Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dark Future ------ Student teacher ----Super Bowl Comments

Mrs. Polski3 substituted in a lower elementary classroom for two days last week.
One of her students was just returning to class from being suspended from school. His offense? While in the principals office for a variety of offenses, the principal was called out of her office for a minute. While she was gone, this young thug saw her purse and attempted to steal her cell phone from it ! What will this kid be doing in ten years? I hope he'd not in my classes in a few years.

I have a student teacher for the next seven weeks. Anyone wish to offer an advice I can pass on to her ?

As for this weekends BIG event, GO Cardinals! You know, I always wondered what Archie Manning woulda done with a better group of professional athletes around him. I guess maybe we got a glimpse of this with his sons play in the NFL. I also wondered the same thing about one of my "youthful" sorta heros, St. Louis Cardinals QB Jim Hart. Even though the Cards' aren't one of my "A" list teams to follow, they still rate higher than many other teams. I respect the Steeler's and the great team they've put together, I like tough D, but I hope the Cards day has finally arrived.
At least I think it will be a SUPER game.

Have a SUPER Weekend !

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Burr....it was cold....Family Funeral

I haven't had much time to blog. Been busy with teaching and it was the end of our first semester.

Also flew to Chicago on short notice to attend a funeral. My father's older sister died. She was the last of her generation, the matriarch of the Polish side of my family. She was mother to two of my cousins, wife to three good, highly educated, professional men, a teacher, and a lawyer. She helped start a teachers union and she was always generous in helping her family (parents, brothers, nephews, nieces, great-nieces, etc.). She was especially generous and helpful with the younger generations of the family and assisted many of them in their quest for post-high school education. She was a bit miffed with me that I hadn't gone to school to further my education past my BA and minor degrees. Once she implied that I'd been too negatively influenced by one of her brothers. But I said, no, that was not the reason. Anyhow.....

My aunt suffered a stroke in mid-December while waiting to go to a holiday party. And, as was typical of her, was upset that she was missing holiday parties and several court dates. But, she didn't recover from her stroke and subsequent infection. We think she decided it was time to go. She lived a long, productive life and after each tragedy ( she survived all three husbands ), always bounced back. A family joke referred to never seeming to end energy levels. She passed on to her next appointments. Oh, and for those of you who may care about such things, she graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law in 1945. She is now buried at the "head of the line" next to her husbands. She has them buried all in a row, with her spot at the head of the line next to husband number three.

When we were in Chicago, it was on the cool side. Saturday, the day of the funeral, it was about 10 degrees. THIS is quite different than the almost 80 degrees I left in warmer Southern California. When we departed on Sunday morning, it was about 3 degrees. Fortunately, there was no new snow while we were there, and the roads were not icy. We got to visit with many of my cousins; eight of her ten nieces and nephews were there. I got a bit of reading done on the airplane. Mrs. Polski said she has a much GREATER understanding as to why her mother moved from the high plains after high school graduation. I am thankful my grandparents moved to warmer clims.....My sons got to play in the snow and my youngest learned what happens when you get your pant legs wet while playing in the snow. He got to experience that tingly feeling in very cold skin as it warms up. My son's also got to meet, at least for a couple of hours, with my brother who lives on the east coast and whom we rarely see.

Its ok visiting and being in the cold for a short time, but I do not think I want to live in it. Ok, so I am spoiled. I'll take 110 degrees over 10 degrees any day! I can handle 110 degrees.

Thanks for reading this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Don't you just hate it when you spill a cup of tea ( PG tips, (black), with sweetener and non-fat milk), on your desk ? It makes a helluva mess !

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

School Assemblies.....Saying NO, but THEN WHAT?????

We had a school assembly this afternoon. It was something about "motivating" our students. There was some silly stuff, some play acting by the presenters and a message for the students to set high goals for themselves and to just say no to drugs and alcohol.

There wasn't much in there about HOW to set high goals for themselves, or what to do about those demon temptations drugs and alcohol other than refuse them. IMO, this does not help our young people, our students. They have heard about setting high goals for themselves, our homeroom classes often do little units about things needing to be done to be ready for college, about organizing your stuff, study skills, daily reminders that tutoring and computer lab is available after school, etc., etc. They have heard many times, at least in my classes and at some assemblies, that drugs and alcohol are bad for them and can lead them into a bad life.

I learned many years ago, back when I was a science teacher and attended a workshop about how to teach a "family life" unit which was a combo of STD education, family dynamics and human reproduction and development. Anyhow, we heard on a regular basis from Nancy Reagan to "JUST SAY NO." Many, many of our young people cannot just say NO to drugs, alcohol or sex. Why not? A variety of reasons, including peer pressure, the desire for acceptance, to be cool, to just check it out. But, many of our young people, fearing rejection, taunting, loneliness, etc., cannot just say NO because they don't have the life experiences to think through what might happen next. And they don't know what to do after saying NO.

Here are some things I share with my students, to try to give them some strategies for dealing with these situations: Say NO and leave. Yes just leave. Yes, it will be hard to do, you may be teased, taunted and called names. But really, are people who want you to do something you don't want to do, that you know is wrong, that you know might be very harmful and destructive to you, your friends ? I encourage them to have an arrangement with someone older, someone who they can call at any time, to come to them and give them a ride home. It can be a parent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, someone who loves them enough that they will go out late at night or early in the morning or anytime to find you and safely get you home.

Sometimes we listen to some music about alcohol, drugs, crime ( Lynard Skynard- That Smell, Paul Revere and the Raiders- Kicks, Skid Row - 18 to Life, Offspring - Walla Walla.... we play the song and look at the lyrics, then discuss what the song is about.

I share with them one of the harder things about teaching, losing students or former students to drugs, alcohol or some other form of life ending events. I ask them to think about the people they know or are acquainted with who have issues with drugs and or alcohol and how that impacts the people around them. I ask them, Is that what you want in your life? Is that what you want for your children someday ?

Anyhow, I have a peeve about these "motivational" school assemblies. Yes guys and gals who perform these assemblies, you can tell our students don't do drugs, don't abuse alcohol. But you are not giving them strategies that they can use to help them say no. I also have a peeve about these assemblies being held before the whole student body; I really think such messages are more effective before a small, a much smaller group of young people. Young people who are not just a single face in the huge crowd, but young people who are visible in a smaller group setting.

Teachers don't have any say in these events at our school, but I just thought I'd get some of my thoughts down here in this blog.

Thanks for taking time from your busy day to read this rather long blog post I wrote.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Back to my Classroom ---- CHARGE !

Well, such great news to greet the new year for anyone in education here in the Great People's Democrat Republica de California.....the promise/threat of the state taking an estimated $2.1 Billion Dollars away from the schools here in the middle of the school year. I won't go into it here about my feelings and opinions about our pathetic, entitlement-gorged politicians roosting in Sacramento and what they are doing to this state. So, I'll write about what happens in Polski's class when Christmas Break is over.

When I return to my classroom on Monday, we begin our unit on China. Well, maybe not a big unit; only the standards that are rated as A and B in importance. Plus a little geography. The standards for "Geography of China" are not important, according to the holy test prep-data stuff we were given. But as a professional History/Social Studies teacher, damn it, my kids have to know something about where stuff is in China and how it impacts the people there before they can learn about the "mega-important" stuff like "Being able to describe the reunification of China under the Tang Dynasty." Anyhow, tonight, I was printing out some basic questions about the physical geographic features of China, with the idea of gluing the questions onto index cards, each student getting one card, finding the answer to his/her question, then sharing that data and showing another student the location(s) of their question/answer on a map. Are you confused yet? I have this all in my mind and it will make sense when my seventh graders are doing it one step at a time in class. Anyhow, as I was cutting out questions and preparing to glue them onto index cards, I thought to myself, "this is quite labor intensive.....think, Polski, how else can you do this activity?" And, voila!

History 7, Monday, 05 Jan. 2008:

As students enter class, they will receive a group indicator card. They will sit at a seat in their group indicator cards desk cluster. (group indicator cards can be sets of index-sized cards with five or six of the same picture on them to indicate a group......pictures of various animals, works of art, just a simple number or letter, etc. etc. They are handed out randomly to students as they enter class.)

My seventh graders sit down quietly, quietly get out their daily planners, quietly fill in the HISTORY section of their daily planner, then quietly get out a blank sheet of notebook paper, putting their heading, title and dividing their paper in Cornell Note format. [ Remember, these are seventh graders back at school from two weeks of Christmas Break. They will be tired, numb and kinda in a daze, so lets not subject them to too mentally challenging of a day, what ! ]

There will be an opening activity on the board: "What do you know about the physical geographic features of China ?" They will copy this in the one-third column, then do their best to answer the question in the two-thirds column of their paper. After allotting a few minutes for this, well ask for some random answers from the students, which I'll write on the board. This will be an opportunity to reteach/remind students just what "physical geographic features" are (the mountains, rivers, seas, oceans, lakes, deserts, plateaus, basins, plains, etc.).

Then, to divide up the six questions. Well do question A together, using the map in their textbook that I want them to be familiar with. Then, each group will answer the five remaining questions. The person in each group who has a birthday earliest in the year does question B. The person with the next birthday does question C, etc. after about five minutes of this, then each student will copy the remaining questions and whoever answered the question will share their answer with their group mates AND, show on the map where their physical geographic feature(s) is located.

If there are any individuals or whole groups who don't wish to work well together, who want to sit, talk, mess around, disturb other groups, etc., then each person can answer questions B-F by themselves.

As a class, we will go over the five questions. As homework, students are to create a map showing at least ten physical geographic features of China. Their map should be neat, in color, and geographically accurate. For students wishing to earn additional credits, they can create a map showing 15-20+ physical geographic features, or for mega credit, create a three-dimensional model of the PhyGeog of China.

We'll end our class period with a quick write ("What did you Learn," for those of you who do K-W-L's. Then, for Tuesdays opener, students will partner up with a classmate for a "Think-Write-Pair-Share" activity about the Physical Geography of China. But thats another day, hopefully with students who are now more awake, more cognitively aware of their surroundings, etc. :-)

Ah, as WCNX radio (from Cleveland, Ohio) is now playing on the Internet radio, LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL! I saw the CARS in concert back in another lifetime......wish I still had the t-shirt from that show, but it was worn to scraps.....

Anyhow, Polski3 says, HAVE A GREAT FIRST DAY BACK IN YOUR CLASSROOM. What are you doing? Please share it with us in the comments section !