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Room

I finished reading Room by Emma Donaghue.  I remember reading the first chapter of the book and I couldn’t understand why this woman would keep this child in a room; what was her motivation?  Were there other rooms with other women and children nearby?  But I also couldn’t believe what a day in the life looked like.  Jack, whom narrated the story, wrote about having to turn the TV off after a certain amount of time.  Jack wrote about the yucky vegetables he had to eat.  Jack wrote about the daily routine in Room; he wrote about having Phys. Ed and reading time and art times.  He wrote about the importance of having a bath everyday, washing the clothes and sheets.  All of this made me question Ma’s motives even more.  However, in the second chapter, it is revealed that Ma is kept prisoner by Old Nick as well as Jack and from that point I admired Ma so much.  Here she was locked in a room with a 5 year old and yet she insisted upon proper nutrition, she limited Jack’s TV time, she kept him clean, she sparked his creativity and she did her best to keep his small body moving during Phys. Ed. 

Eventually Jack and Ma escape and they are in the safe care of a psychiatric hospital.  It was at this point in the book where I realized the importance of early intervention and the importance of doing the best with what you have.  When I imagine stepping into Ma’s shoes (socks rather as she did not wear shoes in Room) I can’t help but think that I would probably turn the TV on and lay under Duvet and sleep my worries away.  I admire Ma for her ability to make the best out of a terrible situation.  Ma inspires me to do better; to do the BEST I can do with what I have and I am fortunate, I have a lot.  I have happy healthy children, I have support from family and friends, I am healthy, I have a successful career, I have a home and most importantly I have freedom.  I have the freedom to do what I wish to do when I wish to do it.

Changes

A few years ago a book was recommended for me to read – it is called Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson.  At the time I thought “big deal, I’m capable of changes, I thrive on changes, I’ve had many big changes.”  True enough, in a matter of six years I had moved communities, been married, had a child, changed schools, moved to a new house, had a second child and changed grades.  Change was no big deal for me; it was my norm.

As I sit here and reminisce on those years I realize that was nearly ten years ago and since then I have been teaching in the same classroom, living in the same home with the same three people.  Professionally I am confronted with change, changing my ways, my teaching styles, even my beliefs and I don’t really know how to change or even if I want to change.  In many ways I am comfortable where I am at.  Lately though, I have not been comfortable with how my students have been behaving nor how I have been unable to teach effectively regardless of initiatives within our school division. 

Maybe I need to crack open that book one more time and think about what I need to change and how I can make positive changes.  A comment by Stephen King on a previous blog seems to be pointing me in a direction I would like to explore in an effort to make the necessary changes to improve my teaching methods, my interactions with my students, my professional life as well as my personal life.

Student/Teacher Parallels

I’ve been struggling lately with a feeling of inadequacy when it comes to interacting and teaching my students.  The students I have in my classroom this year are emotional, needy and deeling with huge issues that I’m not sure how I would handle as an adult.  I have beat myself up telling myself to be more understanding, more patient, more whatever and yet in the meantime, I can see the rest of the students waiting patiently for me to deal with the issues that crop up continuously throughout the day.  I feel incompetent as I try to establish a supportive learning environment within my classroom.  

As I was driving to school today, feeling sorry for myself, feeling sorry for my students who come from unsupportive, neglectful and abusive homes, I realized that I was feeling out of control.  And frankly, as teachers, we are trained to control nearly everything.  Throughout my experiences I have realized that I am a control freak.  I have realized that I feel incompetent because I can’t control my students’ responses, behaviors and attitudes.  I can’t control my students’ feelings.  Throughout my Differentiated Intructional journey I am learning that I don’t need to control every learning experience of my students.  I get that.  But it still doesn’t help quell my feelings that I am supposed to be the one in charge, I’m the one who is responsible for everything that happens in my classroom, I am responsible for the learning experiences of my students.  I see it as a double edge sword.

So as I nurtured my feelings I began to think about these children and how I can’t control anything in their lives outside of school hours.  I can’t control what they are fed, how much sleep they get, how much love they receive, how many learning experiences they acquire.  Then I started to think about my reactions.  I am always telling my students “You can’t control how someone else treats you, but you can control how you react to other people.”  Great advice, maybe I should take it!  Then I started to think of my students and some of these inappropriate responses to various situations.  My students can’t control any more than I can how much food they are provided with, what kind of food they are fed, how much sleep they get each night, how much love their parents give them or how they are treated by other people.  I can control how I treat them and as an adult, it is my responsibility to put my feelings aside to treat these precious children with respect, love and caring.  It is my duty and I guess I have to put those issues I cannot control on the back burner.  I also need to realize that just as I want to jump up and scream in frustration, my students feel like they would like to do this too and on many occassions they do!

Animoto

I discovered this program called Animoto from Leanne’s blog and I meant to try using this tool for our pancake movie but forgot about it until after I was done. So this is a short 30 second blip to try Animoto. It was quick, easy to use, has images and music available for people to access.
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I have learned a lot using this tool – sometimes I feel so stupid!  I was trying to find the URL to link this video and I actually kept sending this video to myself all the while not realizing it!  This is even easier than I thought – now that I have it figured out. 

Simple – set up an account (1 minute), choose a theme, choose images within the theme, choose your favorite type of music, choose a specific song, click on edit (in all 4 minutes), wait for processing (maybe 5 minutes), choose from about six choices of what you would like to do (such as download, e-mail, embed, etc. – less than 1 minute), once posted to blog – locate under edits and voila – it’s done!

Oobleck

My newest video from my students – it’s on our wiki.  I wish I had tried photostory as this was to be my next experiment but I had forgotten about that until I finished this video and posted it on YouTube. 

Oprah Connects

Oprahhad the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, on her show Friday, March 13.  Mark answered questions from the panel and talked about this phenomenon.  The biggest growing demographic on Facebook is now females in their 40’s and 50’s.   Now where will the kids go?  I was wondering if Facebook creates a false sense of identity?  Oprah has over 170,000 friends.  Mark set a goal for over a million friends by the end of the day.  If Oprah accepts my friend request, is she really my friend?  One of the guest panels also put out a call for friend requests.   How do you really know if celebrities have “okayed” their facebook pages?  Whoopi Goldberg, from The View, claims she has a Facebook page which she has not “okayed”.   I have also noticed that Oprah has been using Skype during her shows to connect with viewers unable to be audience members.   Is Oprah moving with technology?  Where will her show go from here?  Is she doing this because membership is decreasing or is she hoping to gain a larger membership?  Is TV becoming more interactive?  I remember the days of the Phil Donahue Show when he took viewer comments on the phone (dial up phone yet).

As I was looking for links for this blog, I noticed that Oprah is also on Twitter.  Canada AM is also on Twitter now.  Hmmm…

Your Digital Dossier

This YouTube video is about your digital dossier.  After I watched it, I was surprised at how much people could learn about me by information I unknowingly provide.  It secured my belief about keeping my own children’s names and pictures as well as those of my students off of my blogs, wiki, and Facebook.  I’ll let them create their own digital dossier when they are older, although I know I am responsible for adding to it as they were born in a hospital, they have passports, etc.

Unlike a fresh snowfall, you can’t see your tracks behind you.  Also, unlike a fresh snowfall, you can make tracks, snow angels or tractor tracks which can be erased and covered up the next time it snows.  We don’t know what our tracks will leave behind so what we can control, we should control with care as our digital dossier is also a record of our online reputation which is how we will be judged by those who know us well and those who are trying to figure out who we are.