Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Today a package from Amazon was delivered. Blame it on the Slice of Life.
Stacy wrote about books she'd read with her daughter, they sounded wonderful so I bought them for my classroom.
They are wonderful! I Wish You More by Rosenthal and Lichtenheld is now on the way as a Easter gift to my grand kids. As for the other three, maybe Grandma can just keep them at home to read to Lucy, Michael and Gordon
Monday, March 30, 2015
Tomorrow I need to be out of my classroom for about 45 minutes for a meeting at our administration office. The schedule isn’t firm, but the time will probably fall at the end of my kid’s special class. The time could reach into the time when we have writing and then my kids go into intervention time.
My principal is going to cover for me. First year principal a former Middle School Math teacher principal. One of the Instructional Aides is going to be gone, so I need to accommodate two very different levels of kids.
The time is before lunch, does that need to rule out the jelly bean graphing lesson? Sugar before lunch? Probably not a great idea.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
School dismissed at noon on Thursday. The staff had professional development, Mali had big plans! She was excited because she was going to her cousin’s house for the afternoon. The last time she went there she came in the next day with her hair straightened. She didn’t know what they were going to do but she was sure it would be amazing.
Friday morning arrived and I realized later that Mali was so excited to show off she had skipped her usual stop in the cafeteria for breakfast. “Look!” she called out. “My toenails are all sparkly and purple!” She’d removed her right shoe and sock to show off her pedicure. Each time a new student came in the room Mali would run over to them, and quickly removed one shoe and sock.
We settled into our morning routine, in the business of the morning Mali was focused on our activities. As the children returned from lunch and recess once again Mali was proudly showing off her nails.
At the end of the day we share our 3:00 Thankfuls. Before we head out the door at 3:07 I call on several children to share what they are thankful for today. I write the Thankful Statement on a post-it. Without thinking I called on Mali. Off came her shoe…
Saturday, March 28, 2015
I struggle with sharing. Books. Yes, I have a book rack in my classroom. This year it is filled mostly with board books, class books, they still love the one we made at Halloween! And Scholastic books, you know the ones I can buy with points or not much cash. But the books I love most and look forward to sharing, (ok reading to them,) I don't put out.
I teach four and five year olds. Yes I've modeled how to treat books, I've set up structure on where to sit, and how to look at a book with a friend. But time after time books that are now out of print get torn. This year's group is especially hard on books. I have several extremely impulsive students.
I've rationalized that by keeping them away the books will survive to be shared many more times. I still feel guilty. If a child requests a book I cheerfully reread it. I often sit beside a child to share the pictures. But this year, if it's a book I treasure, it's not going to be freely available. Unless I can't handle the guilt.
Friday, March 27, 2015
I can’t wait until the baby is born. Maybe.
Until January he was settled and he worked hard.
Since January he’s been a perpetual motion machine.
Mom’s expecting a new baby in April. Maybe once the baby comes he will settle down again.
Arms stop swinging. Legs stop kicking.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Last summer I was invited to go to Europe with my husband to plan a trip for his employer. For the past 22 years we’ve taken at least one trip a year. I’ve learned I don’t do well on long airplane trips: the cramped space, stale air and nothing to do makes me fidget. Flights to Europe are difficult because I can never sleep as we fly east. I always take plenty of reading material. This is the time I wish I weren’t such a fast reader. As we planned to fly from Detroit to Toronto, and onto Athens I was ready. I had many new books on Kindle, and I don’t mind rereading books if I have to. All plans changed when my Kindle would not work. Suddenly I was facing 10 or more hours in the air, multiple 2 hour flights between destinations and several days at sea with nothing to read! After searching the internet for suggestions and fixes I tried multiple ideas. One even included me untwisting a paperclip, to press some unseen spot. It didn't work. Several posters suggested pressing buttons and flipping switches. No luck. I accepted the inevitable, I'd have to pay airport prices for many books.
The flight to Athens was long. I read long into the night. I kept trying to find a magic combination of Kindle reboots. Nothing! We finally landed and were escorted to our hotel. Exhausted we headed to our room for a quick nap. Ever hopeful, I used my converter to plug in my Kindle charger. I flipped the on/off switch for the hundredth time. It came back to life!
For the rest of the trip I was able to use my reader, but I never really trusted that it would work. Several times it would shut down in the middle of a book, I’d turn it back on to find I had to flip through the book to find my place. A week or two after we returned from Europe my Kindle died for the final time. Well timed, our kids had just bought me a new one for my birthday.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
My students thrive with a routine. Our regular morning specials class was cancelled. Lunch would not happen at school because it's a half day. Our dismissal time is 35 minutes after our regular lunch time. None of these were in my control.
Rather than try to structure a normal day I tossed the schedule out the window.
No need to read Morning Message, 4 students gathered around it and read it before I finished tying shoes and checking folders. I just encouraged them to reread it while the others gathered on the rug. We did an art project. A fun craft that needs a lot of time. Scissors, glue, tissue paper and feathers all before 8:30! We finished it, then we started another project! Huge Easter Eggs and water color crayons! Between projects a guest reader read a book with movement and then provided us an unusual snack. As the eggs pictures were placed on the rack for drying we read a story and got our backpacks. They were all amazed we were going home.
I never skip writing, but today it was the perfect day to break that rule. But I bet they'll have a fun day to write about tomorrow!
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Today as I was looking in my files for a couple of art projects for spring I found lesson plans for 1992. Not mine, a recently retired teacher's plans. It was amazing how much the primary grades have changed.
Tomorrow as I sit in our Professional Development and hear of all the assessments we need to administer and enter, I'd better keep my mouth shut!
Monday, March 23, 2015
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Behind the barn sat an old truck. It may have stopped working there after one last load of grain was hauled from the elevator or perhaps it was pulled there by Dad on his old Ford tractor. It wasn’t planned as a play structure. Anything moving or not became a game or toy for the five kids in our family.
The old style of door handle was shaped like a loop. The semi-circle made a perfect design for tying a jump rope, one girl would twirl and the other could jump. With the tailgate up was a great spot for hide and seek and when it was down we made pirates walk the plank. We climbed to the roof and we were out of reach of pesky little brothers and we could see down the rows of corn.
My younger brother practiced his driving skills by the hour, three years old and already accomplished at driving a stick. A sister learned the dangers of smoking, when her pretend cigarette caught fire, it didn’t really catch fire, her finger just sported a really interesting burn pattern for several weeks. Mom took the lighter out of the dash after that particular game, but Jeanie never did take up the smoking habit again.
My last memory of the old truck was the warm afternoon Mom, Dad and all the big kids searched the farm for my younger brother. He’d wandered off. We looked in all the barns and storage sheds. The longer we searched the more frantic our calls. He was finally found sound asleep in the truck, the perfect place for an afternoon nap.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
He cried so hard the first days of school I was afraid he would make himself sick. I found him friends, held his hand and rubbed his back. We took walks, found amazing toys to play with and still he’d burst into tears. Mom said he’d never really been away from her, but I wondered if it was more.
In October Mrs. M. worked with him every morning for 15 minutes, or for whatever time was left after washing his face and hands. Sometimes one wipe would do, many times it took more.
In November he still couldn’t identify his name when surrounded by 2 other very different names. I keep trying to help him learn more.
December, Jingle Bells, is sung with the letters of his name MANY times each day. Finally, he can identify his name, and say the letters in his name, five letters, no more.
Starting in January I had Mrs. M work alone with him for 45 minutes each day. When she was out for a day, he was NOT happy! Now he can write his name, if the a and u aren't reversed I will still celebrate it more.
We had a team meeting in January and we agreed some testing should be done but the psychologist is so so over worked. It has been months! Now he knows 1 and 2. Next 1,2,3, finally he recognizes 1-6, on a good day even more (once).
The testing began. Oh no, he’s out sick. Wait another week or maybe even more!
Will all his gains keep him for qualifying for extra help? Almost, but today he qualifies for special education. He will have a small group, a teacher who will guard his needs. Most of all he won’t spend most of the day being asked to do things that are so hard for him. No tears, no more!
And his teacher? Well, she feels like she opened the BEST gift ever, for him! For now he will get MORE help.
Friday, March 20, 2015
I took the day off today. We have a substitute teacher shortage and I wasn't sure they could be able to get my room covered. But Doctors just don't seem to want to work weekend and evenings, or if they do I'm not offered any of those times.
I had put my absence into our substitute teacher system last week. No one had picked up my job. Years ago I would have worked a half day, but I've learned half day jobs are never picked up, no one wants to commit to a half day when they can work a full day.
I needed to keep the appointment. I was planning on working until 1:30 and making the drive if the opening didn't get filled. Several friends offered to have my class join their class. Not a perfect solution, I really needed to keep my appointment.
I was pleasantly surprised on Wednesday when the school secretary told me a former worker stopped in and was willing to sub. Yippee! I got to sleep in! Do a little shopping and still make my appointment. It is amazing how relaxed I am going into this weekend.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Today, with the help of a retired teacher friend and a volunteer grandmother my class of 5 year olds painted brown branches onto blue paper. This afternoon we made small tissue paper wads of paper and glued them on to create blossoms. After school I quickly hung them on the bulletin board outside my classroom. I made my customary step back to admire the collection. I was amazed which two children created the most striking pieces. One was a child with multiple impairments. She didn’t make a branch, just several wispy stripes across the center of the paper. Her fine motor skills are so weak she made few blossoms and they were very randomly placed. Beautiful!
The other little guy had no interest in the process and pretty much threw the tissue paper on the “branch”, again very striking. The surprise of which pieces are most appealing is one of the things that draws me to student art.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Spring has finally come. The snow is melting, the ladybugs are awakening and my kitchen cupboards have had a cleaning! To make the week complete, I’m home for the day with a spring cold.
I sat down to read my Kindle with a handful of little cinnamon candies in my hand. I slowly enjoyed the remaining candies from bag I’d found at the back of the cupboard. Left from making applesauce they were hot and chewy. Perfect to suck on and slowly chew to sooth my sore throat.
I laid the red orbs down beside my favorite chair, they looked so pretty on the cream table. One hand holding my Kindle, the other flipping the pages, I slowly munched and read. Out of the corner of my eye I’d occasionally select a candy as I flipped the page control, completely engrossed in my novel.I reached for the smallest candy. I’d been nibbling at the odd shaped candies returning to my childhood need for pairing candies off by size, then eating them together two by two twins. It was a solo candy, I need to eat it first. My aim was off; I was so into my book. As I brought the red hot to my mouth, it moved between my fingers. Aurgh! A ladybug!
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The parent letter asked for all the leprechaun traps to be sent to school on Friday or Monday, so we could capture the leprechauns that pass through the classroom during the night!
Five parents sent their child to school with traps today! The "gold" was already hidden in other traps! Not a wee man in sight, I was on my own! I hide a class size pile of Rolo's in the classroom for discovery later in the day, the few remaining candies were in the closet, not that this Weight Watcher member planned to eat any. I casually walked to the closet, ignored by the throng of excited five year-olds. I quickly put a handful in my denim jacket pocket. As I carefully examined each new trap I'd put my hand in my jacket and take two of the gold wrapped candies. With a couple of papers in my left hand I'd lean over and look around the trap, When my right hand was covered I'd drop in a couple of candies and exclaim, "oh look, you almost caught a leprechaun, he dropped his gold!."
My reward for all this excitement was 18 wildly excited children dashing around the room looking to see what other mischief the leprechaun had caused.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Today my students brought their leprechaun traps to school. We carefully set them around the room after demonstrating them to the class. Tomorrow morning with any luck we will have caught a leprechaun. If we don't catch one, maybe we will just get him to drop his gold.
I've done this fun event most years. All construction is done at home, and afternoon tomorrow the traps will be place in the hallway for a few days. What I din't think about was the chance that my new principal will be dropping in some day this week for a formal observation.
I know from past experience the excitement of the day may cause kids to dash to a corner of the room because they've seen a leprechaun out of the corner of their eye.
I think I'll spend the rest of the night trying to find a good way to wrap this up into a really amazing writing lesson!
I may need a wee bit of good luck!
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Like a cat poised to kill its feathered prey, our former principal patrolled the halls looking to pounce on her victims. Children were admonished, threatened and expelled. Teachers were ridiculed, criticized and demeaned. She’s not a quiet person but you never quite knew when she’d show up and we all dreaded her appearance outside our door. She rarely visited, but she’d lurk, hoping to find something.
After a long and painful five years under her reign, our new superintendent listed to our list of horrible stories and reassigned her to another building and grade level.We’ve now had new leadership for six months. We’ve settled into a new set of expectations. As cold and flu season came along we realized we many of us shared the feeling of dread when we heard an adult cough in the hall. Our former principal had a chronic cough. Probably from an allergy to children, we all knew if she were out and about we’d hear her cough. Her cough was as telling as a bell around a cat’s neck.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
It will be a busy day. Good thing I woke up at my usual 5:30. I quietly showered so I wouldn’t wake our sleeping grandchildren. I know the oldest usually wake at 7:30, I’ll have plenty of time to run to the grocery store and get back home. Grandpa should be able to sleep in, if I get back quickly.
Last night we drove our son and daughter in law’s van home, no need to switch all the car seats for one night. We will be going back to the new house. I’m providing lunch for all the helpers. I took the fob off the key ring. Thankful once again my husband always hangs up all the keys. No searching for keys for me. Wow! It sure is dark with day light savings time.
I inserted the fob, and rotated it to start. Nothing! We don’t have this style of key. Dang this makes me feel old. I flip the key over, still nothing. It’s 6:35. I text Brad, ask if he’s awake. I ask for pointers on how to start his van. I get an immediate call. After a week full of water seeping into the basement, a plumber to turn on the water, a broken toilet and broken valve I hate to be the bearer of more expensive news. I followed all the directions he could give me. When nothing works I promise Dad can get this fixed when he wakes up.
Mentally changing my morning schedule I turn to walk back into the house. I trip over the lawnmower wheel, catch myself before I fall. As I enter the house I dutifully hang up the key fob. Next to the….KEY FOB! Grabbing the other fob I go back to the garage. I’d been using the key for the vehicle my husband has been using for work this week.
After a quick call to Brad to admit my mistake I head off to the store. I sure hope I can manage to follow the recipe for the cookies I plan to make!
Friday, March 13, 2015
Tonight we’re enjoying the company of our three grandchildren. As we drove west toward our home, from the backseat Lucy, four years old said to me, “Grandma of my favorite things is to watch the sunset.” "Your favorite thing is to watch sunsets? "No Grandma, one of my favorite things." “Look now Grandma!” Beauty with a child's eyes.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
When I was in my late teens our church sponsored a refugee family from Eritrea. My father was a very generous farmer and he would often supply the family with beef and pork when he sent animals to slaughter. It was not uncommon for Dad to get Christmas cards from families years after they’d moved to other areas of the nation.
My daughter and I had dinner tonight and in conversation she mentioned a friend’s family were from Ethiopia –Eritrea. She mentioned that the community is very close knit. As the sponsored family gained independence we lost touch. I’m now wondering if news may be forthcoming.
Monday, March 9, 2015
When my son asked me tonight if he was always a worrier as a child I was taken aback. I never thought of him as concerned, never as worried. Oh the things you don’t know about your children. Then I recalled myself as a child. When we went for long car rides, like the trip north to my grandparent’s house, I was full of concern. I always worried that our car wouldn’t be able to make it up big hills I saw as I peered over the seat. From my back seat spot I thought every hill was a mountain and we surely wouldn’t make it to the top. I also worried we’d roll backwards to the bottom and crash the cars behind us. I’m fairly certain I never voiced my concern to my parents!
Saturday, March 7, 2015
“Mrs. Kidder, Wanie is hearting me on the wug, and I don’t wike it.”
“Lanie is,… I don’t understand?”"Tell me more."
“When we’re on the wug, she does this.”
“Oh, did you give her a bug and a wish?”
“Yath, and she keeps doing it.”
“I’ll keep out eye out for that.”
“Mrs. Kidder?” Said with a heavy sigh, “Wainie keeps moving her name magnet next to my magnet”
“Did you give her a bug and a wish?”
“Yath, and she keeps doing it?”
“We’ll talk about our name magnets in morning meeting.”
Friday, March 6, 2015
I’ve been heard to tease the special education teacher, that this year my caseload is higher than hers. I have two students in my class, A & B, who’ve been identified as cognitively impaired, another little guy (C) I’d be shocked if the recent testing did not identify as even more profoundly cognitively impaired, and a little cutie (D) that is selectively mute with a motor planning delay and sensory issues. This isn’t even addressing the other little fellow (E) who runs around the room and talks (yells) a mile a minute, yet can count well over 100, knows all his letters and sounds and can’t hold a thought long enough to draw or write it. I have another student with severe speech and language problems (F), so challenging I’ve just now been able to understand what he’s talking about without 6 or 7 repeats questions. Oh, and (G), another little one with BIG speech challenges, but fortunately I’ve had her older sister and brother and they had the same issues, so I quickly relearned to understand her dialect.
Today was the perfect storm of paperwork. A 135 question survey and another 60 question survey for “E”, a survey for my nonspeaking child (D) and a classroom involvement questionnaire for our school psychologist for “C”. Each one asked for written narratives and examples of learning, learning concerns and any other situations I felt needed to be known. Three hours after dismissal I completed all the forms and letters. Were it not a violation of confidentiality any one of those narratives would have made a wonderful Slice!
Thursday, March 5, 2015
I have a unique challenge in my class this year. One of the oldest children in my class is also my smallest. This little cherub is being helped by a team of specialists. She is “selectively mute”, with about 13 words. To further complicate her learning she has motor planning delays and various sensory concerns.
I have never felt so inadequate. I want her to have a happy and successful experience. I want her to be a member of our class, not to be treated as a mascot. Because she is so small her classmates want to baby her. While to some this looks precious, to me it takes away her independence
I have pushed our Intermediate School System to service her. I welcome all suggestions, ask questions and even grumble to my principal. “She’s six, we don’t have time to waste.” In our rural district we don’t have many resources but I will push to see that she gets all I can muster.
As we made our Cat in the Hat projects earlier this week I struggled. I’m alone in a room with 17 other 5 year olds. She uses a special pair of scissors, I pretend to be an alligator, “chomp, chomp chomp, make your scissors eat the line”, each hand movement needs an encouragement. Those scissors are perfect for her small hand and weak grip, but gosh they sure take small snips. When her eyes begin to dart side to side I know she’s had her fill. I finish the cutting.
I ask her to touch where the glue will be placed. Hand over hand we apply the glue stick. The hat is on. Then I apply the glue and guide her hand to place the red stripes. “Push them down hard so the glue will stick!” We add a nose and whiskers. The glue on her fingers bothers her, but she seems to tolerate it for now. “Touch where you want your name.” I quickly write her name. I hold up the completed project. Her eyes dart to her name, “It says your name,” I acknowledge, noting her eye movement. “Whiskers” “Eyes” “Nose” “Hat” I touch and name. I try to squeeze language in to every moment. “Do you like it?” She nods and smiles. “Me too,” I smile.
I want her to have the same fun of making something developmentally appropriate. I want to increase her skills with scissors. I want her to have the pride of knowing she’s made something.
Let’s not even think about what the other 17 kids have been doing during this time!
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Today “Steve” went home ill at noon. The past 3 weeks have been rough. He’s had some strange symptoms. I know he’s been to our local hospital’s ER, to his pediatrician, and to a regional children’s hospital. No one has found anything.
Usually he’s bright and very busy!
In recent weeks he’s been so uncomfortable. He has cries out in pain and his coloring doesn't look right. The times I've seen his pain he’s gone from engaged in play or work, to sobs. He’s missed things he really likes, this isn't acting.
Yesterday he spent playtime just sitting, cuddling up to a soft chair. Today at lunch recess he was curled up on his side in a snowbank complaining about his head. Usually I’m drawn to slice things that make me laugh, but this is making me fearful.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Tonight I hung 18 Cat in the Hats in the hall. I am proud to note, not one of them looked the same as another. Yes, we all started with a white circle, but several haven’t yet achieved perfect cutting skills. The rectangles for the hat were all the same pre-cut size, but the jaunty tilt to several, show their placement skills. Oh my! Those red horizontal stripes! The spatial abilities are….developing!
Did you know if you color a square and then cut from corner to corner you can get a circle? No? Me either! Still, the noses are adorable. The black whiskers were supposed to be near the nose, I guess that cat has a beard!
I thought the names would go on the background paper, but when Zach decided to print his name on the brim of the hat his classmates followed his superior leadership abilities. Dang, they can all now write their names clearly!Yes, I hung these after the art maven next door went home. I love the individual art, not the teacher hand over the student hand she insists on. I won’t apologize I love KID art.
Monday, March 2, 2015
I shared in my comments with another Slicer on Sunday, March 1st, the first day of slicing, that I’m not very good at doing anything every day, for more than a week. I wrote this after a trip to the grocery store and a dash to the kitchen to start a hearty Sunday dinner that would yield leftovers for several other meals. I resolved, while at the grocery store, to follow those good health recommendations of filling half the plate with vegetables. I filled my basket with asparagus for oven roasting, and a beautiful acorn squash. I started the entree and turned on the oven to preheat for my veggies.
I love the first day of March, so many new pieces! I read and commented. When I looked up from the laptop an hour had passed. The entree was nearly done; the squash and asparagus -- still in the grocery bags next to my purse. I hadn't even squirreled- away the bag of chocolates I’d planned on hiding.
I’m hoping I don’t lose my focus on Slicing as quickly as I did with my veggie preparation!
Sunday, March 1, 2015
I’m returning to my 3rd year of slicing. I took last year off. Our principal was in a crash and burn after several long years of tormenting our staff. I had a challenging class and felt like the things I was thinking probably should not be blogged.
This year our conference schedule has been changed, and so has the principal. I just finished my report cards last Friday and The Class is much more entertaining now that they’re down the hall.
I teach Young 5’s. I found myself in the primary grades by surprise and a bad Michigan economy. I got my first teaching job as an elementary Library Media specialist. Perfect job! I got to read books to kids spend someone else’s money to buy books, and then entice kids to read! My job gave me the perfect reason to ignore housework and read!
In the mid 90’s Michigan education revenues were shrinking. When our school system had to make many cuts I landed up teaching Third Grade, for a year. Then I was laid off. I worked for a (long) year in the High School. I then landed up in kindergarten. After three years in K, I taught a split class for one year, half time kindergarten, and half time Young 5’s. Tough, but still easier than the first year I taught kindergarten, where I split my week between two building with very different clientele and supplies.
This is my fourth year in Young 5’s. I hope to retire in this position. I’m the mom of two grown children. Our son and his wife have made us grandparents of three.
I first chose to Slice because I had never seen myself as a writer. It’s humbling to read the many wonderful writers who Slice each year. I know this experience helps me be a better teacher of writers.