Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick update

Let me just say that I LOVE MY NEW JOB teaching third grade. Love it. I am busy every second of the day, but it doesn't phase me. I catch myself walking around with a huge smile on my face. I wish everyone could feel this way about their jobs. The kids are so fun and much more independent. I enjoy teaching more difficult material and spending less time teaching how to behave in school, how to sit in a desk, how to flush the toilet, how to sit on the carpet, how to walk in a line, etc.... Don't get me wrong: I LOVED 1st grade and I was hesitant to switch. But I haven't looked back since the 1st day of school!

So today I was told this by a little boy: "Mrs. White, yesterday I had an ARMY of lices in my hair! I think we got all the adult lices out, but there may still be some eggs stuck in there."


Also a little boy wrote about how one time he was really excited when his mom bought him two new dogs: a boy and a girl. He wrote about how he played with them outside for a while and then got hot so he went in to watch TV. Then he wrote this: "Two hours later, my second dog was pregnant."

Well, little boy, it's a good thing you were watching TV instead of your dogs, then.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

More updates later in the week, when I can find time between grading papers, doing grad school, and....oh yeah.... being a wife.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our new bedroom!

Kevin and I had a very busy day today, arranging our new bedroom! We moved into this house almost a year and a half ago and have been putting off buying a nice set of bedroom funiture since then. We just didn't want to spend the money. Actually, we still didnt, which is why we were so lucky that Kevin's mom decided to sell us a set of her furniture for a ridiculously good deal. The stuff has barely even been used, and it is really nice! We also got a basically brand new matress and box-spring from her, which is a huge upgrade from what we were sleeping on before.

I had fun running around town picking up decorations on a tight budget. I actually did the whole room (all bedding included) for $100! I painted the canvasses myself to save money and to make sure they were a perfect match. We put our old stuff in our third bedroom (that used to be the office), so it will be nice to have an extra bedroom. It's definitely not as nice as our other (more put together) room, but it will serve it's purpose!

Here are some pictures. We love our new room!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to School!

The first week of school has come and gone, and it has been a blur! I was at school late every day since I am teaching a center in the after school program 3 days a week, trying to get back into the swing of things with a new school year, and trying to stay on top of my responsibilities with a new grade level. Plus, Tuesday night was the PTA board meeting (I'm teacher rep this year) and it lasted until 9pm, and then last night (Thursday) was another late night because of Meet the Teacher night. And it doesnt help that my graduate class started on the first day of school, either.

But you know the really, really, cool thing about all of that?

I LOVE it! I am so happy to be back at school. I have always loved my job, but I love it even more now that I'm teaching 3rd grade. I was a little scared that I was going to miss first, but I can truly say that I haven't regretted my decision for a single second so far. My students are amazing. They are all so smart and so sweet! This is going to be a really great year because we're going to be like a little family in our class. Already the students are all over the whole "random acts of kindness" thing. It helps that they sometimes get tickets if I catch them, lol. They're also LOVING the bulletin board that I described in a post over the summer, on which I have hung about 30 "tired" words, such as bad, good, like, then, but, do, went, happy, etc. Under the words are pegs with rings of replacement words on them. I haven been highly impressed with the interest in using the large words, the students' ability to choose and apply the words correctly, and the finished product of their writing assignments.

We have a lot of cool things going on this year, including a GREAT new aspect of our reading curriculum which I do not have the energy to blog about right now. We've also implented daily Fluency Folders (on the second day of school - go us!) that have fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary components to them. Also, we've created writing folders for the kids - an excellent resource for all kinds of vocab, guidance on story starters and different types of writing, onomatopoeias, etc. They love to use their writing folders!

Since I've got a very large representation of gifted students in my class this year, I've been working hard to come up with some ways to challenge them. I made these "When I'm Finished" menus for each month of the year which contain enrichment activities for the students to do after they complete their work. So far it's a big hit, especially the science-related choices and silly writing prompts. We're also using more challenging work whole-class, like higher-level questioning and comprehension strategies, and also with our "Tease your Brain Tuesday" special morning work.

I've still been worried that my high-achieving kids are going to be bored, so I think I'm going to start an independent study program next week on a free-choice basis. In reading, I'm going to let my gifted kids (who already grasp most of the reading/LA material that I'm teaching) choose a topic that interests them and then help them develop a research question. They'll choose from a list I generated (based on Bloom's Taxonomy) of project outcomes - things like writing a paper, creating a poster, making a powerpoint presentation, designing an advertisement, writing a play, "authoring" a children's book, etc., and then work during class to complete the project. We'll enter an independent study contract outlining the rules and deadlines (if you want a copy of the contracts I've come up with, just ask and I'll email them to you)! The students will have class time (this is not work to be done at home, and often will take the place of instruction that they find boring and needless) to visit the library, research on the internet, conduct interviews, etc. When they finish, they'll present to the class to teach us something new!

In math, I plan on doing the same type of thing (I have contracts for this, too), but the projects are smaller and shorter-term. Basically I plan to pretest my students on a topic before I teach it, and allow them to do advanced, alternative activities on the same topic if they demonstrate 90% accuracy before I teach the unit - and trust me, several of them will. Sometimes I'll have brain-bender activities and other times I may ask them to write about the importance of the topic we're studying in their day-to-day lives. I may even ask them to create a game for the class to play to practice their skills. Sometimes I'll have them write story problems for each other and trade to solve them. I'm always looking for new ideas!

I'm sure you can tell I'm very excited. This is partly because all of these ideas are coming out that I wasn't able to use in 1st grade because the kids weren't quite ready for the independence, but part of it is also because I've already learned a little about myself this year. I need to stop running such a controlled classroom in which everyone is on the same page all of the time, and allow my kids to work at their own levels, even if it stresses me out a little. The very MINUTE that I explained the independent study opportunities for next week to my gifted group today, I saw their little faces seriously light up with excitement. They deserve this, even if it's a little more work for me! It makes it all worth it :)

Today a little boy wrote about a time when he was excited because his mom brought him two new dogs. He wrote about how he played with them in the backyard for a while and then went in to watch some TV. He wrote how the first dog kept following his second dog around and sniffing it. Then he wrote this:

"So I was on my couch watching some TV. Then two hours later my second dog was pregnant. She had five puppies later."

Is this funny to anyone else? It made me spit out my soda when I read it after school today.

Another thing I LOVE about third grade? My class jobs are actually a HELP to me instead of a burden! My kids run the show for the entire morning when they arrive and before they go to specials. I have a librarian who helps others check books in and out from my library, a homework helper who removes the numbered clips from our homework and makes a list on the board for me so I can see who didn't do it (and then puts the clips back out in order for the next day), a person who takes attendance on the board for me, a person who checks everyone's morning work and stamps it, a person who takes things to the office, someone who turns on the student computers, and I could go on and ON! Man it's so nice.

On another note, some of my kids are really struggling with 6 digit place value, so if any of my teacher readers have any good strategies for teaching this (mainly going from expanded form back to standard form) I would love to hear them!

Okay, sorry this post has been all about school. It's dominated my every waking minute for the last two weeks, so I pretty much have nothing else going on. I hope you have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Our vacation!!!

Kevin and I had a wonderful time at the beach (in Port Aransas)! We left Tuesday morning and took our dogs to his mom's house (who was sweet to watch them while we were gone). Then we headed out for our 7 HOUR drive to Port A and arrived at about 3:30 that afternoon. We had to take the ferry to get to the island, and I made a new friend on it.

We got to our resort, La Mirage, and luckily were able to check in a little early. We then went to get our groceries for the week and I rediscovered my love for H.E.B. Once we got back to our condo we unpacked and headed to the beach. Kevin wanted to "catch some gnarley waves" on his boogie board. Here are a few pics from the first day.

View of the resort from the beach:

our walkway out to the beach:

Getting the first of my sun:

The next morning we went back out to the beach for a while and then to the pool. Ryan and Ashley arrived shortly after lunch time that day, and we were very happy to finally see them. We ate lunch together in the condo and then went back out to the beach. Here are some pictures of the afternoon:

Kevin and me:

Some of my sand dollars:

Kevin and Ryan heading out to catch some waves:

Kevin and Ryan getting our chairs:

That evening we went to my favorite island hangout, Snoopy's, for drinks and a casual seafood dinner. It was so delicious - I had fried shrimp and hush puppies and we had this appetizer of jalepeno poppers that had crab meat all mixed in with the cheese! The owner of the restaurant goes out fishing every day and whatever he catches is what is served, so it is all really fresh and great. Afterwards we fed the hungry fish off of the dock!

Kevin and me at dinner:

Ryan and Ashley:

Ryan said it looked like a war zone:

We fed the fish our leftovers:

After Snoopy's we went to The Back Porch, a neat little bar also on the water. While were were sitting there outside, a storm started blowing in. It was blowing over chairs and ripping things up, so we decided to head back to our condo. We sat out on our porch and continued to watch it blow in.

Thursday was another full day. We woke up early and went out to the beach. I caught some more sand dollars and a lot of hermit crabs (which I put back). We did a little more body surfing and then went inside for lunch. We took naps and then went back out to the pool. That night we ate at Burger Company (slogan: Burgers and Booze). I had a "Mexican Burger," which had a cheese enchilada, sour cream, jalepenos, and avocado on it. We went back to the resort after dinner and headed out to the beach to catch some sand crabs after dark, which was more fun after a few beers.

The first crab:

I got him!

A close-up:

Kevin and me on our last night:

We woke up on Friday, had breakfast, cleaned up our condo, and hit the road. We stopped on the way out of town for t-shirts, a Christmas ornament, and stuffed dolphins for each of our dogs :)When we got back to our house, dogs in tow, at about 7pm, our friends Kyle and Tiffany from Houston were already here to stay for the weekend. We went out to dinner and had several people over for drinks and Guitar Hero afterwards. Talk about a long day!

Saturday Tiffany and I got mani/pedis while the boys watched golf on TV, and then we all hung out for a while before dinner. We met some more friends at Lefty's in Addison which was soooo good. They got up this morning and left to go home, and I have been cleaning and doing laundry ever since.

That's our last week news!

Tomorrow I go back to work (teachers this Monday, kids next Monday), and I am so super excited. I love my job and I can't wait to see everyone tomorrow and to get some stuff done. Plus, tomorrow is going to be a fun day :)

The countdown starts:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Two quick, funny conversations

Kevin and I had both of these conversations yesterday, and I thought they were humorous:

Kevin: "We have a lot of yard work to do tomorrow. I'll bring home and axe and a chain saw to tear that stuff out of the back yard."
Me: "Ooh! Can I play with the axe?"
Kevin: "NO. Because you would probably chop my leg off. And definitely not the chain saw either, because then you would chop all of my limbs off. And probably yours, too."
Me: "Bummer."

Kevin: "I used to be right all the time. You know, back when we were dating."
Me: "No. That's just back when I used to let you think you were right all the time."
Kevin: "But why would you do that?"
Me: "To get you to marry me, so I could spend the rest of my life being right instead of you."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another Update :)

Hi everyone,

I really appreciate your words of encouragement and prayers for Kevin and me as we figure things out. I thought I would give an update on what is currently going on, although not much has changed.

Kevin has not heard back about the transfer to Houston within his company that was a possibility for right now. When he called the boss, he was told that unfortunately he waited a day too late, as the position had been offered to a candidate just that morning. The guy had not accepted it at that time, and Kevin was hopeful. However, it stands to reason that the position has been filled since he has not heard anything else.

Luckily Kevin agrees with me that it is best to stay in DFW with me until we can transition to Houston together next summer. He is currently looking for other opportunities up here since his current job is still slightly unstable. Just tonight we worked on his resume and I wrote him a cover letter for a superintendent position at a local golf course. I am confident that if this is the right next step for us, then God will make it happen.

As far as the house goes, we have been advised to wait until early next year to put it on the market, since our area is starting an uphill trend. We are working on a few minor improvements to help us out when we do decide to sell. Yesterday I painted the laundry room, including all of the trim, doors, and shelving. Unfortunately these were previously done in oil-based paint and were all yellowed and gross-looking. Though using oil-based paint was a huge disaster to my clothing, skin, hair, and patience, the room actually looks quite nice. Hopefully it will all dry completely by Saturday so that I can get our washer and dryer hooked back up and do some much-needed laundry (I will say that I am enjoying the excuse for not doing it now, though). We are also planning on working this weekend to plant some foliage along our back fence - another thing that our realtor and my dad (who is also a realtor, but in SA) have suggested. After that our to-do list will only include minor tasks like shamppoing carpets and stuff.

That's it for news about the moving situation.

In other news, I'm just about ready to go back to school. As of this morning, my classroom is completely ready for my third graders! I even taped down the desk name-plates today (which is absolutely the most dreaded and tedious part of preparing a room for the next year, in my opinion. You have to tape like all over the desk so that it can't be picked, scraped, or chisseled off by little fingers or classroom objects). Teachers go back to work on Monday the 17th and the kids come back on the 24th. I'm very ready to be a third grade teacher and I think it is going to be a great year!

Last weekend we went to San Antonio to spend time with my family. We went to Enchanted Rock and hiked up to the top, and also had a picnic. On the way home we visited Luckenbach to have a Lone Star beer and buy a T-shirt. While in SA, we also watched some good movies and went out to lunch with my sister's boyfriend. It was our first time to meet him, and he is a really nice kid. It was also great to see some of my friends at my church there, and Emily and Brian even brought over their adorable puppy to play with Bella. She wasn't really all that into it, unfortunately. She ran to her kennel, jumped inside, and pulled the door closed with her little paw. She doesn't like to make new doggy friends (as we already learned with Steve, Oliver, Lucy, and countless others).

Kevin and I are going on a much needed vacation next week. We will leave for Port Aransas on Tuesday morning and return Friday evening. I am so excited because we haven't been on a real vacation since our honeymoon! We're going with our friends from Houston and staying in a nice two-bedroom condo on the beach. I can't wait!