the chair at the dentist’s office, with the flattering spittle blocking glasses on and a glorified grown-up bib strapped to my chest having my teeth cleaned. The hygienist and I were having an extremely convenient conversation about my job while both of her hands were somehow inside my mouth along with three metal stabbing tools, when she threw out the comment that I hear all the time.

“Well at least in your job you get your summers off.”

summer hating

Because my mouth was full,  I was already drooling down my chin, and it was only 7am, I didn’t reply. She’s lucky I didn’t bite her fingers.

There are a lot of reasons that statement irritates me. Having the summers off is awesome, I’m not going to lie. However, before you make teachers out to be the luckiest professionals in the country, hear me out. It’s not all it’s…

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The Secret to All Areas

Such beauty in mathematics… (I know, “nerd alert,” but it *is* beautiful!)

Math with Bad Drawings

(Except Area 51, which I Am Not Authorized to Divulge)

or, The World Through Rectangular Glasses

Memorizing area formulas is a rite of passage for adolescents. It’s fun and useful—you know, like acne.

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The logic is this: A handful of geometric figures keep recurring throughout our world. Once you know how to spot them, they’re everywhere, like the Wilhelm Scream. It’s useful to determine the sizes of these shapes effortlessly, via formulas. Hence, you do worksheet after worksheet, spilling graphite and tears upon them, until you know the formulas cold—never mind whether you understand them.

There’s a better way. These formulas need not remain mysterious. In fact, they’re all just simple variations on the first and simplest.

The elegant truth: when it comes to area, everything is rectangles.

And yes, I mean everything.

So let’s begin. With rectangles, finding area is a simple matter of multiplication. In each…

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10 Teacher Promises I Can’t Keep

This is wonderful and so very true.

Mostly True Stories of K. Renae P.

Promises I can't keep

I still get excited and a little nervous meeting my new fourth grade students. I love connecting with my them and having a positive role in their lives. That being said, there are some promises I try to make to my students but can never keep

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5th Graders Reflect on NaNoWriMo

Once again, NaNoWriMo was a highlight of our year and the best writing activity ever invented. Here’s what my students had to say about their experience:

NaNoWriMo was amazing, because before I thought I was bad at writing and now I believe that I can write.

I couldn’t really stick to my original plot as it was too plain and I had to make the plot up as I went, only this one was far more exciting and adventurous.

I liked how (my main character) grew emotionally and physically during my story.

I learned new words. I learned the correct spelling for a lot of words.

I could write more than usual. It made me love writing.

Don’t be nervous even if you don’t like writing. NaNoWriMo is the funnest thing on Earth.

What I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo is how to manage my time.

I wrote more than I expected. I just got ideas while I was writing.

NaNoWriMo has expanded my imagination. I think of better ideas than I used to.

I wrote more words than I expected. Typing fast was difficult for me at the beginning because I did not have a lot of typing skills. I got too many plot bunnies and I did not have enough time to write some of them down. Now I type much faster than I used to.

It was fun to imagine all the things in my story and not have to do nonfiction writing. It have me a chance to use my imagination. I had freedom to write whatever came into my mind.

One thing that was difficult about NaNoWriMo was that I had so many ideas and only a month to write.

What I would do again next year: Use the papers that you fill out about your character.

If I could do NaNoWriMo again next year I would start off not introducing the characters but going right into the action.

I’m considering writing a sequel.

I am more into writing now, and I learned that keeping a goal is harder than it seems. I learned how to set time aside for important things.

Don’t think too much about your writing. Just get your ideas on paper. You can edit later.

Something that went well for me in NaNoWriMo is that I wrote every free second I had.

I used everyday experiences and put them in my story. I also added details and put in things to make my story more interesting and make it harder for my characters to get what they want.

I accidentally added some things to my story that I regretted at first but then I figured out how to make my story more interesting using that.

I wish we had WAY more time to write.

I have learned that I can write a NOVEL! I also thought (before NaNoWriMo) that writing was just for school and because the teacher said so. But then I found out that maybe it was for fun! It was “PUT ALL YOUR IMAGINATION ON PAPER!!!”

It has also made me feel like a writer and it makes me feel like I know what plot is.

The story came flowing to me as I was typing, and there was never a point when I didn’t have an idea that would last me a few thousand words. The story was just talking, and I was writing without stopping. (from a 3rd-time WriMo)

NaNoWriMo gave me more confidence as if I were walking down the street and I can just say, “I am a novelist!” and be proud of it.

I made the end perfectly like I wanted. I became WAY smarter in writing. I know how to make big stories. I know how to describe better or make better sentences. (from an English learner)

I can write a novel.

Write a story that will make you satisfied.

Some ideas changed into better ideas while I wrote.

I loved writing the story and I enjoyed making up all kinds of different characters. I liked using my imagination to come up with a plot that I liked.

Even if you want to give up, keep trying. You can do this.

Don’t let your inner editor get to you, okay?

NaNoWriMo changed the way I wrote. NaNoWriMo makes me put more effort and details into my writing.

I learned to be more responsible and take care of everything that I need to do. It has also taught me to be self-confident and happy about your work, but it has also taught me to not be overconfident and cocky about NaNo, because it’ll turn around and bite you in the butt. If you’re not careful you could be in the dungeon of despair from the happiness of Heaven. NaNo is unpredictable.

NaNoWriMo: Let the Games Begin!

Dear Internet,

With only two hours left of October 2014, I am officially committing to writing a novel this November. Best wishes to all of you who will join me in this crazy pursuit. And because I’ll need to come up with 50,000 of my own very soon, I’ll let the Tenth Doctor’s words speak for me tonight:

“There’s an old Earth saying, Captain. A phrase of great power and wisdom, and consolation to the soul in times of need.”

“What’s that, then?”

“Allons-y!”