Socratic Seminar: Separating yourself from Clingers

Barnacles. Every school has them. They cling, they stay, they need. There’s no getting around them, they wan you to be their teacher, mentor, friend, and in some cases, parent. We all fall along the adhesiveness spectrum and handle ourselves in a way that dictates how much or how little students “stick”. There are students who would be with you every minute of the day if they could. The ones who prefer to eat lunch in your room instead of socializing, the ones who stay after because they don’t want to go home, the ones who email you throughout the weekend because they’re lonely. I choose to distance myself from students when it comes to their romance intricacies and social complexities. I do want students to feel comfortable approaching me when they are in a time of need. While I do think its important to remember our role, teaching content, we are also here to raise independent citizens. In order to do that, we may need to direct students to seeking the appropriate help or initiate ways for the student to feel comfortable in the cafeteria so they are more inclined to eat a lunch among their peers. I have worked with both extremes, the teacher who detaches herself by every last strand and the teacher who has gotten so close to a student she has adopted her as her own child. Yes, those are two extremes, and yes they exist. Find your way somewhere in the middle.

Acceptable Plagiarism: Week of January 15, 2012

In the edu•sphere, David Ginsburg weighs the advantages of anticipating and allowing student mistakes, in order to reach success.

In the tech•sphere, an app to help put your left overs to use

teach-me•sphere, learn the characteristics of each skin type and discover your actual type at Elle Beauty. Skin-type diagnosis resembles a bra-fitting, you often find different results than you once thought.

Savvy Strategy: Dividing into Groups

I believe students should engage in individual, paired, and group work for a balanced educational experience. In order to carry out group work in an efficient and effective manner, group formation is essential. Most of the time, I select groups, but there are times when a creative division of groups adds a bit of excitement to the class routine. Avoid the dreaded “I don’t want to work with so and so” attitude by keeping things exciting and new*! Here are a few of my favorites:

Continent Buddies: At the beginning of the year, I have students fill out a world map, exchanging names with another student and labeling each continent on their map with that student’s name. For example, my friend Adrienne and I would write each other’s name on the Australia slot. Anytime the teacher says, “pair up with your Australia buddy”, I simply look at my map, find Australia, see that Adrienne is my “Australia buddy”, and pair up. This is a good review of content and can be adapted to any model that correlates with the curriculum. The students keep this sheet of paper in the front of their interactive notebook and reference it throughout the year.

Flag Hunt:
I have adapted this from an activity at my camp called Flag Hunt. There really isn’t any flag to be hunted. Instead, I select content-related words with the number of letters that I want each group to consist of. Example: I want seven, four-person groups. I would select seven thematic words that are all four letters long. I write each letter in the middle of the index card. Then, in the bottom left corner I write the number placement of the word. For example, King. If the card was K, the number 1 would be written in the bottom left corner. In the bottom right, I write the group number. So all cards forming the word KING, would have #1 in the bottom right corner. The person with card “I” would have #2 written in the bottom left, and #1 in the bottom right. This means, letter #2 in group #1’s word. The first group to form their word and shout it out, is the winner. This is one of those games that entices students to get to class on time because they never know when I will pull out these cards and hand them to students upon walking into the classroom.

This can be done as a review after a topic has been taught. Select a broad topic and write it on a paper plate. Each table group will have a paper plate on the table when students arrive. As students walk through the door, they are handed a clothespin with a word, phrase, picture, name, date, etc pertaining to one of the topics. The students need to find their main topic and clip their clothespin to the edge of the paper plate. Once a group has completed their topic, the teacher can verify the accuracy. Example: Civil War Events. Each paper plate would bear the name of an event. Each students clothespin would have the name of an important general, the date of the event, a recognizable picture from the event, a fact about the event, etc. The students will walk around the room until they find their event and clip their clothespin (with the subtopic, date, picture, name, etc) to the plate. This is a great warm-up activity to get students reviewing material at the end of a big unit or topic with a lot of information attached to it.

Puzzles: Select and print several important pictures from history (or another content related idea) that your students need to know. Cut up the pictures into pieces, basing the number of pieces on the number of people you want in the group. Laminate the pieces. Hand out puzzle pieces and have students form their groups. I usually write the name of the event or person featured on the back of the picture (before cutting), so that students can check to make sure they have properly identified their event or person. This can also be done with maps. Cut up the states, regions, colonies, etc and have students create their map.

Paint Chips: If you told the paint mixers at Home Depot that I’m an interior designer for people who own 20-room mansions, he/she would probably believe it. Why? Because I hoard paint chips. I use them to split students into groups. Give each student a paint chip, have them find their color match, shade match, whatever you want to do. This is a fun, non-content related activity I use when I’m forming new groups or at the beginning of a unit when I need students to quickly come in and form groups (without much thought or activity).

*Aside from implementing these activities, it’s important to teach group work procedures and demonstrate appropriate behavior for group work, including working with all students. I have encountered very few situations when students have outwardly expressed their disappointment in group selection because students are equipped with the tools to appropriately react to new group formations.

Weekend Escape: Winter Wedding

Fall/Winter weddings are becoming more popular, and I fully support festivities taking place in the cooler months when it seems you’re always looking for a weekend escape.

I just returned from a wedding, one that I was in, so although this set doesn’t feature a bridesmaid gown, I tried to include as many parts a wedding weekend may entail.

Weekend Getaway: Winter Wedding

As for travel, keep it comfy. Throw on a pair of leggings, the heather grey tunic, and black boots. This can be worn out for lunch with the bridal party and to the salon/spa for manicures. Wear the simple rhinestone earrings, crystal pendant necklace, and eternity band. The satchel is large enough for travel and suitable for toting around wherever the day takes you. Add a scarf for warmth if needed.

For the rehearsal dinner (for bridal party/out of town guests) I selected a modern, simple dress. Pair it with a strap heel, the bibb necklace, enamel bracelets, gold and black stud earrings, and crystal ring. I love the idea of a fur vest over a cocktail dress which is a bit more feminine than a leather jacket or blazer. Use the black clutch to store your belongings.

Pajama/lounge outfit consists of your basic lounge pant and long sleeve shirt. Slippers are must when you’re traveling and these are slim enough to store in your suitcase.

Morning of, including bridal prepping requires a button down shirt. I chose a tunic length to pop over the leggings. Not much else is needed since this will probably be done at the bride’s house or hotel suite.

I chose a long black dress, which may seem unoriginal, but the one-shoulder silhouette adds some sophistication and style. Choose a gold embellished belt, or a gold chain belt that will turn up this simple dress at least one notch. Wearing the same shoe saves you space in your suitcase and this pair will suit the dress just fine. A platform pair with a touch of gold would also work, or a gold strappy sandal if your closet is equipped. As for jewelry, the cuff is sleek, the black chandelier earrings complement, and the cocktail ring finishes out the look. Again, use the black clutch and the scarf (as a shawl) or, the vest if needed. Pick one, not both.

For brunch the day after, throw on jeans, a white long sleeve or short sleeve, and the open front vest. Rewear the rhinestone studs, pendant necklace, and eternity band.

If you need an outfit for drinks one evening, the open front vest paired and a tank top, paired with the skinny jeans, and heels (or boots if more casual) will carry you through. Another outfit that can be created is the oxford tunic and faux fur vest paired with leggings or jeans.

A few tips:
This suitcase is filled with a black and ivory color scheme, which doesn’t have to be limiting. A colorful accessory (a different clutch, cuff, or scarf) could easily liven things up.

Keep jewelry all gold or all silver in order to reduce the number of pieces required. Also, using the same pair of dress shoes will save you room in your suitcase.