The Next Page Entry 33: Cameras in the classroom update

The Next Page Entry 33: Cameras in the classroom update

As long as Beth and her trusty sidekick Sanjay are handling the tech end of things, I’m sure our photographers will continue to thrive.

Recent eye-openers by the kids:

  1. I asked the kids to draw various geometrical shapes. Two kids [James and Jennifer] asked if they could go out and take photos of shapes they find on the playground. Not one to steal thunder, but wanting all the kids to try it, I had those two announce their idea to the class. Within minutes, Room 36 had scattered across turf and blacktop in search of ‘real-world geometry’. And, of course, Mrs. Nix witnessed it the kids laying siege. I’m just learning to shrug and live with possible future grilling.
  2. Sanjay created a screensaver slide show of those photos that the kids see when my projector-connected laptop shifts into limbo. [my non-techie term for locked/inactive mode]. ‘Locked/inactive’…at times applicable to me about 2:30 most afternoons. Problem: School dismisses at 3:00. ;->
  3. Creating ‘Postcards from Room 36′ entries for the school newsletter. Rather than—to quote Beth Carson—’a boring old paragraph’, we’ve submitted a travel log-themed layout of four captioned photos.
The Next Page Entry 32: A Chat with Ms. Page [Traffic cop aftermath]

The Next Page Entry 32: A Chat with Ms. Page [Traffic cop aftermath]

Milo the Muse: So, Joanna, your little foray into community policing…

Joanna Page: Yeeesh, I guess I was a little…how does ‘impulsive’ sound?. But I’ve seen a few close calls where attention-scattered parents are ending phone conversations, checking on fastened seat belts, and doling out granola bars while rolling their battleships-on-wheels through the parking lot.

Milo the Muse: Are you sure you’re not exaggerating a bit?

Joanna Page: Okay, not battleships. Let’s go with armored cars. 

Milo the Muse: Have you gotten any flak for your spontaneous career change?

Joanna Page: Not especially. Well, one teacher accused me of grandstanding, but I think she was talking about me in general and some of the other stuff I’ve been doing. Yeah, but from her, I wouldn’t expect any different. Wonder of all wonders, I haven’t heard from Mrs. Nix. I’m thinking she’s just adding this to her burgeoning ‘J. Page’ file.

From the others, just a few non-committal ‘I heard about…’ comments. But you see, this is the point…over the years, we’ve talked about this issue off and on, but we always kick the can down the road. So, it wasn’t my intention, but maybe this will be enough to make that battle zone a little safer.

Milo the Muse: Battle zone…there you go again with the exaggeration. 

Joanna Page: Call it what you want. I would just as soon see cars banished entirely during that time, but that’ll never happen. God forbid people have to leave their cars and walk a little and yeah, I know, some have kids in car seats and all that, so I know I’m dreaming, but still…

Milo the Muse: You have a gleam in your eye…

Joanna Page: It just hit me–Too bad we’re a public school. Otherwise, we could auction off monthly passes for after-school pickup. Great fundraiser, I would think.

Milo the Muse: Go back to your classroom. You’re getting a little wonky.

The Next Page: Beth’s Journal–Ms. Page fritzes out

The Next Page: Beth’s Journal–Ms. Page fritzes out

notebook pageSo, I could have written this on my own at home last night, but I just *had to* save it up for my classroom journal. 


Ms. Page went a little zooey yesterday after school.

I was coming out the front doors and there she was marching past me and straight to the office. 

When she came back out, she was putting on one of the yard duty’s yellow vests and she had a whistle hanging out of her mouth and she was heavy-duty glaring straight ahead.

She stepped right in front of a big blue SUV, turned and faced it with her hand held up, and blew her whistle.

mean traffic copThen she waved kids toward her. They were frozen. She told them to move along, that it was safe. I kind of think the kids would rather have stepped in front of the SUV than to disobey her, so across they went, including a couple of kids who didn’t even plan to cross.

This went on for ten straight minutes. 

One of the moms actually honked her horn at Ms. Page. I wanted to cover my eyes, but I just couldn’t. 

Ms. Page blew the whistle even louder and raised her arm even higher. I saw the mom cover her face and look downward.

Ms. Page yelled, “Put your phone down and pay attention!” at another parent. 

And I heard her saying something to herself about ‘not part of the solution…part of the problem’.

It was all over in about ten minutes.

When the last car pulled away…slowly!…the few remaining moms and dads walking their kids home applauded Ms. Page, who by that time looked a little bedraggled [one of our vocab words of the week!] and embarrassed on her way back to the office.

Best. Show. Ever.

The Next Page Entry 31: Good lady, that Mrs. Helm

The Next Page Entry 31: Good lady, that Mrs. Helm

chocolate-chip cookies
Staff meeting. Interesting. I sat down and the two colleagues at the table found reason to move elsewhere. I kept my head down in the Austin Kleon book I was reading and busied myself by taking out my wheel book.

Then our librarian, Sally Helm, sat down by me. I didn’t expect her to be staying for the meeting, but figured she had some quick announcement for the staff. I pulled out my Joy of Cooking chocolate chip drop cookies [hold the extra tablespoon of flour, thank you very much] and, after pulling out a couple for Mr. Taylor, plopped them between us. I shot her a glance and a smile, then nodded toward the cookies. She dove in.

A few minutes later, we both eyed the last cookie. I nudged it toward her. She chuckled and, with her notebook, slid it back toward me. Kate Smalley leaned forward and hissed [that’s really the only word that fits here], “Would one of you two eat it?” I scooped up the cookie and napkin and underhanded it to her table.

Was happy Mrs. Nix hadn’t shown up yet. It would have been just like her to pull the ol’ “And Ms. Page, did you bring enough for everybody?’ line.

After the meeting ended, it hit me. Shirley was not on the meeting agenda, but there she still was.

“Did you sit here just for the cookies?” I asked her.

“I can’t think of a better reason,” she said.

But it hit me…when she sat by me, there was no hint of chocolate chip drop cookies.

A highlight of my day, that lady was.

The Next Page Entry 30: Journal-sharing

The Next Page Entry 30: Journal-sharing

crowd with hands raised
Okay, a slight exaggeration… Photo by Alex Bracken on Unsplash

Added a new twist to journal time. We go around the room and ask for a favorite sentence they wrote during that session. Kids can pass on the opportunity, but most are anxious to share. Unfortunately, after one annoying incident, I had to add—and require them to copy down—the following guideline:

If I include a living, breathing person in my selected sentence, it must be in a positive way. If it might be embarrassing to that person, I will not read it to the class.

The Next Page Entry 29: Thanks, Mrs. Nix

The Next Page Entry 29: Thanks, Mrs. Nix

thank you sign in multicolored lettersThanks, Mrs. Nix, for spurring me to continue to give kids choices in what they want to read.

Seems that the more you insist on the value of what some offshore publisher recommends for my kids, well, that just doesn’t wash with me.

But, to appease leadership, for ten minutes a day, we’ll open the book about tarantulas and the scientists who study them. We’ll break down a page of text for any possible value—vocabulary, favorite phrases, valuable information— and then move on to our other language arts resources, such as, ‘ourselves as writers, ‘ourselves as readers’ and the materials we value. We’ve had some very interesting discussions centered around ‘What I’m reading’ and ‘What I’m writing’.

The Next Page Entry 27: Another Chat with Mrs. Nix

The Next Page Entry 27: Another Chat with Mrs. Nix

Mrs. Nix: When do you have reading?

Ms. Page: The time varies, but our daily minutes allotment surpasses the district expectation.

Mrs. Nix: But our schedule dictates that everyone reads at the same time.

Ms. Page: I figured that since we’re out here on our own, if we vary our schedule, it won’t disrupt others. And I’m making some judgment calls on when the students are more primed for reading.

Mrs. Nix: Judgment calls? Interesting.

Ms. Page: That time right after lunch, at least in September, isn’t always the best for them. It’s the warmest part of the day and I see the kids kind of sag, especially when I try to teach subskills.

Mrs. Nix: I see. So, you’re using morning for that?

Ms. Page: Very often, yes.

Mrs. Nix: Which book are you reading right now?

Ms. Page: Well, we started with the publisher’s suggested non-fiction book about scientists studying tarantulas, but, even with differentiation, the kids weren’t showing a lot of interest in it. And as I saw them struggle, I confess I was losing interest in it.

Mrs. Nix: So, you’re telling me what?

Ms. Page: I changed things up. They needed something lighter, something they would enjoy as they eased back into the school routines.

Mrs. Nix: Soooo?

Ms. Page: So, for the rest of September, they will be reading self-selected books. Most of them chose fiction, I noticed.

Mrs. Nix: Are you thinking you’re smarter than the publishers?

Ms. Page: I’m thinking I know my students better than the publishers do.

Mrs. Nix: It’s looking like we will need to continue this meeting.

Ms. Page: That seems fair. Do I need to bring anything?

Mrs. Nix: Just your attention and a willingness to be a team player. And we’ll be talking about your leaving Jeremy at school during your jaunt to the park.

Ms. Page: Just let me know the time, Mrs. Nix…