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.

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