Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer

My fourth grade son, Carter was assigned to read a fiction book for a book report.  I like to "gently persuade" him away from Captain Underpants and try some new books out that might teach him something new.  So we tried out Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer by John Grisham.  

The website is pretty cool too with visuals and opportunities to explore the courtroom.

We read it together and he learned a lot!  The vocabulary alone taught him all sorts of new information.  Some of it was over his fourth grade head like illegal immigration laws, but interesting children's book.  From my perspective, Grisham could use a little more skill with connecting with the child audience but did an okay job at bringing the law to a "lower" level.  

Here is the book box Carter created to share with his class.  It was a courtroom with lego's.  The box was covered in some of the new vocabulary with definitions that he typed up.  I've added it below.  

Law Vocabulary
(Legal Jargon)

defense:  the lawyer trying to convince not guilty

prosecutor:  the lawyer trying to convince guilty

jurors:  12 people from town chosen to listen to the case and decide guilty or not guilty

defendant:  the person on trial

verdict:  guilty or not guilty

at rest:  when both lawyers are done giving their side of the story

cross-examine:  when the other lawyer asks questions to the witness

witness:  people called to sit up on the stand by the judge and tell their side of the story

evidence:  a crucial thing or object used to convince guilty

DNA:  a type of evidence used sometimes in cases from body/hair particles

mistrial:  when a judge decides to postpone a case for some reason

illegal immigrant:  a person living or working in our country without a passport, visa or the right papers. 

courthouse:  the place that holds offices for the judges and the different courts like animal court, criminal court, family court, probate (wills) court, and others.

paralegal: an assistant to lawyer

stenographer:  the person who types every word said in court for the court record which is private to the public.

El Salvador: a place in a different country

gavel:  the hammer looking thing a judge holds

overruled:  what judges say to stop an argument between lawyers

contempt:  when someone gets in trouble and might have to be placed in jail by the judge for disrupting or bothering the judge or the case. 

circumstantial:  when there is no exact evidence or witness but it seems like the person might be guilty

presumed innocent:  everyone is supposed to be thought of as innocent until the lawyer proves them guilty with facts, evidence and witnesses. 

surprise witness:  a last minute person who saw something or knows something and is introduced into the case surprising the jurors

proof:  a piece of evidence that shows for sure that someone is guilty or not.

presumed:  to make an opinion before hand without hearing all the arguments fairly.

plead:  the official way the defendant feels.  He can plead that he is innocent and didn’t do it or guilty and go on to get his punishment from the judge.

bench:  the chair and table where the judge sits. 

allegedly:  that someone might have done something but it’s not proven yet, like a rumor.

confidentiality:  anything a person says to a lawyer can’t be repeated and is totally private and confidential

“to walk”:  when a guilty person is ruled not guilty and gets to go free even though he did it.

opening statements:  the summary at the start of a trial given by the lawyers to show what they plan on proving

bailiff:  the person who guards the prisoner and also says, “The court is now in session” 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Another Big Fat Study I liked

Plants on every table.  Water bottles everywhere.  Indirect lighting with limited florescents.  Brain gym.  Brain breaks.  Music.

These are additions to the classroom that you'd see in a Brain Compatible Classroom.  Here is a study that I liked from May 2007 entitled,

Which Brain Research
Can Educators Trust?

Neurological research has discovered much about how the brain works, Dr. Willis writes. But educators need to be cautious when applying this research to teaching. BY JUDY WILLIS, M.D.

Highlights include: 

 "Good-quality, peer-reviewed brain research can provide solid biological data and explanations, but educators need to be cautious about the claims that are said to be based on brain research."(p698)

Teaching strategies derived from well-controlled neuroimaging studies are at best compatible with the research about how the brain seems to respond preferentially to the presentation of sensory stimuli." (p699)

"It would be premature and against my training as a med- ical doctor to state that any of the strategies that claim to be brain-based are as yet firmly validated by the complete meshing of simultaneous cognitive studies, neuroimaging, and educational classroom research. For now, a combination of the art of teaching and the science of how the brain responds metabolically to stimuli will be the best guide for educators in their efforts to find the best neuro-logical ways to present information in ways that potentiate learning." (p699)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Disney Themed Classroom

I visited a first grade classroom whose physical environment was decorated entirely Disney.  I've heard a lot of student teachers over the years want to do their classroom that way.  Here are some quotes and ideas...

Mousketeer of the week given out the first week of school and highlighted throughout the year. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Good Book

If you haven't read this latest book of poems, you've been missing out.  It has been released by Silverstein's family. If you liked Silverstein's other books, such as Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends,you'll recognize poems — like "Frightened" — as vintage Shel:

"There are kids underneath my bed,"
Cried little baby monster Fred.
Momma monster smiled. "Oh, Fred,
There's no such things as kids," she said.
"Every Thing On It includes 145 poems in all. Silverstein eliminated many of them from his earlier books, not because he didn't like them, but because they just didn't happen to fit in the perfect order he was looking for in a given collection."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Inspiring Rejection Letters

"Early-1976, aged 18 and still in high school, aspiring artist Tim Burton sent both a letter and copy of his illustrated children's book - The Giant Zlig - to Walt Disney Productions in the hope that they would publish it. Weeks later, he received a very polite rejection letter from an editor named T. Jeanette Kroger in which she outlined her impressions of his submitted work and offered predominantly positive feedback. Both letters can be seen below.


Tim Burton's letter:

Dear Sirs,

I am submitting this book in hopes that you might consider publishing it. The book has been layed out in rough form, and I would be glad to make any changes that you feel would be nessecary. I would hope to hear from you either way. Thankyou.


Tim Burton

Disney's polite rejection:

February 19, 1976

Dear Tim:

Here are some brief impressions of your book, The Giant Zlig.

STORY: The story is simple enough for a young audience (age 4-6), cute, and shows a grasp of the language much better than I would expect from one of today's high school students, despite occasional lapses in grammar and spelling. It may, however, be too derivative of the Seuss works to be marketable--I just don't know. But I definitely enjoyed reading it.

ART: Considering that you suffer from a lack of the proper tools and materials, the art is very good. The characters are charming and imaginative, and have sufficient variety to sustain interest. Your layout is also good--it shows good variety in point-of-view. Consequently, I not only enjoyed reading about the Giant Zlig, but I got a chuckle watching him, too.

I hope my comments please you. Thanks for the opportunity to readThe Giant Zlig; keep up the good work, and good luck.

Very truly yours,

(Signed, 'Jeanette')

T. Jeanette Kroger
Walt Disney Productions
Just three years after the knock-back Burton graduated from CalArts with a degree in character animation, at which point he was quickly hired by Walt Disney Animation Studios."

Friday, June 8, 2012

End of School for a Fourth Grader

Here are some favorites from my son's last day of school portfolio items.  His traced foot and hand,  and a string to show how tall he was from the first day of school to show how much he grew. As well as his goals for the year. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cool Schools #1

I've decided to start a new running series called "Cool Schools" after visiting one just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.  My camera phone has been having issues so I apologize for some of these small, blurry ones.  I recommend if you are around to take a tour for yourself, though because it truly is a magical place.

Kauri Sue Hamilton School - Jordan School District

In this public school district, they received donated funds for the land and building, which left lots of funding to equip the school to it's optimal potential.  It is a K-12 school for profound and severely special needs children that are bused in from all over the district. 

I just kept thinking that "the least of these my children" had the "best that money could buy."  If I had a special needs child that qualified, I would buy a house in the district just for this school!

Here are some pics from my tour.

The cafeteria with full service kitchen and staff.

A sensory room for stimulation including colors, smells, lights and textures. 

Some of the equipment lining the halls including trampoline and wagons. 

The atrium for school gatherings.  These students in wheelchairs were preparing for the school show by doing a "dance" to The Little Mermaid songs.   

More equipment in the hallways including a variety of wheelchairs   

One of the "gym" rooms with a ball pit 

The speech therapists office which houses four therapists that go to the classrooms with mobile carts. 

The OT/PT lab 

A lab for fine motor skills and projects. Student practice sorting and other skills that might cross over to future jobs.   

The music room with music specialist and fully equipped instruments and stereo system.

Some book bags prepared by an eagle scout to check out 

The vocational lab where students can sort laundry and learn other trade skills 

The nurses clinic with five full time nurses on staff that visit the classrooms with medications.  There is also a medicaid office on the school site for parents.  

The laundry facility 

A library built through grant funds by my tour guide and student teacher with leveled texts to check out. 

A classroom with harness available for lifting children out of wheelchairs. 

Another classroom.  Everyone that I saw was open door and very friendly.  They all have baby gates to keep the "runners" from leaving the classroom. 

Each classroom also has a closet like this with full size refrigerator, a full size office and a wall of cabinets with microwave. 

All classrooms have a doc camera, a smart board, projector and microphone

The tub room with a sanitizing tub.

Here is one of the gyms.  

Another gym

The atrium from the ground floor

The doorway to the teachers lounge which was very nice!

One of the classrooms had a containment room for escalating violent behavior.  They never used it and stored balls in there.

Some of the amazing staff.  Here is a Teachers Assistant helping keep one of desks from tipping over with a rocking student.  The dress code there is functional for a lot of floor sitting.  

Hard to see but both these boys are strapped in to their desks with seatbelts. 

Some of the assistive technology equipment available.  These are push button, teacher recorded devices with the pledge, the schedule and Yes or No answer buttons.  

This student is in a contained chair that locks.  She called it the "hardrock desk"

This student is wearing leg braces and special shoes since one leg is shorter than the other.  These are equipped by the school.

The locker room with changing table and harness

The full size lap pool with handicapped beach entry

The hot tub with handicapped entry and harness.  Each class visits the pool once or twice a week.  

That's all for my first installment of Cool Schools!  I immediately called my speech teacher mother and told her I had just seen her dream school!  If you are ever in Utah....Go Visit!

So long Kauri Sue for now!