Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The economy isn't good - we all know that. It hits a little closer when your students start transferring away from the school because they have lost their homes - and are moving in with friends.

I hope they persevere.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who what when where . . . . how?

I offered to help a student with a science lab Friday. I pointed out he'd have to tell me about the lab but I could help him write it up, as he needs to raise his grade in that class. He told me about the experiment: you take 2 potatoes and put 1 in water and and 1 in salt water. And they change. And that was pretty much what he wrote.

So, I ask, HOW did they change? Well in water they weigh more and in salt water they weigh even more. So I wrote: you put a potato in water, it weighs more, therefor it absorbed water. You put a potato in salt water, it weighs even more, therefor it salt water causes a potato to absorb more water than distilled water.

I pointed out that telling me it changed isn't enough - you have to tell HOW it changed. And I started thinking that this is where they fall apart. In transformations, they tell me it moves, but not where or how. In English, they say two characters are the same or different, but they don't expand the idea.

My lesson Monday is going to be on Venn diagrams and who, what, when, where, how and why. You don't always use all of those, but you need to use some of those everytime you are asked for a comparison, whatever the subject.

I learned that in the journalism class I took in high school, back when we wrote our school newspaper on clay tablets. (OK, kidding, but I did learn it in journalism class)

I think I'll start with the science experiment (since they all have science and all did the lab - and most are not doing well in their labs. Then we'll use Venn diagrams to talk about the difference between a huge dump truck and a VW. Maybe the difference between a dog and a flower. And then do some more transformations - first with a Venn and then the way we've been doing this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The joy of ADHD

As a teacher, I deal daily with the downside of ADHD. You know - the child who cannot stay in his seat. The child who talks constantly. The child who cannot finish anything you put in front of her.

As someone who has watched family members deal with this - as well as realizing finally that I have it myself, I have tried to tell students that there is also the side that gives you creativity, the ability to pivot from one idea to another.

I have recently had to deal with a death in the family - and packing up all the accumulation of a lifetime. As my sister and I packed up things - and cried - each of us would periodically pick something up and exclaim "I didn't know she had THIS" - a variation of oooh shiny. There is a joy in an affliction which distracts you when you need it.

[You have heard, haven't you, that they are renaming it ADOS instead of ADHD? You know, Attention Deficit Oooooo Shiney!]

My husband and I realized something when my oldest was first diagnosed. The psychiatrist would name something, we'd say "That's normal. I did that" and he'd smile sweetly and say "No, it's not normal. ADHD runs in families." Took us a while to figure out that our "normal" wasn't.