Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sick? Use Videos to Advance Your Curriculum

Ok. It's Friday. Finally. And I'm breaking my own personal blog rules. I'm blogging off the subject of my blog. I'm blogging off the cuff. Totally unplanned. I guess that is the real purpose behind a blog but I tend to agonize and plan what I type out.

I guess I can forgive myself. It's been a hard week at my school. Is it a full moon? Every teacher I've seen in the hall has told me their team has had a hard week as well. I guess it's finally setting in... that long unending time period between the Christmas holidays and Spring Break. I've been too busy to my darlin husband gave me his coughin, sneezin, nose oozing thing and I've had it since Wednesday.

Don't know about you but in my district I am responsible for obtaining my sub whether I'm sick, if there is a death, or I just want a personal day. I should have called someone last night, but ain't it a pain to be out. Especially this time of year. Spring NCLB testing is looming and every minute is so precious. You don't want to leave "busy" work because you get stuck grading it, but you don't want to leave too much instruction, if any, for the sub. I usually go to work no matter what and "plan" my sick days, but today it was almost impossible to be a decent teacher. My kids knew it. You can't hide a thing from them. One of my sweet darlins came back to my desk, patted my shoulder and said, "Well, I guess you'll call a sub the night before from now on won't you..." So sweet, so honest------I just wanted to kill him.

My kids got to see me at my worse this morning. No makeup, school-colored sweatshirt, jeans, and barely showered. It was very apparently "elementary history teacher" didn't feel well. My kids learned early on to get on with their morning work because Mrs. "elementary history teacher isn't a morning person and she doesn't tolerate slackers first thing in the morning too well. They had seen my illness progress and were more cooperative and attentive than normal.

So....what do you do when you feel like poo, still haven't gotten observed by an administrator, and don't want to loose focus of your regular curriculum? For one thing, whether you are a first year or 31st year teacher be honest with your administrator if they come in for an observation. Tell them you are sick, not on your game, or one of your students is having a problem.

Today I opted for the video option. Oh joy, I teach three groups of American History every afternoon so it would be a fairly stress free afternoon with the exception of watching them. We are currently going over the formation of the 13 colonies. I showed students a Dear America video. I can't remember the title. It's the one set in early the early Pennsylvania colony. A young Quaker girl and her brother are kidnapped by the Lenape indians and adopted by Lenape families. The girl befriends a Lenape brave who turns out to be a an Englishman who was kidnapped as well. They fall in love but he is killed as she is rescued and returned to her family. My kids were mesmorized----even my discipline problems. I sat with them (proximity, proximity, proximty), but could cough, wheeze, and groan to my hearts desire without too much interruption.

After the video I had enough time to answer their main question. Why would the Indians kidnap white people? The main reason is that some tribes, in this case the Lenape, believed that the Great Spirit wanted them to replace their dead family members (members who had died due to the White man) with the English. This practice was carried out through the 1600s and 1700s up to and including the time of the French and Indian War and later during the western expansion.

I was sick, I looked like hell, but I managed to advance my curriculum and have a great place to pick up Monday.

Gee, hope I feel better.....


Bar L. said...

Sorry you weren't feeling good but I sure enjoyed reading about it! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm not a teacher but I may visit here again.

Monica Edinger said...

Hope you're feeling better. I too have used the video-technique under similar circumstances.

My question (for a time when you feel copasetic): do you consider the issue of historical fiction with your students when using this sort of video? Or with books? I've been addressing the complications of historical fiction with my 4th graders for some time now within the study of history. Since I'm in a private school I don't have to cover as much as public school teachers have to and also can integrate history and language arts a bit more, I'm guessing. At any rate, thinking about historical fiction is another entry into history for kids, I think.

Monica Edinger