Caring about Apathy

Over on the forums, Jane Bauman asks a question that surely vexes us all: “What are ways to help older (fully capable) students want to reach their full potential instead of trying to get by with the least amount of effort possible?” Struggles with apathy have been nearly constant throughout my teaching experience. Apathy is a manifestation of human nature,… READ MORE

A Pet Alternative

Perhaps you, like me, would like to be one of those noble teachers with a classroom pet.  You’ve heard the student say, “Well last year Miss Miller had a rabbit/gerbil/parrot/goose and we got to name it and hold it every day! When are you getting a pet, Miss Zehr?” But perhaps you, like me, have held funerals for goldfish, annihilated… READ MORE

A Seed Germinated

I grew up believing that fairy tales were nonsensical time wasters.  For decades, I never questioned that belief.  Then, in a literature class, the teacher offered a new perspective.  Startled, I tucked the thought away, where like a seed, it lay dormant for a number of years.  One day while browsing at a garage sale, I came upon a beautifully… READ MORE

Exploring Constellations

I’ve been looking for bulletin board ideas that grab and sustain the attention and learning of students without costing an inordinate amount of time or effort. In addition, as part of my goal of cultivating lovers of nature, rather than lovers of screens, I’m on the lookout for ways of teaching students to be fluent in nature. If you’ve never… READ MORE

Poster Projects

Doing poster projects with my students has not been my forte. Some projects I’ve attempted required herculean efforts from all of us but delivered less than impressive results with little true learning having occurred. I’m choosing not to include pictures of these! Because of our birding focus in our classroom, I wanted each student to research one bird and do… READ MORE

This Big Thing!

“I told my class if they weren’t quiet at lunchtime, there would be consequences.  Now I can’t think of a suitable consequence!” the new teacher told her mentor.  Then the two teachers discussed consequences and management of the classroom. Our school implemented a mentoring program where we pair new teachers with experienced mentor teachers.  These pairs meet weekly to go… READ MORE

Screen Time Alternatives

“What is one unhealthy habit you want to change?” A couple of years ago, my third and fourth graders answered this question in a health test. They  had just finished a unit covering components of healthy living that included diet, exercise, sleep, and screen time. Almost without fail, the students’ responses included statements such as “I want to do less… READ MORE

A Study in Contentment

I sighed as I looked at my fourth grader’s tattered trashcan. I had given them each a trashcan (a gift bag with the handles removed) at the beginning of the year, and this one was already falling apart. Really, all of them were somewhat worn looking, but this one badly needed to be replaced. I headed for the store that… READ MORE

Intoxicating Gifts

I had never seriously pondered the mandate in Ephesians to not be drunk with wine.  Wine doesn’t even tempt me.  But is it possible to become intoxicated with things other than wine?  Is it possible that other pleasures could be just as addicting and no less serious than alcoholic beverages?  Is it possible that I could become addicted and not… READ MORE

Walk Beside Me

“Maybe God is giving you challenges this year, so you don’t get bored after all your years of teaching!”  Maybe so. Over here, we have the child who is throwing things and ramming his chair into someone.  Here’s one who told me he needs something to fiddle with and he is bored.  This one is clear off the charts on… READ MORE