Ouch! Paper Cuts, Sick Students And Other Things

This is a companion piece to yesterday’s post about keeping your room clean and germ reduced. Students (and you) will get ill and have accidents. It is a fact of life. Most of these accidents are of the very minor kind. Since journalists work with paper and sometimes scissors, this usually means minor cuts. At the start of every school year our school nurse gives us a health survival kit. This contains one set of latex gloves, four band aids, four safety pins and five health referral forms. I always supplement to this and I recommend you do too.

Here’s what I stock up on each year. Don’t forget to buy it cheaply and deduct it from your taxes, but remember there is a maximum that the Feds will allow you to deduct.

Band Aids: I get a box of these things each school year and usually run out before the end of May. We do have paper cuts and the occasional scissor cut, but more often than not it is a kid with new shoes or one who cut themselves in the hall between classes. I could send them to the nurse and lose them for 15-20 minutes (half the period – I’m a long way from the nurse’s office a three or four minute stroll) or I can give them a band aid or two and send them to the restroom to wash it off.

First Aid Cream: I get a small tube of this germ fighting ointment too. Tell them to use it sparingly. A dab will do ya.

2×2 Gauze Patches and Medical Tape: Sometimes a band aid isn’t big enough for a long scratch or cut. I’m not talking about a deep cut, but a long cut that just scratches the surface.

Peppermint Candies: These are doubly useful. In most schools, even high schools, kids can not take ANY medicine without going to the nurse. This includes medicated throat lozenges. So a lot of parents won’t give their kids anything to take at school for their sore throat. So I keep some candies on hand. Give them two, that should last them a while. Tell them to suck on it slowly, not to eat it. Second use is for kids who have low blood sugar. Now, this is important – don’t give anything to a diabetic, let the nurse deal with it. But if they are not diabetic and haven’t eaten anything for more than 12 hours, they may get low blood sugar. This happens more than it should with high school girls trying to lose weight. They starve themselves, they get sick to their stomachs, clammy and worse. If you can get them to eat, even better. But a little sugar will keep them from throwing up in your room. Don’t give them too much sugar either. A little water is good too, but again, everything in moderation. So, get a bulk bag of these things for like $3 for 100-150.

Safety pins – These things are not really a medical supply, but more of an emergency clothing helper. At least once a month, I have a student come and tell me that they, or their friend, is having a clothing emergency. They are usually telling the truth. Ripped, torn or just loose a the seams, clothes come apart for dozens of reasons. I buy safety pins in bulk (under $3 for a bag of 100). I usually buy two bags, large and small. I give them out liberally to any who need them. That has included myself more than once in 12 years.

Cups: If you have a student who is feeling a little under the weather and needs something to drink, you don’t want to make them walk down the hall to the water fountain. I recommend keeping some paper or plastic disposable cups in your first aid kit.

Latex Gloves: Our nurse gives us one pair at the start of each school year. I keep them in a quart sized zipper bag. Each year I add another pair and check the old ones to see if they still feel safe to use. I’ve only needed to use them once, but didn’t have time to go and get any. So I didn’t. It was after school and I heard a horrendous noise near my classroom. I went out to investigate and found that one of my student’s sister had been playing around on the stairs with a friend and fell. She had cut herself on her hand and smashed her nose. She was otherwise fine, but bleeding. Blood is a serious disease vector, but I didn’t think about that at the time. Her brother (who was working on a project in my room) and I helped her up and walked her to the school nurses office where the after school duty Asst. Principal helped take care of her and called her parents. Sometimes you have to be more concerned for their well being than your own. If you do get bodily fluids on you, wash up as soon as is practical. Use hot water and soap. This will kill most germs and your skin, if unbroken will protect you from most others.

Lysol Spray: If you ever have a student toss their cookies in your classroom, then you will want this to help cover the smell. Even after the custodian comes to clean it up.

First Aid Training: This won’t fit in your box, but in your mind. I’ve taken several first aid courses over the years and I’m glad I did too. I’ve had students pass out in my class, get sick outside of it, get hurt and need help. Sure, the nurse is in the building, but on a field trip, after school hours, or sometimes they need help until the nurse can arrive – then YOU are the nurse. The more you know, the better. You may not be required to take a first aid course, but it is a smart thing to do when you are in parentis locus in other words – you are responsible for them.

Nurse’s Phone Number: Post it prominently in your classroom near the phone.

So, this summer, hit up the dollar store or Walmart and stock up on first aid supplies.

Mr. C

Keep It Clean: Things You Need For Your Classroom

As a media/journalism teacher, you will be with your kids more hours a day than nearly anyone else will. I routinely get to school at 6:30 am and leave around 4:30 pm. During most of that time there are students there, and where there are students – there is mess. What is worse than mess are germs. Here are some things that you might want to keep on hand in your classroom.

Kleenex – This might seem obvious, but I keep it on hand. The kind that the school will give you for free is the “John Wayne” kind – rough and tough, but won’t take snot from anyone. (sorry but true) Buy your own, or have it as one of your classroom supplies for the year. If every kid brings one box, then you won’t need to have them bring any for the next 2 years. Leave a box out in the classroom and keep one on your desk. Insist that the kids use it. Hand it to them if you need to.

Hand Sanitizer – You just won’t believe how many kids (and adults for that matter) don’t or won’t wash their hands. If you work with computer keyboards and mice, then you are passing germs. That goes for cameras and mics too. I use the same system for all these kinds of supplies. Have the kids bring 2-3 supplies each year, most will bring it. Then you have a huge stock pile that will last 1-2 years. Rotate for the supplies your class needs. The kids are the ones using it. So, they are really supplying themselves – you are just the quartermaster.

Broom and dustpan – Messes will happen. Broken glass, shredded paper, crumbs from a birthday cake and more. The custodians are never around when you need them. (Don’t get me wrong – I’m not cracking on them, they are great. But in an emergency, you need to clean up NOW!) Go to the dollar store. Keep it in the closet.

Mop or Swiffer: I highly recommend it. We have yearbook Saturdays once a month Oct.-Feb. every year. This means donuts, juice, milk, soda, chips and often a mess. We have a rule about keeping drinks away from the computers and it is respected. But that means cups and cans are often on the floor and get kicked over. If you have carpet, eww! But we have tile, so it really is not hard to clean up.

Compressed (canned) Air: Keyboards and intake fans get really nasty. Every year, at least once, we clean out every computer and keyboard. The dust can be really incredible. This last year, my server looked like it ate a carpet. Nasty. But it was quick work for compressed air. Just be careful of how quickly the can gets cold. Really cold.

Lysol: Keep a can of the spray on disinfectant to spray on your keyboards and mice once a month. First Friday of the month, lightly spray each one. By Monday morning no one will even smell it. But the germs should be less. During cold season, do it more often.

Alcohol and cotton swabs: Keyboards and other electronics (battery contacts) sometimes need deeper cleaning. Always make sure you don’t over wet anything electronic and disconnect it from the power before cleaning.

Wet Ones: If you are like me, every minute is precious. I often eat lunch in my classroom while helping a student. That means sometimes my multitasking equals multimessing. Wet Ones are quick cleaners for the ketchup or whatever you just dripped on yourself.

Shout Wipes: It will also be a white shirt you drip the barbecue sauce on. Keep a stash of these lifesavers in your desk or closet.

Big Roll of Brown Paper Towels:  Become friends with the custodians.  They will give you one for free.

Keep it clean for safety, health and just plain sanity. Don’t forget to buy it on sale, use a coupon and keep the receipt. Come tax time you can claim everything (up to $200 it think) that you bought for your classroom from your taxes.

Mr. C

Read All About It: Books For Teachers

This is a blog for journalism teachers. Today I will stress the TEACHER part. If you are still new to teaching (five years or less of experience), then these books are for you.

The First Days of School: By Harry Wong. This is a book that every first year teacher should read and many who have taught for a few years can still learn from. Lots of great advice about how to run your classroom and stay organized, planned, focused and maintain discipline.

The Truth About Teaching: By Coleen Armstrong. Short book about what it really is like out there in a real classroom.

South of Heaven: By Thomas French. A Pulitzer Prize winning novel (non-fiction) about real kids in high school. The book focuses on how today’s kids get through their daily lives in a modern high school. Great read.

On Writing: By Stephen King. The master of horror has a great book about how to write. His method is easily adapted to journalistic style and in fact he was both and English teacher and a one time newspaper reporter.

There Are No Shortcuts: By Rafe Esquith. Former National Teacher of the Year from Los Angeles, this inspiring story of how Mr. Esquith and his students refused to let the school, the district and local poverty stop them from learning.

The Radical Write: By Bobby Hawthorne. Mr. Hawthorne is the former head of the Texas ILPC (Interscholastic League Press Conference) and a great teacher, speaker and journalist. I’ve had the pleasure to listen to, meet and even eat lunch with him. He is a great guy and his book is sprinkled with real stories written by student journalists (both good and bad examples). He has great chapters on all the important segments of journalism.

Friday Night Lights: By H. G. Bissinger. This book is a great example of in depth journalism that even your students can understand and enjoy. Mr. Bissinger spends an entire year with a football team at one of Texas’ elite public football high schools – Odessa Permian High. It is a treat for both fans of football and journalism.

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens: by Sean Covey. This book is a great resource for anyone who works with kids, but especially if you work with a yearbook, newspaper or broadcast staff that has to produce a product. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It helps me personally and professionally every day.

AP Styleguide: If you are a journalist or teacher of journalism, then you must have at least one copy of the AP Styleguide in your classroom.

The Elements of Style: A great resource for grammar and punctuation, plus basic rules for good writing.

Happy reading for the rest of your summer.

Mr. C

Gotta Teach It: Grammar and AP Style

Teaching grammar to high school students is like cleaning out cages at the zoo, something best left to others.  But unfortunately, many of our students will come to us less than fluent in English language grammar and punctuation.  Plus  we also have to expose them to AP Style writing.  This will confuse them, because some of it is different from what they are taught in English class.

But here’s a great site that can at least take some of the work off you.  Newsroom101.com has some really good grammar and AP Style quizzes.

Note:  Thanks to editTeach for the link.

Mr. C

Proofreading Quiz

Here is a fun exercise when introducing proof reading to your students. The quiz is short with only 30 mistakes. I actually think that some of the sentence constructions were wordy, awkward or just plain ugly – but that is not the point of the test. I also didn’t like the one trick question about the First or Second World War, which is more about fact checking than grammar.

But with a couple of quick tweaks, this quiz could be fun for testing editors before proofing pages.

I scored only 80 percent, but an 83 if you don’t count the WWI question. That is why we try to proof our pages three times.

Note:  Thanks again to Andy Dickinson, if you don’t read his blog – you should.

Mr. C

News U. Teaches You!

Want to be a better adviser? Of course you do. If you ever wanted to be a better journalist or a better journalism teacher, then you need to get to News U.  Right now they just introduced a great new course called Coaching Tomorrow’s Journalists. You really want to check this out. It has a ton of great handouts and some fun multimedia. It took me about an hour to go through it all.

You will need to register, but that is cool because it gives you access to all the News U free content. And there’s a lot to be experienced. You won’t regret it.

Also, make sure your plug-ins are up to date, especially Flash. And use a modern browser like Firefox for the best results. And finally, you will need a high speed connection like DSL or cable modem.

Mr. C

Hard to Believe It is Free!

Sometimes you stumble across the craziest resources on the internet and you just can’t believe that someone is giving this stuff away! It is cool when you do.

Nortel Communications has a great site that you really have to dig through the layers, dig deep to really appreciate just how cool it is. I have found Windows MovieMaker tutorials, web design tutorials, camera operating videos, copyright law, and much more on this site. It is packed with all kinds of juicy stuff for teaching media of all kinds.

I particularly like the Resources tab, the video production units and the Educator Recommended Sites. This is a gold mine. Check it out!

Mr. C