Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Garden is Waiting for its Annual Fairy

It has been two weeks since my last post. The end of the school year has really taken its toll. I am usually not stressed about school, but this year the last few weeks have really caught up with me. I was determined to post today. I wrote a post yesterday and the plan was to post it this morning. I did not remember to post!!! Can't believe that I didn't! Our school system does not let me post or comment so I am posting later than I usually do.

After thinking about the post all day, I decided that it really sounded too whiny. I needed a different approach. Something with pictures. Little bit more lighthearted.

I am not much of a gardener. I love planting and watching my plants to grow. I even happily water them when the need arises, but everything else feels extraterrestrial and not part of my world.

I have not really sure what has happened to my garden. There seems to be something wild growing in place of the flowers that I have yet to plant. I am wondering if wicked witch of gardens paid me a visit to see how I would react?

I think the wicked garden witch missed this section! On a day that storm clouds can be seen on the horizon, humidity is bothering me and I am still working on my blog, these flowers make me happy!

Then I walk around the corner, and I see this. Did I plant something last year that I can't recall? Is this supposed to look like this? I am not sure......I guess I will have to wait for the annual visit from my good garden fairy. She sent me an e-mail that she is planning to visit this week--weather allowing.  I will have to have patience and maybe a few dollars saved up for plant replacement. I am sure that those of you who have the garden fairy gene in you will agree that new mulch would also be a good plan.

If your genotype includes the dominant garden fairy trait, please, feel free to offer your advice! My trait is truly a recessive and at the moment it is hiding behind the more dominant and aggressive writing trait.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Weather Delay

Two years ago in March, parent teacher conferences were in full swing when the weather suddenly changed. We ended up sitting on the gym floor. Thankfully all was well at the end.

Ominous clouds photographed at State and Ellsworth, near the Ann Arbor Airport.
Very near my school on Monday afternoon
Picture from freep.com
Monday afternoon, a few minutes of school left. This is the announcement that we hear: "This is a tornado warning. Please proceed to the tornado shelter area."
"Ms. is this a drill?"
"No, this is not a drill. Hurry up and let's move."

I don't know any administration that would schedule a drill three minutes before the school day is over. This was the real deal. There we sat on the gym floor again. It was hot. It was muggy. We listened to the tornado siren go off. We watched the radar on my phone. There was a lot of green, but there was a lot red as well. Sky turned really dark a couple of times. Then it would brighten up and we would think we might be able to go home. 

Ominous clouds gather over Milan, Mich., around 5 p.m.
Photo taken a few miles south of where I live
on Monday afternoon
Finally the all clear signal came. Everyone was anxious to get home. Students were hungry and tired. We needed space and fresh air.
As I started driving home, I realized that I would need to find an alternate route. Rush hour traffic combined with construction and weather issues convinced me to take a road often less traveled home. It was definitely a wise decision. I might have to wash my car (unless the rain did its job for free), but I was able to avoid all the delays!

I am so grateful that we did not end up having a tornado touch down anywhere near our school! Plans might have changed, but we were all safe!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crime Scene Investigation

A few months ago  I was in need of an activity that would include speaking and writing. I needed to push my ELLs to new levels. In addition, we needed to do something active. These same students had also been learning about their rights  in civics class.

We watched a few clips of popular TV shows where crime solving is the name of the game. My students also shared their favorite TV shows and how crime is portrayed in them.

Through these background building sessions we reviewed vocabulary that most of the students had learned previously in civics class or while watching television. We talked about procedures, the different people who are involved in solving crimes, and what are their responsibilities. We talked about the suspected person's rights, and the responsibility that the police has in solving the crime the right way.

Then it was time to give everyone their role in our staged crime and set the scene.

Someone had really messed up my classroom! Books were everywhere. There was even blood on my supply table. And can you see those little yellow crime scene investigator markers? We really wanted to follow protocol.

First impressions are very important. Everyone involved had to come and observe before beginning to take notes.

Then you had to take notes in a specific way depending on your job description. If you were the lead investigator, you had to develop questions based on your crime solving skills. If you were the suspect or the witness, you had to write down your notes of what you had observed and create an alibi for yourself.

Then came the interviews. Remember, when we are working with English Language Learners, we must develop our students oral language not just writing skills. Here you have the lead detective along with with his partner questioning the witness while the first officer on the scene is giving his input. The detectives are trying to determine if this witness is reliable and has pertinent information towards the case that they are building.

All in all, it was fun to watch students interact, take their role seriously and really get into to investigation part. I saw students speaking to each other, asking questions and asking follow up questions like real professionals. They were writing; taking notes and then turning those notes into a report writing. They had to listen carefully to others; especially to the witnesses and to the suspect. When working with a partner, they also had to read each other's writing. They were using all four language domains (and that made me very happy)!

Now I just need to plan a similar lesson for the end of the year. Any suggestions?