Thursday, October 28, 2010

Put a CAP on Drugs!

The spirit apparel for today was to wear a cap. Considering I don't own any, I changed it in my class just to 'hat day'.I think the fact that I was Cowgirl Jessie from Toy Story last night at my kickball team's costume party definitely contributed to the fact that I chose to wore my cowgirl hat today... well, that and the fact that it's the only hat I own. :) 

Today was also eventful due to the fact that it was the first day of Quarterly Assessments. These are designed to track my students' progress through the year and see if they're set for the end of year SOL tests. They took the Reading Test today and I was impressed with the way I saw the students working and using the strategies and skills we've been working on all quarter. I should have the results in the morning, hopefully I'll still be impressed...!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Virginia Indians

My class is coming to the end of their second unit in Virginia Studies, which covered everything they could ever possibly need to know about American Indians. I sent home a review sheet last night and as I began reading answers, I decided they were way too good to share....

Question: How do Virginia's American Indians live today?
Correct Answer: They are intermingled with the rest of Virginians and live their lives similar to ours.
Student Answers:
- Singing songs and dancing.
- Play games, wear American clothes, and speak American languages.
- With clothes. They use dead deer skin.
- Great.
- They live across Virginia. They speak English, too. Shop at the mall. 

Question: Where are most of the state-recognized tribes located in Virginia today?
Correct Answer: Coastal Plain/Tidewater region.
Student Answers:
- Europe.
- In the desert.
- On the Earth.

Question: What was the first permanent English settlement in North America?
Correct Answer: Jamestown.
Student Answers:
- Christopher Columbus

Looks like we have some remediating to do! Oh jeez.....

Drug Prevention takes a TEAM!

Wednesday: Wear your favorite Team Jersey/shirt! Naturally, I wore my Redskins jersey. Luckily, none of my kids made fun of it too badly... the teachers on the other hand. Haha. Actually, I have a lot of fellow Redskins fans at Palmer, so Danielle was actually the one to get ridiculed today. But, considering she supports a 1-5 team with an injured quarterback, I guess that makes sense. :)

Sock it to Drugs!

Originally there wasn't any thing designated for the kids to wear on Tuesday, but naturally that wasn't working for me, so I decided to take some initiative. Brainstorming about clothing related to anti-drug slogans/use is not as easy as it sounds, but Danielle and I came up with "People Who Do Drugs are CRAZY! Wear Crazy Socks!"..... apparently, the rest of the school thought that meant we were again encouraging doing drugs (like "drugs make us see red, wear red...see yesterday's post!), so we changed it to "SOCK it to drugs"! It was fun to see the craziness my kids came up with, and funny to see the kids who just wore mismatching socks and thought that was CRAZY!
All we heard ALL day as we walked around school was "Wow, you guys have the same socks!" Oh, really? Thanks for the head's up! And, I wish I could say that we didn't wear these matching outfits out to Cheddars, Target, JoAnn Fabric, the thrift store and Factory Card Outlet, but that would be a lie.... :)

The "Red Ribbon" Activity for Tuesday was making a "hand-in-hand against drugs" chain. The children were supposed to trace their hands on a piece of red construction paper, write their names in the middle and cut it out. Then, we hung them up in a row reaching all around the hallway of the school. Can we please talk about the tracing/cutting ability of my students? Or maybe they just have SUPER awkwardly shaped hands.... hahaha.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Red Ribbon Week!

Spirit weeks are definitely one of my all time favorite parts of teaching! We usually have at least two throughout the school year. The first one is in honor of Red Ribbon Week, which is a week devoted to drugs and alcohol awareness/prevention. I love spirit weeks because it's a fun way to mix up just regular old weeks. I find it to be an awesome time to bond with students as they realize their teacher is not ashamed to act a little crazy (....wait until the week progresses or 80s day comes back around!). I find that the more excited I am about Spirit Week, the more the kids will dress up and get into it! And, considering today was Monday and more than 1/2 my kids were wearing red, I'd say we're on a roll for a wonderful week! My kids are so great!

Day 1: Red Means STOP! Say NO to Drugs!
(According to the letter that was sent home, today was "Drugs Make Us See Red! Wear Red to school.".... I chose to change it a little because I don't quite understand the logic behind doing drugs and seeing red and choosing to encourage that....)

Unfortunately, along with the start of Spirit Week came the start of a week of rain, too! We all know how I feel about keeping the kids cooped up inside too long, but they actually did really well with indoor recess and the rest of the afternoon. They were working/playing so well, I didn't even have to tell them to get the educational games, they did automatically! They had a place value board game, checkers, chess, Guess Who? and puzzles!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

25 Panda Paws!

This week was the start of many eventful weeks in a row. It started off pretty typical... except that the kids were being exceptionally good!... and ended with holding our first Kickball Club Kickball Game, Dictionary Day and a Popsicle Party...and the kids acting exceptionally ridiculous (full moon!) Next week is Red Ribbon/"Say No to Drugs" Spirit Week (stay tuned for pictures!), Picture Day and the start of the Quarterly Assessments (QAs). The following week we finish our QAs, the kids will have their first substitute and the first quarter ends Friday! So, needless to say, life is a little hectic at the moment, but having all these extra activities does keep the kids on-their-toes and somewhat more focused.

Anyway, let's talk about this week. On Wednesday afternoons, all of our 4th graders participate in "Leadership Training" aka "Enrichment" aka "Clubs." :) They were started by the resource teachers who wanted an opportunity to go a little deeper with the kids who they see as naturals/extra talented at a certain subject (Art, Music, PE). So, for the first few weeks, the resource teachers do some observations/try-outs and decide who they want in their groups. Then, the 4th grade teachers divide up the rest of the kids into groups led by us. We have a Publishing Club (students will be putting together a literary magazine, I believe?), a Board Games Club (math and reading board games for some of our students who can use a little extra help but still want to feel like they're in a club!), an H.O.T. (Higher Order Thinking) Club (Chess, Sudoku, Checkers... for our crazy smart kids!), Book Club (with the Librarian), Peer Mediators (with the Guidance Counselor), SCA (with a Reading Interventionist) and the best club of all, A-OKAY! When we were trying to decide which clubs to have, Danielle (Mrs. Bozung) and I decided we definitely wanted to lead one together. We were trying to think of something that would be fun, not be too demanding of our time (with planning or standing in front of the class for those 30 minutes each week), and appropriate for some of the most hyperactive 4th graders (who typically do not get chosen for any of the other clubs due to behavior issues!). While brainstorming things we were interested in, we thought about photography (not enough cameras) and technology (too much planning). Finally, we remembered that our real love was kickball, but figuring that we wouldn't be able to play every Wednesday due to winter weather, we decided to combine it with yoga. To not make it sound serious, we were going to call it the "Health and Wellness Club" but realized that was too boring. So, I started brainstorming and playing around with the letters and decided we were going to officially be the "Anti-Obesity, Kickball and Yoga Club" (A-OKAY Club!). Last week we just introduced the club, some of the activities we would be doing, did some stretches and aerobics and taught some kickball rules. This week, Danielle had to go to a meeting during Club time, so I took all 18 kids outside for their first official kickball game. It was HILARIOUS to watch, but quite encouraging as well. We definitely have some naturals, and we definitely have some kids who have no idea what is going on. I'm thinking that by the end of the year, they'll probably be able to beat my adult kickball team.... :)

Dictionary Day was Thursday morning. Our school has a partnership with a local Kiwanis Club and each year these members donate a brand-new dictionary to each 4th grader at our school! They do a nice speech about how the kids can use the dictionaries and why it's an important book, and then present one to each kids. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera to the assembly, but try to just imagine the beautiful sight of 115 fourth graders full of pure excitement while flipping through and discussing their new dictionaries. I was very proud of my kids this year and the way they acted at the assembly and afterward. Last year, as soon as we got back to the classroom, I had at least 5 kids run up to me with their dictionaries each turned to a different page featuring popular double meaning words (a**, b****, etc...). I was able to use it as a teachable moment to point out that those words actually do have real definitions in the English language and so most of the time people don't even make sense/sound dumb when they use them, but overall it was awkward and I would've been alright avoiding it. Thankfully, this year, when the kids came up to show me their words, they were turned to "nick" (the "nickname" of one of my students... clearly they didn't read the definition), "zombie" and "kickback." Not sure if they're just more mature or less smart than my kids last year, but either way, I was fine with it. Haha.

Finally, our popsicle party. At Palmer, we have a wonderful "Effective Schoolwide Discipline (ESD)" program, that has actually been recognized state-wide. The main premise of the system is that there are appropriate behaviors in each area of the school (classrooms, bathrooms, cafeteria, hallways, busses, etc). When classes are "caught" demonstrating these behaviors, they are rewarded with a Panda Paw (our school mascot is the panda... a "paw" is just a small piece of brightly colored paper with a paw printed on it). Each class is working to get as many paws as possible throughout the year, and are rewarded at set intervals to keep them motivated. We got our first 25 paws last week (the Panda Award), so their first reward was a popsicle party and extra recess. It's amazing how much excitement can be generated from something so simple, and hopefully it'll be enough to inspire them to keep earning (I think we're already up to 17 again...!)

Oh yeah, because my students are such model citizens, we MAY be featured on the NNPS facebook page! (!/photo.php?fbid=462170914848&set=a.462170809848.244332.74433199848&pid=5702421&id=74433199848) As I was teaching math on Friday, a lady with a large camera walked into my classroom (with one of our administrators), snapped 3 pictures and walked out... turns out she's the public media relations photographer or something. A week, day, hour or minute warning may have been nice so I could have planned an extra engaging lesson or ensured my students were not acting too typical or ridiculous, but nope, they got just real 4th grade! :)

I'll leave you with a "joke" from one of my kids. He walked over to me as I was in the middle of a chaotic dismissal on Thursday and quietly said "Ms. Wacek, I have a trick." Now, this child is one of my definite favorites and I don't think he could ever do anything wrong in my eyes. He also has never said more than like 7 words to me at one time, so I was quite curious as to what his "trick" was.
I said, "Ok...."
He said, "Guess what?"
I asked, "What?"
He said, "Grrrrr." Then he smiled really huge and walked away. Hahahahahaha. WHAT?! Oh they're so special. Haha.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Planet Are You From?

My class has been amazing so far this week! I'm not sure if they've all been exhausted, or have caught onto the fact that I'm exhausted and been nice, or are just saving up all their energy for Halloween so they can come back SUPER, EXTRA out of control after Halloween, but whatever it is, I'm definitely not complaining! In fact, because they've been so wonderful, I've been laughing and joking around a lot more with them and trying to plan more engaging activities (since they've FINALLY proven they're responsible).

One such activity was "Predators and Prey." We played today with Mrs. Bozung's class. The educational background of this activity is to illustrate how the American Indians got spread all across Virginia based on the different food supplies/hunting. Essentially, it's a giant game of freeze tag. We explained to the kids what a predator and a prey are, the rules to the game, and then assigned my class to be the prey first. One of the rules was that when they heard my whistle they had to freeze their bodies and their mouths. Unfortunately, as soon as I said those words, I realized I had forgotten to bring my whistle outside, so I ran back in to get it. Since we had already assigned the predators and prey, the students decided it was time to start the game. I didn't think much of it because Mrs. Bozung was out there and I figured a little extra running around was good for the kiddos. Well, clearly I thought wrong because as soon as I stepped outside, one of my students runs over to me holding her lip and I look over and see Mrs. Bozung consoling another girl who's crying. Apparently there was a collision where my girl (a foot taller) ended up with her tooth in her lip and the other girls head? Haha. Still not exactly sure of what happened, but I do know we sent them both promptly to the nurse, praying all the while that they would NOT tell her the reason for their injury was a chasing game they were playing with their teachers. Haha. They spent about 20 minutes down there and when they came out, Mrs. Bozung's girl was fine, with just a little headache. My girl ended up with a swollen, bloody lip and a toothache. But, the rest of the kids had an amazing time and definitely learned an invaluable, unforgettable lesson about the Native Americans.

Another example of being able to laugh at (I mean with!) my kids happened today during reading. I had just finished handing out a worksheet and was taking a minute for everyone to write their names. I was standing next to one of my girls' desks and she said, "So, what's it like being a teacher?" (Really, does this seem like the best time to ask me that question?! Haha.) She caught me off guard with her innocence, so I just laughed and said, "It's fun, but a little stressful at times." She smiled and said, "That's what I thought... (paused for 30 seconds)... I have a white cat." Haha. Ok, thank you for sharing. Next time, please just avoid the small talk and get straight to the point of the story.

During reading small groups, I was meeting with my highest readers and that includes my extremely hyperactive, unable to to focus student. He decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to sing Dora theme songs and continually repeat Swiper the Fox's catchphrase "OH MAN!" (I live with a 3-year-old, I am well-versed in Dora the Explorer!). Anyway, the first time he did it, we ignored. The second time, I asked him to get focused on his reading. The third time, I told him to stop. The fourth time, I said "Ok, Swiper, it is reading time. Please stop singing." or something along those lines. Well, that was quite possibly the worst thing I could have ever said because his eyes lit up and he got really excited as he then began repeating, "Can you call me Swiper for the rest of the year?? Can I be Swiper??"..... at least he was done singing.

Finally, on the way to the busses, my kids were acting hilarious/ridiculous/dancing and singing/walking very strangely/etc. I turned around and laughingly said, "Where are you from? What planet were you born on?" I then continued walking expecting them to either get in a line or just keep doing exactly what they were doing... let's be honest, I knew they were not going to change a thing. Haha. Instead, though, all of a sudden they decided to answer my question and all I heard was, "I was born in the dangerous part of the city," and "I was born downtown" and "I was born in the ghetto." Haha. Clearly those are different planets.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

So Innocent!

So many of my kids have such a different home life than I had growing up and, as a result, know a whole lot more about the world than I ever did at their age (or a lot older! haha). Because of some of the things I hear my kids talking about, sometimes I forget that they're only 9 years old. Today, though, my kids were given the privilege of getting the "anti-drugs and alcohol" talk from the guidance counselor. She was holding a Budweiser can when she walked in and had my students immediate, undivided attention. She proceeded to tell them about the Surgeon General, impaired judgment and other effects of drinking. Unfortunately, I had to make some copies, so had to leave the room and wasn't able to hear their comments on this topic. I walked back in right when she pulled out an empty cigarette box, though, and am so glad I did! She again talked about the Surgeon General and how cigarettes have been found to cause illness, etc. Then turned to the financial part of smoking. She wrote $3.00 on the board and told kids to pretend that was the cost of a box of cigarettes. She also said to pretend like the average smoker smoked a pack a day. So, do the math and that's $21/week. She shared that instead of smoking, she could go to the movies, go out to a restaurant, etc. Then, she decided to show them the savings over a month. $21x4=$84. All of a sudden, my students got so chatty and I remembered that I was surrounded by children. One student was talking about video games, another about how much money $84, and then suddenly really loudly I heard a student say, "With $84 you could adopt a dog at the SPCA and even buy it a leash!" Haha. Oh, the things that money can buy. (You can only imagine some of the ideas they had when she figured out that you could save $1,008/year by not smoking! Actually, I can't remember any off the top of my head.. they may have been unable to comprehend just how much money that is. Haha.)

Later on, another student raised his hand and asked "Well, if smoking is so bad for people, why don't they just stop selling cigarettes?" If that doesn't make a teacher PROUD, I don't know what would!! Haha. Now, if only we could somehow get some CEOs thinking like these little tykes. :)

Another moment today where I was reminded that I work with children was during Science. We started a new unit about Resources (natural vs. manmade, renewable vs. nonrenewable, etc). To introduce the unit, I used a powerpoint that was a "pop quiz"/introduction. It went through some questions about pollution and solar energy, etc. Then, the question came up that said,
"Which of the following can be used over and over again?"
a) Bowl
b) Piece of paper
c) Toilet paper
d) Paper plate

It was supposed to be a 'raise your hand and answer' preview activity, but since I was excited to see the kids excited about the new topic, I didn't enforce that too much. So, a few kids start blurting out answers, and then I hear a boy say "toilet paper." Apparently, he was caught on the previous question that contained a "NOT." Anyway, there was no way I could not take this opportunity for a "teaching moment," so I ever-so-kindly looked at the kid and said, "Did you just say toilet paper can be reused?" Haha. Naturally, the entire class also looked at him and in unison said "EWWWWWWW" and then proceeded with laughter. Thankfully the boy wasn't embarrassed, but was actually looked at more as a hero/comedian. And, I doubt if my kids will ever have trouble remembering what sorts of items to "reuse," so it worked out well. My favorite moments of any day are definitely those when my whole class is laughing about something ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

So Nice To Meet You.... Weirdos.

During the first week of school, not only is a lot of time spent acclimating the students to the new teacher, classroom, routines and procedures, but a lot is also spent getting to know the students too. On the second day of school, my students' morning work consisted of a "Get to Know You Questionnaire." Now, with that being such a busy time of year, those questionnaires got shoved in a bag and weren't looked at for about a week. At the time I looked at them, it was mostly a glancing over while I sorted them into a folder with a questionnaire their parents had filled out for me with contact info and such. Anyway, I just found such folder and decided to spend a little time really getting to know the likes and dislikes of my students. What I found was too hilarious not to share (as I'm sure you're realizing, most things my students do are!)....

Question: Do you want to be called a nickname? If so, what is your nickname?
Timmy or Tim Tim-Tim (Is that a nickname or a stutter?)
Madman (whoooooa. What? This isn't X-Men, it's school!)
Nal'asia (from a student named Promise. Clearly the term "nickname" has not been defined for these students...)
DJ Money (Remember the self-portraits of my thugs? He was one of them... surprised?)

Question: What is the best part about coming to school?
Walking in the classroom. (hold on... that's the BEST? Everything else is downhill from there? Holy cow, this child must be miserable everyday!... or not, because this was written by "Madman")
Teach. (I honestly have no idea what is meant by that... a nickname for "teacher" or she likes to teach or doesn't know how to read or what?)
Learning. (This actually was the answer of 6 or more students.... sometimes they sure have a funny way of showing it!)

Question: What is the worst part about coming to school?
Walking. (This was from a bus-rider, so she had to mean walking AT school, not TO school... Which, makes me wonder... is that really the worst?? These kids have very strange perspectives on things.)

Question: What is your favorite subject?
Books. (Ummmmm, last I checked, that was not a subject we actually covered in 4th grade... or ever.)

Question: Do you need to sit in the front, middle or back of the class? Why?
No! (Ironically enough, this was from the student who hates walking... you'd think she'd WANT a seat, but apparently not.)
Back cuz it is fun and I can see better. (Ok, you clearly just threw the "I can see better" in there to try and trick me into letting you sit back there and play around all day?)
Front because I like seeing your face (Still not sure if this is a major compliment or major suck up?)
Anyware caus I do not have eiy problames. (No eye problems, but clearly some spelling issues and no concern for distractions of any sort.... we'll work on that.)
Middle because I am in the back and front (I sure do have some bright kids!)

Question: Do you have any questions? If so, what are your questions?
WHAT IS THAT? (Is she asking what a question is or actually wanted me to tell her what something was the very moment she was writing this?)
What do you do when school lets out? What do you do when we are lunch? (Aww. If only she knew...)

Thankfully, the beauty of working with little people is that they open up and adjust much more easily than a lot of adults, so I've already been able to get to know them so much better than a 10 question survey could ever allow. Through doing so, though, I think it's only made the ridiculous comments they say all the funnier.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Best Teacher Award

I'm sure I could walk around school tomorrow and find that students in each classroom have drawn pictures or written notes to their teachers, often probably saying something like "I love you." (yes, apparently after 2 weeks of meeting a brand new teacher, students can already love them......) or "You're the best teacher ever." Since these notes are so common around school and every student thinks his or her teacher is THE best, I don't often let these notes go to my head (although I do get an awful lot of them.... hahaha). Actually, a lot of the time I just end up throwing the notes away as soon as the kids load the bus after school. Occasionally, though, I'll get a note that really warms my heart and reminds me of why I do what I do.
One such note was delivered to me on Friday. The kids were all taking a Science Test and they know that whenever they finish, I will collect it and they can sit at their seats and do something silently while they wait. After collecting this one boy's test, I wandered around the classroom for a bit and then ended up back near his desk. As soon as he saw me look over at him, he quickly covered what he was working on and told me I wasn't allowed to look. Since he has been known to write not-so-nice notes before (see post about sexy list!), I was a little suspicious. He gave me a huge smile and said "It's not bad. It's for you!" Figuring it was just another "cool teacher" drawing, I walked away and let him do his thing. About 5 minutes later, I was sitting at my desk and he walked over and asked if he could use the restroom. I said "sure" and he quickly threw the note down on my desk and said "read this while I'm gone" and darted out of the room. Naturally, I was super curious, so I picked it up and began reading.... "I'm glad your my teacher. Your the best teacher I ever had. Thank you for everything you done to make me smarter." Clearly we have some grammar still to learn, but, seriously?! How could my heart not melt after reading that?

So, while the majority of the class thinks I'm the "Best Teacher Ever," I do have the select few who would probably be ok if they were no longer in my class... In fact, today I had a student tell me he was going to have his mom request that he be placed in another class (to which I lovingly thought "please do!"). It came about at the end of the day as the students were packing up. This student had not been making good choices all day and so I was already on his bad side. Then, I handed out the agendas, inside of which were the students interims (mid-quarter report cards/progress reports). I specifically told my kids not to open them until they were home (or at least on the bus, since their curious little minds couldn't control themselves!!). As I handed out the last agenda, I look over to see this boy reading his interim in plain sight, with no concern for my directions at all. I explained that he must not have heard me, so he should please put it away, which he did. He then walked over to me and asked if he could be in another class. I halfheartedly said "sure" and he walked toward the door. Knowing better than to leave, he looked at me and said, "I'm going to tell my mom to put me in another class. Then, I'll have that teacher print me out a new interim with good grades on it!" And that pretty much sums up this child. Haha. Clearly, the fact that he has only turned in 1/2 of his classwork assignments and about 1/30 of his homework assignments so far this quarter has nothing to do with his bad grades. It's simply the fact that I'm a terrible teacher. It all makes sense now. :) I think the absolute best part about it all is the Catch-22 that he's now in.. if he truly does decide to ask mom to switch his classes (highly doubtful and unlikely), he has to explain the reason he wants to move (aka: showing her a not-so-hot interim report!). If he decides not to ask her and stays in my class, he can hide his interim... until tomorrow, when I call all the parents who did not sign the agenda signifying they saw the interim! Oh how I love being the teacher in these instances.

One last funny story... The other day, my students were making Social Studies Review cards to put on a metal ring to study for class tests and the SOL. After students write the questions and answers down from the board, I go around and hole punch the corner of their cards so they can put them on the ring. We were running out of time, so I was bouncing around to students all over the classroom. When I thought I was finished, and just wanted to double check, I loudly asked, "Is there anyone who I still need to punch?" Hahaha. Thankfully only a handful of kids heard and I was able to correct my statement before it got out of control. If only I were able to ask that question for real..

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Self Image

Back during the first "get to know you" days of school, I had my students do an activity where they had to draw a self-portrait and write some of the goals they had set for themselves for this 4th grade year. When they finished them, I set them aside without really looking at them, and figured I'd break 'em out again for Back to School Night or hold onto them until the end of the year, so they can see if they met their goals. With BTS Night approaching, I'm trying to get my room decorated for parents/guardians to see their students' work. I came across this pile of assignments and started to flip through... Maybe it's just the Psychology Degree in me, but what I found was quite interesting! I decided that the little ones in my room have some serious self-image issues! Haha. I also decided, through this activity, to NEVER assign a project in which they would have to draw a portrait of me...! Who knows what they would come up with!! Check out the pictures, and be prepared to be amazed.
This girl is smart, but she sure does talk a lot... hence the huge mouth?

I can't quite put my finger on what is so weird about this picture, but wow. Valiant effort, though.

Please notice the hands sticking out of his butt. Do you have arms? Would you care to draw them?
I guess I can't make fun of the last one for not having any arms when this one has NO BODY!! Is this really how you see yourself?!?

Apparently I have a class full of straight up thugs. Haha.  I'll admit, they do put up a pretty tough front, but just past that, they are the group of the sweetest boys ever.

Yes, even one of my 3 white boys decided that being a gangsta was the way to go or who he was...? And yes, I'm pretty sure that's a chain.. possibly a gun or gang symbol.. hanging out his back pocket.

 And, my ultimate favorite... Please remember that the students drawing these pictures are around the age of 9. And, while I make fun of the pictures now, they are actually great artists. But, seriously, look at this next picture and tell me there isn't some self-image subconsciousness or other major issues going on..

A picture is worth a 1000 words.... so I have none.

So, still trying to decide if I should hang these up for BTS Night or not.. thoughts? :)

**Note: I went back to the past few posts and added promised pictures, so make sure to check those out too, and enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Since I'm Sure You're Wondering...

My class got GREEN in the cafeteria today! It did require me forcing them to have silent lunch (which I HATE doing.. lunch should definitely be a social time), my troublemaker eating lunch with the guidance counselor, and me sitting at a table in the cafeteria watching them, but regardless, they didn't even get a warning today!! Hopefully with a few more days like today and gradually weaning them back into a normal lunchtime, they'll get the point and we'll have no further cafeteria issues. :) They were able to have indoor recess as a result (more stinkin' rain!!), so hopefully that's added motivation to do well. Speaking of rain, today was supposedly the last day and now it should be gone now for a while, although the cooler weather has moved in.. with a HIGH of 72 this week... ahh, sweater time!! And bring on the germs/school colds!

Overall, my class was extremely talkative again today (I'm beginning to wonder if it's a Monday thing?), but they got a freaking green at lunch, so I couldn't be too mad! Besides them being ridiculous all around, the only things that really stands out from today was one of my girls wearing a neon yellow shirt and suspenders (that's right, welcome back 80's fashion!) and a few of the kids calling her Steve Urkel (as if they know anything about him!! Haha.) and one of my boys coming in with his name shaved into the back of his head. I LOVE working with children. :) 

It says "Thomas." He said it took about an hour. Not sure if it's completely worth it, considering he'll probably come in next week with a totally new shape up! But, I guess if you have the opportunity, you might as well take it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

They make me smile... even when I'm not supposed to!!!

One thing you'd find out about me if you spent any amount of time in my classroom is that a lot of times, I start saying something and have no idea how to finish my sentence or where I was planning to go with it. Haha. This is particularly true if I am scolding my students. A lot of time I have weird pauses and stutters and repeat myself, just because either what they did was so ridiculous that I have no words for it or because I'm having to choose my words carefully and make sure I say things so that they sound serious to a fourth grader (I use the words "respect" and "that's what they do in Kindergarten" a lot!).
Unfortunately, I felt like I had to do a lot of disciplining this week (I blame the rain!), and so my kids probably think I'm a big meanie. For the most part (aside from Monday (see my last post) and Friday afternoon), they actually weren't that bad of a class. The biggest thing they struggled with was lunchtime. Our school started a discipline system in the cafeteria where each table has a paper with a stoplight on it and a clothespin with the teacher's name. Throughout their 30 minute lunchtime, if the students in a class aren't following the rules (staying seated, talking in quiet voices, voices off if the lights are out, no fighting, etc), the clip gets moved from green to yellow. If they continue to misbehave, it goes to red. Then, if they REALLY can't get it together, the clip gets placed on top of the stoplight. So, as I said, my class had some difficulty this week in the lunchroom. They got red on Monday and Tuesday, yellow on Wednesday, red on Thursday (my super ADHD child decided it would be a great idea to bite a hole in the bottom of his milk carton and then when the milk wasn't coming out, he squeezed it with all his might and it ended up exploding), and past-red on Friday. Needless to say, I was not a happy teacher after lunchtime. (Thankfully it was raining, so I didn't feel TOO bad about taking recess away from them!). Anyway, the reason for me saying all of this..
So, on Friday, after I picked them up from lunch and saw what color they were on, and you could tell by the looks on their faces that they knew they'd disappointed me/they were in trouble. They silently walked down the hallway and into the classroom and sat at their seats (as they'd done EVERY DAY THIS WEEK!!). Because I knew they were about to explode if they didn't get a chance to vent about why their clothespin got moved, I gave them my little schpiel and let them take turns telling me what happened. I was doing pretty good getting my point across until one of my kids started sharing. This student is not my brightest, but he is adorable and always says the funniest (unintentionally!) things. He said, "We were all just eating and talking, and then one student started play fighting with someone at another table, so we moved to yellow. Then we were being too loud, so the counselor moved us to red. Then, we talked when the lights were off, so the counselor moved us to ULTIMATE RED." I have NO idea where that term came from, but I had never heard it called that before, and the way he said it with extreme disappointment/hurt/like it was the worst tragedy in the world almost made me laugh out loud! If you've ever tried to discipline someone while hiding a smile at the same time, you know it's near impossible. So, we quickly moved on to math. (Earlier in the week, another student was giving me his version of what happened with the exploding milk incident and included all kinds of weird sound effects and actions that I couldn't stop myself from laughing out loud!.... My kids probably think I'm a pushover. Hmm..)

Thankfully, it's not just when I'm disciplining that they make me laugh or smile. But, I guess it can be just as bad when I'm in the middle of teaching.. For example, we were doing our whole-group reading yesterday and the strategy we were practicing was "Making Inferences". The way we teach them to make an inference (although, by 4th grade, a lot of them do it automatically) is to take information provided by the author/what the story tells you, combined with what you already know/your experiences, to figure out what someone is feeling or what is happening. The story I was reading was called The Big Boasting Battle (it's one of my kids' favorites, if you teach, I definitely recommend it! Lots of prefixes and suffixes, too!). At one part of the story, the lion and the snake fall into a trap and realize they can't get out. The inference we were trying to make was how they were feeling about that. I said, "the story tells us they fell into a trap, the walls are too high and they don't think they'll be able to get out. We know from our own experiences that if we think we're trapped, how do we feel?"
Student 1: "Sad"
Student 2: "Scared"
Student 3: "Worried"
Student 4: "Constipated"
Student 5: "Disappointed"
Yup, you read that correctly. She did say "constipated" and I did keep right on moving! Haha. Apparently she had no idea what it meant, because when the boy in front of her gave her a funny look and said "ewwwww," she gave him a confused look right back and said "what?" This is a) why my job is so important and b) why I love going to school everyday!

 Other times when they make me laugh and I'm not supposed to are when I catch them passing notes or love letters and decide to read them and the spelling is ridiculous or the note is just completely from the mind of an 8 year old! If these don't make you feel the love, you're heartless.
First, notice the top: Not for You.... um, ok? Second, notice the poem: filet's are blue. True love.
Truly spicel.

So, while it's hard to control my laughter and smiles at times, there are enough other times where I don't have to and the whole class breaks out in laughter that it's totally worth it. Laughing children has to be one of the greatest sounds in the world.

All in all, despite the gloomy weather, it was a pretty good week in Room 21. We got a 2-hour delay on Thursday because of hazardous road conditions. Consequently, I had 5 students absent (2 of whom were my little trouble makers), so that was quite a laid-back, laughter-filled day! Next week is a pretty big one, as it marks the end of the 1st interim on Wednesday and we have Back to School Night on Thursday!