8.30.2010

Quiet

Today the hubs took our daughter to Legoland. He was hoping it wasn't going to be too crowded, but planned for the worst. He really thought they would be there for a couple hours max and be home before I got home. But, he was wrong! He said it was super quiet there and they were able to go to the aquarium, the water park and Legoland itself. They got there at 9:30 and he called at 5:45 to tell me they were on their way home. I am very jealous that they had such a quiet day there. It's always a zoo when I go!

I got home at 4:30 today and had the house to myself. With all this time, I should have taken a nap. But instead, I folded laundry and then have been on the computer for too freakin' long! Time to go flop back into the couch and wait for the hubs to bring home dinner! Not bad for a Monday night! Especially after a long, busy day at work!

8.29.2010

Weekend Finds

This weekend, I haven't been resting like I said I would. But it's OK! I feel I have scored some great deals!

Yesterday after my daughter's soccer game, we went looking at yard sales. We weren't having much luck, til the hubs decided we would go to one up on a dirt road back in the hills. I was reluctant, just because I hate going away from the main drag too much. I am glad we did. The lady had TONS of kids books for a quarter! I got $11 worth! I wanted more, but they were wet and sticking together and that is a recipe for disaster! So, I took what I wanted. I felt pretty good about it. Doubt I will top that for a while!

Today, we went to breakfast and then went to Goodwill. I like to see what they have. I look at the books and housewares. I am still to "yuppy" to look at the clothes, tho we did buy my daughter a dress there before (but when she saw it, she had to have it!). The one we always go to didn't have anything I wanted, and I was OK with that. Then we remembered there was one in another city, about 15 minutes away. So off we went. It was the first time we went to that store. I fell in love with their book section. They had tons of books. I can't find kids books at the one we always go to, but I left $20 poorer today with books for my class library. They were $1 a pop, but it's still cheaper than getting them new!

Now, I am off to finish my baking, fold laundry, clean the rest of the house, do lesson plans and make dinner. All by 9 pm so I can crash tonight! Happy Sunday!

8.28.2010

Week in Review - Week 3

Another busy and productive week at school. We are still getting into the routine of things. It's hard when the kids haven't had recess for 2 weeks, thanks to Mother Nature. They haven't handled it too bad, but they are getting cabin fever. We did recess - all of them - on Friday, thanks to cooler weather.

Here is the week in review:
We have spent 2 weeks reading Clifford books. One of the activities we did was to graph Clifford, if he could have been any color. My kids didn't use their imagination too much, as many liked red!


We have been studying matter. This is the chart we created with items under each group. My favorites for liquid were sunscreen and blood!


We started our reading program this week. Our spelling words were at, cat, mat, sat. We made cats and wrote sentences on them. My fave was "The fat cat sat on the mat." I just love how these turn out each year!




In math, we are talking about plane shapes and solid shpaes. I had the students draw some plane shapes, cut them out and make pictures out of them. Not too bad if I say so myself!




Next week will be another busy week. We'll see what all we get done!

8.26.2010

Life

Life has been a bit hectic lately. Between dentist appointments, soccer practice, after school meetings, the heat and freak monsoon storms, it's been a heck of a week! I am glad tomorrow is Friday and I have some sort of rest coming this weekend. Not a lot of rest, but more than I get during the week. And, if we are lucky, we may even be in the 80's instead of 110! I can't wait!

We did finally get some sort of resolution with the grade level. It was more of the principal saying that this is what we're doing and deal with it. Some aren't happy, but at least we have started and things are starting to go in the right direction. It's so frustrating when there is one person who can't get their act together and work as a team. But, the principal has seen "the light" and I think she knows where the real problem is. It's always fun to sit in a meeting with someone who smirks at every comment made. I never realized we were in the presence of greatness with this teacher is she is the best in the world. (note sarcasm, please!)

It is now Friday. I was too tired to even finish writing last night. I fell asleep in my daughter's bed while she was still awake. I think I was out by 9:45 at the latest! I am glad it's Friday, but I have a lot to do to catch up for the week and prepare for next week! Always something fun to do. Hopefully I will get pics up this weekend of the stuff we did this week. Not too exciting, but it's stuff! TGIF all!

8.23.2010

When it's hot, we all get cranky!

We are finally experienceing summer here in So Cal. We were so lucky to have it mild for such a long time. But, we are getting our payback now. It's been over 100 degrees now for about 9 days, with no end in sight. That is really unusual. Normally we will have a couple days, drop to the high 90's go back up, drop down, you get the idea. But, we are in the midst of summer and it sucks!

Because it's so hot, the kids get only one recess at 10:30, and even then it's too hot already. But they let them play. The kids haven't had a lunch or PM recess since the beginning of school. They are antsy! They are misbehaving! And it's pissing me off!

Today at lunch, I had a student bite another student. Yep, I said bite. As in chomping down on the students' shoulder. No bite marks, but still, WTH? We aren't animals! We're first graders. We know better. I guess the one student was pushing the other off the bench in the MPR and she got tired of it. I don't blame her, but come on. Give me a break! So, I had to leave my lunch to go take care of the situation, since we don't have aides that can handle it! The kid got to sit in the office, eat their lunch and listen to me call their parents. Not the highlight of my day, but I did make her cry and regret her decision!

The kids are forgetting the rules and being maniacs! It's crazy! But the teachers aren't much better. People have very short fuses when the temps go up. Im the perfect world, it would be 80 all year and sunny, and we would all get along. Let's hope September brings cooler temps, but in reality, it won't cool off til October, and even then it's in the 90's! I can only remember one time in rained on Halloween. Normally we would sweat to death trick or treating! That's the joy of living in So Cal - no snow and horribly cold weather! I won't trade it for that!
----------------------------
Looks like we sort of reached an agreement with the grade level. It was more of the principal deciding what to do rather than them agreeing. We'll see how it goes. I hope it works out well since my kids are involved, but you never know! It could all go to crap next week!

I'm off to go lay in bed and veg tonight. It's too hot to care about anything tonight. And my daughter's getting cabin fever being inside all day! Crazy, crazy, crazy! maybe that should be my theme!

8.22.2010

Lazy Sunday

Today is Sunday. I am exhausted. We had a busier than wanted day yesterday, and were gone from 9am til 7pm. Not how I wanted to spend my day, but oh well! Today, I am staying home to do all the stuff I would have done yesterday - laundry, clean the house, lesson plans, etc. I've decided it's Pajama Day at home, so my daughter and I are hanging out in our pj's all day. Some say it's gross, but I don't care. I am freaking exhausted. A little too much stress on Friday, I think, has gotten to me. I'm not too excited to go to work tomorrow, nor do I want to plan. But, I have to. Tomorrow we get to deal some more with the teachers who don't want to join in, figure out how to make it work and see where we go now. Oh yeah, and it's never cooled down from being in the 100's and they say it's just going to get hotter this week! Well, crap! Here's to a nice, hot, steamy week of crap! And getting my laundry done finally!

8.21.2010

Week in Review

Wow! The first full week back was long, but damn, the week flew by! I really hope the year doesn't go by this fast - I have too much I need to do! I hope it slows down a bit so we can enjoy being at school, learning and having fun!

This last week, we did the letter/sound review that goes with Houghton-Mifflin reading. I don't love the back to school review they do, but I like that it gives me some "free time" to test the kids on DRA and sight words and get a feel for where they are. And, it's pretty sad. I have 11 of my 22 kids who are DRA level 2 or below. It makes me mad to hear the kinder teachers tell me how well the kids did. I am a realist and know that not every kid will be at grade level. But how can half the class be below grade level and they are OK with that? If my kids left me that way, I would feel like a complete failure. But, it just gives me more to work on and work towards! We made an alphabet book on Friday, but it isn't picture worthy. I didn't know how artistically challenged the kids were. Again, over half the class can't draw a person - they are all tadpole people! We've got a long way to go to get them to realize there is more to a person than a head, arms and legs!


We also reviewed the color words this week. A pet peeve of mine is when kids don't know the color words and ask me "What does this say?" I have a chart with the color words and I teach them to read the crayons. It doesn't work for all, but it does work for about 90% of the ones who don't know it! We read the book Rain by Donald Crews. It's from an old reading series, but I love it. As our culminating activity, we made rainbows. The kids had fun! And they liven up the work wall!



In math, we were working with the numbers 1 thru 12. As our culminating activity, I had the kids write the numbers 1-12 down the side of a paper and then glue beans on as a physical representation. Some did well, some didn't! It was interesting to see the ones who were very methodical about it and those who had no clue!


It was a long week. Next week will be a regular week and a start of the beginning of the "real" reading program! We'll see what fun we have next week!

8.20.2010

C-R-A-Z-Y

This first full week of school has been crazy! Crazy busy, crazy tiring, crazy good. My kids and I are getting into the swing of things, getting the routines down, following the rules, learning to live without recess for an entire week thanks to temps well above 100 (and they say every day it will be in the low 90's!)and just learning what life is like as a first grader rather than a Kindergartener.

We also had Back to School night last night. With our new schedule, we are out of school at 3:12, but that doesn't mean we are gone! Some of the first grade teachers stay with their kids after school who are getting picked up. I am one of them, just to make sure they know the routine before we have after school duty ourselves - next week! So, by the time the kids are gone, it's 3:30, which left 30 minutes to get my room ready for BTS night, leave to go get my daughter from preschool, run thru Del Taco, drop daughter off at Nana's house, shove burrito down my pie hole with a giant diet coke (and I have tried to give up soda, but last night it was a necessity!) and be back to school by 5:15 so I have a place to park before the parents arrive at 5:30...or 5:35, or 5:50 for the meeting that is done at 6:15. Anyway, did all that, talked a lot and really fast, sent the parents on their way, chatted in the parking lot for way too long and then finally left at 7 to go get my daughter from Nana's house. Sat, chit chatted with my parents and went to leave at 8, only to see a giant fire about 1/2 mile from my school. So, we had to sit and watch it (we were a long way from it, but we could see it across the valley)and then I finally got to come home and try to sleep with a 4 year old afraid of the fire coming to get her. I passed that on to her, thank you very much!

Anyway, today was finally Friday. My kids did a lot of project work today, got to make messes and pictures and stuff (post tomorrow). Plus, I got to hear all about the fire from kids who lived right there where it was. I would have been scared to death and packed all my stuff, but they seemed like it was normal. It's not that normal - the area that burned hasn't burned in over 50 years. It;s big tall brush turning browner every day with the heat. Did I mention I live in the desert, but not the desert? I was ready for 3:30 to come so I could go home! I even got to work 2 hours early today to get stuff done so I could leave early. Silly me. I should have known better. I have mentioned before how my grade level isn't cohesive and people don't like each other. Well, my new principal is going to make everyone work together whether we like it or not. So, we got to meet after school for about 1 1/2 hours and still don't have things resolved - things that we supposed to happen on Monday! So, the chaos continues, people are unhappy and it's going to be interesting to see what happens. I am glad that principal is making "everyone play" since it is what the school "does", but at the same time, it throws a monkey wrench into plans that some of us made who have always "played" like we were supposed to. So, another yearof chaos it will be.

Now, I am tired, exhausted really, with a giant pile of laundry waiting to be folded. The hubs did laundry today for me, but it won't get folded by him. I'm so lucky! But, he did make dinner. And I have the dishes to clean. Sorry ladies, he's already taken! I am hoping to go to bed early, get some good sleep so I can get up and sweat to death at 4 year old soccer! Maybe tomorrow will be family nap time!

Happy Friday all!

8.18.2010

As easy as 7, 2, 10

We've started our wonderful (NOT) math program. This is the 3rd year we have had our program and I am liking it more and more. But I have also searched high and low for supplemental materials to make it work.

Our first "topic" is on the numbers 1 - 12. I take for granted that the kids come in and know their numbers, at least to 10. All my kids can count to 10, but that's as far as their number knowledge goes. I have many kids who know their numbers, go to 100 and are ready for the nitty gritty in math. But, OMG! I have 3 poor little girls who have no clue what the numbers are. Again, they can count, but it's just saying the numbers. When you ask them to write the numbers, they struggle. One little girl can't get past 2. She doesn't know what the numbers are without having them written down and counting/pointing to each number each. and. every. time. My math lessons are stretching forever! I would love to pull her aside and work with her, I just have to find the time to do it. I would love to be able to stay with her at recess, but our recess are short and spread out, that it's all I can do to make it to the office for my few minute break to hit the restroom (with all the other female teachers! Yeah, 2 stalls and 40 something females - not so good planning there!).

I never thought of this first math unit as hard or difficult until today. I was frustrated and I know my numbers. I can imagine these poor kids who don't know their numbers. Makes me sad for them. Then I start to feel inadequate. I will probably be awake at 2 am trying to figure out how to work with them more. And to make it worse, they are also in my lowest reading group. Double whammy for them. And 2 of the 3 of them are only English speaking, so they don't have another language to overcome.

This is the frustrating part for me. There are so many standards and time restraints we are up against. If I could just spend some time away from the curriculum to help them, they could do well. But it's push, push, push, drag, drag, drag. I think back to when I was in school and it seemed like there was time. Maybe my memory of being 6 was different. I don't know. It sucks for these little kids. They are already behind and facing an uphill battle, 6 days into school.

I'm at a Title 1 school, so you think there would be help, but there isn't. With a new principal, office staff, etc, things are freakin' chaos. We have classroom instructional assistants, but they are few and far between. Not everyone gets aide time, and people who do gets aides are too bitchy to share. I've had an aide once, and it was because another teacher felt sorry for us. One teacher, the queen bitch of the grade level, had an aide all last week for 3 hours a day! Me, 25 minutes 1 day. I'll take what I can get, but come on. Share the wealth!

Enough of my ranting. Time to go do dishes so I can sit and look over their work for toady before I pass out from exhaustion. The beginning of school with 108 degree temps and humidity is kicking my butt! I will welcome fall when we get it...in November!

8.16.2010

Clifford

The Big Red Dog.



In the past, I have done an author study on several popular authors. It's probably not the right way to do an author study, but it works for me, and that's all I care about! For the next 2 weeks, we are going to be reading some of the Clifford books. We started today with Clifford the Big Red Dog. The kids love it because he is larger than life. I like them at the beginning because they are easy to read and comprehend for the kids and they don't get bored with a too-long story. During the study, we will talk about the author and illustrator (one in the same, here), the problems in the stories, compare stories and see how they are the same, write//talk about what it would be like to have Clifford for a pet and do a project coloring and writing about Clifford. I have a video I could show one day, but it would have to be a day we worked to death and were hot and tired (today would have been it!!!). One year, we wrote to Norman Bridwell and then about 3 months later, my class got a posters signed by him. Pretty cool! I think I'm going to try that again this year. We've gotten away from the "fun" thanks to assessments that are never ending. I am going to try to have more fun, while keeping the learning going!

Photos will be posted as soon as we do something fun with Clifford! Any other ideas would be appreciated!

Happy Monday!

I couldn't believe it was Monday when the alarm went off this morning. I wanted, no needed, an hour or 3 more of sleep! I am very tired this morning. But, it's Monday, which means we are one day closer to Friday! Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but today is supposed to be about 105 - 110 outside and that just sucks! Yeah, we have A/C, but it only cools the room to about 80!

It's a new week and I am ready to get started. Happy Monday all!

8.15.2010

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

While it's nothing like U2's song, I am not glad that it's Sunday. Last week totally kicked my butt! I am not recovered from the 3 days of kids. But, it's Sunday and I need to be ready for the week. Thie first week of school was insanely chaotic. Between having a new schedule, not knowing where kids go after school and waiting for parents to show up, I didn't have a chance to leave school til after 4. My goal for this year is to be out by 3:45, home by 4, since I do get there by 7:45 (and we start at 9).

Earlier today, my family went to breakfast and then did some shopping - things we needed and things we don't - but we went shopping. Then, we went for a nice frozen yogurt since Mother Nature decided to send summer our way. It will be a nice 105 tomorrow with the humidity coming on Tuesday. We live in the desert, we don't like humidity! It was a nice break to go out and do something with my daughter. The mommy guilt has been killing me this last week.

In a few minutes, I will sit down and start doing my lesson plans. I should have had them done before, but I didn't. I wanted to see where the kids were before I started planning. So far, I think we are good. There are a few that will drive me crazy simply because they sit there like a bump on a log! They don't do their work at all! Ugh! I hate that the most. At least try something once in a while!

I also have to plan for Back to School Night. We have this joyous event on Thursday night. I don't know how many will come and out of that, how many will even know what I am saying! 11 of my 21 kids are Spanish speakers, so it makes it very interesting to communicate with parents. But, I will give it a whirl! Trying to come up with something a bit different for BTS night, but I haven't even put much thought into yet. And 30 minutes goes by very quickly!

I'd better get working on plans. I don't want to wait til the last minute. If I get them done early, I can start tackling the pile of zucchini I have in my kitchen and the box of plums that are going bad. Looks like Betty Crocker will make an appearance today as well! Enjoy your Sunday!

8.14.2010

Review Week

Now that the first day of school has come and gone, it's time to get in to the regular routine. It will still take a few weeks to be in the real routine, but we're off to a good start.

Each week, I try to read books by a different author. This week, we started with Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus. We talked about how he was different from his friends, but that he eventually learned to do all the things they can do. On Wednesday, the kids did a dot-to-dot of Leo that went with the ABC's. It was interesting to see who did it quickly and who had to say the alphabet each time. On Thursday, we read another book by Robert Kraus, WHose Mouse are You? It was a book we had to plan for in college and it is now one of my favorites. Very easy and simple, but I love it. We reviewed Leo again and did a sequencing page. It's very easy as the pictures are already numbered, but again, it's interesting to see who did it correctly! Finally on Friday, we read Where Are You Going, Little Mouse? After, we reviewed one last time about Leo. The kids then made a large Leo, cut him out and glued him to paper and wrote the sentence "Now Leo can ________." and had to fill in with one thing Leo can do now. I hang them up so the room looks lived in again!




We also started our daily graphing. I think of something simple for the kids to answer and put a magnet on the spot they say. Yesterday's question was "What do tyou like best at school?" And their choices were reading, writing and math. Monday's question is "What is your favorite color?" and the choices are red, yellow and blue.


Here is a picture of the Monkey Manners we came up with. I am hoping it will work this year. The beginning of the year is always hard, trying to get kids to conform to the rules of the class after being home all summer. And, unfortunately, 2 of the kinder classes aren't really made to follow the rules as much. The kids get in trouble when they do something wrong, but there aren't other rewards or consequences. So far I am pleased with what I see, but it's still the honeymoom phase!

The Amazingness Award

The Amazingness Award

I woke up this morning still very tired from the first week of school. It's amazing how 3 days can feel like forever. Especially when my daughter came in at 6:30 to wake me up! So, when I finally did roll out of bed and came to play on the computer, I found out I had received The Amazingness Award! It perked me up a little this morning!

Here is how it goes:

A. Thank the person who gave me the award:


Thank you to both Sunny at Caffeinated Teacher and also from Undergraound Teacher! Thank you both so much! I enjoy reading your blogs and getting ideas and sharing our joys and frustrations!

B. Share seven things about myself





1. I am not a coffee drinker in the morning, as many people are. I used to drink a lot of soda, but I have stopped. I can somehow make it through the day!

2. I am the only one in my family that has gone to college and completed it. I have a BS degree in Elementary Ed, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and a second MA emphasis in reading.

3. I feel like I live on a farm. I have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 6 chickens and 2 ducks. If Hubs has his way, we would have a goat and a sheep. If my daughter had her way, we would have a horse!

4. I have been married for almost 8 years. I have a 4 year old daughter. And one is enough. I hate it when people ask me how old she is and tell me it's time for another one. I don't think so. I almost died having her, thanks to my doctors stupidity. I had to have a crash c-section (thank you again, Dr. Ass) and then they forgot to count everything. SO, 3 days later, I got sick, had to have another surgery and then visited the cardiac unit for 2 more days. Yep, I'm done having kids. One scary-ass situation is enough for me!

5. I'm a morning person. I can be at school an hour and a half early and enjoy it. By 9pm, I am not a happy person to be around.

6. I love my job. I always wanted to be a teacher since I was in the 2nd grade. It was something I think I was born to do. I may not be the most creative or most fun teacher, but my kids learn and they do well. We have fun, but we ar learning at the same time!

7. I work in the same district I went to school in. Some of the teachers and administrators are still there! I actually worked at my old elementary school for 6 years til they shut it down. There were 4 teachers or so who were there when my brother, sister and I were kids. I was sad they closed it.

C. Pass the award onto 15 other bloggers


There are a only a few blogs I follow, so I may not be able to pass the award to 15 people, but I'll see what I can do!. Here are a few blogs that I make sure to read every day!

Caffeinated Teacher
Teach 4 Real
Vodkamom
It's Not All Flowers and Sausages
Deep Space Sparkle
Dead Class Pets
Look at My Happy Rainbow

There are probably more, but now my daughter is climbing on me to play!

8.12.2010

Why not let them all fend for themselves?

One of the worst things about teaching first grade is the "what happens after school" deal. The kids come to us with no information about how they get home! I don't know a bus rider from a parent pick up to an after school program kid. They are all just faces at 9 am!

Most of the time, a parent, grandparent, guardian, stranger off the street will be with the child on the first day, show them where to line up and talk to the teacher for a brief moment. I always introduce myself first, say hi to the kid and then ask the parent how their child gets home. I like to know since it is pure and utter chaos when school gets out. We have "parent pick up". This is an area where parents can drive thru to pick up their kids. Or they are supposed to anyway. It seems like half the parents can't wait in line and walk up to get their kid. Nothing like 200 parents yelling and screaming for their kid who is behind a gate! Crazy! We also have an after school program, or as I refer to it "free babysitting til 6 o"clock so I don't have to be a parent and my child won't do their homework but they will learn to act worse in class" program. I understand the idea of the program, but I don't like it.

Anyway, yesterday morning, I have my little clipboard with my kids names on a list of how they get home. I hope to meet all the parents so I know. Of my 21 kids, I met about 16 parents. Not bad, but not great. All of them told me pick up, except one. He rides the bus. And his mom is the bus driver! Score! He won't get lost. Then I have to ask the kids who didn't come with a parent how they get home. They all told me pick up. OK, this could work and be good!

Then recess comes to an end at 2:30 and one of my girls tells me she goes to the after school nuthouse. Um, no one told me that! And, her parents just dropped her off. She has an older sister, so she will be OK, right? Then school ends and I have a student tell me she goes to the back gate (which goes through a park and into a neighborhood). Um, really? I tell her to wait for me, turn around to talk to a parent and then she is gone. Well, shit! Time to worry and wonder where she went! Luckily, she was to go there and made it home! And, to top off the fun, I had a students' fathers' fiance come yell at me cause his son was to be in the nuthouse, but he told me he picked him up. I guess I forgot to ask what time he was picking him up! Oh well, always something fun.

I am amazed at how many parents let their kids fend for themselves. When did 6 become old enough to be self sufficient?

Monkey Manners

In following with the monkeys in my classroon, I decided that this year I would change the classroom rules. Normally, I have the poster from the teacher store with the rules. But, I wanted to be different. So, I thought of Monkey Manners. My principal last year harped on safety, respect and responsibility. With yesterday being the first day of school, I talked with the kids about those ideas, along with rules. We put them into different categories and then I wrote them on the chart. (Pictures to come later!)

We ended up with 3 main "rules" - Be safe! Be respectful! Be responsible! Under each one, I wrote the little rules to follow, such as, Keep your hands and feet to yourself, no running, listen when others are talking and complete your work every day.

After that, and because the kids were running out of energy by 2 and we still had an hour to go, I let them color and cut out a monkey to take home. I hope they remembered it was for the rules (I said it a hundred times, but youknow how the first day is?!?!?!).

Now we are jumping into day 2 and on to the regular scheduled programing! No more "fun" today, just "work" as another teacher said! 1 day down, 174 more to go!

8.11.2010

I Survived!

The first day of school has come and gone. And it's a little of a blur! 21 of my 22kids showed up. So far, so good. It's still new, so no one has shown their true colors. It's always interesting to get a feel on the first day. I can see who my really low ones are and some of my high ones. They were all pretty quiet today. All in all, a good day. I way over planned and have tons of stuff for next year! Oh well. I think they had fun! I forgot my camera at home so my pics are on friends camera. I am waiting for her to send them to me, then I will post 1st day activities!

I am exhausted. It's 4:40 and I am in my pj's ready for bed! Too bad I have a 4 year old and a hubby to take care of! Oh well! Sleep will come soon enough!

First day of school

Today is my first day of school. I am in the nervous day-before-school phase. I get like this every year. I don't like the unknown. I am a planner. I like things to be laid out in nice, neat little plans. I try to plan my life in little boxes. It doesn't always work and it drive hubs crazy, but that's why he loves me!

Anyway, I spent my teacher work day working, but I also spent a good part of the day staring. Staring at my room, walking in cirlces, wondering what to do next. And the answer was nothing. I had gotten my room done last week, so yesterday was just the little touches. But, a lot of the little touches can't happen til we get more direction from the principal. I won't get started with that today, since it's causing me stress. I have lots of questions, no answers and STRESS! I function off stress, but it does make me a bit crazy. Vanilla rum helps with that, though! Yum.

So, today is the day. I have 22 names on my roll list. I can't even say "roll sheet" since we are going high tech. I expect the internet to crash about 9:05, right when all the elementary teachers are taking roll on the computer! We'll see how this new system works. If all goes well, it will be great. But, if your districts' technology is as great as ours, I see lots of problems in the future! :) I am anxious to see who comes, see how they behave, how they act with me. I met 2 of my kids yesterday and the parents both told me that their child "likes to talk" and "likes to hum and fidget and play with anything and everything." Not the way I like starting the year, but I can get my little horns on and bring out my inner Viola Swamp!


I am excited for the day! It looks like it will be a nice, warmer than it has been day. Let's hope the day goes well and we start out on the right foot! Here's to 175days of fun and learning!

8.10.2010

Good-bye summer

Good-bye summer vacation. I enjoyed you while you were here. It's too bad that it has to end while summer itself is still here. People are still on their family vacations enjoying each others company. People are still heading to the beach, lake, river to have fun in the sun. People are still getting to be stay-at-home mommies for the summer and enjoying their time with their children. People are still getting up after the sun comes up and staying up way to late watching crap on TV. Good-bye summer. I'll miss you! I'll catch you next you at the end of May!

8.08.2010

It's no wonder I can't sleep!

As the title of the post says, I can't sleep lately. Or last night anyway. Several reasons comes to mind. Sleep is something that is either restful or insanely bothersome. At this time of the year, is pisses me off!

With school starting in 3 short days, I sit in bed and wonder. Wonder about my kids who are coming in. Wonder how they will be. How they will act. If they will learn from me. I wonder about the new principal. Will she ever tell us what she wants from us? E-mail us more than a question. Have a staff meeting. Little things that make my mind wonder. Is my classroom ready enough? Do I have enough stuff planned? Is it exciting? Will they like it? You know the drill, I'm sure. The unknown, waiting for things to happen.

This is a weird school year to start with for a few reasons. One, we have a new principal that I haven't found to be very forthcoming. She seems nice and all, but I haven't gotten my questions answered. And it bugs me. I want to know the answers now, not in a week or month from now when I have my routines figured out. Second, our first day of work should be tomorrow, but it's a furlough day. A day we can't work because we aren't getting paid to be there. Will someone please tell me then I why it was OK for me to be there last week every day when I wasn't getting paid? Oh yeah, that's right. That was my own time that the district doesn't care about. But tomorrow they don't want the parents to see us at school and wonder. What BS! Thirdly, my grade level team is already causing chaos. Remember, we have 2 teachers who don't talk at all. The other principal let them get away with it, so they are hoping for the same. One teacher asked to be able to leave our collaboration meetings before we do our topic share. She's obviously the worlds best teacher and knows everything about everything and doesn't want to listen to our drivel or share her fabulousness. Bitch. The other teacher wants to see if she can skip collaboaration all together so she can work with her kids because the extra 30 minutes a week will make or break her class. Whatever. Why can't we all just get along? Oh yeah, because when you put a bunch of menopausal women together, they get all bitchy. Lucky for me, I'm only 34 and far from it! Yep, I'm the youngest in the grade level by about 13 years and many times I feel like I am the most mature. Sucks!

Last night, we went "camping" for one night with my in-laws. I say "camping" because we stayed in their 30 foot trailer. I wasn't all gung ho to go, but you'd have to know my MIL to understand. Anyway, my daughter was all excited to go, so we went. About an hour in, my hubby and I were riding motorized scooters. Somehow my MIL can ride it no problem. Me, I had a blond moment and went down hard. Needless to say, I am black and blue and sore all over. Doesn't make for a good night's sleep, especially when I'm not home. I think I got about 2 hours sleep, if I'm lucky. Instead, I just laid there, wanting to cry, willing myself to sleep. And karma to greet my hubby! :) He knows it's coming!

Today is my last weekend day before school starts. And I am in pain. Oh well. I'll go get some pampering done in a bit. That will make me feel better. Or at least make my toes look better before Wednesday. Tomorrow we will go to San Diego, cruise around the zoo and eat some yummy pizza down there. Then Tuesday is back to school for teachers. I don't know what I am going to do exactly, other than make sure I've got everything ready. Until then, I think I'm gonna go lay on the couch and read the book I am hoping to finish by Tuesday night!

8.06.2010

Pinks and Blues

In my district, we do pinks and blues. We put general student information on the card with some test scores - EL levels, DRA levels, Little Star levels, general academic levels (1-5, 1 being low). We then take our cards and use them to form the classes for the next grade level. The cards are all subjective, based on each teachers perception of the kid. Some think a kid is high, while another teacher may have a kid at the same level and say they are medium. It doesn't give us true information, but an idea.

I just got my cards yesterday and I had a little meltdown last night. I normally don't put much into the cards, and I'm trying not to this year. But it's hard when out of 17 or 18 cards, 7 of them are so-called behavior problems. That's a lot for one class. I then looked at the teachers and think it may just be the teachers who think this. All the behaviors were from 2 teachers who work in the same class. Coincidence? And all the kids were unmotivated. And talkative. How can you be unmotivated in Kindergarten?

It looks like I have my work cut out for me. Academically, I have a good mix - about 6 high, 6 medium and 6 low. I can work with that. I have 22 kids on my roll, so I don't know who is from the school with no card, who is new, etc. I'll find out Wednesday when they all (hopefully) show up! It's the behavior that worries me. I hate it when there is one little pain in the ass who ruins it for the others. One kids' card said he was defiant and oppositional. Sounds like fun to me. I can normally whip kids into shape pretty well, but I'm a bit nervous for that one. Always something to make the year start off fun!

I do have 12 EL's in my class, but I can handle that. If it's anything like last year, they will be wonderful. For the most part, they are some of the hardest working kids whose parents actually appreciate what you do for them and want their child to succeed. The hard part is talking to the parents. I took spanish in college, but I don't use it enough and can hardly get by listening to them and understanding. Conferences are hard to get translators for. But, I manage to squeak by as best as I can!

With the summer coming to an end, it's time to get into the teacher mindset. For me, that means becoming a hard-ass at work and not giving kids an inch. I've been told I'm a really strict teacher and I like it. I don't want kids to think they can control everything, because they don't. It's too bad that parents have allowed their children to rule the roost. I am probably guilty of it myself, but I do have limits!

On a side note with that, we were at a birthday party last weekend for a 7 year old. A friend of the girl was there and the way she talked to her mother was horrible. She was very demanding of her mother, but her mother allowed her to do it. This girl sat in the pool and told the others girls that they were stupid and then blamed it on another. She actually stuck her fingers into the cake frosting before it was cut, just for fun. And the mother did nothing!!!! WTH? And we wonder why the kids are out of control when they come to school?!?!?! Um, I have an idea! Too bad parents don't take more responsiblity for their children.

Anyway, I am going to enjoy my last weekend of the summer with my family, do a little camping and sightseeing and be ready to head back to work on Tuesday. Tuesday is teacher work day and probably meet some of the kids who come to see the class list and be prepared for Wednesday. Wednesday bright and early will be time to meet my kids! Ready or not, here I come!

8.05.2010

Turning scribbles into real stories

Teaching writing has never been my strong suit. I guess it has to do with the fact that I never learned the proper way to teach writing. But I can't really remember every learning how to write correctly. I just wrote. Up til a few years ago, my kids writing just sucked. Then, my favorite and best administrator came to the school and changed it all for me. Now I enjoy teaching writing and watching my kids come so far.

My district thinks we live in Utopia and that all kids can just magically write coming into first grade. Well, they are mistaken. Our kinders come to us writing "I like to play" which looks like "i lik to pla" if we're lucky! Not good when we have to get them to write a personal narrative containing about 5 sentences! Those living in Utopia say we are to use Step Up to Writing. It's a decent program, but not when school starts. This orogram starts off with the idea that students can write a sentence and lead into paragraphs. But we aren't even at the sentence stage! Welcome Framing Your Thoughts!

When the admin. came to my school a few years ago, I was just starting to each my D-1class. They were very low and couldn't write words, much less a sentence. She came in and showed me, and them, how to start writing simple, barebones sentences. It amde so much sense. 3 little words is all you need to start writing. And I use it to this day with my first graders.

We begin by talking about the fact that a sentence needs a capital and punctuation. "Every sentence starts with a capital and ends with punctuation." We say this a billion times in the first month of school and about 2 billion times more throughout the year. There's a hand movement to go withit, but I don't know how to explain it, sorry! Then, we start talking about the subject and predicate. Honestly, I never knew what those were til I started this. I guess I had crappy teachers for English and writing! We make a list for all the subject words. I use noun and subject both, as they go together well. 2 birds, one stone here, people! Then we make a list of the predicate words. I use predicate, action and verb together. Then we start orally putting sentences together, with me writing them on the board and underlining the subject and makin glittle mountains (^^^^) under the predicate. We do this forever! The kids will write their own 3 word barebone sentences for about 2 months until they really get it. Then we move on!

The little ^^^^ stand for describing the verb. We don't do all the little mountains in first grade but we do some. We start with adding in the "where". After the kids are good at writing their barebones sentence, we start putting in where it was happening. We go from "The cat eats." to "The cat eats in the house." Makes the sentences a bit more exciting, plus we get to talk about prepositions. We do this for about a month or so until they really get it. Then we add the "when". This get a tricky as we put it at the beginning. So "The cat eats in the house" can change to "In the morning, the cat eats in the house." While this doesn't seem all that exciting, especially when you read a million sentences about the cat eating and the dog running and jumping and the fish swimming, it's a huge step for the little guys! From here, we can start writing a short story.

We'll take "In the morning, the cat eats in the house." and make it "In the morning, the cat eats in the house. It eats cat food from a can." Again, it's not going to win any major awards, but it's a start. After we get good at that, we start by writing our opening sentence, the "First...", "Next...", "Then..." and "Finally...". Eventually, the kids move from writing about animals to writing about themselves. Normally by March, they are putting detailed sentences in with their writing and the really good writers are writing about an 8 to 10 sentence story. It follows the Step Up to Writing like we are supposed to use, but it lets them work at their own pace. There are some kids who will still be writing a barebones sentence in January, but...

I will post some writing in the coming week to show you what I have them do. It's taken me about 6 years to feel comfortable doing it and I think I got it. But, thisis only really good for teaching them how to write a narrative. I still suck on others!

As for handwriting, I don't teach handwriting much to the dismay of the 2nd grade teachers! Up untiol I taught D-1, I was very focused on neat handwriting. But, when I got my D-1 kids, their handwriting was awful. And the more I pushed them to write neatly, the less work I got out of them. When I gave it up, I would get tons of writing out of them. I decided that quantity and having it done correctly was better for me and my kids than having it look nice, but either not be right or just plain suck. I realized the kids who can write neatly will and those who can't may never be able to. By middle school, they can use computers! So, the second grade teachers can make nasty comments about me and my kids writing, but at least they produce! It's more than I can say for some others who make their kids do it uber neat!

8.04.2010

New pics from school

I went back into to work today. I think tomorrow should do it til next Tuesday. This week has gone by very fast. I'm a little sad that it's going so fast, but what can you do, right?

I took some more pics of things I have been working on this week. I'm about ready for the kiddos to come and move in for the year!


Here is the behavior chart I mentioned in yesterdays post. I will add the clothespins once I get names of kids who are actually there!


This is the student writing wall. Each week, normally on Friday, the kids can write about anything they want. Then they draw a pic and it goes up on the wall. Their names will be written on the little name tags next to each piece. I keep the writings up all year until Open House to show the progress made. It's nice to look from the beginning to the end to see that all make progress, even if it's small progress.


This is my new vocabulary wall. I will write the words for math, social studies and science under each heading. We'll see how this goes for helping learn all the academic vocabulary!


Here is a shot of the calendar area. My poem is up on the board, the days are on the calendar and the graph is ready to be filled in. For the first few months of school, or until I get bored with it, we do a daily graphing question. It really helps them understand how many more, less when they see it every day. Now to think of the questions! I know Really Good Stuff sells a graphing kit similar to this with the graph and questions, but I made my own and saved some cash. It just hurts to think sometimes! You can see my lovely math books in the picture. I still need to find a home for those, rip out the pages I need and stuff, but that's what next week's for, right?

8.03.2010

Behavior Chart

As the week chugs on faster and faster, I am quickly coming to the end of my summer break. I have enjoyed it, but am ready to be back into the swing of things. I spent the day at school and have almost everything else ready. There will be more pics coming soon, when I remember to take my camera!

I thought I would post what I do for classroom behavior. Use your imagination to picture it, as my camera was in my office at home! It's similar to many I see. I have a 5 color system. It's a chart With the 5 colors going down. I used 8 1/2 x 11pieces of paper and printed them on the computer. Green is how they all start and it's a perfect day. If they stay on green all day, they get a hand stamp at the end of the day. Parents look for that stamp and are pissed if I didn't have time to do it. I normally have 5 phone calls as soon as they all get home. If a student is given a warning (or 5 is how it normally goes), they move their clothespin to blue. Blue is a warning with no real consequence other than no stamp. This will bring many to tears and hysterical crying for hours. Yellow is a 5 minute time out. If it's in class, they have to put their head down and not do centers. If it's at recess, they owe me time in class. Most hate missing any recess. Orange is next and means you have really pissed me off and I have talked to you way to much. This is where they miss all their recesses and I will let their parents know about their behavior. Most don't even get to this. Fianlly is red. Red can be for those who your are ready to throttle at the end of the day or for any severe behaviors. They also go visit the principal or go to another class for the rest of the day. It's a pain in the ass, but if they get there, then they have been a pain in the ass. I think last year, I had 3 kids who made it to red, and one of them was there all the time. She was awful and her mom really didn't care. She blew smoke syaing she did care, but not really. She was too worried about how she would get her welfare check and cashing her WIC checks. Hopefully I will have 20 (or more) little angels who will all be on green the whole year. A girl can dream, right?

New

I went to school yesterday and got a few more things done. When I say a few, I mean seriously, like 2. I didn't have much time there, and I wasn't truly motivated to get things done. And what I wanted to get done didn't happen.

I did make my copies for the first of school. Some things are for the first week, first 2 weeks and for the first 3 weeks of science. It feels good to get some things ready to go and filed. Makes it look like I know what I am doing! I did get my consumable workbooks for LA, Math and Social Studies. Still waiting on science, but I have the books from last year still. Oops! Guess I'd better start using them! Our district went with the cheaper math this year. It's the same program, but instead of all the lessons being neatly packaged together, we know have student consumable books that we have to rip out each lesson for each kid for each day, then fold them in half. Looks like a big pain in the ass and a big waste of time. But, at least I have my math. I can sit mindlesly at the table, rippng pages out. I don't trust the kids to do it, as I will have half the pages torn in half and unusable. So, I will do it. I may do it today in fact, and get started on the year!

I got my class list yesterday, too. Only 2 names are familiar. They are both siblings of students I had last year. The rest are a mystery. It was very interesting how the classes were made. At our school, we have a fairly large EL (English Learner) population. In the perfect world, they El's would be split up evently through all the classes. Well, I don't teach in a perfect world. One teacher has 11, I have 10, and then other 3 teachers have 6 or less. Not exactly even, huh? But, I can't complain too much. I love all my kids. In fact, my EL's were the best kids in my clss last year and worked their little butts off! I hope I have the same this year!

Today is another day to work at school. And now the crunch is on. I thought we had Monday to work at school, even though it's a "furlough" day. We got word last night that the school will be locked on Monday and no one can be there. WTH? That leaves us next Tuesday to prepare and be ready to go. They don't want us there since we aren't getting paid and it would make them look bad. Um, geniuses at the district office? We are there now, not getting paid. What makes it any different? Oh yeah, the parents would be upset if we were there as it would make the district look bad. We wouldn't want that now, would we? So, I will go as much as I can this week, work my butt off and hopefully be ready by next week. I can only do so much in the time I have!

8.02.2010

On your mark, get set....

Happy Monday! I can say that today since I'm still on vacation. I am not a Monday person at all. Every other is day is fine, I just don't care for Mondays.

Today I am going to go work in my classroom, which is actually a surprise. I thought I was going to spend all day helping a friend move to a new school, but she told me after 12, so I have time in the morning. I will make the most of it, once I am done here! It gives me peace knowing I can get stuff done today. I was panicking at the fact that I wasn't going today. I think today I will spend making the copies I need for the first 2 weeks of school, getting them organized and then doing whatever else I want. I will go back tomorrow and starton the little things that need to be done. Maybe by Friday I will feel really ready!

I went to Target yesterday. I love Target. I hadn't been there in a while, as I was trying to be good and not spend a lot of money this summer. Target = money out of my wallet. But yesterday, I went and started at the dollar bins. T-R-O-U-B-L-E-! But in a good way. Their bins were full of good stuff. I had to be careful and limit myself. But they had pencils. And stamps for hands and paper. And workbooks (which I bought for my daughter, not my class). And puzzles and more puzzles. I love buying the hceapy 24 piece puzzles for school. If something happens to them, and it always does, I'm not out a lot of $. I picked up 5 for the center. My daughter was sad they weren't for her, but they are too easy. Yep. Sad state of affairs - the 24 piece puzzle is too easy for my daughter, yet I bet money most, if not all my 1st graders will not be able to put them together for 3 months. They have the border there and everything! It's almost like cheating! But, it will give my kid something to do!

I like buying fun pencils for the kids. I give them a new pencil each month. If they lose it, they are stuck with the yellow school pencils. I know by the end of the week who cares about their pencils and crayons and who doesn't. I always have a few who are still using the first pencil they got in August all the way in January. On the flip side, I have a few who have already lost 18 crayons out of a box of 24 by Friday, when school just started on Wednesday. Yeah, they don't get new crayons from me!

I'm off to go see what the school has to offer today. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can get a sneak peek at my class list. Let's hope! If not, I at least hope to be able to track down all my materials for math, reading and social studies and hope they are all here! Happy Monday!

8.01.2010

My unhappy realization - part 2

I woke up this morning, same way as yesterday, and went, oh crap. It's now August. Oh crap! While I have been busily preparing for school these last few weeks, it's now that I start to panic. It's now I wonder if sitting on the couch, reading, playing Candyland for the gazillionth time has left me enough time to prepare for school. Deep down, I am ready mentally, but it's the little things I know I haven't done yet. But it's the little things that I have to be at school to do. I know I'll get them done, but it'll bug me until they are all done!

This is my last week of vacation. And I don't really get/want/need a vacation anymore. I feel guilty for thinking that, but I am done with vacation. I need to get back into my routine and feel normal again. Don't get me wrong, I love sleeping in until after the sun comes up and everyone else who works through the summer is up and gone. But, I also love having a routine of getting up early, getting things done, going to work, you know the drill. This year will be different as we start an hour later than this last year. I don't like that since it means we will be out an hour (and 14 minutes) later than this year. I don't like getting out late. It ruins the rest of the day, especially in the winter. I do feel guilty for going back to work and having my daughter go back to preschool. I will miss spending time with her, but at the same time, she needs her routine as well. I think she is ready to go back and see her friends that she hasn't seen since May. She's stopped talking about them now, as if they are gone forever. I hope she will be happy at school and play with her friends again. She's a very shy girl, so I am a little worried. And I feel guilty for wanting to go back to work and get out of the house! Hubs spent all my vacation studying for his big test. Now that the test is done, we have a week left together and I have already given him 3 days that he gets to stay home with our daughter. He loves this time together with her, so it's not bad.

Maybe it shouldn't be an unhappy realization. I am very glad to have a job to go to. Our district was very lucky this year and we all kept our jobs. Of course, it came at the price of furloughs, but I can be a bit more frugal. I hate to tell my kids that at school, but they aren't getting crap from me this year. I say that after I spent $10 at Target in the dollar bins on pencils. But, I have cut way back on what I buy for them, since I get very little "thanks" in return. I'm sure my daughter will be one of those who thinks it's owed to her when she is in school. Yep. We effed up on that one! But, again, I am glad I have a job to go to and I love my job. I really do. I wanted nothing more than to be a teacher since I was 8. And for the last 12 years, I have done that. There are days I wonder how much longer I have to teach before I can retire, but those are few and far between, I look forward to a good year with my kids and hope it all goes according to plan!