Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Reading Olympics is Over!!!

Pictures from the awards ceremony for the Reading Olympics… As a class, we learned over 600 words and read over 400 books at home during the month of February. The medal winners were very excited…

Tom Thumb

My mother sent me, a while back, all of the tapes of children's stories that we had in our house. Last week at the listening center, I taped myself reading our story of the week because it was long and difficult. This week, since most of my students can read our story, I thought it would be nice to let them listen and respond to another fictional story. One of the things they scored low on on their mid-year tests was oral comprehension. So I figured a story with no pictures would force them to think about what was happening in order to draw their "My Favorite Part" picture and write their sentence.

I found a bright orange Disney-esque tape labeled "Tom Thumb." This will be fantastic, I thought. This is a fairy tale, but probably one they've never heard. So on Monday, when Mrs. B-- and I were both busily testing the kids for the end of the "Reading Olympics," I had three groups "listen and respond" to the tape. The lowest group went first. "I didn't understand," they told me when I asked why they hadn't drawn a picture. "Just draw what you heard in the story!" I snapped, thinking they just hadn't been paying attention. Neither of the other groups said anything, but when I checked the work in the evening, there were no pictures of a little dude. In fact, there were no storytelling pictures at all, really.

So I asked about it today. One of my sweetest little girls tentatively raised her hand. "I just didn't know what was happening," she said. "It seemed to repeat and repeat." I looked at her askance. "It's about a little man," I said. "Wasn't it a story about a little man?" I got blank looks. I went over to the player, pulled out the headset connecter, and turned it on. My voice crackled on. I had to listen for a few moments until I realized that it was a practice tape I had made of a monologue in high school.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Literacy Centers

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I know my posts have been few and far between lately. But the extra work I've put in has paid off -- I have working literacy and math centers that we do every day. And the administration has noticed -- I'm the teacher of the month at my school! Next week I finish up my stint in the early morning reading program (getting to school at 6:40 instead of 7:05 has seriously been cutting into my sleep time!) and I pick up a small group of third graders who need phonics remediation in the afternoons. I'm excited about that.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures of my centers taken to post up. I forgot today. In math we're working on measurement, so we have a center using a balance, a center pouring corn to determine volume, a measuring-with-rulers game, and then some center fociusing on past objectives -- a symmetry center with pattern blocks, a time/calendar computer game, and a shape guessing game. In literacy, I'm very restricted by our reading program, but I have a computer/LeapPad center, a listening center, a workbook center (gotta do those pages sometime), a phonics/guided reading center (me), and a reading comprehension/fluency center (my assistant).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ice Storms and This Week's Goals

I spent this weekend in Little Rock with my friend Edubs. We visited one of her friends from home and had a lovely time. the weather was incredibly wintery for Little Rock, so we holed up inside for most of the weekend, cooked, watched movies, and played Scrabble.

There is a possibility of a wintery mix hitting Shelby tonight. I've come down with a cold, so a day off of school would be absolutely lovely. I don't think it will happen, though, so... a day with the children will be absolutely lovely as well.

This week's goals: Students will be able to...

* Estimate the capacity of various containers in non-standard units (such as beans, blocks, or tennis balls)
* Read simple words containing the long e sound spelled "ee" or "ea"
* Describe the relationship between cups, pints, quarts, and gallons
* Make simple predictions about the ending of a story
* Write the names of holidays correctly (using a capital letter)
* Explain the purpose of recycling

Monday, February 13, 2006

Lady in Red

I didn't bring any dresses to the Delta. I didn't think I would need them. No formals to attend, no weddings in the forseeable future (my friends are Northern), not even any fancy dances to chaperone (yeah, first grade). It turns out I was wrong.

An invitation to the Kappa Alpha Psi Interracial Alumni Champagne Party through one of the teachers at Shelby School for GSD roommate and me left me dressless in a mall-free zone. So on Saturday, I headed down to Cleveland to do a little dress shopping. The problem is that Cleveland, although it is a college town, does not have many stores. In the first store I went in, I tried on a dress (way too big) and when I asked the salesgirl where I might be able to find a dress, she told me that it wasn't going to happen. Evidently all five of the dresses on sale in Cleveland (barring the ones at Walmart, which I didn't try) only come in sizes bigger than I wear. "You can borrow one of mine, though," she told me. And then she took a break from the store, drove with me to her house, and brought out four dresses for me to borrow and try on at home.

I had never met her before.

I wore the red dress.

Which turned out to be a good idea, because it turned out that the colors of Kappa Alpha Psi are red and white and almost everyone at the shindig was wearing either red, white, or black. My roommate and I went with two other (white Teach for America) friends. We were the only white people there. I felt very uncomfortable until I was a few drinks in, at which point I was loosened up enough to dance to the "Cha Cha Slide" (a packed dance floor moving as one.) It was a fun time. We knew a couple of people there (other teachers), but the rest of the brothers were welcoming. There were about 250 people at the event. 25 were alumni of the fraternity and the rest were friends and family.

Only in the South.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Delta Food

On Saturday, my roommate and I had a few people over to do a little teacher work and play some games. I got into a discussion of food in the Delta with another vegetarian teacher. I have to admit that I'm not actually a vegetarian because I do eat fish. This teacher is an actual vegetarian and we discussed how we basically needed to cook it ourselves to be sure it didn't have meat in it -- there is ham in greens, in macaroni, in omelets.

There is a lack of excellent fresh produce. There is passable fresh produce at the Walmart and Krogers in both Cleveland and Clarksdale, but selection is a little limited and there is no fresh fish. There is little or no passable fresh produce or fish in the small town grocery stores. Luckily, Walmart has a good selection of Greenstar products (fake meat, including my favorite fake microwaveable bacon, which nobody else likes.) I will admit that the flavor is no substitute for real dead animals, though. The "chicken strips" I put in with sauteed vegetables tonight were accurately described as "crispy air."

Deltans are always a little shocked and confused when they find out that I don't eat meat. It's my principal's favorite joke -- "You're looking a little pale, Mi' Hay,' I think you need some nice juicy steak." Our new landlords had GSD roommate and I out to dinner on Saturday evening. Crawfish are in season, so we went to a restaurant that specializes in them in Merigold (15 minutes south). After two heaping platters of crawfish (delicious), three of us had Crawfish Alfredo and Mr. M-- had a steak. He declared it so delicious that he sliced off two pieces and plopped them down on GSD roommate and my plates.

An awkward moment ensued. I thanked him and explained that I didn't eat red meat. (I left off the "or pork or poultry" bit for now.) Confused, he forked it back up and ate it, declaring it scrumptous and looking at me with a befuddled expression.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Even When She Hollers

I hollered a bit too much today. I need to get the kids to realize that me ringing the quiet bell is just as serious as me yelling "QUIET! NOW! Listening! Learning! Position!" (And much less contradictory.)

I really knew I wasn't a good, positive teacher when we did our Book of the Month reading response. The book of the month is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It's an adorable story about a mother who sings her son the same little song as he grows up, until she is so old and sick she can't sing it anymore, at which point her son rocks her and sings it to her. It's very touching and really shows true familial love -- the mother loves the boy through his whole life, no matter how he acts. I challeneged my students to think of someone they really loved. Once they had a person (or, in some cases, a pet) in mind, I asked them to think of some things that person did that really made them mad or sad. And then I asked, "Even when ____ does that, do you still love them?" And of course, they did. First graders are really very loving little people. Then they filled out a sentence frame: I love _____ even when _____.

Their answers were thoughtful and I was pleased with the results. In the afternoon, we copied them onto small pieces of paper in neat handwriting and posted them on hearts on a bulletin board in the hall.

Some of the responses:

"I love my dog even when he makes footprints on my bed."
"I love my mom even when she doesn't make me breakfast."
"I love my uncle even when he gets stabbed."
"I love my sister even when she hits me."
"I love my sister even when she pulls my hair."
"I love my brother even when he peed in my bed."
"I love my grandma even when she whips me."
"I love my friends even when they call me names."
"I love my cousin, Mrs. B-- (yes, my assistant is the cousin of several of my students) even when she doesn't visit. I really really really really really really really really really love her."
"I love my brother even when he knocks me off my bike."

And the one that made me vow (in my head) to be a kinder, more understanding, quieter Mi' Hay' tomorrow:

"I love my teacher even when she holler at us."