Goal #3 – Ask a Learner

Goal #3 for The 30 Goals Challenge 2012 is to ask a learner about their own learning. I talked to two of my students, both honest and love learning. Their separate answers are marked with bullets. Or should I say, pearls–the pacifist’s name for bullets, and these are pearls of wisdom from my sweet students!

What do you think makes a good teacher?

  • I think a teacher should be excited to learn. The teacher should have exciting ideas, and have fun games that don’t bore the students to death.
  • Some one who is good at answering questions and makes class fun.

What are some ways that you like to learn?

  • I like to learn with visual examples. I also like when we use laptops and iPads. Technology makes learning fun!
  • With genius hour, and when the teacher’s teaching it to us, not going on line and learning it on our own and teaching our selves.

What kinds of things do you like to read?

  • Facebook updates, Hunting magazines, Racing magazines, Zero (the book)
  • I like to read action, adventure, and romance.  And futuristic and fiction.

What things get on your nerves at school?

  • When a teacher moves on to other things, even though students don’t understand what they just taught. Or when teachers do boring activities.
  • How little time we have between classes.

How do you feel about grading?

  • Grading’s good, but I don’t like when teachers don’t let you do extra credit.
  • I like to have a lot of grades cause that way we can bring them up easily.  But I don’t like assignments.

Do you have suggestions for improving the grading system?

  • Allow extra credit, and let students grade themselves. If the grade that they gave themselves wasn’t accurate to their work, then talk to them about it.
  • Grade more on how we behave in class instead of assignments and tests.

What kinds of materials do you like to use to learn?

  • Picture books and the Internet.
  • I like to be taught by a teacher and take notes more then reading from a novel or using a textbook.  I also like pictures.

What do you like about school?

  • Being with friends and having fun teachers.
  • I like hanging out with my friends.  That’s one of reasons I really like the lounge because we can all just hang out in a group.

What do you dislike about school?

  • When teachers don’t help you understand things that confuse you.
  • I don’t like the 3 minutes between classes because I think we need more time in order to go to the bathroom and get drinks.

How would you run a school if you could decide?

  • Have lots of technology, and make it fun. Have fun activities, and make them interact with teaching.
  • I would have the class rooms set up more like the lounge instead of desks.  I would make it comfortable and so that we can have our own laptops.

Goal #2 – Magical Moments in Teaching

In The 30 Goals Challenge 2012, Goal #2 is Highlight Your Magical Teaching Moment.

It’s hard for me to think of one defining magical moment. Instead, there are magical moments daily, cumulatively making me know that I have the best job in the entire world. I am lucky and blessed to be able to spend my day learning and growing with junior highers. Anyway, here is just one magical moment of the year.

Miss A began a novel during genius hour, and she continued in November during National Novel Writing Month. She has been a writer for a while, but she is now writing more than ever. She regularly blogs about her life and experiences. Last month she wrote a short story for submission to a writing contest in our area. She won first place and went on to state competition.

Here is what she wrote in a blog post about the contest:

In geography Mrs. Krebs came in and said I won first place in a writing competition. Another classmate got second. I am happy that I won…My story was about growing up. It had to be 750 words at the most. It was hard not to go over the limit but I did it. I am excited. I can’t wait until I’m a published Author. The story was about a girl who lost her best friend because of cancer. She tried to kill herself then realized that she could help others instead of being miserable and sulky.

Miss A is developing her skills, finding her voice, and sharing it with the world. That is what it’s all about!

Miss A. was working on a song this morning.

My One Word

VOICE.

When I joined a conversation with a broader education community during this past year, my teaching was transformed. I realized that everyone has something to contribute. We all have different experiences, locales, giftedness, and interests. I began to find my voice.

I like the way Malyn Mawby, a wise woman who blogs at Love2Learn, describes this. She wrote a great post called “Of Hopes and Dreams” where she shares about what she wants for her growing children. Her hope for her children is not just for “happiness,” which is vague. Instead, her hope is for her children “to find and use their voice.” Nice!

Voice has been on my mind lately, as I consider the one-year anniversary of the transformation of my teaching. I want to continue to grow and contribute, so I have decided to join the 30 Goals Challenge led by Shelly Terrell. The first goal is a Me Manifesto.

Today my manifesto, which is continually developing, centers around the word VOICE.

  1. I find ways for each of my students to develop and use his/her voice inside and outside of the classroom.
  2. I share my voice with the world.
  3. I join with other passionate educators and pre-service teachers who are finding and sharing their voices.

Throughout the challenge, I will share more about what drives me. It will be good to develop this manifesto over the course of the challenge.

My students’ latest project. They shared themselves and were very proud!

Taking Pictures with Words

In my driveway before the drive began

The roads were 100% snow covered in some areas, and I had precious cargo in the van with me–students on the way to a quiz bowl meet. There were dozens of photographs jumping out to be taken, but I had precious cargo and I couldn’t stop–we would have been late and there were several cars in the ditches.

Since June, I have been taking many more photographs. Most of them with my point-and-shoot camera, and I am no expert. However, I have gone from the one who didn’t have a camera, or if I did, the batteries were dead to one who is always prepared and on the lookout for photos.

Last summer I received a tweet from Sheri Edwards inviting me to participate in the June, July, and August Project (#JJAProject) which was started by some fellow teachers. After that was over, a few of us continued with the Teachers’ Foto Friday (#TFotoFri) once a week group. Now, about 20 teachers and I are attempting the #T365Project, a picture a day in 2012.

But back to my snowy road trip.  This was the first snowy day of the year and only the second of the whole winter! I was so taken with all the beauty, finding photographs everywhere I looked — from the quick sparks and snowy powder shooting up from the blade of the heavy snow plow in front of me to the gentle, intricate flakes falling and melting onto the warm windscreen of the van.

Today, instead of taking the pictures, I could only talk to myself about them.

Some more photos I missed…

  • Powdered sugar snowfall sprinkled evenly on the oxidized railroad bridge.
  • Hay bails lined up in formation with uniform helmets of snow.
  • Festive and frosted evergreens, missing during Christmas, now found interspersed among the bare deciduous trees.
  • Thin ice, now snow-covered, proved to me it was at least thick enough to hold the deer whose tracks ran down the middle of the river.

After a long day, we turned around and retraced our steps, the snow mostly gone after a sunny winter day. However, the images continued to come.

  • Reflective tape danced in the sun as the box cars and tankers rumbled by at a train crossing, train art graffiti occasionally broke the rhythm.
  • Golden grass, bent in the breeze, absorbed and reflected the late afternoon sunshine.

Without my camera, I discovered that my year-long photography adventure is making me a better observer, a better describer, and a better writer. As a literacy teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder if taking photos would have the same effect on students’ writing. What do you think?

Will a photography challenge help students observe, describe, and write?

When they find themselves unable to get a shot they long for,  will they take pictures with words?

One of the photos I took after I arrived at our destination.

In Memory

Today would have been my mom’s 90th birthday. I have been thinking about her so much lately. I miss her a lot. She was loving, fun, and selfless.

Clockwise from upper left, 1988, 1949, 2006, today

My daughter wrote two sonnets about her grandma after we saw her for the last time:

jalapeño sweats
i
I’d never seen my Grandma grey and worn.
This shrunken woman in the hospice bed
cannot be my grandma. My grandma lives alone
in Yucca Valley, hiking on the dirt

roads with muddy furrows that sink like
the laugh lines on her cheeks. She conceals
wispy hair under immaculate wigs. Despite
sore hammer toes she works her sky-high heels.

That day I hiked the furrowed roads alone,
adrift amidst waxy Creosote.
Stringy jackrabbits, baby quail gambol,
flitting through dry gulches like rowboats.

Somehow I didn’t want to be inside
Spring Break two thousand ten, when Grandma died.

ii
Spring Break two thousand ten, when Grandma died,
I arrived in time for bon voyage,
the convalescent odors scattered by
tamales, Spanish rice, tortillas, guac,

and Grandma, a bit tipsy on boxed wine.
One last boisterous fiesta while the Reeds
were still a family, whole and feeling fine.
The jalapeño sweat displaced the needs

that lay beneath the cornered hospice sheets.
The jalapeños were what got to me,
the smiles against those hospice whites.
The laugh of one you love is therapy

with nebulizer and glass of sweet rosé.
I’d never seen my grandma worn and grey.

By Maria Krebs

And one I wrote after she died.
Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 8.51.03 PM

Close to Me