Do you do lesson plans?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I was having a conversation with my team on Friday. Three of them are very frustrated with our district and very burnt out. They have what I call "Screw the Man Syndrome." They don't want to put in very much extra effort to do their jobs. I believe that they are all very good teachers, but they try to leave right away at the end of the day, not bring work home, etc. That's all fine and dandy-to each their own.

    I, however, leave pretty much right away after school, and rarely bring work home, but I do go in on Sunday to plan lessons and get organized for the upcoming week (usually for about 5 hours). This has been my "system" ever since I began teaching 5 years ago. It works for me at this point in my life (no kids of my own). One of the teachers on my team told me that I should really stop doing that. I get really frustrated and annoyed when people say this to me. I can do whatever I want to do. How many other teachers come in early, stay late, and/or take work home with them? This is my way of doing things, and it's my choice.

    Anyway, the teacher who told me that I should stop coming in was like, "You don't even have to turn in lesson plans, do you?" (You only have to turn them in if you are in your first 3 years of teaching.) I told her no, and she said, "Well, then why do you do plans?" :eek: :dizzy: Well, because I have to know what I am going to teach!!! This teacher is 1-2 years away from retirement...I can't believe that she doesn't think I should be doing lesson plans!!! How could anyway begin their week without guided reading plans, math plans, shared reading plans, etc.?!

    Even if you didn't have to turn in your lesson plans, would you still plan what you are going to do for the upcoming week? Apparently I'm weird for doing this...
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I've never made lesson plans except for the nine I had to do during my first year internship. I know what I'm teaching...I have plans. I just don't have "lesson plans".

    Yep, to each his own. Do what makes you happy. I do less as I get older because I am claiming more of my life for myself...but I still do too much and I'm at school too much. Give me a couple more years... ;)
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    We don't turn them in but can be asked for them. I am a big believer that lesson plans should be what you need to actually teach and not something that you spend hours writing to just to impress an administrator. I usually do my plans a week at a time for each subject. I write the day/subject, special materials (to remind myself if I need to get something together, I don't bother listing "pencils" or whatever), the objective (required to write on board) and a couple of bullet points about what I'll be doing in that lesson. For guided groups I write who I want to see and then a brief statement of what we'll be doing that day. It's usually about three pages at the most for the week with all subjects combined. I do know teachers who still do the college-type lesson plans where they write questions that they want to ask, play-by-play of what the students are doing, specific assessments, etc. If you really need that for yourself I think that's the teacher's business, but personally I don't feel this is something I need to spend time on as it doesn't really help me or the kids. I would say I spend about an hour on plans for the week and much longer on actually creating/gathering resources since my school doesn't provide a lot.
     
  5. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I would absolutely still do plans even if it wasn't required. Especially with those younger kids-5 minutes spent trying to figure out what you are going to do and you can totally lose them. Now what I do often changes from the plans (the book I read, for example)-but I would need all those objectives laid out for me.

    It would also make me angry if someone on my team was telling me how to prepare-especially since you are an experienced teacher.
     
  6. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    When planning a unit, I usually brainstorm a bunch of stuff. I decide how much time I want to spend on it, eliminate or brainstorm more if needed. My 'plans' can be as simply as going through my brainstorm list. I can keep it all in my head, so I am terrible about writing it down. My P knows I have it all (she can ask and I will tell it all to her), but she feels that I should write it down in case of an emergency. Meh. I have an emergency sub folder that has 2-3 days work of plans.
     
  7. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    I have to turn in very long detailed lesson plans each week. Before this was a requirement though, I still did my lesson plans each week only they were much more basic.

    I will give myself an hour to work in my room each day after school to get everything ready for the next day and I try finish everything on Friday. This way I leave the evenings and weekend for my family and for rest.

    I will change up the plans I make during the day, but I really don't feel as though I would be a very effective teacher if I tried to "wing it" all the time.
     
  8. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I do my plans a lot like waterfall. I write each subject, the objective and the accompanying class work and page number that goes with it. The only time i write super detailed lesson plans is when i have an observation.

    I don't come in on Sundays anymore because the mice scare me. (When the building is quiet they take over. it skeeves me out). i think Sundays are good to come in when you can because you get so much work done. when u are there with other people you have to wait for the machine, make small talk, etc. very distracting. when i used to go in on sundays, I would get more accomplished in an hour then three to four hours working after school on a weekday.

    anyhow my m.o. now is to stay about one to two hours each evening unless I have something to do.

    If someone gripes about Sunday it's because they are jealous or feel guilty that they aren't staying longer and doing more. Tell them what you told us "it works for me".
     
  9. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I do plans every week. We have to upload upload them to the staff server on Monday so our P has access to them. Also, i do all my planning at school because I come in very early and leave at 4. Every teacher has his or her own system, so I don't think it is fair for anyone to try to get you to change your system that works for you.
     
  10. DrivingPigeon

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    Exactly!

    My plans are not very detailed, unless I'm teaching something that isn't routine (a new science unit vs. a read-aloud). It would just feel weird to walk into school in the morning and not know what you're doing that day! Also, I know that many of the teachers at my school who do not plan tend to run off a lot of worksheets to have on hand.
     
  11. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    It is none of their business when or if you do extra work for you class. They might be saying it though, because it makes you stand out and thereby makes them look bad. Especially if they have a screw the many attitude right now. You coming in on Sunday makes it obvious that you aren't screwing the man and thus not on their side.

    About lesson plans - I would no more judge them for not doing lesson plans than I would be expected to be judged for work on Sunday. You can't very well get upset about them getting into YOUR business, when you turn around and get into theirs. If they don't need lesson plans, more power to them.

    Last week was our week back after Spring Break. I had lesson plans made before we left on vacation. Came back, had plans written on the board and within ten minutes of class realized I was off by an entire day. Because of the activities and need to share within the department, my entire week was messed up then. So each day I walked in with a "what am I going to do today?" I knew where I was going because I've taught the subject several times. So I made my plans on the fly.

    I could totally see how someone who has been doing it for 20+ years would not need formal lesson plans at all.
     
  12. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I take a weekly planner and write down what I plan to do for each class. I have so many different classes (3rd-9th grade science/biology and 9th English) if I didn't write stuff down I'd be lost. But my plans are exactly this descriptive:

    "Powerpoint with guided notes on mitosis, pg. 155-160, virtual lab"
     
  13. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I feel the same way. Plus I am not good at trying to come up with something last minute. My plans are very important to me. I bring them up on my computer as soon as I get in and go through them. That also allows me to ensure I have everything ready for the day.
     
  14. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I write down a basic outline for the day, but everything is planned. I know what I am going to teach and what my goals are for each lesson. It's not detailed, though.
     
  15. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I still write lesson plans for the week. They may not be as detailed as the ones I write when I am out, or being observed; but I still write them. I also save them from year to year to check my pacing and to see how I approached a topic from the previous year.
    With common core upon us, we are expected to be able to tell what standard we are covering on any given day. Thus, planning makes that easier-it is written in my plan book.
    We are not allowed into the buildings on the weekend, so I go to school early every morning and leave right after school. It works for me.
    I think whatever works for you is what you should do-regardless of what others may think.
     
  16. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I have to be organized, so even if I didn't have to write plans, I still would. I will admit that after I write them, I rarely look at them. I need them so I know what copies to make & how to organize the copies.
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    My plans are pre-set as a team each semester so we all teach the same thing at the same time (we've had students switch teachers for one reason or another, and this keeps it easier for those kids). Live teaching sessions have to be planned out in advance. We teach in teams of three or four teachers. If we didn't have a map of who was running what activity, it would be a mess.

    At this point, I cannot imagine trying to wing it in the classroom.
     
  18. John Lee

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    What you are describing, is extremely common in teaching... that is, teachers (who happen to reside at the top of their district's pay scale) doing the least possible in doing their job...

    Do not let the attitude of others bring you down to their level, because that is common too. They try to shame you into not going the extra mile. I see these types of teachers bring an almost transient sort of existence to teaching, as if teaching is a side gig to them (they always seem to have their purse or their jacket or sunglasses on top of their heads, as if in a constant readiness to leave). I know elementary teachers who, even in the middle of the school year, didn't seem to know the names of all of her students!
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    This is how I plan (English)
    we're reading stories from the textbook, include a lesson component (of a concept, like direct / indirect characterization), and vocab. I like to do assessments and conclude that 'unit' on a Friday, so because our classes are short (48 minutes), unit will take 2 weeks. I call it a unit, because I'm not following the textbook strictly, I can jump around all I want.

    So:
    - I know the starting and end point.
    - I know that I have to have enough vocab development for the students to master the words, so warm up every day is vocab.
    - the lesson on the concept is on Monday and then revisit throughout the 2 weeks
    - read the story, take a few days
    - questions - comprehension checks, interprations, etc. Include the concept.
    - writing component: 11 sentence paragraph, will normally take 2 days
    - review and test.

    This is actually all in my head, I don't even need to write it down. I always make a Powerpoint, that's how I plan, so my lesson plan is on a powerpoint, because the first slide every day is the agenda for that day.

    What I want t do is spend maybe 3-4 hours on the weekend to get all this done (2 different preps), and then just touch up / adjust during the week. I don't know yet how fast / slow we can go, things can happen that will cause an adjustment, so I'm staying flexible.
    But I don't feel the need to actually write a plan. If my P asked me for one, I could have it all done in 20 minutes.
     
  20. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    For the last 9 years I've had to turn in lesson plans for the entire week by Monday morning. I have never missed a deadline, but I know teachers who have not turned them in on time. They were first warned, and those who didn't comply were written up.

    Personally, I do think it goes a bit too far. I like to plan 3 days in advance and be really prepared. I don't see the necessity of having Friday's plans done before the students arrive on Monday except that this makes it easier for the P.
     
  21. Mathemagician

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    We have to submit ours, but all we need is the objective and a few bullet points.
     
  22. Avalon

    Avalon Rookie

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    I start the year with the state standards and map how I will apply them throughout the year to best prepare my students for state testing in May, noting the sequence of approximately 2-3 week units in my lesson plan book.

    Using standards-based assessments, I backward-map from each of the formal assessments, which I administer every two - three weeks (about) during the year. I list the standards that will be covered on the assessment, divide them up in the 10-15 instructional days we will have, with emphasis on the 'power' standards that will have the most questions, and concepts I anticipate will be most challenging. I plan for each two week interval, starting about a week in advance.

    I then prepare power point presentations, create learning activities to support the concepts, and gather resources I will need - books, photos, examples, rubrics, graphic organizers, sentence frames, vocab cards, etc.

    I jot down in my lesson book which lessons/activities I will use each day, including bell work, supplies needed, checking for understanding strategies, etc., with extra room in each unit to reteach as needed, or preview concepts from the next unit.

    So I am never unprepared or attempt to "wing it," which to me is the opposite of good teaching and would be a disservice to my students.

    Having said that, I also never prepare a written lesson plan unless I am required to, or want to share a lesson with a colleague. I have limited time, which I try to use efficiently and balance with a personal life, and writing down what is already so well-planned cognitively, would, for me, be time-consuming while contributing nothing substantive to my lessons or my students learning.

    To answer your question another way, veteran teachers are (I hope) not actually 'winging it,' but are working from prior experience with the same lesson that is stored, along with needed resources, in their classroom and/or brain.
     
  23. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    After several years in my grade level, here is what I do:
    At the beginning of the month, sit down with my calendar, my files for the month, and my crate of books and supplies for the month. Plan out a rough outline of what I must get done, what I'd like to get done, and what "extras" I can do if there's time.

    At the end of each week, I fill out a very basic lesson plan template for the next week - really just a few words for each subject. (Writing - reports, rough drafts)

    When I move grade levels next year, my plans will be much more detailed for a year or two.
     
  24. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I keep plans for everything I do during the day. They aren't extremely detailed. Basically I write up a list of what I am doing with the students, the objectives for my lessons, and any work that students are completing.
     
  25. readforxboxguy

    readforxboxguy Rookie

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    I believe every teacher should be doing lesson plans, no matter the experience level or the requirements of the district. They don't have to be detailed, but instead a general idea of what you want to get accomplished.

    The reason I feel it's important is so you can see the balance in what you are teaching and perhaps what you are missing. For example, if you are an LA/LIT teacher and you haven't worked on vocabulary in several weeks, your lesson plans would indicate that omission. The problem with lesson plans is predicting the pacing because that is very difficult to gauge. I had often had to shred my earlier plans mid-week, adjust, and re-write. It is time consuming but in my experience it is helpful and in line with best practice.
     
  26. Marylander

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    How are we defining lesson plans, and how detailed is detailed? Exactly what do we mean by "winging it"? As long as the students are making positive progress, what difference does it make how we plan? No two teachers in my school plan in exactly the same way, but we all plan and our students make excellent progress.

    I begin the year with sketchy long-range plans in each subject, and I fine tune as time goes by. I use the scope and sequence charts to map where I'm going and where I've been. My daily plans are as detailed as I need them to be for my very own purposes. "Best practice" is whatever works for me.
     
  27. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    I map out objectives, strategies/resources, and assessments, but don't write a formal plan. I just put that information in my plan book.
     
  28. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I'm not trying to judge them...I just don't understand how someone could not plan anything. And I'm not even talking about a situation where someone has been teaching 20+ years and has unit plans that they have been following for years...Some of these people don't even do that. These are the type of people who will look for a 2 hour movie to show when they hear that the principal is going to be out of the building in the afternoon. It's not a "More power to them" situation!

    Plus, our standards completely changed this year with Common Core, so there is no way that teachers could be teaching the same thing they taught 20 years ago (or even last year!) and be covering all of the new standards. Some level of planning has to be involved, especially this year!

    Also, I HATE HATE HATE the argument that I'm making them look bad by coming in on my own time. I will do what I want to do to get my job done well. If other teachers are intimidated by the fact that I go to school to work, then that's absolutely crazy. Also, like I mentioned before, I do not take work home, and I KNOW that almost every other teacher in my building does. Whether or not my body is physically in the building when I am working outside of my regular work hours, or physically in my home is my own personal decision.
     
  29. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Me reactions: :eek::lol::rolleyes:
     
  30. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I agree that a teacher should plan in their own way. By "winging it" I mean that they really don't plan anything. As in, they have tons of worksheets copied off and pick which ones they want their students to do that day. Or they just tell them to read. One of the teachers was annoyed that a parent complained about no guided reading being done in her classroom for over a month. Our district requires each teacher to meet with 3 guided reading groups per day. Of course, that takes a lot of planning...
     
  31. Avalon

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    Not to speak for others, but to me, "winging it" is something like what I did as a sub. Showing up with very little clue of what I would be teaching that day (sometimes not even the grade level), and frequently with no communication left by the teacher to let me know what progress the students have made in learning which concepts. Relying on my content knowledge, instinct, and experience to provide appropriate learning experiences for the students, using only the resources I may happen to find in the room. And having little knowledge of how that day's learning connects to long-range instructional goals.

    I believe the responses to this thread are clarifying what a lesson plan may represent to different people, from a formal, detailed, written document such as you might submit to a professor, to a mental checklist of what you will teach that day, and how.

    Personally, mine are somewhere in between. I don't find value in preparing detailed written documents daily, but do plan in advance. While I might adjust a lesson from a sudden inspiration or observation, I wouldn't, for instance, plan the day's lesson while commuting to work that morning. If I did, I doubt it would be my best work, or maximize my students' learning. At the very least, I would forgo the opportunity to assemble resources to enrich the lesson and make it easily comprehensible to my students, like appropriate texts, charts, graphs, photos, etc.
     
  32. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Oh yes, I definitely don't 'wing it'. I tried that one afternoon... worst afternoon of my career. Never again. I chalk that one up to rookie confidence.
     
  33. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    You're telling a different story with the 2hour movie bit. That is inexcusable. If they *are* working from memory and adding in parts to cover the new standards, then I say more power to them. If they aren't making plans because they aren't going to teach anything, then of course I don't support that.

    And please don't read my previous post in the wrong vein. I totally agree that what you do to prepare for the week is your business. It does not matter if you are making slackers look bad. I was just saying that might be why they are telling you to not go in - because they know it is making them look bad.
     
  34. 2ndTimeAround

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    My planning on the fly or "winging it" is when I walk in my room in the morning and I don't know what activities we'll do and in what order. But I do know what lesson I'm teaching and where I want to be at the end of the week.

    I've only done this a couple of times - this past week I had to do a smaller scale version because my plans were messed up. So I did Wednesday's previously planned activity on Tuesday instead. I still had plans but I had to switch them up and make small adjustments as a result. The other times I've done it was after I was called away from class or had to go home sick one day. The next day back with that class needed serious adjustments.

    I never follow my weekly plans perfectly anyhow since I adjust as we go along. If my students need more time on XYZ, they get it. If I feel they need a quiz or a review I hadn't planned on before, they get it. I think that is just good teaching.

    It is easier for me because I've taught the same subject for a while and I teach it three times a day. So the same lesson has been taught, in the same sequence, many times over. We have a district-wide pacing guide and I have others within my team that I consult with.

    So it isn't like I'm going in with absolutely nothing, as a sub would.
     
  35. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Oh, I totally get what you were saying...I hope it didn't sound like I was "yelling" at you! My old team (at a different school) would actually come out and say that I was making them look bad! It was really frustrating...
     
  36. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I am not judging anyone either but I honestly cannot imagine trying to teach without plans.
     
  37. missapril81

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    I do plans, but usually to give me a general idea of what. I am doing. Ours Just has to be so a sub could follow. However if I know I am getting a sub. I do separate lessons typed up for them (mostly if it is an introductory lesson). Our math seriea is not a fave of mine and some subs I have not had success with. Also, I don't always stick to plans depending on how quickly we mov through the subject at hand or if they are struggling with the skills.
     
  38. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    We are required to email our plans to the instructional coordinator (like an AP, but less pay) no later than Monday morning. My P loves my plans and wouldn't require me to turn them in, but in order to be fair to all, I'm included, and I really don't mind, since I'm already emailing the plans to our other 1st grade teacher (don't ask - long story that ends with me doing all planning because otherwise it wouldn't get done). I actually print two copies of my plans - one for my Plan Book (sits on a bookcase by the door for instant access for any district administrator who cares to check it), and one for my personal use. I make notes of what works and what doesn't, who needs extra help, etc. In addition, because I keep it on my teacher table, I am able to quickly note changes to lessons (fire drill or whatever) and to double check needed supplies.

    I teach in a very low income, urban school. My current school is Heaven compared to the one at which I spent my first year (pure H*ll). That being said, I still have students who face many challenges, behavior more often than not being one. I have 6 different reading groups in my classroom, because they are at different levels. I do interventions for reading twice each day, and for math once (in addition to core instruction). I progress monitor for reading (DIBELS NWF and DORF) and math (Aimsweb oral counting, number id, quantity discrimination, missing number, and math computation) every other week, and this has to be noted on my plans, because it take time out of core. I tend to overplan, for a number of reasons. One, by having more than what I need at arm's length, I lessen behavioral issues because I don't spend 5 minutes looking for something, giving kids "down" time. Two, if I see that something is not working, I have other ideas handy and don't have to wrack my brain.

    I get to school at 6:30 am, and retrieve my students from the auditorium at 7:50. I leave by around 3:30, but I do take work home at night and on weekends.
     
  39. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Apr 7, 2013

    I will sort of be 'winging' it tomorrow morning. :blush: I have unit plans that I wrote a month ago. However, I was out of town the week before spring break, so I have no idea what my sub did or didn't get to. So, I have an idea, but I won't know details until I get there in the morning.
     
  40. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    They would be written up at my school! We have a very strict 'no movies' policy thanks to the K teachers at my school. A few years back they sent home a questionnaire to ask which movies they wanted their children to watch on the last 2 days of school :dizzy:
     
  41. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Apr 7, 2013

    Oh, wow...!!!
     

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