Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
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
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
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.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
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
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
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......
And then there are always crossword puzzles! Here is a site of The best crosswords.
Have fun with these puzzles today!
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.......
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.
Some squirrels. The white ones are very rare. We see them all the time where my parents live.
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 :)
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!
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:
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.
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.
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
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" :)
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.....
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 :)
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"
"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?"
"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!"
To get the kids thinking about what adjectives are, I had them give me some words to describe kids... they said things like:
Next I had them give me some words to help describe animals. They said things like:
And then I call on D, a child who at times can be inappropriate. His comment?
"Those gorillas have big ole' titties!"
I watched the mouth of his classroom teacher drop, and tried quick to compose myself.
"One thing that makes mammals so special is their ability to feed their babies milk, but we should refer to those body parts as the mammary glands".
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Not sure if it is the bright color or just the fact that my shoes perfectly match my shirt, but I always get a ton of compliments when I wear this outfit.
In fact, one kid that I have never spoken to before came up to me today to tell me that I "looked tight in that outfit".
I guess that is a pretty big compliment, huh!?
Monday, April 14, 2008
May 20, 2005
Ahhhh, its that time of year again...Spring! All the little animal babies are being born are so sweet! I thought I would share some pictures that I took of some hatching chicks. A 2nd grade teacher that I work with has been working with a program through the University of MN that allows inner-city schools to observe and witness the "miracle of life. It was pretty cool to watch the eggs hatch from the incubator. The kids were so excited, as were the little chicks!! I can hear peeping out in the hallway when I walk into my room, it is so cute! Just look at these little fluff balls!
Anyway, I think this is a great program that is set up, otherwise these kids would probably NEVER get to see it happen. The chicks will be going back to the farm later this afternoon. I am not sure about their fate, but I do hope they will not become chicken nuggets!! Its very different to see animals after raising them, so I do hope the kids don't become vegetarians because of this little project!!
May 17, 2005
Okay, can things get any weirder in the neighborhood in which I work?? Today the news choppers, cops and the DNR were out looking for a Black Bear who has wandered into the Big City. This is the news as I hear it from my students as I walk in to work today,
"Ms. S, did you hear about the bear?"
"I saw it in my back yard!!"
"The cops are going to find it and put it to sleep, but not kill it"
Okay, last week they are looking for a cop-killer and today they are back at it again...but looking for a bear. I feel bad for the poor thing!! We had a bear loose a few weeks ago too, and that one was shot and killed when it made its way to the freeway.I don't know what this means, but it is probably not a good sign if beras are moving into the city...disappearing territories and the smell of Krispy Kreme....
Saturday, April 12, 2008
So we have practiced.
There have actually been a couple of incidents in the past couple of years in which the schools I worked at had to go into lockdown- for real. Below are a couple of entires from my personal blog that recount specific lockdown encounters.
May 6, 2005PS I have to keep looking through my old archives to find the other lockdown stories....
My drive to work this morning started out like normal, but as I got closer and closer to work, I knew something out of the ordinary was going on... you see, every corner on the main street that I drive down had a police officer parked with its lights on. So what could this be all about???
Was the President of The United States visiting today and I somehow didn't know about it? What else could cause police from all neighboring cities as well as the St Paul Police to be out full-force on a Friday morning at 7 am??
As soon as I got to the school I was informed that we were on lock-down because a St Paul police officer was killed a few blocks away from the school at like 2am. Apparently he was working undercover when he was shot 10-12 times and the suspects fled. So now they are doing a thorough search of the neighborhood in which I teach.
So how am I going to get through this already-hectic Friday, with kids that are scared to walk down their own streets??? This neighborhood that I work in is one that I am glad I do not also reside. Too much crap like this happening all the time. I am fortunate that I will only have to work another 30 days or so before school is out and I move to a new school. Scary!!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I seriously laughed all the way to my classroom!
Kids like to tell it like it is! LOL
Monday, April 7, 2008
So by now it is no secret that I work at neighborhood schools in really tough, poor neighborhoods in the inner city. I absolutely LOVE what I do, and wouldn't ever dream of trading my poor, needy, diverse students for the more well-off white kids in the suburbs. This is my niche.
So that being said, I do have to tell you that I have come across some very interesting names throughout my career and have started to make a list of the ones I remember. I wanted to share with you some of the unusual "names" of students I have personally known. (I am not even going to go there with some of the ethnic names I've come across!) The following names span all races....
Precious (I've known at least four girls with this name)
Diamond (again, 5-6 girls with this name)
Star or Estrella
Green (whose last name also happened to be a shade of green)