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Teacher's Pets

I've had my share of teacher's pets. Some are very helpful, and others can be more of a nuisance than good. Generally when I need assistance from a student in my room, I "pick a chip" or draw a name almost every time, unless it's something that needs to be done very fast, and then I either ask the first person I get eye contact with, or someone reliable.

I've learned through trial and error that complete randomness is the best way to avoid hurt feelings, and complaining. I do admit that there are certain tasks that come up that I choose someone I trust to do for me, but most of the time I draw a name... I have little chips that I pick.

By going random, I also avoid students teasing others for being a teacher's pet as well. Still, there are those few each year that are always willing to help, always wanting to do something for me. I appreciate it, and they are a great help.

Now... If I were shopping for a pet for my classroom at the store...


Late Assignments

I've thought about this topic over and over throughout the years, and changed my standards and rules on Late Assignments a few times as well.

Should Late Assignments be Accepted?

Should a student receive full credit if an assignment is turned in late?

What type of deduction should be given for an late assignment?

In the past I have used two different grade systems. When I used the 11 point scale (12 point scale for some) I initially gave two days to turn in assignments if there was an absence. If the student wasn't absent, they received a zero, or E for the assignment.

After that I changed my mind, and decided that doing the work was important, and some credit should be given, so I deducted 10 percent if they turned it in late.

Since then I also graded by total points, and deducted 10 percent if it is late.

I do think that doing the work is important. It's an extension of the lesson, and further enhances the skills and concepts taught. I now give them until the end of the marking period to get the work in, and only deduct 10 percent. Still I have dozens of incomplete assignments at the end of the quarter.

I also feel that it depends on the class I have somewhat. I will probably have to modify my rule on late assignments again in the future, but as for now, that is how I deal with them.


I like to rhyme, I do it all the time!

Every schoolyear one of my larger English projects is a poetry unit. I've really modified it over the past few years, and I think it is more successful year by year. I've also added different types of poetry just about every year.

I begin the unit by reading one of my favorite books to the class... "Love That Dog" by Sharon Creech. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It is easily readable in under an hour, and it is moving and entertaining. It deals with a boy who doesn't really like poetry, or admittingly feels that boys don't like poetry. Through the book he changes his mindset.

I then proceed through about a two week span of introducing different types of poetry: Acrostic, Haiku, Senryu, Diomonte, Cinquain, Lyrical, Rhyming, Free Verse, Limerics and finally Shape.

After that I usually read about a few different poets (Dickinson, Frost, Poe) and read some of their work. Throughout each lesson I present different examples, and have students read those (I usually put those on a transparency, and then on the overhead) After we read them, we discuss them, and sometimes rate, or grade them.

Students are assigned a portfolio that asks them to turn in 2 examples of each type, and then gives them a chance to turn in 3 more of the type they like the most. I then make a Poetry display on the wall, and type them up, similar to "Love that Dog." The students really like reading the poems of their peers, and I've really seen some GREAT poetry over the past 5 years. I usually suggest a few put their poems into publication on or some other website.

One of the main things that I stress is that you can write a poem about anything. It's a great way to express your thoughts and feelings on just about whatever you want.

Here's a poem I wrote and submitted a few years ago.

As the night dawned, the firelight grew
I pulled myself closer to the flames.
My mind filled with thoughts of what to do
And remembering faces without names.

I thought of loved ones, with me no longer
My thoughts searching for moments in time.
Wishing to make each bond grow stronger
With those whose lives have crossed mine.

My eyes couldn't leave the light by my feet
Opening doorways, releasing my past.
Reminiscing of times that were so sweet
In my mind those good times will last.

Derek George Johnson


If a Picture's Worth a Thousand Words...

Sunset over Lake Superior

Lake Superior Beach

Iron Ore Carrier on Lake Superior

If a picture's worth a thousand words, then there's 3000 for you...

*These are from last weekend's mini-vacation with my wife. It was our anniversary.


Words of Encouragement

A man should never be ashamed to say he has been wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday -- Alexander Pope

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning is young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. -- Henry Ford

Even if it's a little thing, do something for those who have need of help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. -- Albert Schweitzer


Read to and with your children!

I'm naive.

There I said it.

I would expect that most parents know the imporantance of reading to your children while they're growing up. NOT saying that you don't know this.

I wonder though how many parents actually do read to their children on a regular basis...

Here are 10 good reasons to read to your child... Feel free to add more!

1) It gets a child's imagination developing.
2) It makes them enjoy stories. What an easy way to travel, go to a made-up place in your mind.
3) It models reading, and makes them interested in it. "If mommy or daddy read to me, it must be important!"
4) It develops another connection between the child and parent, and this can become a special time.
5) It helps put them to sleep! (At least sometimes)
6) It promotes a good, safe hobby. I'd choose books over video games anyway.
7) It develops their brain.
8) It advances them academically, and prepares them for every subject in school.
9) It's fun!
10) There are fantastic stories to be found, that both parent and child will enjoy, and love.


Worsheets, Teaching Tips, Teacher Resources and Rubrics

Here's a site that offers all that and more.


And another site that's fun for kids to play, and learn at the same time.

Kid Wizard

I'll be redoing my links, so they're more organized today/tomorrow. I also gave quite a few links in past posts that I never did add to my links section.

This coming weekend I'll be celebrating my anniversary, so I won't be posting.


Teacher Links

Here are two good places to go for teaching ideas, and for parents as well.

Game Aquarium - All subject areas covered in educational games!

The other link is a site that has links to hundreds of teacher sites, and is an excellent source for information on just about everything to do with education.

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