Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Creative New Fad

So there's a new fad in my classroom. No, it isn't Silly Bands. That was SO five minutes ago. No....the latest fad in my classroom is to make your own paper cell phone. Someone started this....I think with a bookmark. They had a laminated rectangular bookmark and I can remember watching a couple of students hold them up to their ears and talking during lunch. Cute and very entertaining. Somehow, this wasn't enough to satisfy fifth graders with an appetite for communication.
The next thing I know, students are folding paper and drawing key pads on them. They customized their phones with designs on the outside and made neat display screen pictures. Most of these phones are flip-type of phones, but I did see one today that was a flip/slider phone made out of notebook paper. It's interesting to see students pretend to text on their pretend phones to students across the room that have no idea what they are trying to say. At one point this week, I had to outlaw paper phones. Students have been more concerned with spending their pretend cell phone minutes than to pay attention to important things such as learning how to compute volume of a solid shape, as well as calculating the solid's surface area. The phones didn't go away, they just went into hiding. I'd see them messing around under their desks and I can tell when they are "texting." I know this because it's the same way I look when I'm texting under the dinner table.
Today we learned about transformations in math. For those of you who may not know the lingo....this is translation (slides), reflections (flips), and rotations (turns.) Several activities and minutes later, I see that they are starting to get glazed over. In a flash of brilliance, I had students take out a piece of notebook paper and quickly sketch out their "dream cell phone." They then cut them out, and designed the back. They used this "prototype" as a model to demonstrate their transformations. They then reflected, translated, and rotated their phone and drew pictures of what it look liked. Did they get interested? Yes. Did they finish the activity? No. Will they still be working on it tomorrow? Yes. And now I realize that instead of getting these phones out of their hands, now everyone has one. A flash of brilliance? The jury's still out....I'll keep you updated.
In the meantime, you can call me on my cell phone. If you don't get me, you won't be able to leave a voicemail. My model of paper cell phone doesn't have that feature.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Having a Bad Day? Eat a Donut!

So I love a good donut. Who doesn't, right? I love them so much that I can remember going into a Krispy Kreme shop and after watching the evolution of the donuts while hanging onto the glass, thinking to myself that going to a donut shop would be a great field trip. I never did take the trip, but I did enjoy the donut.
When I lived in Key West as a kid, we had one donut shop, Mr. Donut. It was great. That was back in the day when grocery stores didn't make donuts, so you had to get them fresh from the donut shop. Eventually, this place went under. In the later years of living in Key West, a Dunkin' Donuts shop came to town. Yummy. It was within walking distance of my house, so I would justify a "walk" and then end up at Dunkin' Donuts. While I was there, I HAD to support the local businesses, so I'd get a donut and eat it on the way home. I figure the calories were cancelled out by the walk. Ridiculous, I know. But really, when you are grasping at straws so you can justify something, you'll accept just about anything.
Here in Starkville, we have one donut shop, Shipley's. It's not a bad place. It's just on the other side of town, so I can't really "swing" by for a random donut. In our advanced age of technology and all, our grocery stores now make donuts but I only eat those out of desperation. I'm a fan of the "real" donut. You know...the ones from a shop, not a grocery store.
So imagine how great my day was when a student brought me a "happy" to school. She and her mother had stopped by Shipley's so mom could get donuts for her co-workers. She thought of me and I had a donut of my own with which I could start my day. When your day starts with an unexpected gift, especially a donut, you just know that things are gonna be great. I'm trying not to think about the fact that it was Monday today and that the kids were groggy and the fact that I had several students absent also had something to do with it. I'm going to attribute it all to the donut.
So, today I say.....if things are looking down for you and you aren't should sample a donut. Your mouth will be happy and you'll thank me for it later. Feel free to tell me how I was right, but if I'm in the middle of eating a donut, you should try again later.