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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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For our last Teach for America All Corps Event as a TFA Houston 2010 corps member, we donned gloves and bug spray and black plastic trash bags to go pick up trash in the neighborhood surrounding Jones High School. Our group of teachers, four hundred strong, fanned out along the streets to pick up trash.…

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One of the most surprising conclusions I’ve come to as a new teacher is that new teachers should not be in the business of creating curriculum. We should not be creating or even searching for unit plans, tests, power points, labs, worksheets, guided notes, or activities day in and day out. Why? One, we suck…

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Mar 31 2012

What would your school do?

I’m coughing up phlegm and my nose is a chapped cherry red from constantly rubbing against tissues. Our history and math teachers are both out on family emergencies. One of them can’t make it back for another week. That leaves one grade level teacher for the 7 hours we have our kids every single day.…

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Nov 13 2011

What Do You Think About This Idea?

I want to create a series of posts on my blog called Teacher Tip Tuesdays (twitter hashtag #teachertiptuesdays). The vision is for teachers to be able to search #teachertiptuesdays and a keyword of their choice like (organize papers) and then have a plethora of how to posts to choose from. Any teacher can also join…

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Nov 12 2011

My Commitment for the School Year

Commitment is as much a mindset as it is a set of actions. So, this year, I am committing. I am committing to 100%. I commit to 100% of my students being 100% engaged, 100% of the time. This means that if I or another student am talking, all eyes are on the speaker, all…

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Right now I’m struggling with two things. One is pacing. The second is data. On the first challenge, my lessons are taking twice as long as I plan them to take. I think the next step is to sit down with someone, go through a lesson plan together, and then have them observe to see…

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With students doing all the modeling, thinking, and heavy lifting.

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Offer for Portals, a PC/Mac game that lets students explore the wonderful world of physics through real-world animation, is free until September 20th. Download it here, now:

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Sep 14 2011

Teaching My Students to Be Teachers

I’m having so much fun. I just spent about an hour and a half teaching some of the top students in my class how to do a demo about states of matter changes so that they can demo it with their classmates. Tomorrow they’re going to practice the demo in my room so that they’re…

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One of the lessons I learned this year, that I did not realize before becoming a teacher, is that trust is paramount to the functioning of an effective school and school system. I teach at a school, for example, that does not give teacher tenure and that does not use last-in, first-out, to determine who…

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It’s incredibly exciting. I’ve spent a good number of hours planning a simple, four day unit on Safety in fifth grade science in which students work in teams to present skits that show scientists how to be safe and how NOT to be safe. Each team has a budget that they need to follow, a…

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Aug 22 2011

Go To Professional Development

As I’m plugging away at my new unit on safety (which will be awesome, by the way), I’m just reminded of how I got to this point after a year of trials and tears, and one of the most important things I think new teachers just HAVE to do is to seek professional development, all…

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…but it’ll be totally worth it. I’ve spent the whole last period, and will spend a little bit of the next as well, setting up my student’s science notebooks. They’re a bit of a work of art, if I do say so myself. The cover of our science notebooks are the words the students chose…

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That’s right, my students. I didn’t think of this until my second class when I realized that paper passing can be really boring. But then, give students the challenge, and then all of a sudden it’s interesting! Guidelines I gave them: – Only one person can ever stand up during the whole procedure – These…

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Aug 15 2011

What’s the Perfect Classroom?

What an amazing, inspiring, day. SO different from my first year teaching, when I walked into my first day of class with absolutely no idea of what to do, where my class and I were going, or what to accomplish. Contrast to my first day when all my students left the class excited to do homework. No joke.

Today my students walked in, and the first thing I had them do was to describe their perfect classroom on a piece of lined paper. “How do you feel?’ “What are you doing?” “How are other people treating you?” I asked. After they had time to reflect for ten minutes, I asked them to turn to their shoulder partner to share what they wrote.

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Please help my classroom earn $913 to purchase two iPod touches. Donate here: My Students: “There are three basic skills that students need if they want to thrive in a knowledge economy: the ability to do critical thinking and problem-solving; the ability to communicate effectively; and the ability to collaborate,” Tony Wagner wrote in…

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Dr. QFOSAC IF I TRY RUBIES One of the most talked-about skills in education is the skill of problem-solving. TRAP N RAP IT PIRATES UXE But, as this list of acronyms indicates, educators are almost baffled as to how to actually teach problem-solving. UNWRAP RUNS UNRAAVEL Instead of teaching the authentic process, we sometimes fall…

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Jun 17 2011


I feel, sometimes, that people who care deeply about education often talk past each other instead of engaging with each other at a deeper level to work through disagreements in order to build solutions. It’s like there are two opposing sides just shouting at each other from across an imaginary line drawn in the sand…

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So I was reading this Harvard Business Review blog post on the Six Common Misperceptions About Teamwork and this immediately popped out to me: The hands-on activities of group leaders do make a difference. But the most powerful thing a leader can do to foster effective collaboration is to create conditions that help members competently…

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I will be planning my next two units (measurement and biology) on Google Docs so that I can collaborate with other educators and so I can easily see my revision history. I think it’ll be a very informative look into the planning process, as well as a way for me to go back and reflect…

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May 29 2011

Small Update

84% of my students passed the 5th grade science TAKS, 37% scored commended. Overall, we closed the achievement gap by 44% when compared to the average TAKS scores of non-disadvantaged students. Quick Thoughts: I am SO proud of my students. They worked their butts off. Non-disadvantaged students are scoring, on average, 93% or higher on…

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I’m planning my unit on biology right now and I’m going to unabashedly teach evolution. The unit sequence begins with the essential questions of “What gives rise to the great diversity of life on this planet?” and “Where do humans come from?”* I will then ask my students to make predictions about what evidence would…

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I’m planning to have a lab practicum in which my students have to work in teams of three or four to figure out the composition of three mystery liquids (water, salt water, and rubbing alcohol). The content goals of this practicum is for my students to apply their understanding of boiling points (that boiling point…

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Mar 16 2011

Why Teach for America?

Author’s Note: I’ve been blogging for quite some time before discovering Teach for Us. I recognize how important it is to have an online community of teachers telling their stories, so I’ve decided to make my Teach for Us blog a mirror of my Wordpress blog. I’ll be an active participant on both platforms, though if you suggestions on how to merge the two, I’d be much obliged!

This post is my inaugural entry to Teach for Us, and it comes from an original post on August 14, 2010, the week before I started teaching as a first-year teacher. It seems like a fitting entry into the world of Teach for Us.

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