Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Speeding Towards Break

As we barrel towards Spring Break here in 6th grade, I have noticed different coping mechanisms from various students.

To wit:

-Hunker down, study hard, stay on top of things...the end is in sight, "I can do this." - roughly 15%

-Show up, take up my seat in class, cruise through assignments, assessments and notes; generally go unnoticed by Mr. Moore - 30%

-Begin showing aggressive signs of Spring Fever, talk loudly in class, become as easily distracted as a degenerate gambler in the Sports Book at Caesars  - 50%

-"I'm done, I will run amok, do not interfere with this process!" - 5%

Good times! Thankfully, there are speeches to be given, peer evaluations to be completed, and Unit tests to be taken. Oh 6th graders, I shall meet your irresistible force with my immovable object!!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


You know what's crazy? This time a year ago, my two kiddos (twins) could not ride a bike without their training wheels. Totally acceptable; they were only four. I knew they really wanted to be able to ride their bikes, but they just weren't there yet. Fast-forward to September...they finally hit that point where they are able to ride all on their own. Such an exciting time for us all! For me, it was a very proud papa moment :)

Now? All of a sudden, they're racing down the alley, going up hills, around the block, begging to go for bike rides around Lake Harriet as a family! Today they - along with their buddy down the street - took me on 4 laps around the block looking for signs of Spring.

I suppose I really could have titled this "Growth" or "Progress," because that's what I always marvel at with my children...and beyond that, with my students. Kids' abilities to grow, expand, learn, and improve continues to inspire and motivate me.

All you parents out there can probably add a lot more. After all, my children are only five. I'm sure people with kids older have many more stories. Here are a couple truths I know for sure: I can't wait to see my children to continue to grow, stretch, improve and learn. And, I look forward (every year, really) to see how my former students have grown in their own lives as well.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Ah, The Weather

So, just a quick update:

-A thunderstorm came through about an hour ago. On March 19.

That is all.

But first, an update on March Madness:

Yes, my bracket is awful. No big deal; it happens.

The stories that crop up during the tourney are always just as much fun. Here are some good reads.

On Kansas State, suspensions, accepting gambling and the NCAA - Here

On the craziness that is Las Vegas during the opening weekend - Here

And for a comprehensive look at the first weekend's action - Here


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Six Word Stories!

Why not?! Let's give it a try...

1. Man has Jucy Lucy. Heaven ensues.

2. Boy eats pizza; evidence on face.

3. Watching children ride bikes is bliss.

4. Wife late from meeting; husband loves.

5. The New Classroom - exciting possibilities ahead.

6. She followed passions. Everyone loved her.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekday Warrior!

I'm not gonna lie. My weekend performance on the Slice of Writing project has been brutal. Many factors typically play into this, but at the end of the day, there are no excuses. Just bad execution.

Oh well. At this point, I'm just glad that: a. the two family members who were sick on Friday/Saturday are better now, and b. the gorgeous weather will stick around for at least a little while!

We've been doing some poetry work in class recently, and last week students submitted some final draft/published Haiku. So in that tradition, here are some for your Monday:


Filling out? Maybe...
So many teams, not a care
Who wins, just not Duke!


Oh, Gophers, so close
But yet, oh so far away!
NIT Ahead

School Lunch

Ode to taco day
Glorious stains on your shirt
Cmon kid, wipe that!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Conferences - Now & Later...?

Big day today.

Conferences. Spring conferences. Student-Led conferences...

It's the first time since I've been at my current school (going on 9 years) that we've had Spring Conferences. Typically, parent-teacher conferences are around Thanksgiving time, and it's a good chance to check in, assess academic progress and game-plan for the future.

The objective for these first Spring Conferences is to have them be student-led. As a result, we have spent plenty of time in our Advisory class preparing students for tonight: class reflections, goal-setting, work samples, etc. The hope, of course, is that students are able to have some well thought-out discourse with their parents about their current academic status, their achievement so far in sixth grade, and where they'd like to see themselves going.

Again, this is the plan...I think the night will go well, actually. But what I'm more curious about today is where these types of conferences can go in the (very near) future.

One of our very talented District Technology Integration Specialists has given me a wonderful idea with using Google's digital portfolio capabilities. Students would be able to build a digital portfolio of what they have produced, along with real-time grades and (if needed/wanted) access to test scores. What strikes me as most powerful about this is students' ability to display so much of their work in a very rich, bold, clean way: digital writing samples, digital storytelling, web-site development, PowerPoint and/or Prezi as the meeting's vehicle, digital pictures of class work...maybe even a Screen Cast to take their own parents on a journey of through their work at school.

Couple that with how efficient many of these 'digital natives' are with technology, and I think you may increase ownership even more, as well as boost enthusiasm.

We'll see...for now it's just a goal for next year, but one I am very excited about exploring.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Something Will Give

Oh, to be in the midst of what I like to call "The Grind," the part of the school year from Winter Break to Spring Break that's only broken up by a couple random days.

Truth be told, it's probably my favorite part of the school year. Why? Because it's when so much work and progress occurs. We're done reviewing; done initiating the sixth graders into middle school life; no fall and Thanksgiving breaks to work around...just a ton of new content with solid stretches of time to immerse ourselves in and learn a great deal.

Here's the deal though: I'm beginning to detect my students don't share my enthusiasm, and this will lead to struggles.

Some of my kids are more than ready for Spring Break. Some of my kids have completely hit "the wall." Some of my kids are reaching a point of being completely fried. And yet, I will not stop pushing them...because this is when the growth happens. And what my students are figuring out is this: Mr. Moore will not be swayed in this arena.

Why? Because I care, and I refuse to let them NOT learn and grow; as much as that drives them crazy, the alternative would drive me crazy, and we can't have a crazy teacher, now can we?

They will fight; they may kick and scream; they may get frustrated. No matter...they will lose. And for that, I will be happy and proud.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Summer's Comin'!

At one point this afternoon, as we drove the kids out for ice cream and to visit a children's book store, the thermometer inside my wife's truck read 62 degrees. This was, in fact, an incredibly awesome thing. So sweet my wife couldn't help but take a picture on her phone. I know, it's completely silly; making it seem like we've just endured the worst winter ever. In fact, this has been a relatively easy winter. For that we are grateful.

What made today so awesome is this indisputable fact:

We are 100%, without a doubt, summer people.

Yes it's good to have a lot of time with the kids during the summer, but it's really more about how much we actually do outside during the summer...sports, cabin, outdoor concerts, parades, swimming, running, biking, golfing, etc.

Last year we added another: Minnesota Twins season tickets - sharing with a couple friends anyways. And tonight, we split the tickets. It's just one more sign that spring & summer are fast approaching. I love baseball; played and traveled a lot with it growing up, and my wife and kids love it too. The new Twins ballpark, Target Field, is absolutely beautiful, and catching a game down there on an 80-degree summer night just can't be beat.

While the school year grinds on, and I continue to push my students harder and higher (all while they're doing their best to revolt some times), I can look forward to the days of summer - golf, cabin, running, biking, and Twins...I know I'll get by!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Friends absolutely rock.

I mean the really solid, known-for-a-while, pick-up-where-you-left-off, always-have-a-good-time friends.

I'm sure you know the type, have the type, appreciate the type.

This past weekend, my wife and I found ourselves incredibly blessed to spend a lot of time with some of these friends.

First we spent Saturday afternoon and evening with college friends, and our kiddos played for hours with their boys. It was wonderful; we don't get to see them too much anymore, but it's always a treat. There's always a ton to talk about, shared values, and wonderful insight to get from each other.

Sunday we were invited by other friends to join them for brunch, and once again, our kids were able to play for hours with their kids afterwards, while the adults hung out, talked a lot of golf (guys), travel, school, church, etc. and walked down the street to check out a model home for kicks and giggles.

To top it all off, a close college buddy invited me yesterday to join him in a suite for the Wild game. The game itself wasn't all that great (good guys lost 2-0), but for the two of us (both busy professionals, 2 kids apiece, married) the time to catch up, have a couple beers and some laughs was invaluable.

In terms of the Slice of Life March daily writing challenge, I already failed! I didn't post this weekend. Although to my credit, I pretty much called it last week. However, my time was spent with my family and these incredible friends, and for that, I'll accept the fact that I didn't get it done. Give me the friendship every day of the week - and twice on Sunday!

Friday, March 2, 2012


Here's to you - Sixth grade student - willing to get on stage and sing "Someone Like You," Adele-style with only a piano backing, in front of 300 peers.

Here's to you - Girls from 6th & 7th grade - performing a dance number with glow bracelets in the dark, in front of 300 peers.

Here's to you - 6th grade boy - performing a four-minute Yo-Yo routine, powered with a background song from Bruno Mars, in front of 300 peers.

Here's to you - 6th grade girl - singing a Capella "Girl Get Your Records On," leading the clapping, in front of 300 peers.

And here's to you - 8th grade boy - confidently striding on stage, doing a four-minute solo dance number, with some seriously great moves, in front of 300 peers.


Here's NOT to you - roughly 30 of the 300 peers, who couldn't help but make comments, snide remarks, giggle, or simply converse during any & all of these routines.

Not cool at all. Why?

Because it takes some serious stones to get up on stage in front of 300 of your peers and perform! Not as part of a school choir, band or orchestra concert; not as part of a school play, surrounded by classmates; not on the field of play, supported by coaches and teammates, separated from the stands. No, these students wanted to display their talents, and put themselves on a very bright, isolated stage. The very least you can do is support them and cheer them as best you can.

I know sometimes it's hard to be a pre-teen and teenager. Trust me, I've been there before. Sometimes it's equally as hard to watch students go through it too, especially when they aren't making the best decisions. Hopefully they'll learn; hopefully they'll appreciate the courage in each other.

For now, Here's to You - brave souls!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's March...Time to Write!

Welcome to March everybody! That magical time of year for warmer temps (hopefully) NCAA hoops madness (One Shining Moment), Spring Training baseball games, the PGA tour heating up, and of course, Standardized Testing!

Author's Note: Not necessarily a huge for of this last item. However, it's become a bit of a tradition over the last decade + as a teacher, so you just go with it...celebrate life's little nuances, eh?

Anyways...there's a new March to-do I've been introduced to, by none other than my extremely talented wife: The March Slice of Life Challenge to Write Everyday.

Here's the back-story: Last year, the aforementioned lovely, talented wife participated in this challenge as she was doing prolific amounts of writing through her Writing Cohort. She keeps a wonderful family blog that I know she & I will cherish as the years go by; in truth, I already do! As I've slowly increased the amount of writing I do on this blog, she has mentioned to me how I should do the challenge as well. So, last night rolls around and she asks, "Are you going to do the Slice of Life March Writing challenge?"

Yes, yes I will.

Honestly, I don't know if I'll make it every day. I hope to, but sometimes I forget on weekends. Also, I tend to write a lot as things inspire me through teaching, my own learning, or my own goals (for example, my latest posts on The New Classroom), and I need to become more aware of these tiny, daily encouragements to be able to pull this off. Nonetheless, Challenge Accepted!