Sunday, October 6, 2013

The T-Shirt Treatise (con't.)

A while back I wrote about how I wanted to use t-shirts as a teaching tool in my classroom. Of course I was being a bit hyperbolic at times and not every shirt was a direct link to the classroom. I have now, though, had the time to start using the shirts in the classroom during certain lessons and on certain days and I wanted to share some of the results that I've collected from the use of the shirts (plus add a few shirts that were recently released by

I did wear this on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It was awesome. I had a whole list of pirate lingo and the students had to write pirate stories using the story dice in my class and an awesome pirate name generator. And we used the shirt as a joke and the hook them to the awesomeness of the day. It was a win-win situation and it was a lot of fun. They were trying to figure out the shirt and we talked about why the pirate crossword puzzle would look like this and how hard it would be to solve. Hilarious! A definite shirt to wear again next year for International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

My students were working on plot in the narratives they are writing. My seventh graders were working on a plot for the origin stories they were writing for their super heroes. Whenever I had a student say they were done, I'd always say "Cool story bro, needs more dragons." It usually meant they were missing the action in the story. They just told me some things, but nothing ever really happened in the story. Plus, many of them needed excitement and we talked about that in one-on-ones to help them improve their writing. The students also got a kick out of the fact that my shirt said "bro." While I don't know how memorable the t-shirt will be, it was a fun way to break the tension for ushering in a need for revisions.

My students are struggling to understand what literally and figuratively mean. So when I ask them to tell me what the idiom of the week LITERALLY means, they give me the idiom definition. When, literally, it means "to hit a sack" or to "find a needle in a haystack," instead of "go to bed" or "finding something small in a big place/area." If I am figuratively speaking, I am using "coded" language to explain something. It was an interesting discussion. Does it bother me that people say "literally"? According to this shirt, no. I'll be wearing it again, especially when we're working on figurative language throughout the year in both of my grade level literacy classes. It doesn't hurt that red is our school color, either.

This shirt was a fun puzzle shirt for my kids. The students who are keeping their eye out for what I'm wearing were already trying to solve the puzzle before I ever even introduced it. I  used this t-shirt on the day we were starting spelling in the classroom. Someone said "I don't get it." I flattened the shirt and let them take a moment thinking about it. I said, "Don't words usually follow the 'I before E' pattern, except after a C where the E would come before the I? Don't you think that's wEIrd?" It was great the students won't forget weird, but I used it as a reminder that the "ie" combination doesn't always go "ie," It might follow the "ei" pattern. That is why we are learning features in spelling, so that they can be aware of the certain types of word structures that occur naturally in the English language. It is a great thinking shirts where the students have to start applying what they know to solve the problem. It also causes that kind of awareness that they need to start developing to be more participatory members of a productive community.

This is a Friday or before a break shirt. Sometimes you just need just exude an indifference to high stress situations. Sixth graders can be incredibly worrisome over things that don't necessitate worrying. I have found this has a tendency to stem from not listening to directions or guidelines. It happens. So I have to "meh away the stress." Plus the kids laugh and I have a tendency to say it alot. It helps facilitate a positive atmosphere before the weekends (especially for me).

What? A Sharknado shirt? Yes! My students were working on their narratives again and I wore this shirt as a reminder of how EPIC they needed to be! I said "we're going to need a bigger classroom with all these amazing ideas!" It worked for my students writing a standard narrative AND those who were working on their super hero origin stories.

This is the shirt I am anticipating the most. While teaching spelling this last week, my students had to deal with certain spelling features which focused on vowel/consonant combinations. So, for example the long a using the CVCe word pattern. (Yeah, it's a little intense, I think, as far as spelling is concerned.) As a review, I asked the students, what are the vowels. . . they are sixth graders. . . and they were like "It's like. . . a-w-sometimes y." I mean, they kept saying w. . . and it made me wonder what disconnect happened where they thought u was w. So I went home that night and I saw this shirt on and knew it was a must. Here are all the vowels that are always counted, partying inside and Y is only invited sometimes. Love it! Hopefully they'd never forget it. We'll just assume they're drinking soda and punch. What? You thought it was alcohol? Shame on you! Be an adult!

Now that I'm getting to wears my shirts in the classroom, it's wonderful to see that my plan for hooking the students is seriously working. My peer coach also recommended having reference posters that remind the students about some of the t-shirts. I'm not sure what I want to do about that. Either way, I am loving being able to wear my t-shirts in the classroom. Complete with dress pants! It's a great idea for use in your classroom if you're a teacher, especially in middle school.

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