Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The "Real World"

Thank you, @Alice Keeler, for all of your help this year!

Like my students, I have learned a lot this school year. I've been thinking about preparing students for the "Real World". Here are a few big ideas I'd like to share:

-- A quiet classroom is not necessarily a better classroom. Quiet kids are compliant, not necessarily learning.

    • If kids are engaged with their school work, they are not always quiet. They collaborate, give each other feedback, discuss, suggest, assist each other, problem solve. Sometimes it's even noisy. I have learned to let them do that. It's a different sound than disruption. That happens sometimes, too. If kids are disruptive, I need to look at the content of my lessons and try to keep kids interested. Some kids do not make the best use of their time; they haven't learned to be responsible or independent. Those kiddos require reteaching and redirection, sometimes consequences.
      • Today in my classroom, students read to each other from our class novel. They discussed responses to the literature that they typed into Google Classroom. Then they shared persuasive essays with one another and gave each other feedback. Noisy, active, engaged students? Yes. Learning? Yes.

-- Kids like to have choice. Where and how do you learn best? At this age, they are learning about themselves and they most often make good choices when I am clear about my expectations.
    • Some kids like to lie on the floor. Some kids work well outside. Maybe reading independently is best. Maybe in pairs or small groups. While I require independent work sometimes and collaboration sometimes, I am allowing kids more and more to choose what works best for them. They deserve to operate in a "real world" situation, giving them opportunities to exercise free will within reasonable constraints.
      • As we approach the end of their 6th grade year, they have opportunities to choose which assignment they will work on, knowing what the due dates are. Once their work is done, they can visit the classroom blog; they can listen to the Writer's Almanac; they can read from the classroom library of books and magazines; they can redo assignments with improved understanding.

-- I want kids to have the opportunity to be kids. Most of my students are 11 and 12. They forget pencils; I give them new ones. They lose papers; I make extra copies. They fail to meet deadlines; I take late work. They are sometimes rude; I try not to take it personally.
    • There is a lot of pushback against this thinking. "How will we teach them to be responsible?" Some educators think that students need more punishment consequences. My priority is to see what they have learned from my academic teaching. I want them to get their work done. If I give them a pencil, they can do their work. If I take late work, they can still do their work. If I am able to work on my relationship with the kids, they will do their work. (If my assignments are interesting and engaging, they will do their work)
      • Teaching is exhausting and sometimes frustrating. Kids don't always come to school prepared. Some of them don't want to learn; some of them have more pressing things on their minds than school. I want to build in as much support as I can to encourage student success. There are plenty of other ways to teach them responsibility.

-- Paperless classrooms help teachers, students, and the environment. 
    • I am trying to use chromebooks as often as possible in class. Kids can work on a variety of assignments. They can easily keep track of their work. They don't lose individual papers or journals when their work is on a chromebook. Google Classroom allows kids to work on their projects from anywhere there is an internet connection. At home, in class, during the afterschool program, at tutoring, on vacation...Everywhere.
      • Today in class, students are responding to literature by typing short answers to questions.  Highlighting key points doesn't require another implement. They can highlight, bold, and change colors to emphasize and make their ideas stand out. Their "writing" is always legible! They can spell check and word count. Resources like the dictionary and thesaurus are at their fingertips. They will turn in work with a the push of a button. I can comment and return the assignments without taking a stack of papers home. Students who are absent can simply check Google Classroom to see what they've missed. I don't have to recreate work at the copy machine.

I am dedicated to providing a Real World 21st century classroom to these kids. They deserve it!


Famous Person
Can you guess my famous person? My famous person was born in South Central Los Angeles, June 16, 1969. He is a rapper, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. He began his career as a member of the hip-hop group C.I.A. and later joined the gangster rap group N.W.A. He was ranked #8 on MTV's list of the 10 Greatest MCs of All Time. His son played him in Straight Outta Compton. He played in Ride Along one and two, Friday, and a lot of other movies. He was raised by his mother Doris who worked as a hospital clerk, while his father Hosea was a groundskeeper at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Question of the Week
Students, have you realized that teachers are humans too? Yes, it’s true. They go out for dinner, to the movies, shopping, etc.  Most importantly, they have fun away from school (although, I am sure they miss their students)!

I asked the sixth grade teachers what they enjoy doing when they are not at school. You may be surprised at their answers.

Ms. Davis said, “When I'm being intellectual, my favorite thing to do is develop my teaching knowledge through interacting with teachers on Twitter. I love being connected to educators around the world. When I'm focusing on my personal life, I like to have people over to eat! Dinner parties with friends and music, that's my favorite thing to do.”

Mrs. Williams answered, “This time of year we spend our weekends on the lake. We have a boat for swimming and relaxing.” Maybe you will run into her at Lake Oroville some weekend.

Mrs. McCoy’s favorite thing to do is sit on her front porch and watch her kids play in the yard. She has 3 little ones at home. It’s probably easiest to keep track of them if they are all in one place.

Mrs. White replied, “I haven't had a ton of time lately, that's a tough one...I like to be outside somewhere with friends and either play games or have good conversations, I also really like to be able to get my workouts in and spend time at the gym.”

Mrs. Cotter enjoys being outside. She just bought a kayak so you may see her out paddling near Foreman Creek.  She also likes to ride horses, hike and work in the garden.

Mr. McCoy has an exciting favorite hobby. He loves to dirt bike. However, now that he is the father of three small children and must be responsible, he spends time outdoors with his family.

Mrs. Brown is very outdoorsy. She is always out hiking. If you plan to hike Table Mountain ask Mrs. Brown for the best spots because she has been everywhere up there. Besides hiking, Mrs. Brown loves to travel and see the world. Here is what she says about traveling. “It opens my eyes to new experiences and allows me to embrace new cultures. I love meeting new people and their way of life. It also gives me a chance to be adventurous and explore the land from ancient ruins to the tropical sea. I enjoy learning about ancient relics of the past and standing where others did thousands of years ago. It also makes me become more aware of who I am as a person. It allows me to hear amazing stories, try new foods, and gives me a lot of exercise. Some of my favorite places I have traveled include: London and other parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, Paris, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. I am looking forward to my next adventure this summer! I am going to Florida, Jamaica, Haiti and South Cayman Islands.” When Mrs. Brown is not exploring, she loves to spend time with family and friends, read, catch up on her favorite TV shows and cuddle with her cat.

Who would have guessed that your teachers have such fun hobbies? If you see them out and about, give them a shout!

-Ms. Farrar

2 Truths and a Lie
  1. When I was little I was at my uncle's. He had a pond so I went to step on the bridge, (a wooden plank) and my cousin was behind me. As I was walking I thought it would be funny to block my cousin from getting to the other side, so I turned around and he got mad and pushed me in pond! I cried after I got pushed.
  2. When I went to L.A I thought I saw my favorite my YouTuber, so I freaked out. I almost went up to him. When he turned around I got really upset because it wasn’t him! I wish it was him!
  3. When I was playing softball I was looking at my friend and she was looking at me. Then we laughed. My coach said, “pay attention.” The coach hit a pop fly. I backed up because my friend called it. She went to catch it, she missed it, and it hit her in the lip. I saw everything!


  1. Geneese- I am pretty sure who your person is.
    Ms. Farrar- I have been wondering what some teachers' hobbies are, now I know, now I can relate with my "hobbies".
    Shantelle- I think #1 because I think you would have laughed, not cried, you're a really positive person.

  2. Genese- I don't know, but he sounds intresting
    Mrs Farrar- I didn't know what fun hobbies they had. My parents might want to talk with Ms Brown, because they are going on a 10 day hiking trip.
    Shantelle- this is hard, Is it number 2?


  3. Geneese- Ice cube is your famous person.
    Shantell- I think #1 or #2 is a lie


  4. Ms. Davis - I like that you are preparing students for the "Real World". Thanks for giving them the chance to learn how they learn best.

    Geneese - I don't follow rap so I had to look up your famous person. He has had an interesting career.

    Shantelle - I'm going to guess that #2 is a lie.

    Happy May everyone! Don't forget to give your mom a big hug and a thank you on Sunday for Mother's Day!

    Ms. Farrar

  5. Ms. Davis- I liked your blog on preparing kids for the real world.

    Geneese- I don't listen to rap. I'll have to look him up.

    Ms. Farrar- It's interesting to know what teachers do over the weekend. Over spring break, I saw Mrs. Brown hiking up at Table Mountain!

    Shantelle- This is hard to guess. My guess is that it is #1. Though, I have never heard of your uncle.


  6. Geneese- I don't really listen to rap.

    Ms.Farrar- That's a very good question. Sometimes it's fun or funny to find out what they do over the weekend.

    Shantelle- I think #2 is a lie.


  7. Ms.Davis-I liked your blog that you posted about preparing kids for the real world.

    Geneese-I don't know I don't listen to rap but I will look it up.

    Ms.Farrar-Cool what some of my teachers do over the weekend.

    Shantelle- I think #1 is a lie since you're my cousin never heard of your uncle.



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