Thursday, March 31, 2016

What do you wish I knew?

I read the following blog and wondered if you feel this way, too. After you read it, let me know in the comments or in an email. -Ms. Davis

Top 10 Things Middle-School Students Wish You Knew (Click on the title to go to the "WeAreTeachers" blog)

This week, we'd like to welcome guest blogger Rachel Vail, YA author of over 30 books, including, most recently, Unfriended. Rachel recently wrote an essay for the Huffington Post on what middle schoolers wish parents knew. Here's her version for teachers:

1. I was not trying to get attention by falling off the chair. 
I am approximately infinity inches bigger than I was yesterday and I just lost track of how to balance. I felt like an idiot so I made falling into a joke. Crying was the other choice. And I’d rather cut off my arm than cry in school.
2. I did that homework. I am almost positive I did it. Getting it from done to folder to backpack to school to you is like seven extra homeworks. That is too many. It’s also possible I forgot to do the homework. I honestly have no idea where my planner is. Or maybe the homework was completely confusing and if I asked for help people might think I am stupid now when that used to be my best subject.
3. That time I called you Mom was the most humiliating moment of my life. It’s one thing in second grade but middle school? Ugh. How does this stuff still happen to me?
4. When you force us to get up—do stuff, act it out, test our ideas—it wakes us up and makes the lesson so much more fun and easy to remember.
5. Sometimes I just can’t focus. I’m buzzy, jumpy, pumped with electricity. Somebody suddenly looks distractingly attractive, across the room, which is fully that other person’s fault, not mine. Or I don’t get what we’re discussing and the pain of not understanding is so excruciating I just have to take a break from paying attention.
6. It feels awesome when you notice something special about me. When you value a skill or interest of mine, you give me a route in to subjects I didn’t think I’d like—and make me feel like I have something worth sharing.
7. What you tell me about myself matters way more than I hope you know. When you tell me I am something—smart, brave, kind, stupid, a trouble-maker, creative, a writer, a mathematician, funny, hard-working—I believe you.
8. I like it when you’re sarcastic but not when you’re harsh. When you say something ironically and I get it, I feel smart and mature. But when you’re mocking in a sharper way, it feels mean and a little scary.
9. Respect me. There are lots of things I already know about myself. Some I want to talk about, A LOT, and it means so much to me when you find time to include me (and it) in class. But lots of other things about me, I'm not ready to discuss, and especially not in class.
10. If you call on me and I am flat-out wrong, please don’t humiliate me. I’m already praying for a hole to open up in the floor and swallow me. It’s hard for me to believe that not knowing isn’t shameful but is instead a good starting point for learning. Help me.
What do you think? Does this represent you? 
How about "most" middle schoolers? 
What do YOU wish I knew?

Famous Person

My famous person was born May 16, 1991 in Marlborough, Massachusetts. He is now 24 years old. He has 2 siblings, Nicole and Jett, and his parents are Debbie and Joe. He has 2 dogs, Storm and Wolf, both are huskies. He is a major star on youtube. He is a producer, writer, singer, and American actor. Some of the movies he was in are Ethereal, Zombie, and Hunting Ian. He did some covers and he has his own song called “Don’t Wait.” Can you guess who he is?

-Olivia S.S.

Question of the Week

I asked 6 people if they think Barack Obama should be president ever again. Hayley and Easton said yes because he has done a good job this year. When I asked Asher he said no, and he also hopes that Donald Trump becomes president or he will move out of state. Honestly I think Barack Obama should not be president and that we should give Trump a chance. Zach says Obama should be president because he is super cool, and he does not like Donald Trump. My last person that I asked is Ms Davis. She said that if Barack could serve a third term that she would vote for him and not Donald Trump because he has ideas that go against many Americans. So let's find out who wins the spot as president.


2 Truths and a Lie
  1. I have a dog name, Jamie. We adopted her on a Sunday, March 27th. She’s still a puppy and she’s really hyper almost all the time. Jamie likes playing in our backyard, and she likes to chew on things. We gave her a purple rubber ball and she bit on it so hard, Jamie made a hole in it. I’m not sure if she likes meeting new people because when a stranger is nearby, she’ll always bark at them until they leave. She even did that to my neighbor’s dog.
  2. When I was 5 years old I had to get surgery on my eye. There was a tiny worm stuck inside my iris and I don’t know how it got in my eye in the first place. At first, I was watching T.V. until I started going blind for a couple of hours. My dad didn’t know what to do until my mom came home at 7:00 at night. My mom stared at my eyes for a moment then she noticed the tiny worm in my iris. We went to the doctor to see what’s going on and then he told us I needed surgery because the worm has been growing in my eye for a long time, like a couple of days. After I took the surgery, I needed to wear glasses because my eye just got cut open, you know? I got to stay home for a whole month missing out school so I didn’t really understand how to add or subtract in kindergarten until I caught up with the rest of my classmates. My eye started to get better after a month later so I stopped wearing glasses.
  3. I like to watch a lot of T.V. shows that you may not watch at all. It’s called anime. Anime is a style of a Japanese film and television animation. They all have different genres like, comedy, gore, romance, etc… The “humans” I draw are called manga which is a Japanese art style of comic books and graphic novels.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


We are about to read a Time for Kids article that tries to persuade us to eat bugs.

"Entomon" is the Greek word for insect. -ology means "study of".
Entomology is the study of insects.

"Phagein" means "to eat".
Entomophagy is the eating of insects.

They're full of protein; they don't require a lot of space to raise them; 
and they are plentiful!
Compare the nutritional information.

Have you ever eaten a bug? Do you think it would be something you could eat instead of meat? Are you an Entomophagist?

These are the chapulines that Ms. Davis ate in Oaxaca, Mexico.


Famous Person

My famous person was born on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, CA. She died on August 5, 1962 in Brentwood, CA. She was sometimes called The Blonde Bombshell or MM. Her mother became a widow and mentally ill which eventually caused her to be sent to several foster homes. At the age of sixteen, she worked in an aircraft plant and married a man she called Daddy; he went into the military, she modeled, they divorced in 1948. She owned 200 books, listened to Beethoven records, studied acting at Actors’ lab in Hollywood, and took literature courses at UCLA downtown. Some songs she sang were: “Every Baby Needs a Da Da Daddy”, “Anyone Can Tell I Love You” and “The Ladies of the Chorus.” She sang these songs with Adele Jergens. She had been rejected by everyone close to her and even had some threatening phone calls. One day she was locked in her room and her maid, unable to do anything, called the police and her French physician Ralph Greenson. He tried to break down the door and when he did he found her dead in her bed. The police stated that she had died from acute barbiturate poisoning and it was a ‘probable suicide’.

Kailey N.

Question of the Week

I asked Mrs.Coffman if she likes her work, and she said that she loved her job. She has been doing it for a long time, and she always tries to say something nice to students everyday. She also notices if a student is wearing something new or has a new haircut. Every morning she does cafeteria duty and also does 7th grade girls locker room duty. She helps in 8th grade history and science, and she really likes history. She also likes science because the students always get to do a lot of interesting experiments. Mrs. Coffman also helps in Mrs. Garcia’s 7th grade L.A class. Her least favorite thing is 6th grade homework lab because most of the students don’t take it seriously. She works with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Indian Ed, for teaching them about the culture and making crafts. 
- Cristian

2 Truths and a Lie

  1. When I was seven and my sister was born I tried to send my sister away to Japan, but when I asked my parents for the really big box to fit my sister in my parents got suspicious. When they gave me the box (it was their plan) they said “First you have to tell me what you need it for” and that's when I told them and they said “You are crazy and why would you do that!” Then I said because, just because.

  1. When I was six I broke my foot by doing gymnastics. I was trying to do a back handspring but instead I ended up twisting my foot and it cracked then that’s when it broke. When I went to the doctors they moved my foot and it really hurt. I had to wear a cast for at least a month. When I felt better I ended up quitting because we moved.

  1. On my ninth birthday my parents took me to the water park. At first they said we were going to the river, but I fell asleep in the car. So had no idea where we were going. When I woke up I realized that the river is only a few minutes away. A few hours away we were at the waterpark. I was so excited. A few minutes later when we got in I went on a bunch of water slides. Then there was this one I wanted to go on because it looked really fun. When I got on the ride I was screaming because it was just a big drop.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What Motivates Students?

I listen to various podcasts when I am driving to and from work. I like "An Extra Pack of Peanuts" which is about world travel; I like "This American Life" which focuses on interesting stories about real people, following a particular theme; and I listen to "The Cult of Pedagogy" where Jennifer Gonzalez talks about all kinds of useful things for teachers.

Today I was listening to Jennifer Gonzalez talk about motivating unmotivated students. You could read the text or listen to the podcast yourself. These are the 5 things she recommends for motivating in the classroom, followed by my comments on each.

1.  Students are more motivated academically when they have a positive relationship with their teacher.

  • I try to develop relationships with my students. It's so hard with a limited amount of time and so much to teach. I think I treat the kids with respect, and I really care about their educations. I share with them about my life in an attempt to let them see that I am a real person outside of school. I hope they know that each of them is really important to me. I could do a better job of building relationships with all my students.
2.  Choice is a powerful motivator in most educational contexts

  • I believe in offering choices to my students. I let them choose where they want to sit; they choose their partners; they choose what kind of seating suits them. Often when they finish a required assignment, I let them choose what they will do while the others finish. I offer many choices for preferred reading time. 

3.  For complex tasks that require creativity and persistence, extrinsic rewards and consequences actually hamper motivation
  • Today I offered students a "Challenge" activity to work on after a test. Many students took advantage of this opportunity to learn more without the promise of extra credit or a grade. 
4.  To stay motivated to persist at any task, students must believe they can improve in that task.
  • I have so much to learn about "growth mindset". I have been in the habit of saying, "You're good at this," and "You're so smart." Good thing I have growth mindset and I know I can improve if I keep trying.
5.  Students are motivated to learn things that have relevance to their lives.
  • I recently advocated for the students to stop doing work out of the workbooks that are boring and dry. I got permission to teach reading, analyzing, discussing and writing through the use of Time for Kids magazine. These articles are current and relevant. The kids are much more interested in them than in that stale ol' workbook. 
I have been teaching a long time, and I hope to continue for a lot longer. I want to be the best teacher I can be! I keep reading books and talking to other teachers. I love listening to podcasts and reading other teacher's blogs. This keeps me on my toes and helps me stay connected with my students. I'm always open to feedback and new ideas. Post them in the comments.


Famous Person

My famous person is a Youtuber that was born on August 7th 1992 he is mostly famous for lego games. To help you here is a quote from his LEGO games ‘destroy first, think later’. He is non violent but makes crummy jokes. He has 1,206,704 subscribers and nearly 3,000 likes on every video. My favorite series that he did is The amazing spider-man 1 and 2 and skylanders super chargers. He plays over 17 different LEGO games he has a celebration series called Yolocraft. He play minecraft multiplayer and pixelmon multiplayer. He has 3 kid friendly channels but now he is 23 years old. Can you guess who my person is?


Question of the Week

I asked Ms. Davis “What inspired you to make this blog?”
She told me that she went to a technology conference last summer and they were talking about blogs. She did not know anything about one. So she decided to start a blog, not just to learn about it but actually keeping in touch with her students and student’s parents. She wanted to use it to express her feelings and what she knows about teaching. This is a good idea because some parents don’t have time to come in or have a phone call so this is perfect for busy parents who want to stay in touch with their child’s teacher.
-Olivia S

2 Truths and a Lie

  1. During August I played soccer for the Oroville Youth Soccer Club. I was on a team called the “Rush.” We went to a tournament and won our first game against the “Cosmos.” It was a tie so we had to do a kick off, we won the kick off. The score was 3 to 6. But then lost our second game against the “Puma’s.” The score was 1 to 0. During the season I played a forward and mid-fielder and got to make goals.

  1. When I was younger I did ballet and tap dance. For ballet and tap dance my teachers name was Peggy. We had a bunch of recitals, during one of the recitals my ballet shoe came undone and fell off. I wore a bunch of different costumes. I don’t remember much about ballet and tap dance, but I still have some of the costumes.
  1. Last summer I was on a swim team for the Oroville Orcas. This was my first year on a swim team. We had a bunch of meets but I only went to one. I got fourth place. We learned a bunch of different swims like freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and a lot more. The coach also taught us how to dive. We also dived off the block, which was a slanted, short diving board.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

New Testing Program

Generally, I am not a big fan of "mandatory" testing. I think teachers are required to do too much of it; kids suffer through hours of it; and it takes away from valuable instruction time. I know that is a controversial topic. I won't spend too much time on it right now.

What I do want to talk about is this: students at our school are taking a new test at the end of this trimester that offers some interesting data about their progress. There are some bugs that we are working out, so the data this time might not be entirely accurate. Also, I was out for a few days, so our testing time was interrupted. But it is compelling information nonetheless. 

With report cards next week, we will include a printout showing how the student did compared to a 6th-grade norm. Below is an example.

There will be a Language section, a Reading section, and a Math section. The blue bar demonstrates the individual student's current progress. The yellow bar shows a 6th grade norm.

The writing below the graph will break the data down even further into subcategories. It will also tell whether the student is Low, Low Average, Average, High Average or High.

There is also a Lexile (Reading) score. This diagram will help you determine the value of the score.

Sometimes the report card grades don't match up precisely with the results of these tests. In class, grades also include collaboration with others, preparation for class discussions, speaking and listening, and submitting finished work. 

I hope all this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have questions about the results.


Famous Person
My famous person was born on 1996, January 15, in Seattle Washington. At the age of eight she began acting at a community theater at Bainbridge performing arts. When she was fourteen her and her family moved to L.A., California where she sang in Burbank High School National Championship Show Choir. Her middle name is Olivia. She is now twenty years old. She has a boyfriend named Ryan Mccartan which plays in the same show as her called Liv and Maddie. She sang songs in this show. She also played in a few movies called Cloud 9, Descendants, and Monsterville. A few of her songs are What a Girl is, Better in Stereo, Froyo Yolo, True Love, If Only, On Top of the World, The girl and a Dreamcatcher,and her newest song Glowing in the Dark. My famous person is french and can speak fluent french. So, do you know who my famous person is?


Question of the Week

I asked Natisha how it felt like to be on the girls basketball team and she said “It was fun to be on the basketball team because i got to hang out with my friends more often.” She also said it was very excited to be on the team. When she first started practice she said she was very nervous because she thought she wasn’t good enough. But once she started playing she realized that she was very good at guarding her person. Then they got their jerseys. She chose number 45 because her best friend was number 44 and she wanted to be next to her. She said when she was starting games she didn’t play as much as she would have liked to. Then when she got further in the season she started playing a lot more. Then tournaments came she played very hard and tried her best. She got second place but she said it was the best thing that had happened to her because she made the team and tried her best that’s all you can do is try to win!

Two Truths and a Lie

  1. When I went to Six Flags I road Medusa and it was so fun that I thought I was going to die. After that we went to the 40niners game it was awesome. I had lots of fun. The 40niners vs Raiders, my dad is a Raiders fan. That’s my second favorite team.

  1. When I went to the San Francisco Giants we were 3 seats away from the dug-out. I got a ball signed by Mucho, Sanchez, and I believe the other guy was called Jeremy Affelt. These 3 ladies or cheerleaders got up on the dug-out and threw shirts and I got one It said ORANGE VS BLACK ATTACK, it was awesome pawsome. The San Francisco Giants and the 40niners are my favorite teams. They are the best teams ever.

  1. When I went to Six Flags, the killer whale was still there. Her name was Shupa. I thought the whale had left.