Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Read the Small Print

I have a habit of not reading the small print and it messes me up some time.

In May we bought a $50 gift card for Panera Bread and got a $10 bonus card with it. We thought that was great. Then last week I went to use the bonus card and didn’t notice the small print at the bottom that it was only good for June. That means I lost the bonus card money!

We shop a lot at Publix and each week they put items on sale for buy one get one free. I get up to the cashier and I don’t get the sale price. When I insist it was on sale, they check and find out that the kind I picked up was excluded in the sale. It says so in the small print.

Sometimes I try to use coupons that I get in the mail or save from a sale paper but when I use it, they aren’t valid. In the small print, it gives a date it expires or it says a specific size I have to get.

I worry that sometimes I teach my students and unknown to them, there is small print that they need to know about. I sometimes think they should know what is expected but they really don’t.

I started going through my syllabus and looking for the “small print.” Then I go about making it bold print or underlining it or making the font bigger.

Small print items include due dates, penalties, and requirements. I also review these things at least once a month going over the upcoming due dates and reminding them of penalties and requirements.

I want my students to know upfront what I want from them. I don’t want any surprises down the road where they feel they didn’t know about something or feel like I’m setting a trap for them to fail.  I think this will help them be more successful.

What do you consider “small print” in your classroom? How do you help your students read the “small print?” Please share.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Homework – The Debate

Recently in the news, the big topic has been about homework. An article “Teacher who canceled homework hailed as a national hero” had me thinking about the whole topic. The teacher says she won’t be assigning homework because there is no research proving it helps and she wants to give families time to spend together. It seems like every year this becomes a topic for a debate so I thought I would give my two cents worth.

This teacher says that the students would get homework if they don’t get their work done on time. If the student is struggling with the work in the classroom, how can they be expected to do it independently at home? That is setting the child up for failure. Maybe the teacher needs to reevaluate the lesson instead so that she can meet the needs of all of her students. She might need to look at Universal Design for Learning in order to plan different activities for different learning styles.

When assigning homework, I think I look at the purpose for giving homework. I think homework teaches helps the student practice skills learned in school. I think this is important for the students to remember what they learned and be able to apply it outside the classroom. Somebody in the article talks about how you don’t do homework when you get a job but these students are still preparing for adult life and are not there yet. I think about how many kids play basketball on a team and when they are not at team practice or a game still practice at home. When kids play a musical instrument, they are encouraged to practice at home at least an hour every night.

When students are in high school or even in college, they will have papers or projects due. This involves having to do homework to meet the deadline. They will also face meeting deadlines in the workplace. If students don’t learn at an early age that they need to be responsible in doing their homework and meeting the deadline, how can we expect them to know this in high school or college? Doing homework teaches responsibility and time management.

I look at many of the Asian countries where the students are progressing ahead of ours. They do a lot of homework and believe that it helps the students’ education. I remember growing up and my mother gave me workbooks she bought to enrich my learning when I didn’t have any homework to do. I am afraid by backing off on homework we are doing a disservice to our children.

As for family time, I’m not sure that by not giving homework, families will spend more time together. Instead I see the students increasing time in athletic or musical activities or other extracurricular activities but not increasing family time. If people think homework is causing families to spend less time together, maybe families need to reevaluate their other activities instead of homework time.

I think this teacher is wrong and starting a bad precedent. I think homework is an important part of learning.

How do you feel about homework? Please share. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Back of the Book Blurb #23 Challenge

From Sioux's Page, Sioux offers this challenge.
She posts a picture and you need to imagine it as a graphic for a book. You choose the genre and book title, and then write a blurb that might appear on the back of the book.

The blurb should be 150 words or less (not including the title).
The genre is wide-open.
Each blogger should include their blurb on their own blog, and link back to this post.
Have fun with it. Go to the other posts and comment on the other blurbs. 
You can do fancy techy things with the photo.

(Join in if you dare...! It sounds like fun! I think this would be a lot of fun to do with students especially since they would be expected to write 150 words or less!)

The Blind Date

Brandy hated blind dates. She decided to accept this one so her best friend Mary would leave her alone.  All Mary would say was that it was someone who had come into the book store one day to buy a book. She found out that he was single and seemed lonely. He came in several times over the past few months and from his choice of books, she could tell he was a nice man. His name was Mr. Hoe.

Brandy hoped that he wasn’t a “rake” in real life but she agreed to go out with him.

When he showed up at her house, he arrived in an unusual mode of transportation. He got out of the car and introduced himself. “I’m Mr. S. Hoe,” he said.

Read on to find out how the blind date turned out and if they had another. (144 words)