Author Archives: kroeningj

About kroeningj

I teach in the 9th Grade Academy at Davenport West High in the great state of Iowa.

Every Minute Matters!

Indeed, it does! Time not spent productively adds up in the end. Even losing one minute in nine weeks adds up to one entire class in the 9th Grade Academy. When the high schools in the DCSD were planning to make the switch to block scheduling, there was a Business teacher at Central who was totally against it. He did the math and it turned out teachers/students would actually lose a signifigant number of days in transitioning from traditional to block scheduling. Therefore, students in his Accounting I classes wouldn’t fully be ready for Accounting II because there wouldn’t be the same number of minutes/days in the block calendar. We lost several days in the change over from traditional to block.

So now when we go to block scheduling for the freshmen next year, I will have all the time in the world, right? Not really. It’s easy to think you don’t have to rush during a 90 minute block.  There’s a pitfall, though. Let’s say you plan three different activities. That’s at least two transitions. If you are not careful, the minutes will slip away. Smooth, quick transitions are necessary. Otherwise, you are back to losing minutes each day that can quickly turn into hours lost, and over the course of time, days! Oh no, I am scaring myself! I think establishing routines will help. It might take some time to train the students, but in the end it will be worth it not be be giving up precious time. Planning, planning, planning.

Learning to be flexible is also important.How many times have you planned the perfect lesson and it is interrupted by a fire drill? Or the day when you plan for student revisions only to learn five of your 25 students completed the written work and are ready to revise. It works the other way, too! How about when your students are really into a discussion and you hate to move on? Learn to be flexible is probably one of the moste important tips I give to student teachers. It doesn’t always go as planned!



It’s About Time!

by Kroeningj

Time is so precious in the classroom, especially when you only have approximately 43 minutes with a classroom of 9th graders. Routines need to be established, but after a while, they sometimes fade away. A more pressing activity has taken it’s place. Or maybe it’s just time to change things up. Regardless, there definitely needs to be a Clean Start to let students know the show is in the road. Without realizing it, I have been using the Clean Start technique for years (211).When I want students to start on an activity I say, “Ready,Set (pause for dramatic effect), Go!” And of course, my students begin immediately, well, sometimes, a few times…However, I have to admit I am not so good at the Clean Finish (212). I do have the standard “Finish up the thought/passage you are on”, but often a student calls out,”It’s time to go” and soon they are out the door. I need to plan better for a Clean Finish.

I might just be back in the classroom teaching a regular schedule next year. Managing a 90 minute block seems daunting after spending five years with skinnies and two more years running a MTSS room. I like All Hands (214). Setting up a routine for answering questions in the beginning of the year only makes sense. Once a student is identified, all hands need to go down and students should then track the speaker. Respectful culture.

Strategies by kroeningj

SLANT: As soon as I read this I knew I had been exposed to it before. It took me awhile, but I remembered SLANT from my KU days. In the mid to late 90’s, I taught at an intermediate school. The resource teacher there was very accessible. She came into one of my 7th grade classes to pilot a project on sentence writing. I was impressed! She explained her approach was of one several produced by Kansas University. She talked me into taking one of the classes offered by our AEA9. I was hooked; I took every KU class/seminar offered in our area by AEA9:Slant

  • Fundamentals in Sentence Writing
  • LINCS: Vocabulary Strategy
  • Routines
    • Recall Enhancement
    • Order
    • Survey
    • Vocabulary LINCing

Then I moved to high school. There was so much more to cover in the curriculum and the students should have the basics down, right? Yes and no. I spent a total of 15 years in the junior high/middle school trenches. I know the curriculum and I know the teachers work very hard to prepare students for high school. However, they get to high school and act like they don’t know what you are talking about!

So back to The Strategies. I am not sure high school students will buy into SLANT, but it is worth a try. If anyone in our book cohort would like to view the entire set of directions, please let me know. I also reviewed my manual for Fundamentals  in Sentence Writing.  I would like to use some of these strategies with the 9th grade students I work with in 9th Grade Success Room. They will soon be writing a research paper and I believe many of them could benefit from this. However, how do I get them to buy into it? This would be additional instruction and practice on their parts. Will students work with me to improve their writing if they are not receiving a grade for the practice work? We have talked about this before. You have to master the basics before you can step up to the next level. Is it more important to me than them? In the end, if a student puts in the extra practice, the reward should be a better grade. Too often the grade doesn’t matter; they just want the assigment completed. How do we change this mentality?

Systems and Routines by kroeningj

When I first started teaching in the 9th Grade Academy, I soon learned I had to develop routines. A forty-three minute class  can’t have much down time. I didn’t want things to be too elementary, but there was definitely a need for organization and expectations.

I was often guilty of trying to multi-tasks during instructions. I now know that is a bad idea but time was so precious. Should I have the students line up outside the door or not. Although it might have seemed like a throwback to elementary school, the activity made my life easier and enhanced the beginning of class. It gave me time to finish completely with one group before the next adventure began. I also didn’t have to worry about what was going on in my room while I was supposed to be monitoring the hallways. In addition, if students were lined up, they were not clogging up the hallways for others.

Technique #57: What to Do. Use specific, concrete, squential, and observable directions to tell students what to do, as opposed what not to do.

#57 is very important in the 9th grade world! Freshmen can get off task in a heartbeat. They love to respond/argue any chance they get.

“Knock it off, Johnnie.”

“What am I doing?”

This could go on forever.

“Pencils are made for writing, Johnnie.”

Stops tapping. “Oh. Sorry.”

Will I always be able to put a positive spin on a negative behavior. Probably not. But with a little practice, I bet I could get pretty good at it!




No Apologies by kroeningj

“It’s in the curriculum.” I have said this to my students. However, this is ironic because I had a hand in revising the curriculum. It’s not acceptable. No more apologies.

The alternatives to apology listed on p. 124 remind me of my bulletin board-Change your words; change your mindset. I guess it works for teachers, too!


Last year I had a group of less than motivated students. When it came time to do Romeo and Juliet, I used the alternative text. I told myself we would never be able to get through the original text. Now, I wonder if I really did for them or was it for me? The alternate text was easier to understand, but I robbed them of “the hard necessary to scholarship (122). If I am going to make my students talk standard English and in complete sentences, I should not be introducing them to alternative texts. It’s in the curriculum for a reason!

I saved this a couple of years ago. Fits in nicely to Chapter 3! I Don’t Know