Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pets in the classroom

If you are an elementary school teacher, you may be wondering whether pets or animals in the classroom is a good thing. Before deciding to get a pet, a teacher should consider many things.

First of all, is it school policy that a classroom can keep a pet. If it is, there may be animals that are not permitted. Some things to consider is animal comfort, student allergies, cost, among other things. Who and when will it be taken care of? Does it need attention on weekends? Can it be left alone? Is there a danger of biting?

Choosing a pet takes a lot of thought. You need to take into account the age and skill of your class. Will it be a distraction? You can lessen distractions by putting it in a place that is mostly, or all, out of view during teacher lessons.

Your kids will want to interact with it. Set rules and times.

What are the best pets for a classroom? Here are my picks: Bearded Dragons, rats, and fish. As far as the first two, your students must be taught the right way to handle and touch them. Fish are perhaps the best option, but do require electricity for pumps and lights. Some fish like goldfish can be kept with regular water changes done correctly.

It might be common practice, but not a good idea to let students take them home.

What are the benefits of classroom pets?

Animals in the classroom can have a comforting effect. Students might be more to like coming to school.

Kids are taught responsibility and how to interact with animals. Human behavior has a big effect on animals.

Classrooms can enrich their study of these subjects:
Language Arts as they write about them or keep journals.
Geography and Environment when they learn where they come from and how to keep them safe.
Math by keeping statistics on the care and feeding of the animal.

Of course a teacher or student can always be able to bring their pet from home (with school permission) like a dog, cat, rabbit.

Pets can really enhance a classroom, but safety is first!

> Visit 2 cool cats on Youtube!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Are the Best Teachers Really at the Best Schools?

Here's the question: Are the good teachers at the best schools, or are they good teachers because they are at the best schools? What would happen if they went to bad schools?

We hear this a lot in education these days. That the teachers that are the best and most experienced are at the best schools. Are they really? Does the school make you a good teacher? Can it make you a bad teacher?

Here's what we do know. That many of the most experienced teachers who have a choice, choose the better schools and classes. I know this first hand. As a new teacher in high school, I did not even have my own room. I traveled. Yup, I had a cart to keep my world belongings on. While other teachers had a bit of break, I was trying hard to wheel myself through hundreds of students trying to make my next class. The first and last minutes of every class I taught were not good. I had to unpack, get organized, then do the reverse. And many times the teacher in whose classroom I was would stick around. Not a good situation. I also taught all freshmen classes. Not having your own room really made things bad. If you think you can be the same great teacher while traveling, well more power to you. The teachers' "lounge" was where I had to grade and regroup. Needless to say, I took a lot of work home.

Did teachers who had been there a while have to travel? Of course not! They earned their own room. They also taught AP or upper level classes. Most of them were small classes and full of the brightest (read: well-behaved, most focused) students. Not only was I set up to fail, but my students were also set up. Sticking a new teacher with the worst possible teaching situation and students, seemed to be the norm. Nobody cared. Nobody ever thought to say, "Hey! Maybe we need the more experienced teachers doing the hard classes." But....no. There's this hierarchy that has been going on for ages. Older teachers get the best jobs and assignments. Newer teachers are always thrown to the wolves. Why not? If given a choice, why would you choose the worst?

Please note this does not go on 100% of the time. But I do know that some newer teachers are handpicked for the best schools. They know people. So it can depend on who you know.

So that leads to the first question. Do those new teachers put in the best schools instantly become good teachers? Why not? They have the best teaching situation. The same might be said for veteran teachers as well. They thrive at good schools. They get rewarded with being at great schools.

So what happens to the lousy schools? They seem to get the majority of inexperienced teachers. When they get a little tenure, they move on if given the choice. Why would they stay?

So maybe, just maybe, we only think the best teachers are at the best schools because they have all the advantages to become one. If all 30 of your students read at grade level, how much easier is it for you to teach? Do extra things? Thrive? Be a stress-free teacher? Who wouldn't love it!

Now take someone else. They are a brand new teacher. They get put in a school that is in desperate need of repairs. No White students. No parental involvement. 90% of your kids can't even read two grades below grade level. You think that's an easy assignment? You work hard, get your students up a grade level, and you are still looked upon as a failure. You have to deal with discipline problems constantly. Students have little decent materials to work with.

And the cycle goes on and on.

Why do we not start doing the reverse? If a teacher really is great and experienced, why are we not stuffing our lousy schools with them? Put their skills to good use!

Or maybe that's not going to make a difference. Perhaps a great teacher who gets results......owes it all to the school and environment they are in.

We don't think the teachers at good schools would put up with being moved. Yes, I know this first hand. Once a teacher is in a dream job, they aint movin'!

And that could be the heart of the problem.

> Checkout: Good games to play in the classroom.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Eagle Cam in Washington DC

Your students might love to watch the eagles hatching and being raised on the eagle cam. It is one of the best we have see, and it is in the news now. Take a look by going to:
It is very fast and looks like it is in HD. Very clear picture streaming.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Free College is Possible

Bernie Sanders has made a lot out of proposing to make college not only cheaper, but free. Many are realizing this would cost way too much money, and money that's not there. The question remains, is free college actually possible? It may be surprising to learn, but the answer is yes!

How could this be possible? We will look at a state like California and do some needed adjustments to who and where this college education would actually be, "free."

First, California taxpayers already send billions, between 4 and 6 billion to be exact, to colleges. That's a big chunk of cash right there. Then toss in the federal loan program. It takes billions to implement. There is money out there that is being spent on college students.

When you say it is impossible, remember this: We full fund and make "free," thirteen years of public school education. Education is free, for the most part, for kindergarten to 12th grade. So it would not seem to be a stretch to add four more years. But there would be a catch.

First off, it seems to be cheaper to fund four years of high school than four years of college. At least that what colleges tell us. So colleges would have to do a whole lot of cost cutting to make it cheaper. But it would be doable. And you could not fund everyone who wants to go to college. That means there would need to be a cutoff point.

That last point should not be a problem. Only 40% of those that start college finish in four years. We actually should start to NOT encourage all students to go to college. It's just not worth it, or they do not have it in them. That needs to stop now.

Here are the steps we would need to take to make college free.

  • Set up bare-bones colleges. Only academics, nothing else. The cost of running the college needs to be pared down. Students must choose this type of college to be funded fully.
  • Only fully fund students who finish in the top 20% of their high school class. We need to start betting on potential winners. If others want to go, they will need to pay.
  • Stop telling all students they must go to college.
  • Get businesses who need college graduates to start paying some of the costs.
  • If students drop out or don't graduate with a degree, they will be expected to pay back the cost.
This scenario is not forced on anyone. Any college has the right to recruit students as the big private and public ones do now. Students can choose to go wherever they want. But if they want a free-ride, and they make the cut, they are all welcomed in the free college program.

Obviously this would not be for everyone. The options available now would still be there. We also must insist that all colleges start thinking about using their endowments and cutting the costs of administration and salaries. If students start going to "free" colleges, the big names will need to lower the cost of their tuition.

>> Help for kindergarten teachers!