Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Need advice from teachers

I am about to embark on a new adventure...a student teacher. He is one year younger than I am, so I feel a little more out of my element since they are not as young as the "normal" student teacher. I also know of him from high school, but wasn't friends with him back then. (And for all of those of you who know I am single, he's married.)

I don't know why I am feeling inadequate lately with my teaching, but I am. Knowing I am going to have a student teacher is making me second-guess whether or not I am qualified to have one.

In a classroom that is primarily workshop oriented, I am a little hesitant to hand over everything. What advice do you give to a control freak? What advice do you give to a teacher who has never had a student teacher?

Thanks in advance!

Hmmm, what does this say about my class (well, me)?

My students were able to see a live production of a musical. The substitute music teacher asked the students to write about their favorite part. Here's what my kids said. Well, it's not so much what they said, but how they said it.

Then, the next few classes come and write what they thought.

Anyone else see a difference in how they wrote? My students were the first ones to write their thoughts and did so. They wrote all over, not linear like the other classes. I am going to chalk it up to being allowed to have choice and freedom.

Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated. BTW, any teachers out there, would you be concerned that your class wrote like that and not the others or would you embrace it?

*** The photos are blurred in certain places to protect identities of school employees (since it's my blog and not their's).


Won ugliest.

Won most colorful.

Need I say any more?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


We have secret Santas at work (and btw, I just typed Satan instead of Santa...I corrected myself). My secret Santa left me a trail mix of peanuts, M&M's, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips. I shared with my students and put some into their snack mix. One of my girls (who always speaks her mind) shared with me, that the skin-colored chocolate chip was awesome. She meant the butterscotch chips, but just didn't know the name. I bit my tongue and then went and wrote it down very quickly so I wouldn't forget.


Okay, it is against everything in my nature to write a bed to bed story. I try and focus on the small moments to draw you, the reader, into my day. However, today kind of needs it...

It started with a garbage bag of "trash" that I had "stolen" from my "neighbor's". Actually, it was items from my recycle bin and trash can (clean, of course) for the students to infer about the type of people who had this trash. I told the class that people had moved in, but I had never met them and just couldn't seem to meet them. By taking the trash, I figured I could learn about the new neighbors. Their inferences - they like to cook, they are lazy (like to eat popcorn and watch movies), work hard (plastic window covering kit), like to eat healthy (spinach), have a runny nose (Kleenex), and need to find their way (GPS box). Nice...

My students were shocked that their teacher would dig around in the trash. But it got better...we had to finish a writing unit by reading one more book by Lynn Plourde. It's called, Thank You Grandpa. Throughout the book, the grandpa teaches the young girl to appreciate and honor things as they pass on. By thanking them and saying good-bye. In the end, we infer that the grandfather died and she thanks him for what he has taught her and says good-bye. I couldn't even finish the book without crying. And I mean crying...true teardrops falling. In fact, two of the students were out of the room while I read it and when they came back, one of my boys had to rush over and whisper what had happened. Another student (one who always speaks her mind) told me that I am the first teacher she has EVER seen cry. Great...going down in the history books.

So not only is their teacher a stealer, she cries...Great!

On a more positive note, two of my students were having a bad day (as was I - I had a student who was disobedient and I worry that I'm not doing enough for this child) and decided to write down what was causing their bad day in their writer's notebooks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You didn't...

When I was in second grade, my teacher read How to Eat Fried Worms and then brought them in for us to try. I couldn't stand the thought of even possibly trying one, especially as I watched each child run over to the drinking fountain waiting to puke their guts out. I didn't feel well, so I asked the teacher to go to the nurse. Turns out - I had a fever...woo hoo! No fried worms for me. However, they were gummy worms.

Fast forward to today. My mom made these cute little mice out of Hershey kisses and cherries. They're adorable! I told my students my mom knew how to cook mice and asked if they had tasted chicken before...I brought over part of my class and asked them to take one and then begin to say, "ohhhhh" and groan. I watched two little girls in the Hive begin to get grossed out. I just couldn't help myself. After they all discovered that they were made of chocolate, we had a little laugh together.

As we were packing up for the day (just a few minutes later), I overheard one of my boys say to another, "Her mom makes pretty good mouse."

I had to pass it on to my mom (who was still there). It was sweet!

I'm a genius (again)

There are days that I struggle with my confidence in my teaching ability.

Today, however, I discovered something...if I can hook them, they'll love reading. I just have to find the right material. One of my boys just can't seem to finish a book, but I noticed one day he could tell me all about his graphic novel that he was reading. So, using a system that we have at school, I located some books, printed out the list, placed them on hold with our library system and picked up two today. He's almost finished with one of them. In fact, he stayed in at recess to read...WHAT??? I could barely get him to do anything else. He just wanted to read.

Woo hoo!

Score one for the teaching side!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Life is...

I get updates from Caring Bridge in regards to two people that I know. Both are dealing with cancer. Both lives are traveling in opposite directions. One boy is almost in remission for the third time. God has done some amazing work in this boy and family's life as well as the people that surround them. The other lady is losing the battle and quickly and is in her final days with a brain tumor. Why the difference, I have no idea. It makes my stomach absolutely sick when I think of this godly woman whose family is struggling and is trying to cope with the days that are to come.

While I was on another blog, a teacher had used a prompt for a poem and I took a chance and am using it to write my own in honor of my friend who will very soon stand face to face with her Savior.

Life is...

Life is too short to not look in the eyes of others as they speak.
Life is too short to not forgive.
Life is too short to not give.
Life is too short to not smile.
Life is too short to not stop and take in the beauty around us.
Life is too short to not say I love you one more time.
Life is too short...what will you do with it?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes...

The other day, the students were sorting their spelling words based on the sound of e in the words. We have read through all of the words and then talked about the meanings of the words that they didn't know. I noticed one boy was just sitting and looking at a word. I thought he was spacing out, so I decided to just check in. I asked him what he was doing.

He replied, "I took a picture of this word, but I can't find it." And for those of you who don't know...we take mental pictures of words that we learn so they can move into our lexical system (thanks to Ellin Oliver Keene). He was trying to find that picture in his mind to say the word...LOVE HIM!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanks be to God...

I've been afraid of flying for many years and yes, I've always heard that it's safer than driving (however, I am going to step out and trust my faith more than my fear and go to Honduras in July for a week long mission trip). Friday night I was coming back from shopping with one of my small group girls and bringing her back from school so she could go back home for the weekend. I had just met her mother and dropped her off and was sitting at a stoplight, waiting for it to turn green. Suddenly, a booming noise and a giant lurch of my car clued me into something bad had happened. What it was took me a bit to figure out...I seriously sat there (it felt like time was just slowly ticking) for a bit and then it dawned on me that I had been hit. I cannot describe how the sound and noise occurred at the same was all encompassing.

After getting out of the car, I was extremely relieved...there's really only two or three paint scratches on the back of my car. I'm going to take it in this week to have the body checked out, just to make sure. It could have been so much worse. I am thankful that it wasn't any worse. It does make me a little leary now watching the people as they come behind me. It takes a lot of trust in others as they drive. It wasn't my was hers. But everyday, we place our lives in other's hands as they make decisions.

Are you serious?

Have you ever had people who just knew how to rhyme their comments with what they said before and get away with changing their answers? I've seen it done on tv quite a bit, but I've never been able to do it in real life...well, one of my students was able to.

He was washing his hands (standing backwards with his hands behind his back) - what he was thinking, I don't know...but as he was talking to another student, I asked, "What would your mother say?" I was trying to get to him to turn around, wash his hands, and shut off the water. Next time, I'll just be more direct. He responded with a look that told me he wasn't sure what I was saying over the running water...again, another clue to turn around and shut off the water.

He said, "What's my mother's name?" with a very puzzled look.

The other students had heard me and helped repeat, "What would your mother say?"

He said, "Mother's Day?"

Even more students yelled back, "What would your mother say?"

"Oh...nothing. She wouldn't care." Hmmm....really? Regardless of him washing his hands backwards, I just had to laugh that he was able to rhyme the statements right back so quickly.

And yes, the students realized that as he was talking, I was writing down key comments so I could blog.

Circles, chairs, and M&M's

What do these things have in common? They were all present tonight at my friend's bridal shower. As we sat in a circle on many different chairs eating mint M & M's, we all celebrated our friend. Beyond just outer beauty, this lady radiates inner beauty and strives to know God...not just know about Him, but KNOW Him. She is loving and giving and I love the way her fiance takes care of her. I'm excited to watch her come down the aisle and present herself to her fiance. I'm excited to see how God continues to change and mold them and develop them! I'm so excited!

What was also just as amazing as celebrating my friend was the fact that most of us know each other and would do whatever is needed for each other. The warmth in the room did not only come from the candles and the heat of the came from the friendships that have been established....I so love that God abundantly provides!!!

He's a genius...

I had a student teach on Friday for writing workshop! It was great! He showed that he reread his writing so he knew what he was writing the day before and where he was in the place of the story. Then he told the students to try it themselves. IT WAS GREAT! Then I taped them actually doing what he suggested. In sharing circle, students then shared about how rereading helped them with their writing that day. One student even thanked him. With editing and permission from parents, I might post it here. Might is the key word.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If they only knew...

My students say funny things...and I love it. Lately, they know when I am writing down things for the blog. I found out that through my blog, one of my students gets to hear some of the postings. He's started his own journal where he writes down what he's feeling and his thoughts. So cool!!!!

On Monday afternoon, one of my girls was upset over losing a free mini-notebook. Several students told her to retrace her steps. She replied that it'd be easier if she had paint on her shoes. Nice thinking!

Also on Monday, I refrained from using sarcasm and finally couldn't quite take it anymore. I said, "I could make a sarcastic comment, but I won't." One of my students asked what sarcastic meant. I tried to explain it, but told them I'd find another time to make one. Later in the day, I did find a time. After making a comment about student bringing toys to play with during school, I explained how it was sarcasm. And without realizing the sarcastic comment it could be made into, he said, "Thanks for teaching us sarcasm today."

And today, while it wasn't funny, but so incredibly sweet...I kept a group of students in to work on writing the date correctly. One student was upset that he didn't get to go to recess and another student replied, "Learning is more important than recess. Learning is better than recess." Woo hoo...getting through to some of them!

I'm a genius!

Okay, not was by the grace of God. I had originally planned on teaching a focus lesson on strong action words, but I thought some dialogue needed help after seeing a student's writing yesterday. I shared from an author that we are using to mentor our writing and broke it down into three steps. And then it came to me...add some action to it. My students remember things so much more if we add action or hand motions to them.

Three things that dialogue needs
1) Character names
2) Tag lines (said) - this is where we added action by having students tag (some ended up whacking) themselves as we said the tag line
3) Quotation marks - and yes, we use our fingers to make air quotation marks here.

Did it work??? We'll see when they turn in some writing for me to read...I'm excited!