Wednesday, August 21, 2013

T-shirts, T-shirts Everywhere, but Which One to Wear!

I am a huge t-shirt nerd. I love t-shirts that say geeky things. I love t-shirts that show I've been to a concert or an event. I do not, though, love Hard Rock t-shirts. I prefer their pins. We were unpacking some of our clothes bins and I was even finding t-shirts from when I was in high school! X-Files, No Doubt, and, of course, my skater shirts that say things like HOAX!

My husband reintroduced my teacher passions one Christmas when he purchased me a LOST t-shirt and a shirt that had nuns on it which said "All the Single Ladies." I mean, I was known as the nun girl because of my dissertation work, so it was perfect! Since then I have only very slowly added t-shirts to my wardrobe again. This time, they've been more teacher-orientated t-shirts. T-shirts are considered taboo professional wardrobe choices, but as a literacy teacher, I find them to be a fascinating and overlooked teaching tool!

This year, I spent my time browsing SnorgTees and I developed a meaningful t-shirt oriented teacher wardrobe that is a great hook for some of the lessons or mini-lessons that I teach. If I were still teaching Science, I would have so many more listed, but I'm only teaching Literacy this year. I would just like to note that these would be worn with dress pants and/or a little jackety-type-adult thing.

1. Do Not Read the Next Sentence
I wanted to wear this the first day of school, but I'm already wearing my Star Trek Red Shirt (our school colors are red, black, and white and we're supposed to wear a red shirt on the first day). But I wanted to wear this to give the kids a laugh and feel a little special. I also wanted to give the hint that I appreciate thinking outside the box. I honestly do. This is more of a classroom management shirt for the first week of school to encourage students to be themselves and feel comfortable with my sense of humor. I'm a little weird.

2. Misuse of Literally Makes Me Figuratively Insane
This shirt is for my days when I am introducing or working with Figurative language. We do work with idioms in sixth grade and we have a small unit at the end of the year on Figurative language. I try to make the point that figurative doesn't mean what is says directly, so it's not literal. This is especially important for English Language Learners and English as a Second Language learners. To recognize these pieces of the language as having another meaning is incredibly beneficial to them. 

3. Thesaurus
What kind of a Literacy teacher would I be if I didn't encourage my students and teach them how to use a Thesaurus to improve their writing! Last year, when I worked with my kids, it was like they had never heard of one before. This t-shirt would function as a hook and, eventually, become a running gag in the room for the kids to feel just a little more special about using a Thesaurus when editing and revising. Plus, several of my students are still really into dinosaurs and that's always a bonus!

4. Cool Story Bro, Needs More Dragons
This is another hook shirt that I can use when we are writing our stories early in the year or when I do some writing activities throughout the year. Students sometimes forget that it's not a personal attack when a teacher reads their writing. Don't get me wrong, there are teachers who do make it a personal attack, but for me, I'm not here to criticize your STORY. I'm here to help you package your story better. Sometimes, your story is right there. . . it's amazing, but it needs a little something extra. I thought this t-shirt was a great way to create a funny catchphrase for the kids when there's just a little something extra needed. For me, humor takes the edge away from making the kids feel like they are being attacked. It doesn't work for everyone, but it worked for most of them last year. I wanted to wear this on revising or teacher writing conference days.

5. Most Intelligent Person in the World Citation Needed
This t-shirt is a must for any teacher trying to teach kids to use citations. This is a huge deal in Middle School and I worked with my kids relentlessly to improve their justification of their information when we moved into all our research-based writing. As someone who had a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill sit her down and say he doesn't care about anything she wrote, because it's arrogant that I made no citations indicating research or the work of others, I get the importance of citations. Plus, I do a 2 day lesson on plagiarism. This year, I have a little Volturi picture that I'm going to hang on the board with all the "plagiarized" papers hanging under it, to remind students that they need to cite their work. More on that when I get there.  So, clearly, this is a learning tool and a great hook to bring the kids in.

6. Free Contradictions
I think sometimes kids don't pay close attention to what they write or say. Sometimes they need a reminder about what it means to contradict. This one I'd actually need to stretch a little on, I think.

7. Inconceivable Definition
This would be used to break down dictionary definitions. Or at least, I could wear it on that day to help
reinforce what they are learning with a funny joke! It's all about the dictionary! This can also be used for the idea of a character having a catch-phrase.

8. One Smart Cookie
What is that cookie doing that is making it smart? Oh. . . reading. Well, would you look at that! Cookies that are smart read, what are YOU doing? A potential subliminal message associating smart and reading with the need for a cookie!

9. Allow Myself to Introduce... Myself
I actually want to use this one for an introduction project I have the students working. During the first week of school they are making their own QR Avatar, which will link to a PREZI they created that shares information about themselves. This was just a geeky connection to the activity and not really a necessity, but a funny one, at least.

10. Friends Don't Let Friends Use Comic Sans
My students are OBSESSED with fonts. Heck, I think I was even a font-fanatic back in the day when fonts were actually NEW! I typically ask my students to follow a common professional rule about Times New Roman. My kids get all frustrated that I request this of them, but when it's a paper that I have to read and it's research, I need you to be sensible in your font choices. If you give them an inch, they take a foot. So I thought this shirt was funny, because it might be a good way to remember than you're supposed to use TNR instead of CS.

11. Bono Can't Live Here
I. . . LOVE. . . VENN DIAGRAMS!!! Sure the reference might be a bit over their heads, but the message is still the same. And let me tell you. . . Venn Diagrams are in constant use. Love it! Live IT!! With or Without you!

12. I Hate Rhyming
When I am teaching poetry, I try to teach my kids that it's not always about rhyming. They are still stuck in that mindset of cat/mat and frog/bog. NO NO NO Dear child! During some of your most developmentally profound expressive years, you must understand that poetry is not about rhyme ONLY, it's about the form! The form could mean you have to rhyme or it could be the rhythm or the syllables or any number of things! So don't be scared to break away from the rhyme!

13. Pirate Crossword
I like to take the time to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day! This occurs on September 19th. I let the kids have fun sounding out how to spell pirate words and using their background knowledge to help create their own pirate dialogue. This year I want to have them use the story dice to create a suspenseful pirate story! This shirt highlights the hilarity of pirate speak.

14. Support Recycling
We celebrate all that hippy stuff about taking care of the Earth. What better way to help save the Earth than the conserve water by recycling what you wear? Just a fun shirt to wear on those days when we're supposed to think about how our behaviors affect the world around us. I mean, seriously. . . do we ALWAYS have to wash a shirt after only one wear?

15. Save the Clocktower
Okay, this one is just silly, but I thought it would be fun to wear at fundraiser events. We do a lot of them at school and, well. . . sometimes it's good just to have fun.

16. Always Give 100%, Unless You're Donating Blood
Just a reminder shirt that you should make sure to always give 100% in all areas. Sometimes a good reminder shirt to wear after the winter break when students start to fade a bit. I like the message and it's funny. Again, something that could be used for various things in the classroom. Maybe even WKCE testing (or whatever standardized test those poor kids are being subjected to). We all need a good smile on those days.

17. Haiku T-Shirt
A prize to any student who figures out I'm wearing a haiku on my shirt on the day I'm teaching them how to write a haiku! This one is self-explanatory.

18. Alliteration is Alarmingly Addictive
I am an alliteration geek through and through. I've used alliteration in names and labels and all sorts of things. I overuse alliteration in such a bad way, I could hardly pass up a t-shirt about it! Plus it's something we use in the poetry unit that I teach and I could always wear it then.

19. Hold Your Horses
IDIOMS!!! See above about the importance of figurative and literal understandings of phrases. This is one of the ones we use for idioms. Brilliant!

20. Classic Blunders
I liked this one when we're working on comprehension strategies. We have to pull out the importance information and understand the meaning behind what is being said. Clearly there are two classic blunders, but what does Vizzini mean when he says these things? Just an example of a teaching tool.

21. One Brick, Two Brick, Red Brick, Blue Brick
We celebrate Dr. Seuss Week and, ultimately, his birthday. What better way to celebrate geek and Seuss than to wear this shirt? Enough said.

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