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Turkeys in Disguise November 29, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Art.
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4 comments

Did someone say, “Insufferably Cute?” After my last conference (yes, I went to school in my zombified state), I was on my way out the door and saw these. Those First Grade teachers are ruthlessly cutesy.

Students had to “disguise” their turkey, so it could escape the carving knife. There were lots of ballerinas and princesses. That one on the end said, “I’m a black hairy monster. My father is Big Foot. If you try to eat me, I’ll eat you first!” Be on the lookout for these turkeys in disguise!

Here is the Turkey Template:

Last Zombie Standing November 14, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Life, Teaching.
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4 comments

Zombie-walk-kids.JPG

I’m pumping that hand sanitizer like a lab rat desperate for a reward.  So far, so good.  I feel like I’m the only person who hasn’t come down with IT. Whatever IT might be.  So far I don’t think anyone’s been diagnosed with H1N1 at my school.  Just the usual prelude to Thanksgiving flu and chronic bronchitis that dogs you when you’re a teacher and never get to rest your voice. (It’s true – There is no rest for the wicked.)

My husband and son went to see Zombieland the other night.  I passed, since I work in Zombieland.  Just when one kid comes back to school, another goes down.  Pump, pump – More hand sanitizer.  I’ve taken to slathering it on my neck and arms. One boy came back after a week out and promptly announced he felt like throwing up.  I tossed him a plastic bag along with a pass to the nurse.  I have my students trained. I told that straight out, “If you think you’re going to get sick, don’t come to me, cause I’ll run from you.” They laughed, but I was dead serious.  I just don’t want to be undead. Seriously.

The school nurse donned her face mask on Friday when she had a roomful of germ factories sick children all complaining of being “hot.”  The school librarian told me she’s glad she’s already had IT.  “I got it over with early, ” she said, though she said she’d paid dearly for her immunity.  I mumbled something about how quickly viruses mutate, to take that smile off of her face.

November is always a tough month for teachers, what with report cards and all those parent teacher conferences.  I’ve just got to make it to Thanksgiving.

When I wrote my post Time Zone Zombie – Asleep at 30,000 Feet, about the world’s longest trip over the Atlantic Ocean, I was looking for a picture of a zombie.  Who knew there were thousands of them on Flickr from Zombie Walks around the world?  Here’s an activity the whole family can do together.  The cool thing is that I wouldn’t even need make-up to play a zombie.  I can just crawl out of bed.  As a big fan of Shaun of the Dead, I’d be up for the zombie pub crawl myself.  That is, if I make it to Thanksgiving.

POST MORTEM:  Officially zombified on Nov. 18th.  Tried to pass as human for two days, but finally succumbed.

Photo Credit:  Zombified Children from Wikipedia’s Zombie Walks

How Did You Get Your Name? November 8, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
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11 comments

janetjan018

I could have been named Susan or Barbara, but the relatives in California nabbed those first. So, I was named Janet. When I got married my husband started calling me Jan. I was fine with that. Because I was such a happy child, my nickname was “Jan-ny Gay.” But that was back before…oh, you know.

When I was in LAUSD’s District Intern Program, (but that was back when there was one), one Saturday morning, our class was asked to stand in a circle and tell how we got our name. It was fascinating exercise, as it was a diverse group.

There were two people whose parents had taken their names from rock ‘n roll songs. Several others had been named after a character in a book or movie. There were the usual biblical names, the juniors, and family names. One man had been named after his father’s best friend who had died.

Several Asians had decided their names were too hard to pronounce, so they chose an “American” name. I’m afraid my Susan, Barbara, Janet story seemed pretty lame in comparison. Why couldn’t my parents have been more creative? Years later when I was a sub in San Gabriel, I smiled whenever I met Elvis Wong (and there were FOUR of them). It reminded me of the book The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. The main character’s American name is Shirley Temple Wong.

Any teacher can recite an exotic list of names of the students they’ve taught over the years. There were twin boys, D’wayne and D’won, and twin girls, Eunique and Especial. Klinsmann.  Toshiba. Cinnamon Jade. I could go on and on. Maybe it’s an urban legend, but teachers always swear they’ve heard of a girl named Chlamydia.

Several teacher friends are hoping to get pregnant. They want to do so before every name carries with it the image of a child they’ve already taught.

Recently, I did an art lesson on lines for my third graders using their names. This must be something that third graders have done since the dawn of time, because I remember doing it when I was in third grade. The pharmacist had typed my name as “Janette” on a prescription label. (That was back when the pharmacist typed.) I thought “Janette” was was way cooler than “Janet,” so that’s how I wrote my name. My teacher was surprised. My mother was not happy. And me?  I reminded that I was just Janet.

For the “Names” art lesson, students first draw a border the width of their ruler on 8×10 paper. Next, they write their names and color them in with black marker. They use a variety of lines to fill in the background. Diagonal. Wavy. Zigzag. Organic. Have them fill in the lines with colored pencils, as using markers is overkill and you don’t get all of those cool details and colors.

This year, I decided to take the project a step further. We’d just finished reading Angel Child, Dragon Child about a little girl who comes to the U.S. from Vietnam. It was hard, at first, for the students to pronounce the Vietnamese names in the story, but they got better. I always tell children that it’s a sign of respect when you call someone by their given name.

My students’ homework was to find out how they got their name. I wasn’t concerned about the origin of their name. I just wanted students to talk to their parent/s about why they chose that name for their child. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, ” Your parents spent a lot of time choosing your name, so you can at least write it on your paper!”)

The form I sent home is below. I was surprised that every child actually talked to a parent (this year every child is living with a parent) and returned the form the next day. Okay, one girl told me her name meant “African princess with chocolate colored skin.” She was so busted!  But by the time I called home the next day, she was in the midst of a conversation with her mother about how she really did get her name. It’s a fun project. If only I had that girl Chlamydia in my class this year!

How I Got My Name

Last week we read “Angel Child, Dragon Child.” The main character was a girl named Ut, who was from Vietnam. We learned that “Ut” was her “at home name,” or nickname. We also learned that in Vietnam, people say their surname, or last name, first.

How did you get your first name? You need to talk to a parent and find out why they chose this special name for you. They had thousands of names to choose from!

1. Were you named after someone in your family?

2.  Were you named after someone famous?

3.  Does your name mean something special?

4. Or, did your parents just like the sound of your name?

Find out how you got your name and write about it below. Do you an “American” name or a nickname? Use the back if you need to.

Photo Credit:  Mark Shaver for The Times

Five Ways Facebook Can Get You Fired November 3, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Worth Knowing.
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6 comments

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I spent most of the weekend writing a paper for my masters program about an ethics violation related to education. I took a break to sit on the front porch to hand out candy to 300+ trick-or-treaters.  I only observed a few ethics violations there.  A couple of kids circled around thinking I wouldn’t notice they were double dipping. What they don’t know is I have a smooth slight of hand move.  The best part of the evening was when a little girl handed us a handwritten note that said, “Thanks for the great candy!” Pig Maisie, in her witch’s hat, almost flew off the porch.

But back to Facebook.  When we were given the assignment to locate an “ethics violation,” my study buddy Teresa, (or FSB as she likes to refer to herself) found that googling “Teachers fired for…”  yielded a treasure trove of examples.  She settled on the high school art teacher who was fired for making “butt art” (paintings made using his butt and other parts south of the equator) that he put on YouTube.  The artist changed his last name and wore a mask, but still ended up as the butt of jokes and was ultimately fired. (Before you roll paint on your backside, you might want to check out his print, Tulip Butts for inspiration.)

I ran across a story about a teacher in North Carolina who listed on her Facebook profile that one of her “Interests” was, “Teaching the chitlins in the most ghetto school in Charlotte.”  Ouch!  Her attorney cited the school’s demographics as proof that she WAS teaching in a “ghetto” and was just telling the truth.  He was mum on the “chitlins” comment though. It was unclear if her privacy settings were in place.  She was fired two weeks later.

The unnamed teacher and four other teachers in the district were “outed” when the local TV station trolled through Facebook looking for anyone with a connection to the school district.  That alone should send shivers up your spine.

As teachers, we’re held to a higher standard because we’re supposed to be role models for children.  That said, teachers are people.  We have opinions. But we’re living in an era where the line between a teacher’s professional life and private life is often blurred with help from social networking sites like Facebook and My Space.  Just like I tell my third graders, don’t put anything in writing that you don’t want your mother to read or to have read in front of the whole class.  It seems like common sense, but there seems to be a shortage of that going around.

I came across Five Ways Facebook Can Get You Fired.  It should be mandatory reading for anyone on Facebook or My Space (actually anyone who owns a computer).   It gives five examples of how people lost their jobs because of Facebook.  Stuff you’d never think about, but stuff you need to know.

The site lists 5 Commandments for keeping your job:

1. Thou Shall Not Reveal – embarrassing details in your status update (or Twitter, or anywhere else for that matter!)
2. Thou Shall Not Post Photos – that in anyway could be construed as being credibility damaging in any way.
3.  Thou Shall Not Be Negative – Overly negative, hateful sentiments towards any issue, no matter how strong you feel about it, will certainly rub someone in the wrong way.
4.  Thou Shall Not Think You Are Protected – under the First Amendment you have the right to say what you believe via blogs and social networks, but your employer is free to fire you for just about any reason.
5.  Thou Shall Not Think They Are Not Listening  – Big Brother is most likely watching you as 66% of bosses monitor employees’ Internet connections.

We’re living in a highly connected world, so you need to be careful what you say on-line.  It could literally come back to bite you in the butt.

Photo Credit: The Figure 5 by Robert Indiana.

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