Clipboard Prospects

The summer is time for reflection. Unfortunately, I reflect an awful lot during the school year too, which means I often wind up reflecting on absolutely frivolous things. Enjoy this example.

I know that one day soon, my beloved pink-and-black fleur-de-lis clipboard will bite the dust. It’s served me well the past four years, and the only real panic I’ve ever had over losing it was when I left it in the cafeteria on top of the piano during a family math night.

Lalala, Miz Houghton misplaced something again.

 

I wish I could share a picture of it with you, but I can’t because it’s nestled on my (SIGNIFICANTLY CLEANER) countertop at school where it always stays (when I’m organized). I bought it at some exorbitant price at City People’s Mercantile shortly into my first year of teaching because I was feeling disorganized and wanted a pick-me-up. When you tap it, it sounds like metal, but a corner of it has chipped, revealing that it’s actually wood.

Important people use clipboards.

 

I’ve been pondering my clipboard’s untimely demise for several years now (“hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” my daddy taught me), but most of the options I’ve seen have this inferior shove-it-open-with-your-thumb closure rather than the alligator clip style. I’ve had clipboards in the former style in my classroom clipboard stock, and they’re always the first to break.

Lovely, but short-lived

 

I’ve noticed that Etsy has started to carry more alligator-style clipboards, but I fret the acrylic ones will crack (this also happens to a lot of my students) and that the paper-covered ones will become sticky or disintegrate with use.

Acrylic Clipboard

Paper-and-Mod-Podged Clipboard

 

So what’s a super-picky girl to do? Goodness knows I’ve a bit of a thing for vintage…

But I feel like vintage for clipboards just means "old."

 

Having whipped myself up into a totally unjustifiable fit of frustration, I finally happened upon THE PERFECT CLIPBOARD.

omg

 

ISN’T IT AMAZING? Feel free to send it to me posthaste.

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Heinemann Microgrant: Please Vote!

I’m applying on behalf of Wildwood and Federal Way GATE teachers for a $500 microgrant through Heinemann. Please vote on our project — you will need to create a user name, but I can’t tell you how much this would mean to my students!

Here are the details of our grant:

Your Name: Shannon Houghton

School Name: Wildwood Elementary

Project Description: Our students love music and are fascinated by instruments, yet most of them have never had the opportunity to see these instruments in person, much less have a chance to play them! This grant will fund a school membership to Soundbridge, a popular local field trip that aligns with our third grade science curriculum. The membership can be used by all classrooms in our school, and the grant will cover transportation for one team of students. Additionally, to ensure that we’re making our field trip experiences as meaningful as possible, we’re investing in professional texts on science instruction, which our district is deeply lacking.

How I Will Use the Funds:
$150 transportation costs
$75 Soundbridge membership fee (visit http://www.Soundbridge.org — this membership is valid for a full year and can be used by multiple classes)
$50 additional admission fee / program fee
$170 professional texts (including shipping; prices taken from Heinmann Spring 2011 catalog: The Essentials of Science and Literacy, Writing in Science, Science Notebooks, Science Workshop, The New Science Literacy, Questions, Claims and Evidence, and Doing What Scientists Do)

Why this is important to me: Our district is completely shifting its focus on science toward an inquiry-based approach. There have been few additional resources and professional development opportunities to help teachers and students deepen their understanding. This grant will not only impact me and my 25 students, but the resources will be shared with students and teachers throughout the district (21 elementary schools) to ensure all students have access to high quality science instruction.

You can vote between February 15 and March 14. PLEASE take five minutes to vote. The funding would be HUGE for us!

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“Deep, deep thoughts.”

Today I was catching up on our Letters to Ms. Houghton, a weekly homework assignment that I stole from Mrs. Chan where my students write to me on Tuesday and then I write back.

Letters to Ms. Houghton

One student wrote, in response to my question of what teachers could do to become better at their jobs, that we should talk with our kids about their “deep, DEEP thoughts.” Rather sage advice from a well-spoken third grader.

I am fortunate enough to have learners who are willing and eager to tackle tough conversations that include their deep, deep thoughts. When I embarked on our first themed literature unit, I hoped we’d be able to just touch the surface of issues of civil rights and standing up for yourself. I had no clue that we’d be having discussions about

  • Why so much time passed between Lincoln and MLK — my students thought that they were contemporaries.
  • Why the North didn’t “need” slavery
  • Why it took so long for black public officials to be elected
  • How Chicano-Latino Americans and Asian Americans were being treated during all of this.
  • the Emmett Till murder and trial
  • the librarian of Basra, Iraq, shuttling 75% of the city’s library to safekeeping
  • Busing — When black kids wanted to go to traditionally white schools (circa Brown vs. Board of Education), did white kids want to come to black schools? (!!! X, thank you for your insight on this one!)
  • Who judges are, and what they do
  • How people of color were able to learn and be taken care of when they were sick if they weren’t allowed into certain schools and other public places. And then how black people became teachers and doctors if they couldn’t go to traditional colleges. (!!! This one blew my mind, my kids are SO SMART)
  • The role of power, money, and religion as being at the core of most conflicts.

My kids have been incredible. They are able to apply these questions to the text we’re reading and the activities we’re doing, so it’s not like we’re spending all our time going off on birdwalks. They are interested when we watch grown-up documentaries and talking-heavy historical footage.

They know that some parts of the past were awful, but they’ve been incredibly mature in not seeking out super-gory details. I firmly believe they understand that the intent of our work together is not merely to discover shocking facts, but to learn from our history and see how we can apply its lessons today.

There are a few more books we’ve related to our theme that I didn’t initially expect we’d use:

Rosa, by Nikki Giovanni

The Librarian of Basra, by Jeannette Winter

My kids also asked that I include this one, because Dan and Amy stand up for themselves even when other family members play dirty, and even when their own aunt gave up on them:

The Maze of Bones, by Rick Riordan

Who knows what else we’ll learn in the next week before the month is over! I can say that I’m definitely ready for something a little less heavy. So our theme for next month might be something along the lines of, “Curiosity leads to discovery.” Discussing inventors and scientists and nonfiction texts…

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Not a Wish List

If you’re wondering how I prioritize the physical materials I’d like to have available in my classroom, you might be interested in checking this out.

This is my budget proposal to the district powers that be:
GATEproposalHoughton.xlsx

This is the accompanying justification:
GATEproposalHoughton.docx

Enjoy!

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