Thursday, May 29, 2008

School #2 project fair.....

Project Fair at my afternoon school and some of my favorite projects from this year :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

School #1 Project Fair

Here are some photos from the project fair at school #1 .....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Crunch Time....

Every spring the students I teach in the G/T program are required to pick a topic to research and then compile and summarize information, gather pictures, etc and put everything together on a display board. The last two weeks have been CRAZY busy with me helping the last "stragglers" get everything ready before the school Project Fair (held this Friday, May 23rd).
This is pretty much what both of my classrooms have looked like these past two weeks:

They have all been working very hard (not to mention myself!), can't wait to see the finished projects!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Missing Student

Staff at our school were just informed that one of our 2nd graders is missing. He was on the bus after school last night but never made it home and no one has seen or heard from him since.

The police are here at school today questioning other students, just in case someone knows something of his whereabouts.
Positive thoughts needed that we find this little boy, safe and unharmed, ASAP.

ETA at 1:33pm: THE BOY HAS BEEN FOUND. Not sure any of the details, but so glad he has been found!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Life is NOT a video game!

Okay, I have to report on something today that scared me more than a little.

I was walking a small group of kindergardeners up to my classroom, which happens to be on the top level of the building. The building is configured really weird, with a series of overlapping ramps not far from my room. There is a railing that you can look over and see all the way down to the first floor.....
As we were walking to my room, this tiny little boy who barely speaks English says,

"If I jump down, will I die?"

Umm, my heart skipped a beat. "Yes, you would probably die. Jumping would be very dangerous!"

Then he says, "Then I'll just start over!"

"What do you mean???"

"If I die I'll just start over like in the video games!!"

Whoa, this had me very alarmed. "Lets get one thing straight. Life is NOT a video game. You only get one chance and if you die, you will not get to start over, you will be gone forever. Don't ever think about jumping or doing anything you see in the video games! "

One more reason not to allow little kids to play certain games. These new video games are a little too realistic in certain aspects and this just goes to show you that young kids cannot make the distinction between reality and fantasy.
Scary stuff!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Little Entrepreneurs.....

Today one of our 4th grade classes is hosting a fund-raising meal to raise money to go to Dairy Queen. For $6.50 you get a choice of grilled burger or chicken breast (on bun), chips, salad, juice, and either homemade cookie or fruit. I think it is a good deal! The teacher and students did all of the preparing and organizing of the meal, each student having a specific job.

I am writing about this because as I was going to go pick up my lunch, one of the other teachers stopped me in the hallway to comment, "You are supporting this?? They are raising money to go to DAIRY QUEEN. Most teachers just treat their students!"
I really like this teacher as a person, but her response made me mad!! My response to her was, "First of all, not every teacher has money to treat 30 students at Dairy Queen. I know I personally couldn't afford to do that. Second of all, I think this type of project holds a lot of value. Its a great way to teach economics and cost/profit, etc. Not to mention that the ice cream is going to taste so much better and be appreciated that much more because the students earned it. It also builds a sense of community and teamwork. The more I think about it, the better I think this project is!"

It bothers me when certain people do not see the bigger picture , but I am certainly going to continue to show my support for other learning projects such as this one.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The "pink thing".....

This morning I was with a small group of 4th graders, working on individual research projects. Fourth graders are always curious about something, or so it seems. Here is today's question of the day.....

One of the boys asks me, "Ms. S, you know those pink things that dogs have? Do Alligators have a pink thing?"
Me (not quite listening as hard as I should): what pink things?
4th grade boy: "you know, when boy dogs roll over and their pink thing comes out. Does that happen to alligators too?"
Me: OH. I think when you say "pink thing", you mean "penis" or male reproductive organs
Boys: giggling (when I said the word penis)
Me: This is an educational opportunity and we are researchers. There is no reason to be embarrassed when we discuss reproduction, because it is a part of nature. If there was no reproduction, life could not carry on and we would have no more animals. As far as male alligators go, I am not sure the answer to your question, but I can try to find it".

So after a little research on Google, we discovered that Alligators do in fact, have a penis. It is just hidden internally except during the act of mating.... I will spare you and NOT post the graphic picture of the male alligator sexual organs!!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

US History

How well do you know the History of the US? I recently found these online quizes that the state of Texas gives to all high school students before they graduate. Thought you might want to see how you do! Each quiz has 40 questions......

US History Quiz 1

US History Quiz 2

US History Quiz 3

Have fun!


I admit that I am a nerd. (Although I am a COOL NERD!) And I love puzzles!! Do any of you like rebus picture puzzles?? Here are a couple easy ones. My students LOVE these things!

How about Logic puzzles?? I LOVE doing these things! They drive me NUTS, but they are a fun challenge. Try this puzzle! If you like that one, check out this Logic Puzzle site.

And then there are always crossword puzzles! Here is a site of The best crosswords.

Have fun with these puzzles today!

Thanks, MLK Jr.

January 16, 2006.
Today was a holiday from school, in honor of the great Civil Rights movement leader, Martin Luther King Jr. I sit here thinking about his "dream" and can't help but feel proud of the progress our country has made. I know we still have a LONG way to go in the fight for racial equality and the end of hatred, but I appreciate every single day that I can go to work at my inner-city school and see the positive relationships and attitudes among our diverse student population. My students get so angry about the injustice and racial attitudes that many of our citizens faced prior to the Civil Rights movement, they cannot even imagine it. Their positive attitudes give me hope that each generation will become more and more united and less hateful. It is a beautiful dream.......

Nature Center Fieldtrip

Another back-dated post.
November 14, 2007
Got up this morning and was, running slightly late to work, which is very out of character for me. Since I was running late I didn't have time to get breakfast and as soon as I walked into school, the power went out! That hasn't ever happened to me in my 9 years of teaching! The whole school was completely dark and hard to get classes started without any light or power or even access to the PA system.
Well it just so happens that today I was scheduled to go on a trip with the 3rd graders as soon as school started. The power was out for about 40 minutes before it came on. We went to Valley Branch Nature Center, near the St Croix river, which serves as the border between MN and WI. Its a great way to introduce the city kids to "the great outdoors", so most of the time is spent outside. This was my first field trip in probably 4 years....when I agreed to go a few weeks ago I wasn't thinking about how cold it might be this time of year up here in MN. Today was COLD and WINDY!!! I had on a pair of warm pajama pants under my jeans, warm boots, winter jacket hat and gloves!

Check me out, forest woman.


We saw many cool things on the field trip, including some taxidermied animals that live in our state. Have you ever seen a beaver???!! (LOL) These bad-boys are BIG.

Some squirrels. The white ones are very rare. We see them all the time where my parents live.


And a group of wild turkeys. These guys were huge too! Valleybranchvento07_010

Is this a RAISE???

Another previous post from earlier this school year.
September 13, 2007.

Today I got my first official two-week paycheck as a 9th-year teacher. (For every year of service, teachers make more money....)

I was somewhat excited to see my paycheck and see if this would be the year I would finally be making decent money, or at least make a significant jump on the salary schedule.

Apparently this is NOT the year.

Comparing this year's salary to last's:

$30 more per two week payperiod.

WOW!! Big money, huh??

You find yourself looking at that $30 jump in pay and think, "I went through all THAT for THIS?"

Teachers face many challenges on a daily basis and are held accountable for student achievement (despite the needs of such diverse learners). We earn our salaries and then some, ya'll! Especially those of us who work in the inner city

I am not bitter that everyone else in the private sector get such high percentage raises, its just that in my field I will probably never see more than a maximum of 3% raise from year to year. Closer to 1-2%. And no bonuses, ever.

Good thing I really love what I do!

School has been going great, by the way. I am finally working in the classrooms and I am very excited about what I will be doing this year. So far I love my new school and think I made a good choice by accepting their offer :)

Can you pass an 8th grade science test?!

JustSayHi - Science Quiz

Free Online Dating from JustSayHi

Good thing I can ;) I am learning in my science methods class that although content is important, the process to acquire knowledge is even more important.

**PS I neglected to mention I got a C- the first time I took this. It was NOT EASY. I knew which ones I guessed on and got an A the 2nd time around!

School Crisis Simulation

Another from my personal blog.
October 13, 2006
I have to say I got pretty freaked out yesterday morning on my way to work when I drove by a local middle school. There were about 4 fire trucks, several ambulances, 10-12 squad cars and SWAT team members set up all around the school. I was like, OMG!!!! This can't be happening here! With all the horrific school shootings in the past month, I immediately jumped to conclusions. If you had seen the way it looked, you would have thought the same thing. When I got to my elementary school two miles away, I rushed into my school office to see if anyone knew what was going on. Apparently it was a School Crisis Drill that had been planned for about 9 months. The simulation lasted for 3 hours, involved like 90 students and several emergency response agencies. Sounds like the most in-depth simulation like this that I have ever heard about! Here is more information on what took place:

Native Reflections

Another past post from my personal journal.
October 6, 2006

Wow, is it a full moon out or what???!!

I have been really irritated the past couple of days...the kids at work are seriously driving me loco! And I am not referring to my darling groups of GT kids. I am talking about the 3rd grade regular-ed prep class of 30 students that I am teaching at each school. I love the topics I am teaching....social studies at one school and enrichment/creativity at the other. Its just that the groups are so big and there are a handful of naughty kids in both classes.

I don't usually talk too much about what I do at work, but on Fridays I offer really cool special topic classes and open them to interested students who might get to see me Mon-Thurs. The classes and the students who take them change each month. This month my Friday class is poetry!! I have been teaching poetry for about 5-6 years now, and I always have my students submit their original poems to the Anthology of Poetry competition and every year now I have had students who get published in this national publication. Its pretty cool. I love to see how excited they are about poetry....this week I taught them how to write a limerick and another rhyming-patterned poem. I can't wait to see some of the final drafts!

My class for next month is Ojibwe culture. I have always had a fascination with native americans and think it is important to teach my students about the way of life and also the injustices. Not that I am an expert or anything, but I used to live and teach on the Tohono O'Odham reservation in AZ and have always loved studying about the culture. My first real hands-on experience was in 4th grade when my elementary class stayed on an Ojibwe reservation. We learned to weave, visited the wild rice patties, went to the sugar maple orchards to see the process from taping the trees to boiling the sap into syrup and then into sugar. I have attended pow-wows and smoked the peace pipe. All sorts of fun stuff. Did tons of cool stuff while I lived in AZ that I will explain another time. Anyway.......

Last week that I was reading a historical fiction book about the Ojibwe, set a few hundred years ago? A few nights ago I dreamt that I was staying in an old-time Ojibwe camp, living the native way of life. It was so natural and realistic, I could've sworn I was really there!!! Is that weird? My boyfriend thinks I am crazy, but I happen to have an ojibwe student in one of my classes and he made a comment about all the Ojibwe books I have displayed in my classroom about them being "his people". I recounted my little dream to him and he says in all honesty that it wasn't a dream, it was a vision. Whatever it was, it was pretty realistic.

2006 Student Projects

May 26, 2006

Most of the time I really love my job :) One of my favorite things about working with high-ability students is helping them research various non-fiction topics every spring. I provide guidance and model them through the process of putting together a display board, showcasing what they learned about their topic. I offered the research class on Fridays for the past few months, where students did all of the leg-work. They then took them home to put it all together. It is always fun to see what they come up with! Here are some of the cool ones I have seen this year :) These are made by 3rd-6th grade students.







I have about 50 of these to grade, but I don't mind at all! Its fun to read them....I learn from my students :) I believe it is sooooo important to keep these kids challenged. Budget cuts are a huge bummer on our gifted programs, though. As I have mentioned before, my position has been reduced to half-time next year. I keep praying every day that I will find something else soon.

Another lockdown...

Another old post I found in my personal blog.
January 12, 2006

The school day ended kind of crazy today......right before dismissal we had a call over the intercom for the school bouncer to get to the 1st floor NOW and then seconds later another announcement telling us that we were going on "lockdown" and that everyone must follow the lockdown procedures....for all the teachers that means to lock the doors QUICK, and get all the students out of the view of any windows. It took me longer than it should have to find me keys and lock the door. We remained like this for what seemed like forever, but it was probably only 5-10 minutes until the intercom told us we were once again safe to return to normal. I had a large class of 5th graders at the time, asking me if it was real, and I had to tell them that I honestly didn't know, but that it probably was, since we would NEVER have a drill of this nature at dismissal time...because it means CHAOS! Well we leave our classroom and are told we have to route all of the students out the side door of the school....there were four police squads in the parking lot blocking the exit and a bunch of little kids all excited and scared, talking about the "guy who came in the school" and this and that. I had no idea what was going on because we were all trying to keep the students calm and help them to their bus, parent, etc, so I couldn't get the scoop. Once we got all the kids off safely, I found out what really happened....the father of one of our 6th graders came into the school, apparently very intoxicated or "on" something and went looking for a specific male teacher at our school.....he found this teacher (who happened to be walking down the with a class of 1st graders) and falselyaccused him of sleeping with his wife. The teacher calmly responded that the man was obviously in no shape to be talking to him and to please leave the building. The man walked away and then a minute later starts coming at the teacher and swung at him. Our teacher wrestled the guy to the ground in self-defense and held him down until our bouncer and another male teacher could get there to help him. I think the cops arrived a few minutes later and arrested the guy for assault. My poor teacher friend got his necked clawed pretty good...the perpetrator was holding him by the collar for awhile. He is filing a restraining order and I think the school is taking some kind of action that he cannot enter the building. The poor estranged wife of this psycho is a regular at our school and we all know her well.....we all felt pretty bad that that happened. Not too mention their poor innocent 6th grade daughter who has to come back to school tomorrow and hear everyone talking about it. And who knows what those little first graders are thinking after seeing this happen!

Isn't that nuts??? Well, it is one dismissal I'll probably not forget anytime soon!

Friday, April 18, 2008


One thing that I have observed many times in my career is that many little girls love to play with and "do" their hair or the hair of their friends. This may include teachers, especially if the teacher has hair that is different than theirs.
My hair has always been long and fine and many of these little girls just can't seem to resist themselves from touching my hair. It doesn't usually bother me, but of course doing a teacher's hair at school is quite inappropriate, so I always put a stop to it.
During one of my first couple of years teaching, I had really long, curly hair (perm). I will never forget the time that a little girl started touching my hair and straight up asked me,
"Where'd you buy your hair?"
I was taken aback...could she be SERIOUS??
Oh yes, indeed she was. Many girls had extensions or hair pieces woven into their braids, so she assumed that maybe all hair was fake???!!!!
Not sure, but I told her "God gave it to me" :)

Kid Genius.....

I work with a bunch of smart little kids, but sometimes I come across a kid who will do or say something incredible.
For example, I like to play a game called Wiz Kids with my students from time to time. There are two decks of cards in the game, letter cards and category cards. You randomly pull one of each and students need to think of something in that category that starts with the letter you pulled.

So what do you think most 1st graders say when you ask them to name "Something Gross" that starts with the letter "I"????
Here are the typical 1st grade responses.....
"Ice cream"

Imagine my surprise the day the little toothless R says, "Industrial Waste!!"

Are you kidding me?
What do 1st graders know about industrial waste???!!!!
But somehow R knew, and he knew it was gross :)

A little concern.........

A few weeks ago, one of my male-teacher-friends who works at another school told me about his lovely afternoon teaching a group of 4th grade boys about the human body (perhaps about the reproductive system?). He told his students that if anyone had any questions or concerns, they could talk to him privately after class.
So after class, one of the really shy 4th grade boys came up to him.
Here is a transcript of the conversation.....
"Mr. W, I have a concern"
"Whats up?"
"I heard that your penis is supposed to grow one inch per year. And I am not 10 inches!!!!"
"Hmmmm. Here is a yardstick. How long is a yard?"
"36 inches"
"So if what you heard was true, where would you put all of THAT when you are 36 years old???"
"Don't worry, it isn't true!"