Monday, September 29, 2008

Gremlins, gremlins everywhere!

Today in math we did the cutest lesson! I made this poster with different addition and subtraction equations and then covered up some of the numbers with post-it notes. The story was that the "Gremlin" snuck in and messed up our poster to challenge us. The Gremlin also wrote us a note daring our class to figure out his equations. Then we went through them together to determine the missing number in each of the number sentences.

I thought it might be too young of an activity for some of my kids, but they ALL bought right into it! It was the quietest day of math I have ever taught, because they were all so obsessed with defeating the Gremlin. Then the kids wrote letters back to the Gremlin taunting him. My favorite had this line it it: "You silly gremlin. You did not trick us hahahahahahahahah. Maybe you should try it after you go to college!"

One of my little kids took the whole gremlin thing way too seriously. He was warning everyone we saw in the hallway "Excuse me, excuse me. There is a GREMLIN in the HALL!" Then, somehow in the transition from recess to the classroom he escaped and went to the office. When someone walked him back to me, I asked him if one of the teachers on duty at recess had told him he could go. He said he didn't know. Then I asked him why he went to the office. Again, he didn't know. Are we seeing a trend here?

Finally, I got it out of him:
Me - Honey, why did you go to the office?
Him - I needed to talk to the nurse.
Me - Why did you need to talk to the nurse?
him - Because she helps people.
Me - Yes, she does help people. How did you need help?
Him - (looking at me as if I just sprouted a 3rd eye) There is a GREMLIN in our SCHOOL!!!

Oh man. That was entertaining. It was almost as entertaining as science today. We were making zoomers (buttons on a string that you can spin realy fast by winding up the string and then puliing it tight and loosening it, pulling it tight and lossening it, over and over. 'Jake' couldnt make his zoomer, well, zoom.

He "quit science for life." This was only after he yelled at his zoomer, calling it "stupid" and "dumb." Then he sling-shotted it across the room and ripped out some pages from his science journal to stomp on them. The climax was probably when he grabbed his head and screamed "I'M NOT A SCIENTIST, I'M A FAILURE!!!!" That, or when he started making noises like the ones that Taz makes as he spins around demolishing property.

You're going to think I'm crazy, but it was actually a very great day. It was entertaining, as always, but also rewarding and fun. Hopefully tomorrow will follow suit :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A lot has been going on, even since my last post!

On Friday we made applesauce at school. Each student brought an apple and then we cut them up, added cinnamon and sugar, and cooked them in my crock pot for 6 hours. Then we all enjoyed it at the end of the day! It smelled soooo good in my room all day long. The applesauce was fun, but Friday was a rough day. All of my kids were really testing me. We ended the day with a discussion of our Tribes agreements and examples of how we were/were not upholding them; we talked about the reasons that they are important and how we can make this right. Hopefully, this will be a better week.

Then after work on Friday I left for the Ladies' retreat with my church friends. It was down in Glen Rose at this little retreat center. I actually started to dread it on Friday, since all I wanted to do at the end of last week was come home, go to bed, and hide out until Monday. But then I was SO, SO, SO GLAD that I went!

The focus of the weekend was laughter and how it can help us physically and emotionally. This was so appropriate for me, because I always try to make the best out of situations at work and turn them into something funny. Things just seem so much more manageable when you can laugh at them. However, toward the end of this week I was a little beaten down and I had lost my sense of humor about things a little. The retreat really focused my heart back to where it should be! Here are some interesting things about laughter that made an impression on me:

1. If you laugh just 100 times a day, it's like riding an exercise bike for 15 minutes.
2. Little kids laugh on average 400 times a day!
3. Laughing has so many known health bebefits.
4. Making people laugh makes them feel good about themselves, and thus they relate feeling good about themselves to being with you! Then you become a more likeable person :)
5. The MOST interesting: A study was done in which people were shown a three dimensional figure on a piece of paper. Their minds interpreted it as, of course, a 3 dimensional figure. Then they were made to laugh for just 10 seconds. Real, genuine laughter. When they were once again presented with the same figure, their minds interpreted it differently: as a 2 dimensional figure! This is so interesting because it shows that things are perceived as less complex after laughing. I feel that this can be applied to all different situations and challenges. Things are more manageable and less challenging with laughter in your life.

I have know this for a long time, but it was good to learn about actually studies and research supporting it. I hope that you laugh multiple times a day like I do. I hope that you can put things into a perspective where you can see the humor in them, because life is much more fun that way :)

So now, I will wake up in the morning and go teach my precious Sunday School class full of infants, then head off to school on Monday morning to greet my first graders with a great, refreshed perspective on things. God in amazing in the way that He gives us exactly what we need when we put our faith in Him. I was so close to not attending the retreat because it was such a long, difficult week. But I went anyway, and it was precisely the encouragement and message that I needed after the week that I had. I am so blessed :)

Have a happy Sunday!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm a SNITCH with PEE on my foot

Today was a hectic day! Let me just give you a list of the most noteable happenings to give you an idea:

1. I stepped in pee. I had my shoes off. The pee was on my beautiful brightly colored rug, on a yellow square. I might have the highest frequency of potty accidents (6) year-to-date in the school, and I don't even teach Kinder.

2. One of my boys ran out of the playground and into the street to retrieve a ball during recess. My heart almost stopped. Big trouble for him.

3. After asking my BEP child to return to his own class because he was distracting mine with his poor behavior during Math, he threw a HUGE fit. Then he started screaming and threatening to "hurt" me and my other students. I had to call the office to have someone come get him, since I cannot use restraint. He was finally removed from the class, but not before I was labeled a "snitch" and my kids were adequately scared to death.

4. A poster that I stayed late to work on yesterday after school got all tangled and mangled up in the laminator and had to be cut into shreds to be removed. Then I couldn't get a new paper to start over with during my planning period because there was testing going on in the room where the paper stays. I walked into the copy room to overhear the following conversation:
Emily: "OH NO. That's Meagan's. Has she seen it? Does she know yet?"
Maria: "No not yet [looks up and sees me]. But she's about to." That's when I saw the mess.

5. I got to school at 6:45am and left school at 6:45pm. I was trying to finish my report cards, since I'll be out of town this weekend and they're due early next week.

SO ANYWAY, that's my day. It's just good to be home. Kevin and I just had santa fe grilled chicken salads from Sonic and they were delicious. And now we're about to watch The Office. So it's all good. Plus I get to wear jeans tomorrow.

Oh, and here's the other really good news. Yesterday my kids were administered the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) test. They're expected to read a lot of letters, segment a lot of words into sounds, and read a whole lot of nonsense words (3 letter words in the cvc vowel pattern that are not real words). That's a lot for the beginning of 1st grade! We have been practicing and drilling so much to try to prepare for this test. They pretty much kicked butt and took names, and I could not have been more proud of them. They are so impressive - these teeny tiny little people just achieving so much. I was just full of pride and happiness :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The "Butt Sniffer"

That's me.

Let me clarify.

Today as I was teaching, I was walking around the room checking on my kids and their work. I started to smell something, which I determined to be pee. It smelled a lot like a wet diaper, which I know plenty about since I teach Sunday school to infants. It's weird that someone would pee in their pants and then not tell me so that they could get a change of clothes. I've already had 4 kids with accidents this year! I started trying to zero in on the source, and determined that it came from the "orange" table. So then I pretended to look for something on the ground while I bent down next to every child at the table and tried to sniff out the pee. That's what you get to do when you teach little kids...jealous?

I couldn't figure out where it came from! Then it was time for recess and, since it was my day to stay inside, I sent all of the other kids on their way except for the orange table. I explained what I was smelling and plead for honesty. No bite. I explained that no one was going to be in trouble, and that I just wanted to help them get cleaned up. No bite.

So then I finally released them to recess, but only after one more sniff. I think I might have smelled pee on one of them, but not strong enough for an accusation. While the kids were at recess, Cheri from the office came in to help me sniff out the offending odor. We even picked up chairs and sniffed them and smelled the floor! I could still not pinpoint the smell, although she did verify that it was definitely a pee smell. For the rest of the day, I smelled pee in my room. The source of the smell remains a mystery.

So then I was telling my story after school to someone and another teacher overheard. She jokingly said "The next thing we know you'll be on the news for touching butts." But then I matter-of-factly reassured her that I was not TOUCHING butts, just SNIFFING them. As soon as the words came out I realized that, if possible, that sounds even worse than touching butts.

We'll see what adventures tomorrow holds.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Nut Collector

Today after school 'Jake' was having quite the time giving me a run for my money. He was chanting, over and over, all of the things that he knows better than to do, and then doing them. For example: "Stand on bench, stand on bench, stand on bench..." Then he would stand on the bench, from which he would have to be physically removed. "Climb on bars, climb on bars..." Then he would climb on the bars, from which, guessed it....he would have to be physically removed from. "Push the button, push the button...." Then he would make a mad dash to the door bell thingy on the front of our school. I guess it's no surprise that he would have to be physically removed from that as well.

So then, after telling him that his backpack was his power supply and thus could not be removed (I know, what??? lol), I grabbed onto the little loop on the top of it and held on for dear life. Yes, I put the child on a leash of sorts. If you have a problem with it, come teach my class for a day and you'll change your tune :)

Only then, he REMOVED the power supply because he wanted to go hunting for some more pecans that have fallen off the tree above. The kid has so many pecans in every pocket of his backpack that he can barely carry it anymore. When I pointed this out, he told me that it is because he is "The Nut Collector." My principal later pointed out that I, in fact, am the nut collector. Which is actually quite true, and humorous. I collect nuts. I have 22 of them right now :)

So then he decided that he did not want to go with his nanny, Doris. Naturally, the thing to do when Doris parked her car down the sidewalk to wait for him was to jump behind me, wrap his arms tightly around my waist, and bury his face into me from behind. The problem here is that, at 6 years old, his face is at just THAT level. So here we go, walking like conjoined twins to his car. All the teachers and parents are watching this spectacle, by the way.

Then, when we got to the car: you guessed it. He had to be physically removed from my body and placed into the car.

What a day!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why I do what I do...

I have this little boy in my class with some pretty serious learning issues (no, it's not 'Jake,' it's another student). He repeated kindergarten and is now in first grade, but still cannot look at a letter and tell me what it is, much less what sound it makes. He cannot look at a list of letters and identify the a or the b, etc. Many of my readers may not understand what a huge lack of skill this is for the beginning of first grade, but it really is. First graders should be at a beginning level for reading, but if they cannot identify letters, much less know their sounds, they are a LONG way from reading anything.

So I noticed this about the little boy on the first day of school. I also noticed that he lacks self confidence and seems to want to avoid learning at all costs, making excuses like his "brain isn't working," or he "really needs to potty."

I went home and made some tactile letter cards with index cards, glue, and colored sand. I figured that if writing the letters and doing the worksheets and activities wasn't doing the trick, he obviously needed another approach. I started the following week seeing him individually during 1/2 of my guided reading group time each day (15 minutes). I introduce only 2-3 new letters a day, and I have him trace the letters with his finger as we talk about what they are and what sounds they make. The following day, we review the letters we have learned previously and do a couple more. I had noticed no improvement, even with all of this work.

Then something wonderful happened: Yesterday we were going through the norml routine and all of the sudden he remembered what the "b" was. He then told me the sound and even said "buh...buh.. like in BEAR!!!" He was so proud of himself! I praised him and then he was able to do the same with several more of the letters that we have been working on!

When I sent him back to centers I told him how proud I was of him and how smart he was. That's when he said it. He said "I really AM smart! And now I'm gonna READ!!!" He said it like it was the first time he had ever believed he could learn to read. His little squeaky voice was so cute. It seriously almost made me cry.

That's why I do what I do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Trip to San Antonio

This weekend Kevin and I spent the weekend with my family in San Antonio. We got up very early on Saturday morning and made the almost 5 hour drive without any traffic at all! We got there just in time to sit down with my mom, dad, sister Lindsay, and my grandma (who we all call "Mom") to have homemade breakfast tacos. Then we hung out for a while around the house. Kevin and my dad watched some football and me, my mom, and my sister had some girl time :)

Later we played games and went out to dinner, all 6 of us (even Mom)! We came home, played some more games, watched some TV, and went to bed late. We got up Sunday morning and went to church. I LOVE going to my church back home! It's where I grew up, and there are so many people who have had such big impacts on my life there. It is always wonderful to visit.

Since we both took the day off today (Monday), we were able to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in San Antonio, too! We went to this awesome Mongolian barbeque place for lunch and then went home guessed it: more games! Haha. Then my dad and Kevin watched a considerable amount of football while my mom helped me cut out zillions of flash cards for my first graders.

Sunday night we went out to dinner (Alamo Cafe yummmmmmy) with Brian and Emily. Emily has been my best friend for...let's see...16 years now!!! We went off to different colleges in different states and, as always tends to happen, we have grown apart just a little, but I know that Emily and I will always have a special place in our hearts for eachother :) When we get together it's like no time has passed at all! I'm glad we have kind and patient husbands to put up with our giggling and telling of old stories! Here's a few pics of dinner:

Emily and Me

The four of us

Our men. They're so cool.

This weekend was amazing! I am so blessed to have an incredible family and fantastics friends. Tomorrow it's back to school for me! Apparantly today was not the best day with the sub, as I have already recieved emails from two parents inquiring about color changes and another two emails asking about the homework for tonight, as apparantly it was not clearly stated. Oh well...I'll fix it tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kiss Your Brain!

Hi all!

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while; until today it has been a pretty rough week. My work computer crashed (blue screen of death) on Saturday...the one with all my first grade files and hard work on it. Plus my class has been pretty difficult. 'Jake' had his two worst days so far on Monday and Tuesday...these included an emotional breakdown in the library, many threats to run away from school, and constipation (don't ask). Plus my mainstreamed student from the Behavior class started attending my class on Monday. That puts me at 23 six year olds, and a few of them with special needs.

BUT now onto the good news...Today was so much better! First, someone finally showed up to fix my laptop. The girl took it to the shop and brought it back WITHOUT erasing a single thing! It was so wonderful. Then someone FINALLY replaced the light bulb in my document camera so it is once again convenient to use.

I also went in to school early this morning, because I was stressed about how much I had to do and I get the most done in the morning. I got to school before 6:30am -- way early for me!!! I was able to cross so much off of my to-do list though, and if you know me you know that that is my favorite thing to do :) Then, because I got so much done this morning, I was able to leave BEFORE 5:00 today!!!!

'Jake' had the best day he has had so far in 1st grade! He did not even get a single 'buzz card' (reminder) all day today; I didn't even have to threaten him with one, either. He wasn't the only one on better behavior, either. Today gave me hope for the rest of the year. My kids worked independently, they listened, they followed directions, they were respectful of me and of their peers... they were so great! Plus, I think that the best job in the world is one where, randomly throughout the day, kids come up to you and give you big, sweet hugs for no other reason than because they adore you. And you know what? I might just adore them, too :)

The one setback was definitely the "accident" than soaked through the pants, ran off the girl's chair, and made a puddle on the floor. Oh, to teach 1st grade...

Now about the title of the post: Kiss Your Brain.

If you're a teacher I'm sure you are familiar with the Dr. Jean music. Dr. Jean sings educational songs for kids to learn from, and also just silly ones. While we were working today I had one of her cd's on, and the song playing was called Kiss Your Brain. My kids could NOT believe that ANYONE would EVER kiss their brains. They are so literal at this age. They were so grossed out, and they were asking me if brains had germs on them, because they would not kiss them if they did. The terms "slimy," "stinky," and the disgustingnest thing in the world" were also used. I thought that was cute!

I hope your day was as rewarding and wonderful as mine :)

Talk to you soon,

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Things 1st Graders are Scared of...

Yesterday we somehow strayed into the conversation of things that scare us. It was after I tried to make the class stop teasing 'Jake' about being scared of that book I wrote about the other day. I pointed out that we are all scared of things, and that that book is no different to him than sharks, or spiders, or in my case - garages, are to the rest of us. (BTW, they thought it was pretty hilarious that I am scared of garages).

They wanted to tell me some of the things they were scared of, and scary dreams that they had had. And since we had a few minutes before it was time to go to recess, I went with it. I was sure glad I did, because it was so funny!

Things my 1st graders are scared of:
1. clowns with swords
2. Rocks with "stone teeth"
3. ninjas
4. Dracula
5. dinosaurs
6. aliens from "powder space"
7. dead hands --what???
8. getting locked inside a car when there is a monster in there.
9. zombies
10. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

These are just a few; there were many, many more. Wouldn't you just love to jump inside one of their little heads for a few minutes and see where they come up with this stuff???

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A few funny things...

Today was a long day. I was at school for 12 hours again. Yikes. Then I had to carry a kicking, screaming, and crying little boy out of the classroom and into the front pick-up area after school. I then had to hold him on my hip, while he screamed in my ear, until his babysitter came to pick him up, for fear that if I put him down he would follow through on his threat to "run away from school." Why the fit, you ask? It was all because he did not want to go home from school because he was going to have to go to ballet class. Granted, I don't blame the kid for not wanting to go to ballet. Talk about social suicide for a first grade boy. But still, really with the drama?

Anyway, good thing is that at least I have had some pretty good laughs the last few days to get me through the tough times. Allow me to share them with you...

There is a special boy in my room (mentioned above), who for the sake of this blog we will call Jake (concealing his real name for obvious reasons). He has discovered that a girl in my class lives on the same street as him. If you know Jake, you know that he thinks that this means they are obviously meant to be. He has a serious first grade crush on this girl. Yesterday we were sitting in line at the bathroom and the girl got up to get a drink of water. Jake, of course, subsequently asked to get water as well. I told him that he could, and the next thing I know, I turned around and saw the funniest thing ever: Jake leaning over, nose buried in the girl's hair, with the most disturbing pleasant look on his face. His eyes were closed as if it were heavenly, and he was inhaling as much of her scent as possible. It just reminded me of a creepy old man or something. Come on, in first grade??? Where do they learn this stuff.

Another 'Jake' story. Today I had some spare time at the end of the day so I went over to my bookshelf to grab a fun book to read. All of the kids were sitting on their squares on the rug watching me. I grabbed what I thought to be a cute, lighthearted story with a good moral - A Bad Case of the Stripes. If you know this book, you know that it is in no way "scary." So I grabbed it, spun around, and said "Do you guys want to read this book?" I held it up. Jake freaked. He threw up his hands out in front of him as if he was fending off evil spirits. He lunged backwards, eyes closed, screaming "Not THAT BOOK! Not THAT BOOK! AHHHHHHHHHH" He crawled on his hands and knees out my door, yelling about how scary the book was. When I walked out into the hall to retrieve him, I forgot that I still had the terrifying book in my hands. Thus, he thought it was chasing him. You should have heard the commotion. Heck, if you were anywhere in a 10 mile radius you probably did. I threw the book back in the room and assured him that we were not going to read it. It took me 10 minutes to get him back under control. I still don't know what is so scary about the book.

I went after school to give the Kindergarten teachers a hard time about it. I asked them why no one had bothered to inform me that 'Jake' is terrified of the book. They almost peed their pants from laughing so hard. Apparantly last year the same thing happened, after he had only spotted the book on the bookshelf.

One more small story: We were working on filling ten frames with numbers 0-12 in math today. One little boy does not even know how to count (which is very frustrating, since he is already repeating first grade). I was working with him as one-on-one as possible considering I was teaching a class of 22. The girl that sits next to him has a speech impediment and is hard to understand. She was trying to help him as well. Finally, frustrated, she yelled out: "Deese pids dote know how to pount!!!"

Translation: These kids don't know how to count. It was just very funny and slightly ironic.

Have a great last couple of days of the week!

Monday, September 1, 2008

It's not goodbye! It's just see you later.

This post is dedicated to my good friend Van, who sadly is moving to Detroit this week because her husband got a fantastic new job. She's going to stay with her parents in Rowlett until then, so today I had to say goodbye for a while.

I only met Van less than a year ago when Kevin and I started attending our church here in Lewisville. She and Jarret had placed membership shortly before us. We formed a strong friendship quickly, along with the other young married couples at church. Van and I share a lot of the same history, as far as having had difficult relationships with many of our female friends. We were both very blessed to find each other and form a real friendship.

Van is a real friend. She is there for me when I need to talk or to get out of the house for a while and breathe. She's the first one to offer to help when anyone needs it, and she is always thinking of other people before herself. She's an example to me of what a friend should be.

Who am I going to go share sushi happy hour with? Who is going to relentlessly persuade me to make a fool out of myself at karaoke? Who's going to laugh at me next time I give my husband a massive dead leg? Who is going to find ridiculously great bargains with me when I feel like shopping? Who's going to bring home-made cheesecake to Bachelor night???

Van, I know you're going to read this, and I know that what you are feeling is even more sadness than any of us, because you are moving away from all of us. I hope you know that I, and all of us girls for that matter, are always here for you. We're only a phone call or a quick email away. Friendships don't end when distance separates them; they just change. Kevin and I will be praying for you and Jarret as you embark on this exciting new journey together. I'm already looking forward to your first visit home.

God Bless you, Zerbe family!

Until Later,