Monday, September 18, 2006

Interesting Tidbits

Today, we made necklaces of 30 fruit loops because it was the 30th day of school. One of my little boys tripped in the hallway and smashed off some of his fruit loops. At lunch, I asked how many he had lost, and he said he didn't know. I asked his to see if he could figure it out. With another little boy, he counted the fruit loops left on his necklace: 27. Without any help from me, and after quite a bit of figuring, they arrived at the correct answer, 3, by counting the fruit loops and then counting on to 30, touching K-'s necklace where the loops should have been. I was very impressed with their problem solving, so I shared it with the class, especially since it coincided with the beginning of our math unit on other ways to add and subtract.

It was a short day, so we had "professional development" in the afternoon -- really just time to work on our nine weeks tests and our intervention forms, except that we were required to be in the library so we couldn't use our computers. We did have an interesting conversation about paperwork, though, after our principal gave us the new rules for lesson plans: turned in 2 weeks ahead of time, with indications of the students who will be receiving additional help each day and an indication of any other remediation or enrichment that will be taking place. A teacher who used to work at the penitentiary compared the paperwork with the paperwork she had to do there. "There is so much paperwork," she said, "That you spend all your time writing and then you don't have any time to do what you're writing about." I agree with the sentiment. Lesson plans and interventions' primary function should be a planning aid for the teacher, instead of what they have become, which is a way to cover your behind and "prove" that you taught what you were supposed to in appropriate ways and that you remediated with students who you will later refer for special education.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Shelby Fest '06

I am helping a friend plan a festival in the town of Shelby, where most of my students live. There will be live blues music, food, and lots of family fun. The point of the festival is two-fold: to build community-school spirit & involvement, and to raise money to send the fourth grade on two field trips. The festival will be during homecoming weekend, in late October. If enough money is raised, the fourth grade will be able to go to Jackson, to see the state capital and the science museum, and to Hattiesburg to see a play. One way we are trying to raise money is by selling t-shirts. You, too, can have a little slice of Delta pride right in your own closet. The shirts are $12 plus shipping, and, lucky you, you can buy one right here!

*** UPDATE 10/09/06 ***
T-Shirt sales have been shut down.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dance Party!

The Dance Party was a huge success, apart from the fact that 3 students in my normally perfect class behaved badly and lost their privileges and didn't get to come to the first half of it (I felt bad taking away the whole thing). Actually, the whole class was poorly behaved and I think I need to be getting more sleep or something so that I don't lose control.

Four students cheated on their tests. We've talked a lot about how you need to use your own smart brain, but pressure for A's from home usually neglects to mention that. Parents don't advocate cheating, but I think many forget to expressly condemn it. We did better when I expressly said before we began tests that you needed to use your own brain and that the point of testing is to show the teacher what you know so that I can see what I need to teach you again so that you know everything from first grade.

Anyhow, the party.

We did the hokey-pokey and the chicken dance, then we ate some snacks and drank some juice that the students had brought in, and then we danced some more. The party itself went very smoothly.

Here's a picture. Note the Christmas lights, which added some sparkle and the kids just loved.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Two Four Six Eight, Touch Your Nose

I briefly introduced rote counting by twos today by teaching the rhyme, "2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate?" We went around the room, doing the cheer for each person. My assistant was out of the room at the time, so when I asked if we had done the cheer for everyone, the students quickly pointed out that we hadn't done it for her. I told them that when she came back in, we would do the cheer for her. However, I don't like being interrupted mid-sentence by a child going, "Mi' Hay'! There's Mrs. B!" (it's just rude and dont' want to encourage it) or worse, calling on a child for an answer and getting "Mrs. B is back," as the answer, to, for example, "What day of the week is it?" (Totally breaks the flow for everyone.) So I told them that they could remind me about the cheer by touching their noses when she came back in the room.

A few minutes later, we were solving a pattern when there was suddenly a rustle of movement. I turned my head back from the child at the board to see the rest of the class, perfectly quiet, all with their fingers on their noses, eyes expectantly wide, looking from me to the now-present Mrs. B. M--, drawing a square on the whiteboard, didn't notice. We finished the pattern and clapped for M--. Then we did the cheer.

So now I know their memory for following directions is perfect.
Also, they are really cute.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Marble Party

We filled up our marble jar yesterday and voted on our prize today. The class earns marbles when they are very well behaved, and my class has usually been great. We are often complimented on our line when we are in the hallway, and we have not even had one office referral. (I'm trying to avoid sending them this year, because I don't support corporal punishment. I did refer them last year because my management was not good.)

So this afternoon we voted. Some ideas the class had brainstormed were: a pizza party, a dance party, a cake party, a cookie party, TV and popcorn, extra recess, races, playing a football or baseball game, and a "superman party." As they left today, they handed me the post-it with their choice listed. And (drumroll) we will have a... DANCE PARTY!!!

Actually, a "cake party" won, by one vote, but isn't a cake party just a regular party at which there is cake? So I will bring some cake to our dance party and we'll have a swingin' good time for the last 40 minutes of school on Friday.

I have to ask the principal tomorrow, though. And I'm a little nervous. After all, he nixed the rat (I just shouldn't have asked. My school is definetely one of those places where it is easier to ask for forigveness than permission.)

So I drafted a letter listing the phys ed, dance, and music objectives met by having a dance party, including:

Physical Education:
5d. Respect the physical and performance differences of others.

4c. Engage regularly in moderate to vigorous activity*, emphasizing muscular strength*, flexibility*, and cardiovascular endurance*.

3b. Respond to a musical beat and changes in tempo while traveling through all
levels of space.

4a. Perform different movement choices.

3b. Improvise a response to the beat and tempo of various music examples with
appropriate movements or dramatization.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Signs Around Clarksdale

Seen on those plastic marquee signs that churches and schools often have (for real):

At a used car shop:
On judgement day, will you be sitting in smoking or non-smoking?

At a tire shop:
Need money? Try working.

(Ouch, man.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I lost a child today. We were doing map skills, it was the afternoon, and we had gone outside to mark the place on our maps. I led the line back in so that nobody would be in the classroom without me, and forgot to watch the end of the line. I mean, I watched it, and nobody was fighting or talking., but I didn't count. We had all been in line, after all, and my class is very well-behaved.

So we returned to our seats, put away our maps, and came to the carpet with our partners. "Everyone raise hands with your partner," I said, to make sure they were sitting with their partners. T-- didn't raise her hand. "Where is D--?" I asked.

"He stayed outside," they told me, innocently. "He decided not to come in."

"He WHAT?!?" I gasped. "Sit perfectly still," I ordered, steam-rolling out of the classroom. So much for not leaving kids unattended. I rushed down the hall to see D--'s head peeking over the window of the door.

According to him, he got "locked out." Since I didn't really know what happened, I let it slide. I figured not being able to get back in when he wanted to was enough of a scare. Besides, what would I tell his parents? Your child is in trouble because I didn't check to make sure he was with the class and didn't notice for a full 3 minutes?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Missing the Kids

I taught for 1.5 days last week, and I feel really guilty about it. Nobody else at my school seems to think I should feel guilty about it, but I do. I had the flu. Sunday and Monday I huddled miserably in my bed. Monday afternoon, I called my friend Lin and he took me to the hospital where we waited for 5 hours before I got into an exam room and another hour before the doctor came by and gave me an IV of fluid and a prescription for TamiFlu. Tuesday I did a little planning and slept and slept and slept. Wednesday I went into school, but didn't really feel well, so I left at lunchtime. Thursday I had a follow-up appointment with the doctor at 9:30 in the morning, so I called my principal and took a half day. After all, even if the doctor is running a little late, 1. how late can you get by 9:30? and 2. that gave me 2 hours to get checked out and get to school (a 20-min drive.)

I arrived at 9:20 and filled out my paperwork, and then I joined the crowd in the waiting room. And I waited. And waited. And waited. At 11:00, a full hour and a half after my SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT, the waiting room was down to 3 patients and 2 drug saleswomen. Then, they called in the drug saleswomen. That was the last straw. I was very upset. I went to the window and inquired about my appointment. She told me I was next and that she just had to find my chart, which she must have set down somewhere... just hold on a couple more minutes... I sat down and fumed internally for another 5 minutes until she called me into an exam room. Then I waited another 25 minutes for the doctor to come in. In my head, I watched my students walk down the hallway to lunch, eat their lunches, pack up their trays, leave the lunchroom, and head towards recess. While I sat waiting for a stupid follow-up appointment I didn't need for a virus which can't be cured by medicine anyhow.

The doctor came in and did a cursory heart-and-lung listen and told me that he would write me a note to take the rest of the week off. I told him thank you very much, please write me a note to go back tomorrow. As soon as I had my note, I headed to school, but it was almost 1:00 by the time I got there. Reading and writing were over, math was over, and all that remained was science and art/music/phys-ed (which I ignore for the most part anyhow.) I figured it wasn't worth my staying to teach science and dismiss the kids, so I picked up my paycheck and went home. I taught on Friday and only had to take one little head-down break while the students took a quiz (I had my assistant proctor it.)

And now we've had three days off! So, after my very short week last week and my very nice restful weekend at the Gulf coast with some TFA friends, I'm raring to go to school.

Bring on the learning!