Tuesday, January 29, 2008

keeping "on the ball"

Walking into my classroom, I have come to appreciate the non-traditional way that my students work at their desks. Rather than seeing 24 identical looking chairs, I have a room full of brightly colored stability balls (they are the same as those big fitness balls you see at your gym).

Because there are often fads that come and go with schools (as with anything else) I was fairly resistant to the implementation of the stability ball in place of the regular classroom chairs. Previously, I have heard of ball chairs made for people who sit at desks (ie: in offices, etc.), but I hadn't heard of this concept being used in the classroom as well. Oh, and for those of you who hadn't heard of the ball chars in the office, PLEASE take a look at this clip from The Office:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5jcWt0vH-M


Ok, I'm hoping that was entertaining to you all (it was to me, that's for sure)...but that was not the point of this note....getting there...

So, as I was saying earlier, I was not sure how I felt about the idea of the stability balls in the classroom....a few of the people I work with started inviting kids to bring these balls into school in place of their chairs. It wasn't until I actually read this article in the Star Tribune that it all started making sense. If you want more details, check out this link (if not, just keep reading):

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/11549666.html

The article basically explains the benefits of the ball, which include better concentration, increased physical fitness, and the ability to burn off all that extra energy. Sounds like gold, doesn't it?! The beauty is that not only does it do all of those things, but it is an exceptional tool for kids who are really fidgety, or kids with ADD.

When I stop to think about these little humans that I interact with every day, I realize that they are kids...and kids need to move...that's just in their nature, developmentally. To ask kids to sit still in their seats for a majority of the day, is like asking me to sit silently in a room with all my closest friends...nearly impossible. Often times the kids need some sort of movement as an outlet for the energy they have.



This is where the balls come into place. The balls allow them to have this much needed movement in a way that is not only healthy, but it's not even distracting in the least! The movement on the balls is 100% less distracting than when the kids tip back in their chairs....when they fall out of their chairs....or when they crash the back of their chair into another chair behind them.

Some of you may be thinking that having these balls would spell DISASTER....I thought so too. Here's what I came up with....I offered to let any and all of the kids bring the balls in, if they thought they could benefit from it. Then once some of the balls started coming into the classroom, we had a fairly serious class discussion about the balls...I asked for one volunteer to come to the front of the room and demonstrate how NOT to use the ball....this included picking the ball up, throwing the ball, rolling the ball, bouncing really high on the ball, among other things. The kids laughed....no, they cracked up...I let this last for about 2 minutes max, and then I cut it off. They had their fun, and got to chuckle at the inappropriate behaviors. Then I had someone else come up to demonstrate the PROPER way to use the ball...At this point, they had seen the two various ways to use the ball, and they knew which way was acceptable in my classroom. Now they were able to be accountable for their behavior on the balls. And it's worked like a charm! I can't believe it. There are a few times when I need to tap someone on the shoulder if they are bouncing a little too "high"...but for the most part, they totally get it...and treat it like any other learning tool we have in the classroom!



I have seen it literally transform a few of my students' concentration and focus ability....it's just great! I wouldn't say that using these stability balls in the classroom is the solve-all for every student....but for most students, I can see it being such a benefit. Right now, about half of the kids have these balls (and trust me, if you are chuckling at the way that last sentence sounded, with the use of the word balls, I sometimes have to keep myself from chuckling at school when talking about them...luckily only a select few of my students, with older siblings, snicker at the word....). I anticipate a majority of the kids bringing these in within the next few weeks....and I can't WAIT!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

LOST?

Ok....much to your surprise, I am not talking about being LOST, directionally...You know that I'm terrible with directions, maps, and my whereabouts....but this time, I'm not referring to that kind of LOST....

No, no....I'm talking about the show, LOST!

I have recently become quite hooked on the show. However, there is a dilemma at hand...I have only been able to get through the FIRST season of the show and the premier for Season 4 is upon me in a mere 4 days. That means I have yet to see Seasons 2 and 3, which are probably fairly crucial to understanding and the plot of Season 4.

So I've been debating....do I just start watching Season 4 and dismiss the other 2 seasons (for now)....or do I ignore the fact that the premier commercial is playing every 5 minutes and keep the TV off on Thur. nights at 7 pm? I mean, I could just watch this season (I heard it's only 8 episodes because of the writer's strike)....and then go back and watch the other 2....but at the same time, that almost feels like I'd be cheating...

Gosh....I can't figure out what I want to do...such a predicament. Well....in either case....in honor of the LOST premier....I had to find some sort of picture for the blog...and the one below is as close to LOST as I could find in my photo album...beach...water....running....pretty much like a scene from the show:)

Happy LOST-ing!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

wopperjawed

Well...

This may come as a shock to some of you....but the word wopperjawed actually exists....I found it on Wiktionary with the definition reading:

Askew; Turned or twisted to one side.

(http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wopperjawed)

To use the word in context:

My sunglasses are wopperjawed.

There you have it folks...You can now rest easily, knowing that I did not put some crazy, unknown word into my vocab:)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Girl's Night...

I really can't think of a better way to spend "girl's night" than with bunch of wonderful ladies, delicious pizza, a few tasty wine-a-ritas, and the Fantasia Barrino movie on Lifetime Television:) Enough said!



PS...If you are a guy reading this...you KNOW you wish you were able to join in on the fun:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Paper Cuts...

I was at school the other day, passing out several papers, and within a 5 minute time frame, I gave myself at least 2-3 good papers cuts. In between the pain and frustration of these silly little cuts, I was pondering the idea of paper cuts compared to other "pain" that we go through in life.

I think the reason why paper cuts can be so brutal is because they are SO unexpected. A paper cut is not the kind of pain that you can anticipate...not like the pain from an upcoming dentist visit, or a shot from the doctor. Those types of pains you can prepare yourself for...but a paper cut....not so much...in the blink of an eye, in a split second, you have gone from being happy and content, with no thought of pain...to experiencing a sting great enough to have you rambling off a few choice words ("Bummer" and "Owwwwie" of course!).

Similar to paper cuts are those pains that you experience in life that catch you totally off guard. Some "pain" in life you can prepare yourself for (although that doesn't necessarily make it any easier, or less painful)...for example, it is painful to watch some of my student's struggle with various academic tasks, but it is something that gradually happens, and is not "out of the blue"...or the loss of a sick pet...while all are equally painful, it's the way in which the pain is introduced that is really brutal.

Sometimes life throws you not so pleasant situations....ones that you would not expect to come your way...and you are forced to deal with them right here...right now...it is in those times where your tenacity shines through.

I've tried to contemplate which seems "easier" to deal with...something that lingers above your head for some time...or something that catches you totally off guard...its like the band-aid analogy...take it off slowly and carefully, or rip it off nice and fast. Ehhh....I'm really not sure what I'd prefer....but I do know that life seems to throws those paper cuts at you during the times when you would least expect it...when you think everything is great....SLICE....there you have it...a fresh paper cut and yet another life lesson to be learned:)

Oh the things that circle my mind from doing something as simple as passing out papers. Gotta love it:)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Keeping up with the times...

Well it looks like it's been over a year since the last time I posted on this blog. Wow. That is just not acceptable, in the least. Here are the best excuses I could come up with:

1. Life is busy...enough said.
2. I have been doing some "blogging" via facebook, so I neglected this blog
3. I never know if anyone checks this blog, so its less motivating to write on...
4. I forgot my log-in and password!?!

There you have it...4 valid reasons for not using this...in over a year...:)

Here's the deal. Recently my brother started a blog and linked my blog from his...I realized I couldn't be linked in someone else's blog without having mine up to date. Plus the reality of who I am is that I love writing...sometimes too much....for those of you who have gotten emails of lengthy measures, you know this far too well! So, it's not really a pain to write in here, it's just a matter of remembering to.

I have yet to find out a good way to figure out if people even remember half as often to check this blog, as I remember to post. I mean, while I thoroughly enjoy writing, sometimes you write for an audience, and when you aren't sure of your audience, it seems slightly pointless. I suppose for those with blogs, they can put a link in theirs and use that as a reminder to check it out....for those of you without blogs, I guess the next best thing would be to bookmark me:)

Anyway....I have started making a list of things to blog about...because I always think of things on the fly, but generally don't have time at the moment to write them down...thus the list has been started. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the last year + in review...