Thursday, 6 March 2014

My Students Will Say the Darndest Things!

Everyday is a new day! When you teach grade 7 & 8 you need to live your life in this manner.  There are some days that I need to ask myself a few questions:  Am I speaking  a different language?;  are we on another planet?; or is it a full moon today?  I ask these questions because I often do not understand the responses that I get from my students.  Somedays I cannot get over the funny things they say without them thinking about it.

Student: I was away yesterday.  Did I miss anything?
Me: No we did not do anything because you were away so we decided not to work.

Student:  What time do we return from the trip today?
Me:  around 2:45
Student:  Do I need to bring my lunch?
Me: If you plan on eating today that would be a good idea

Student:  I forgot to take my cough medicine today.  Do you have some because I still have a little cough?
Me:  No, sorry forgot my extra stash of cough medicine at home today too.

I love my students and often they appreciate my sarcastic answers.  In middle school most of these questions are a regular occurrences. I think that is why I love teaching these young adults who are also very funny kids!

I would like to thank my students for these funny yet interesting conversations!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Someone took my pencil!

We are now 3 weeks into school and I think that we have a problem at the school.

We have pencil thieves!

This week I have heard the following statements many, many times:
1.  My pencil is missing-- Can I borrow one of yours?
2.  My pencil must be in my locker-- Can I borrow one of yours?
3.  My pencil fell in the hallway-- Can I borrow one of yours?
4.  Someone took my pencil-- Can I borrow on of your?

I am confused about what the term "borrow" means.  I hand out many pencils on a loan basis everyday however they are often not returned.  Many student, teachers and even parents ask why I keep pencils in my hair.
I have never had a student steal a pencil from my head. I have never had a student ask to borrow the pencil(s) that I have in my hair.  This way I can go through out the day and not worry about them going missing.   Putting pencils in your hair is far better then a pencil case.  You can loose pencil from a pencil case, the pencils can even fall out and can be stolen easily.

I really think I have something here.  The trend is going to catch on.  Try it and you will see what I mean!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Reality TV Obsession

Now that we are well into our summer break I have had some time to sit back and relax.   I have also had time to indulge in one of my crazy obsessions:  REALTY TV.   I am not sure what it is that drives me to watch these crazy people who are spilling their emotions and demonstrating the most crazy behaviour on national television.  I know that there are many reality TV junkies out there but many are still in the closest and not willing to admit it. I on the other hand am more then willing to admit that I watch as many of these insane shows as possible.   I have some pretty amazing stats when it comes to reality TV.  I have watched every episode in all 26 seasons of Survivor.  I also have to admit that I have raced home from 'Meet the Teacher Night' to make sure that I get home before the 8pm start.

Amazing Race is a crazy obsession-  I have created science projects based on my love for the show.  Luckily my students entertain my keen interests and get right into the projects.  My husband and I have watched every speed bump, road block and detour from  all 22 seasons.  We  reached our own detour when we applied for Amazing Race Canada this year and did not make it.  I have also watched all episodes of Big Brother (American and Canadian), Bachelor and Bachelorette, Biggest Loser, the Voice,  American Chopper, Ice Road Trucker, Pawn Stars, Whodunnit,  the Great Food Truck Race, the Mole, Fear Factor, The Apprentice, Singing Bee, Last Comic Standing and the list keeps going on.  Some may say that I am a little crazy after reading that list but I don't drink coffee, don't smoke and don't drink alcohol-- We all need some kind of hangup RIGHT?

I am not really picky in what I watch but there are a few things that our realty TV needs to have:

1.  Interesting characters that are needing to over come an obstacle
2.  Large prizes and rewards at the end
3.  Drama between competitors
4.  The mystery of guessing what will happen next 
5.  Shock factor that people like that exist in the “real world”.
6. Reality TV gives us something to talk about at work
 7.  Love games shows and Bob Barker-- reality TV is the next best thing
8.  To laugh at others without feeling to bad about it
9. To see what talents (or untalented) that people have that I do not
10.  The tribe has spoken and let's be honest I want to be cool like the contestants.

Monday, 24 June 2013

I am still young?

As the end of the school year draws near, our school has offered many opportunities for the students.  For the last couple of years I have canoed down the Grand River with approximately 60 students.  It amazes me the number of students who say they are experienced at canoeing.  Interesting enough when we get out there many students who forget how to manoeuvre their boat in the water.  It's fun to watch the students try to  figure out how they will steer their boat in a straight line.  I think many have doubled their trip distance based on the zig zag line they choose to take with their canoe.

The students at our school had many opportunities to try new things.  I spent the first day canoeing and on the second day we went to Chicopee for the students' summer multi sport adventures.  It was there that I was reminded that I am not 13  anymore.  In my mind I should be able to still keep up with these young kids so when they went on the low ropes I tried to move from one end to the other.  I successfully made it and felt I fit in with my teenage students just fine.  My group then moved to the most physical and mental challenge of the week - rock climbing.  Looking at it I could not understand why only half the students could manage to reach the top of the wall.  I needed to try the adventure though as I encouraged all students to give everything at least one try.  The group leader announced that it was now Mrs Bumstead's turn and I have to admit that my stomach was in knots.  It became a test of my mental strength as I was determined to be the first teacher to reach the top.  Despite the age difference I made it to the top with great encouragement from my wonderful students.  I walked away with a few bragging rights and had thoughts in my head like I can still keep up with these teenagers.  Later that day I went on to mountain biking and play volleyball.

My end of the year adventure continued on the third day when our school went to Bingemans swim park.  We challenged the students to try everything (all 7 water slides, mini golf and the splash pad).  Once again feeling vibrant and able to do anything, I did it.  I climbed to the top of everyone of those slides and played a full game of golf.  The students loved the fact that they see me out there however I am starting to feel the effects of my teenage life.  I left the swim park with a bloody arm (not sure how?) and when I woke up on Saturday morning I was walking like I was an 80 year old women.
Oh if my students could see me now.

It is now Monday and it was a calm day at school-- thanks goodness!  Tomorrow I am off to play a few frames of bowling and watch a movie.  Wednesday we are off to try as many roller coaster at Wonderland that we can fit in.  Thursday I will be taylor swift as we are doing air bands on stage in front of the whole school.  Friday will be my day to reflect on it all-- that is if I can physically walk.  I guess in my heart I am a 13 year girl but my body is telling me I am a 30 somethings lady.  When people say you are so luck that you are a teacher and get the summers off,  I would say that I will need the first 2 weeks to recuperate my 30 something body that has raced around like a 13 year old teenager.
Once again I love my job but at times I wonder why I do this to my self.  I hope that as I age my students will continue to encourage and support my young mind.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Wood Shop Teachers

When I went to school, I remember walking to another school once a week for the afternoon to learn to use the wood shop.  Half way through the year we would switch to Family Studies where we learned to sew and bake.

The shop teacher was usually a fairly large burley man with a beard and very serious about his job.  He usually had dirty hands with some kind of injury to show which I am sure he did to scare you to be careful while using the machines in his shop. The family studies teacher, on the other hand, was short, tiny built, with glasses and generally a very kind women who helped out along the way.

My how times have changed!

I am currently a grade 7 and 8 science teacher.  I love teaching science and part of my job requirements are to teach students to properly use the wood shop and tools.  I am blessed to teach in a wonderful facility-- the wood shop is large and has an abundance of shop tools and space.  

Many people who have heard that this is my job give me odd looks because I think they still have the image of the shop teacher as this large man with a beard.  The odd looks usually come from people such as :
1.  LUMBER SALES PEOPLE: when I walk into the lumber store to purchase my wood for the year they always look at me and ask who it is for.  When I tell them what I do and what my students are building I get a peculiar look and then usually some comment like  "I sure would like to take shop class all over again!"  I am not sure if I should take that as a compliment.   

2.  CONCERNED FATHERS: I also find it interesting when I introduce myself to fathers of the students I teach.  Often I am given you a look of "you are teaching my son to use the band saw!?"   They usually stand there with their mouth open for a few minutes and them I try to ease them of the pain.

I have a pretty good record (;-) in the shop so far every student who has entered and walked out with all 10 fingers.  I say this because it is a major accomplishment for some of the things students have tried in that room.  I have experienced things like using a power tool like a scroll saw to cut a piece of wood the size of my pinkie, trying to change the drill press while it is still on or trying to sand a square piece of wood into a round doweling.

I am not taking credit for being the best wood shop teacher but I have managed to have every student grade 7 that I have taught in the last 8 years make a bird house (total of 960 bird houses).  Now not every bird house if one that the bird would choose to live in but it is something they made.  

The students each have their own challenges in the shop.  The first one is the fear of using these tool and the second one I come across is their inability to measure. Should the inability of the students be blamed on their miscalculations or is the issue the 30- 40 rulers that I have in my room?
I hear excuses like: "Your rulers are messed up" and "it is not me"  or " how come my wood is not long enough",  "the rulers are crooked"  I usually help these students by telling them they need to find the 'wood stretcher' to fix their problems.  It is then most interesting to watch them look around the shop for the 'wood stretcher' to fix their miscalculations.  For those of you who do not know their way around the shop there is no such thing as a wood stretcher.  I eventually tell them the truth and help them fix the problem and you can guarantee that they will be more careful next time they go to measure their wood.

Regardless of the stories I love my job and would never change it despite the crazy looks I get from  others, the shocking things students attempt too do and the amount of saw dust that I shake out of my clothes at the end of the day.

I am a shop teacher and proud of it!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

My dog ate my homework...

As much as I have heard this line several times in my teaching career  there have been many others that I think top the list for best excuses for in completed work.

• My brother ate it
• My gerbil peed on it
• My dad spilt his beer on it
• My mom cleaned it up on one of her cleaning frenzies
• The wind picked it up and it flew away
• My cat put it into its litter box
• It simply disappeared
• I left it at my soccer tournament
• You didn't get it?  Maybe your lost it!

Regardless of the excuse I don't think there is ever a perfect response but as usual I am ready with a sarcastic remark like:

• Did your brother enjoy it at least!
• Was it that bad that your gerbil had such a nasty reaction?
• Cheers to your dad for reading science in his spare time
• Can you tell me the science behind how your project could fly away like that?
• Magic is an interesting phenomenon can you make your project reappear as fast as it disappeared?
• Science is everywhere and now so is your project

My motto in teaching is "Don't stress about it!"
I have found that no matter what the excuse is, getting angry does not make the assignment 'reappear'.  Students now do much of their work in class and we avoid that step of bothers, dads, mothers, gerbils or natural disasters getting involved with their science masterpieces.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Edmodo Addiction!

I am sure that it does not come as a surprise to most of you that my first post is about Edmodo.  I use Edmodo for everything in my classroom; class communication, discussions, quizzes, sharing ideas and even talking to others on the other side of the world.

I have experienced the most remarkable sightings from my students because of Edmodo.  My students support each others learning, the help each other out and the communicate about school during off school hours.

I have also had many students who go on wonderful trips with their families during the year.  The students always ask for homework while they are away.  I hate to assign it because they need to have time with their family to enjoy the trip and most times it does not get done.  However, with Edmodo students often check in or document their trip while they are away.  I feel this is the best kind of learning a teacher can ask for.

In the last couple of years I have been fortunate to connect with others teacher around the world.  During these connections we have created groups for our students to talk about things from their ecosystems to the water around them.  This year I have been lucky to take part in many mystery skypes.  In some of these cases we have created groups for students to continue to talk now knowing where their new friends are from.

This year my students have almost gone paperless because we post nearly everything on line.  This includes test writing, as Edmodo provides quiz opportunities to post to students.  It is possible to  give multiple choice, true and false, fill in the blank, matching and short answer questions.  Students receive instant feedback.

I have now taught for 12 years and I think one of the largest complaints that I have heard form parents is that they don't know what is for homework or their child does not communicate what they are doing at school.  Edmodo has solved this problem as parents can also create an account and follow what their child is doing and how they are progressing.

I am sure that it is not for everyone but I have yet to meet a teacher that is not interested after spending 5 minutes with me and Edmodo.

Try it your students and parents just might thank you!