Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - My Edition #7 - Junk Food Junkie!

Last night I made a quick run to my home-away-from- home. Walmart has become a place I seem to frequent. I was embarrassed to check out because of all the junk food in my cart. Here are the reasons I bought a buggy full of junk!

1-3 - All 3 of my children play baseball or softball. We have snack for all three of their teams after the games soon. I bought an assortment of chips and Gatorade for 3 teams.

4. E's birthday is this weekend. He is celebrating it with his class today, so I bought 4 packs of cupcakes.

5. Also, for his party this weekend, we needed pinata fillers - more candy and small trinkets.

6-9. All 3 children have their class Spring party in the next 2 days. We bought 1 dozen plastic eggs and Starburst to put in them for each child.

7. N's class Spring party is today. We bought juice boxes for her class.

8. B needed cookies to decorate for her class party.

9. E's room mom requested a bowl of fruit. So I DID buy one item that wasn't junk.

10. My own class has a party is today. I bought chips for our picnic-themed Spring party.

11. I bought more chips for E's birthday cookout on Sunday.

12. I bought granola bars for my children to take to school for snack time. It's practically a crime to send children to school without a snack to eat in the morning.

13. I bought candy for my AR jar- more Starbursts. My students are allowed to get a treat on Friday when they take an AR computerized test.

Walmart must love me!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sunday Seven - #4 for me

My children played softball and baseball 2 years ago for one season. We took the year off and didn't play last season. This year, we decided to put the children in a very large church league close to our home instead of one of the recreational leagues in our area. We were happy with the rec league they played in previously, so it was a hard decision for us. However, I was looking for something a little less competitive and high-strung. I wanted the kids focused on learning the game, and not so terribly aware of the score and their own personal stats. I want them to win and do well, but I didn't want playing the game to be stressful for them. There's enough stress in the world. I'm glad we switched leagues. Here are seven things that I am thankful my children have in their softball/baseball league this year.
1. Teaching. This large, church league is focused on kids having fun while they learn the game. The coaches take time to teach all of the children to how to play each aspect of the game. They take time with the "teachable moments" to instruct and help the children learn.
2. Prayer. The teams pray at the beginning of each game and at the end. I love that my children see strong, athletic people pray outside of church. The players are often given an opportunity to lead the team in prayer if they want. I think it shows the kids that prayer is an important part of life, and not just something we do in church on Sunday.
3. Positive attitudes. Parents cheer positively for their own team and even (gasp) sometimes children on the other team! I have frequently seen opposing coaches congratulate players when a good play is made.
4. Teamwork. Teamwork is a primary focus. A "we're all in this together" attitude. Today, the coach of the team one of my daughter's team was playing was late. Our coach had all of the girls on the field together warming up. It's a game. They were all there to have fun and play the best they could. They warmed up as one team.
5. Fun. It has been stressed to all three of my kids that "this is a game." Last night, my youngest daughter had practice. After formal practice, the coach stayed to "play" with any girls who could stay. They played speed ball with parents, siblings, coaches and players all on the field. They were able to relax, have fun, and enjoy the game - a little batting, throwing, and fielding practice was slipped in with all the laughing!
6. Physical activity. It's good to get outside and run after a day of school work and homework. Getting in condition is an important part of the game and a good life-lesson for the kids.
7. Discipline and hard work. We're all good. We can all get better through hard work and practice. Again, a wonderful life-lesson.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The E-Word

My mother, wrote a very interesting post on the s-word. Unfortunately, her frustration in dealing with a true e-word caused her to be able to write so cleverly about the s-word! In her post she referred to an incident I had with a 5th grade student over the "e-word." So, I thought I'd provide an explanation of that word here.

I teach in Georgia. Several years ago, one of my 5th grade girls came running to me obviously very flustered. I could tell by the way she was coming that she was going to tell on someone! In an indignant voice she said, "Billy called me the e-word!" She was obviously very insulted and very angry, but try as I might, I couldn't think of an e-word. I talked with her several minutes trying to figure out this awful word. I needed to know what horrible word this child used in order to know how to deal with him. Eventually, I said, "Honey, you're going to have to tell me the word so I can talk to Billy." With extreme frustration and a huge sigh, she said, "The E-word! Eeediot!" For those among us without an extreme southern accent, the word is idiot.

This incident provided me with a good private laugh at the time and many years of a good code word to use during frustrating moments!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday Seven #3 for me

1. We had a field trip to Fernbank Planetarium in Atlanta on Monday. I left the school with 20 children and returned with all 20. No one got hurt, lost, or sick. We left Fernbank still standing and in good shape. That's a good, successful day by any standards!

2. Tuesday we had a Georgia author and illustrator visit our school. She told us about interesting places in Georgia and demonstrated how she changes photographs to drawn illustrations in her books. It was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed meeting her. My own kids bought a set of her books and she autographed them. Fun day!

3. My parents drove 2 hours to come to see all three of my children play ball yesterday. I appreciate their constant support!

4. Opening day of softball/baseball season was freezing cold but a lot of fun! We had a "ball!" The kids played well and had a blast!

5. Mom and Dad took our kids home with them because I have a work day on Monday and needed someone to keep the kids. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

6. RJ and I had a nice evening shopping for E's birthday and watching a movie. We stayed up late knowing that no one would be waking us up early this morning. It was a relaxing evening, night, and morning!

7. 9 school days until Spring Break!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pot of Gold

For this Saint Patrick's day, I thought I'd share a paper written by my 5-year-old son, E. I typed it as he wrote it for a school assignment. The translations are in parentheses.

If I had a pot of gold I wod get rech and dat girls. I wod biy a new haeas (house). I wod gev it to powe (poor) peple. I wod gev it to the cherde. (charity)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - My Edition #6 - Oops!

Thirteen embarrassing things that have happened to me in the classroom.

The idea for this post "flashed" before my eyes yesterday. Last night, as I told my family about a "revealing" moment (#1 below) I had in class, it dawned on me that in the 20 years I've taught, I've had several embarrassing moments. Let's see if there are 13.

1. At the end of the school day, I pulled down our class map for a child to show the class a state she had visited. She tried to put the map back up and it didn't cooperate. Each time she pulled a little, instead of springing back up, the map came a little further down. Finally, it was at full length. The wooden dowel at the bottom of the map was practically touching the floor. I gently pulled the map and it quickly rolled to the top. Suddenly, the room was darker and draftier! The dowel rod at the bottom of the map had caught my dress, flinging the hem to the top of the map stand above my head! The hem of my dress was stuck on the dowel that was above my head! I couldn't see and it took me a minute to get the dress free of the map! Luckily, I had on a full skirt and a full slip. Nothing terribly personal was revealed, and my class of 6-year-olds hardly seemed to notice! One child said, "Whew! Your dress flew way up there!" I just said, "It sure did," and kept on going with instructions!

2. Several years ago, while teaching 5th grade, my class was deeply involved in a discussion about WWII. I sauntered to the front of the room while listening to a child share his ideas and sat on the edge of the kidney-shaped table. The table tilted and I was dropped to the floor!

3. This one, I would never have remembered if the children hadn't documented it in the yearbook. Again, in a 5th grade classroom, I tripped over the overhead cord and stumbled across the room. I didn't fall, but it took a while to regain my balance and it seemed like I stumbled for a very long time before righting myself. We got a good laugh out of it. When the 5th graders were asked by the yearbook staff at the end of the year for the funniest moment of elementary school, many of my students listed my impromptu "dance" for balance in the yearbook!

4. Boy, I sound like a klutz! But, here's another stumbling one. I was teaching kindergarten at the time. We had gone outside with our book buddies and played a game of kickball. I was lining all 45 or so children up and beginning to get them ready to go inside. I was talking to them and giving instructions while I walked backwards, facing the children, up a hill on the sidewalk. My foot stepped off the sidewalk and I rolled DOWN the hill! Every child was looking at me because I had their attention and was talking at the time!

5. 18 years or so ago, I taught 4th grade. Wrap around skirts were in style at the time, and I was a young, fairly fashionable teacher. I was walking around my classroom while I taught. I felt something around my feet, but at the time I was passing the desk of a student who often had the floor cluttered with belongings. I kept teaching and gently pushed what I assumed was a jacket under the child's desk with my foot. I kept walking. Suddenly, I realized my skirt was gone! It was under the child's desk! Again, I had on a full slip and nothing major was revealed. Thank the Lord for slips!

6. 5th grade. I was teaching adjectives that follow linking verbs. I wrote on the board, "Johnny's shirt was yellow." At least, that's what I intended to write on the board. I asked a child to read the sentence and tell me the adjective. The child politely told me that he wasn't allowed to read that sentence. When I asked why, he told me that he wasn't allowed to use that word. I glanced back at the board, and I had left the r out of the word shirt!

7. We had had a particularly unruly day in a third grade classroom. I had given a stern lecture about being quiet in class, listening to directions, and not interrupting. After the class was still unable to calm down, I had decided to write a couple of assignments on the board and have the children work quietly rather than do the more active lessons I had planned. I told the children to get out paper and pencil, follow directions on the board and not to talk! I turned to write the assignments on the board when I felt a tap on my shoulder. In a controlled, quiet, firm, but out of patience voice, I said, "Follow directions." I finished writing the assignments and turned to find my assistant principal quietly waiting for me to finish. He's the one who had tapped me on the shoulder! Luckily, he knew me well and had been in my classroom many times. We had a good laugh about it!

8. Numerous times dressing up in the name of motivating children - 50s day, book character day, farm day, etc.

9. Numerous times having to participate in an assembly, carnival, festival, etc. - dancing, being the magic show prop, sitting in the dunk tank, tossing clubs to a juggler, pies ins the face, wet sponges in the face, etc.

10. Many years ago, teaching 4th grade I was walking down the hall and heard one of my very gregarious students yelling, "Don't worry, Miss T, I'll get it!" I turned to find him running down the hall after me, holding out a chalkboard eraser, and laughing uncontrollably! I had worn a black suit to school that day, and evidently I had leaned against the chalkboard. I had a near-perfect list of spelling words down the back of my black jacket and pants! He was planning to erase them for me.

11. My first year of teaching - 4th grade - 21 years old. One of my students threw-up in class. Back in those days, it was my classroom and I was responsible for any clean-ups. I was trying to sprinkle the gravel-stuff on the gross stuff and control my own urge to toss my cookies. A very disgusted, male, veteran teacher walked by my room and saw what was happening. In a not so pleasant voice, he said, "Oh, for goodness sake! Take the class and get out of here before I have to clean up after both of you!" We went to the playground for some fresh air, and he cleaned up my room.

13. I played the piano for the 5th grade chorus concert at PTA one year at my current school. I only had to play 2 songs. The first one went fine. I don't know what happened during the second song, but I got totally lost! I don't think I played a single note correctly after a certain point in the song! I couldn't find my place. I couldn't get my fingers on the right notes. I just started playing softer and softer. I tried to let the children's voices drown out the piano. At the end of the mutilated song, the music teacher motioned for me to continue playing while the props were changed. It was no use. I just quit and we watched in stiff silence while the set was changed. The music teacher has never asked me to accompany the chorus again!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Few Thoughts about Thinking

I think two of the most important things we want our children to become are lifelong learners and critical thinkers. I believe that if we teach children to think critically, they will constantly learn. So, our greatest challenge as teachers is to help children learn to think.

When I taught upper elementary grades, I found that students often wanted to be told what to do and simply regurgitate facts because it was "less work" than trying to find a solution for themselves. That's fairly typical of children, and people in general, to look for an easy way out, so there's no real surprise there. Now that I'm working with younger children, I notice that many of them don't seem to know how to begin to solve problems and think for themselves or even know that they should try to think for themselves. Many young children's very first response is to ask or tell an adult. It seems that they expect to be told every move to make and often have very few problem solving skills. In my experience teaching kindergarten and 1st grade, I've become more and more aware that focus of WHAT children learn is not nearly as important as teaching them to THINK in order to learn. When we teach the critical and higher level thinking skills within the subject matter, learning the content will come. Confucius once said, "Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."
In a day of such emphasis on achievement tests and high scores, the urge is to drill facts and academic knowledge. It's hard not to "teach to the test" when your job and reputation revolve around the scores of your students. However, it's in the students' best lifelong interest to learn to think. Alec Bourne is quoted as saying, "It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated." Where does that leave our achievement test scores? Hopefully where they should just one piece of evidence of learning - not as the ultimate indicator of the child's intelligence or education.

Think about it. As Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Father's Eyes

Today is the birthday of one of the most important men in this entire world - my father. I know I may be biased, but that doesn't make me wrong. My father has changed this world we live in for the better. He has made a positive impact on the people he has known and served, and the influence of his unconditional love, support, and Christ-like attitude will never fully be known to any one of us.

There was a song sung many years ago by Christian artist, Amy Grant. The song is entitled, "My Father's Eyes" and it relays the message of Christ's love and view of people. The singer wants to have her Father's eyes - "Eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around. Eyes that find the source of hope, when hope just can't be found. Eyes full of compassion - seeing every pain. Knowing what you're going through and feeling it the same. Just like my Father's eyes." I realize that the song is talking about our heavenly Father, but I have never heard it or sung it without thinking about my earthly father. You see, I am truly blessed. My earthly father points to my heavenly Father every day of his life - without words, without lectures, without disapproving looks. In his daily walk, love, acceptance and attitude my dad has his Father's eyes. I have always been able to see Christ's eyes in my father. I guess some preachers talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. That's not true with Daddy. Even at his lowest moments, hardest moments, saddest moments, he lives for Christ and SHOWS us through example how to truly live life.

I want to have my father's eyes. I want to have my father's voice of reason. I want to have my father's people skills. I want to have my father's sense of humor. I want to have my father's ability to handle tragedy with grace, emergencies efficiently, stress with a level head, and happy times with joy. I want my father's ability to love unconditionally, support tirelessly, rescue when need be, advise clearly, and make the best of situations.

Daddy drove 1 1/2 hours to come to my oldest daughter's pre-k graduation. The little ceremony lasted about 15 minutes and with the picnic, maybe 45 minutes. I commented that I was sorry he had a 3 hour round-trip for an hour event. His reply was, "That's not the point. The point is for B to know how important she is." Each of my dad's children and all of his grandchildren know how important they are to him! I hope he realizes how important he is to each of us!

Thank you, Daddy! I love you! Happy birthday!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Seven - #2 Edition for Me

1. I hate to sound trivial, but the main thing I've been thankful for this week is the weather! 73 degrees with a refreshing breeze! Who could ask for anything more!
2. We've spent a couple of evenings this week playing softball - just my little family of five. What fun! Hitting, running, catching - we've had a blast!
3. All three children are playing baseball or softball. We've spent a lot of time at practices this week. The children are learning a lot and having a good time. I'm thankful to be able to be outside in the evening, enjoying the fresh air!
4. Hope!
5. Bright yellow jonquils in our backyard! Beautiful!
6. 46 school days until summer!
7. Spring break is in sight!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Thirteen Things That are Right about Education

Thirteen Things That are Right about Education
Edition #5

1. The teachers - I've taught elementary school for 20 years. Teachers are human and make mistakes, but I believe they are the biggest asset to public education. The teachers I have known are in education for the right reasons and have the children's best interests in mind.

2. The kids - Most kids come to learn. Sure, there are exceptions, but most children want to learn. They want guidance and structure, and someone who believes in them to show them how to improve themselves.

3. The parents - Again, there are exceptions, and unfortunately the exceptions are the loudest, but parents are generally very supportive. I have 9 parents in my classroom weekly. They are helpful, polite, and truly want to help the kids learn. Their attitude toward learning and the children is a great asset to my class!

4. Staff Development - As teachers we are required to keep learning. Theories and strategies of teaching are constantly changing, and we have to change with them. Continuing to learn is a good thing.

5. The emphasis at our school is on learning, and not on teaching. What did the kids learn today? Not, what did I teach today? A slight, but very significant change in the way we evaluate the day and each lesson.

6. Care Teams - We have Care Teams made of teachers from our grade level that we meet with regularly to discuss specific concerns within our classrooms. We help each other brainstorm solutions and strategies to deal with difficult situations or learning problems.

7. Technology - Even our kindergarteners have technology competencies they strive to meet. In a technological world, our children will be prepared.

8. Back to the basics. I love the emphasis on reading, writing, and math. The others are important, but the emphasis on reading, writing, and math is a must.

9. Cross curriculum instruction- This goes with #8. Reading, writing, and doing math within the context of Science and Social Studies. We don't stop one subject matter to teach the next. We combine them, link them all together, and teach one within the other. It necessary for a well-rounded education.

10. Safety of our children - Unfortunately this is something schools have had to address. We do tornado drills, fire drills, and lock down practices. We have procedures for reporting every kind of abuse, locating strangers in the building, bomb threats, and evacuations. Our staff is well trained to deal with hostage, trauma, and emergency situations. We're all certified in CPR and have trained in first aid.

11. Performance based evaluations - hands-on learning. Can the children demonstrate that they have the knowledge? We don't just want them to repeat it back to use, we want them to show us or prove what they've learned.

12. Awareness of learning styles. Children learn in different ways. We try to incorporate all of those styles in our classroom. We want children to become proficient in many avenues of learning and even try learning styles with which they aren't entirely comfortable. We are giving them all the tools possible to become life-long learners.

13. Emphasis on higher-level thinking skills. This goes with #11. There is a strong emphasis for children to THINK, not just repeat facts. It's important to tap into those higher-level questions that require children to think and solve situations. There's a push for teachers to turn the tables on the students. Let them create the word problem, or ask the questions about the Science lesson, or come up with a solutions in the story. Children are becoming active participants in their learning, not just spectators who can repeat facts.
Links to other Thursday Thirteens! (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 4 - Half-way There

Thirteen Things that are on my computer desk because I'm in the middle of doing them. I'm not ADD, but if you look at my desk you may think I am. I frequently start things, reach a snag and move on to something else. Here are 13 examples from my computer desk right now.

1. On my computer desk are notes of 2 Thursday thirteens that I've started writing about and haven't finished. I need to check a detail on both of them and just haven't gotten around to doing it. So, I just started a new Thursday Thirteen - the one you are reading right now.

2 - 6. I have half-made plans for a Math Fair, Writing Fair, Reading Fair, Science Fair (not your typical kind of Science Fair), and Social Studies Fair on my desk. After Spring break, I plan to have some fun Fridays focusing on academic subject areas. I have all the days' plans started, but need to gather a lot of materials.

7. All three of my children start baseball/softball this weekend. I have the emails from their coaches and my calendar. I need to write down all the dates, so we can arrange how to get to all the practices and games.

8. School forms. - Three picture money packets, 3 field day t-shirt order forms, 3 Bingo night ticket forms, etc. I need to see what is due next.

9. 2 sets of Math papers, 2 sets of writing papers, 1 spelling test, and various other papers that need to be graded. I should probably be doing that instead of writing this Thursday thirteen.

10. A paper from our children's choir director. The kids are in a spring cantata at church. The paper tells me what kind of costume the kids need. I need to start gathering some unique character costume items.

11. Kids' recipe notes from my oldest daughter. She's interested in trying some of her own recipes and writing them down. She and I have brainstormed some ideas and she's tried them out. Those notes are here, too. Maybe we can work on that this weekend.

12. A shopping list started. What else do I need at the store? I'll take a hint from Scarlett and think about that later.

13. The only other thing I have on my computer desk is kids' books. The girls are reading books for a program at school. We need to log the books tonight.

It will all get done. Maybe not on time, but it will be completed. Tomorrow is another day.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!